Earbuds dangling from the side of my head are my latest fashion statement.
This isn't a new fad for me. Back when I was a music critic, I wandered the newsroom, listening to the latest Bon Jovi or Melissa Etheridge on my Walkman. Then I morphed into a talk radio junkie. Now I listen to podcasts about all sorts of subjects, including food.
As I explained to my parents, think of a podcast as a recorded radio show. Sometimes it is just that, and other times it's a program recorded in someone's home that can only be heard via the computer.
I have more than a dozen food-themed podcasts on my iPod. Some are must-listens, while others are very hit and miss. Some are very professional, and others can be as tedious as listening to a shy eighth-grader explain his science fair project.
Here's a rundown of the best I've found so far. They can be found at iTunes or on host Web sites.
The Restaurant Guys - This is my favorite. Mark Pascal and Francis Schott, owners of Stage Left in New Brunswick, N.J., host the show. It's funny and very informative.
While it has a Northeast and New York slant, they discuss national restaurant topics (most recently they hosted a debate on mercury levels in tuna). They give listeners an inside look at the restaurant business and aren't shy about telling the ugly as well as the good. I usually save this one for the drive home so I can listen to it without interruption.
WOR Food Talk with Tyler Florence - This comes from the Food Network celebrity chef's actual radio show, so it is a day old when it becomes a podcast. Florence knows his stuff. He discusses food trends and answers callers' questions. The most informative part is when he talks callers through recipes and saves an impending kitchen disaster. Have a notebook handy to jot down a recipe or tip.
Food - This is a weekly show that takes three or four of the best food stories from National Public Radio and puts them on a podcast. This is top quality programming that examines foods from every culture.
Rob Kasper on Food - The Baltimore Sun food columnist does a nice job discussing a different topic each show. It sounds as if he is reading a column or script; there's no ad-libbing or conversation. Nonetheless, this is very good listening.
The Lunch Guys - Two guys venture to fast-food restaurants and sample the latest menu items.
Behind the Bar Show - Hosted by Mr. Martini (I kid you not), this one is a little geeky. But he does a nice job explaining various liquors. He embraces cocktail culture.
Radio Whisky - This podcast is devoted to the spirits of Scotland, Ireland and America. A recent show focused ontalked about how more women are turning to whisky.
Dining on the Vine - Manhattan couple Joe and Christina supplement their Web site (www.diningonthevine.com) with the podcast. It's a fun, conversational show that embraces food and wine. If the podcasts catches your fancy, you can look up recipes and wine information on the Web site.
Macdonald is a food writer for Morris Communications in Jacksonville, Fla.