In the kitchen with my sous chef, Bentley Danger, age 2
For two weeks I’ve been staring at these words: what defines you as a food blogger and why should you be the next food blog star? I’ve tried staring at the words at 6 am whilst catching the sunrise and slamming back a glass of freshly-juiced Chioggia beets. I’ve tried making sense of the words at midnight, port-goggles in full effect. I’ve allowed the words to ruminate in my head during long jogs by the lake. Today, finally, I decided to use the Dictaphone feature on the iPhone and answer the question in different ways out loud while driving from Pike Place Market (for leeks, bresaola & duck eggs) to my favorite butcher shop (for a rabbit) to a baking supply (for molecular gastronomy chemicals) to an art supply (for an X-acto knife and acetate- yes, for use in the kitchen).
Here are a few of the things worth painfully transcribing from my dictations (I feel like a Mad Men secretary right now- someone get me bourbon and a bullet bra- stat!).
Mad Men Birthday, Draper-Style (image links to post)
I’ve been asking myself who I am for 32 years. The answer to that question remains ephemeral. Right now, I’m a mother, wife, eater, cook, former expat and desperate-misser of La Bella Italia, creative writing graduate who hates to be defined by the word “creative,” molecular gastronomist-in-training, early-adopter of cooking en sous vide, former Stiletto Ninja who swapped nun chucks for an apron to become the Foodie Fashionista.
Stiletto Ninja, day before her wedding in Rapallo, Italy transitions to Foodie Fashionista
I make bacon at home, cure meat, make salt from scratch, extrude bucatini, and use syringes and pipettes in my kitchen. In the words of the (in)famous folks over at ShutUp Foodies, I am a “kitschy madwoman.”
A year ago I loved my life, my child, my cuisine, and my husband, but I knew there was something missing. I started a food blog. Now, I am a food blogger, part of a community of food bloggers. Within the last year, I have had the opportunity to communicate with and in many cases meet IRL some of the most talented people on the continent. I also learned that IRL means In Real Life, LOL means Laugh Out Loud, and (learned the hard way) that NSFW means Not Safe For Work. I dislike these acronyms, though I thought I should use one to prove I’m really a part of the digital world. Food bloggers are the unsung (I know, right?) heroes of modern culture, and it’s time they got their due. They are an opinionated, strong-willed cadre, though they’re quick to support one of their own should the need arise, as was the case with Ivory Hut recently. In some ways, being a food blogger defines me more than the sum total of the other parts, because it is the sum total of the other parts. As with many of you, this is my respite- the place I can 100% say whatever the hell I want to say, and be proud to own those words.
The dish that landed me on MasterChef: Duck Confit 3 Ways (image links to post)
I work really hard at this. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cannot knock out a blog post in an hour like I know some über-talented people can. It takes me many hours of focused work from concept inception to edited completion of every post I gently nestle onto my site. Even after it’s there, I want to rip it down and make a nip here, a tuck there, though I resist that urge. Blogs are like people- more beautiful if left to age naturally. That is not to say they shouldn’t be eating well, getting adequate sleep and exercising along the way, however, hence the good food, days of rest, and frequent practice.
BLT Ice Cream Sandwich (image links to post)
Right now, I’m lingering on every word the culinary mad scientist Grant Achatz (Alinea) utters. A particularly echoing bit of wisdom I recently gleaned from him is this: creativity is primarily the result of hard work and study. I look back on my most-resonant posts- I made a BLT from ice cream, gelato and sorbet, I admitted to the world I was far from perfect given how eviscerated I felt after leaving MasterChef, or when I made a meal for my mother’s 69th birthday using thoroughly modern cooking techniques like spherification and sous vide- and the uniting thread recurrent in all of them is just what Achatz notes- hard work and study. Any old genius off the street might have come up with the theory of relativity, but it took a hard-working, studied one to actually do it. Since I begrudgingly admit that I have no genius-level proclivities, I must content myself to toil along making mozzarella balloons and poaching duck egg yolks in clarified butter until a really good idea turns into a really good taste, then a really good recipe, and finally- I hope- a really good blog post.
Spherification in action
What I’m saying is that I should be the next food blog star because I’m willing to put in the effort and devotion, but I promise we will have a wild ride together along the way. I’ve only been blogging for just over one year, (crap- went back to look at the date of my first post and I realize I missed my blog-o-versary, damn, damn, must open champagne… there, that’s better) but I’m on my way toward proving I’ve got what it takes to stick around like a splatter of Bolognese on a white Valentino shirt. I look at these challenges as a way to test my mettle. I look at Project Food Blog as a way for Foodbuzz to nurture one of us (relative) newbies toward the status of full-blown Bloggin’ Gaga. That’s right, the victor of Project Food Blog deserves the accolades and fame (in the blogosphere at least) of the Great Gaga because s/he squeezed a lot of lemons, minced a ton of shallots and pureed a passel of potatoes to get there. I promise, if it’s me, I’ll wear a meat dress to accept my crown. (There’s a crown, right?)
This is how crazy I go on Halloween. See, I'll wear a meat dress, no problem.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to have written this post regardless of the outcome of this challenge because it’s given me a platform to say some things I’ve been meaning to say for awhile to all my lovely readers. Every day something new happens that humbles me in the face of all your greatness, generosity and underlying human spirit. All of you have helped immeasurably to make the last year one of the best I’ve ever lived, so grazie mille. (Now look at me- big ol’ tears are inching down my cheeks- must be that champagne you made me open!) I’m just a girl teetering in topsy turvy heels on the precipice of something positively cavernous, and I desperately want for you all to jump in with me.