My friend M made an interesting statement tonight.
“I have a theory about you and your website,” he said.
“Oh?” I responded.
“Ya,” he continued.
“Well what is it?” I pressed.
“I think,” he said, “that you don’t really care that much about food. That you just like writing about it, but that you don’t really care about it.”
To properly answer M’s charge, let’s turn back to the genesis of this site. Believe it or not, this site is only four months old (its birthday is January 14th). How did this site come about? What was I thinking?
There were several factors at play.
One was a genuine interest in food. (This goes directly to M’s charge.) Beginning my first year in law school, I developed a penchant for consuming mass quantities of FoodTV programming. I was addicted to Sarah Moulton, Molto Mario and Martha Stewart. Soon there was the Barefoot Contessa and Nigella Lawson (on the BBC), but it was Sarah Moulton–bright shining Sarah–who hypnotized me with her wiles every day after school.
Eventually, I made the transition from couch to kitchen and began attempting the recipes I saw on TV. Up to that point, my greatest culinary feats were Uncle Ben’s rice bowls and Pillsbury cinnamon rolls in a tube. Now I was trying scary exciting things like penne a la vodka and roasting my own chicken.
And then this past summer, in LA, I discovered Chowhound, which led me on a wild goose chase of fascinating eating. I picked up Jonathan Gold’s “Counter Intelligence” which provided a roadmap for underground Los Angeles dining; and I drove with my friend JC to obscure streets in obscure neighboors to sample chili burgers at a roadstand or chicken mole in an isolated shopping center. This was the true birthing process of my inner gourmet: before I was tentative, now I was certain. I cared about food.
The other factors, though, in the launch of the site were selfish. I really wanted to get my writing, composing and humor out there to a wider audience. My friend Josh was the one who suggested it: “You should start a blog.” I had no idea how to do it.
Then, I got help at Metafilter.com, where its “Ask Metafilter” service provided me the roadmap I needed to purchase a domain name, secure a host, and begin blogging. My original question was: “How do I become an internet phenomenon?” Four weeks later I was on CNN!
I will confess my belief, however, that blogging is three parts narcissism to one part passion and one part talent. It takes a lot of nerve to think that people will care what I put in my piehole every day. Sometimes I post my posts and I think: “Why would anyone read this? Who cares?”
Apparently people do (that would be you) and I think the reason is that eating is universal. It doesn’t matter if my passion for food is genuine or if its temporary or if its the product of Jedi mind control. Not all of us dance ballet, not all of us hunt geese, but all of us eat. Snooty critics and the food elite may trick you into thinking your palate is less worthy than theirs and they’re wrong. It’s not what we experience when we taste food, it’s HOW we experience it. To care about food–to think about it and wonder about it and crave its many permutations–is to celebrate life. And so while I don’t care enough about food to enroll in a cooking school or prepare a pinecone cake (who would do that?!), I do care enough to think about what I eat when I eat it. If that makes me a fraud, at least I’ll be a well-fed one!