When I tell people I'm a food writer, they generally respond in a couple of ways.
Ooooh, that's exciting!
Fun, yes. Lots of fun. But exciting like Andrew Zimmern "put anything in your mouth even when you have to hold your nose" exciting? No.
Ooooh, you must get lots of free food!
I don't, of course.
Ooooh, you must know the best restaurants in town!
Again, no. I'm one of those food writers who doesn't review restaurants. It's not that I'm not opinionated, but I'd rather write about farms and markets, cooking classes and food producers, and food-related experiences I think my readers will enjoy. Also, I live out in the woods, almost twenty miles from the nearest fine-dining restaurants.
Ooooh, where can I see your writing?
Well, in magazines. And I write a food blog.
Food blog? Ummmm.... errrr.....
Uh-oh. That's the conversation stopper.
If I had a nickel for everyone I know who swears that he or she never ever reads blogs (said with the same disdain reserved for standing barefoot in an alligator swamp, or going to the dump on a crowded Sunday, or voting for certain political candidates), I could treat myself to a large coffee at Dunkin Donuts.
It's not that my friends don't read blogs. They love my site, they tell me. They love the recipes. They love learning about new ingredients. They're not talking about my web site, of course. They're talking about The Perfect Pantry. A blog.
I understand. Early on, blogs had a reputation as online brain spill written by self-absorbed people with deeply uneventful and overexamined lives. I steered clear, too, for the longest time.
Like me (I think), blogging has improved with age. Some food bloggers have published, quietly and free to all readers, the equivalent of several cookbooks, teaching basic recipes and techniques, and broadening our collective knowledge of ethnic cuisines and healthy eating.
Through blogs, we explore new places, new ingredients, and new ways of thinking about food. Professional chefs, bakers and talented home cooks share ideas, advice, adventures, beautiful photography, and some darned good recipes.
I hope you find some of those things here, from time to time. Even if you never ever read blogs.
So. On the theme of improving with age: yesterday was my birthday. My friend Kathy calls this my "speed limit" birthday, though, honestly, it's been years since anyone has driven that slowly, at least here in Rhode Island.
I celebrated with my first post on a wonderful group blog called The Daily Tiffin.
What's a tiffin?
It's a lunch box, really several stacked lunch boxes, for moving food from place to place. Each box, or compartment, contains a different part of the meal -- one for rice, one for vegetables, one for bread, and so on. The stack clips together to make a whole meal, just as the sixteen writers at The Daily Tiffin bring together their expertise and viewpoints on a fun and healthy family lifestyle. Mostly women, and one dad, they hail from Germany, England, Malaysia, and the US.
Once a month, I'll be sharing a slightly different spin on some ingredients and cooking tools in The Perfect Pantry, sometimes with recipes. Please take a look.
Ted gave me the beautiful antique tiffin box pictured above a couple of birthdays ago. I love the symbolism of the tiffin -- parts locking together to form a whole -- especially for my birthday, as I often think of my life, and my work life, in those terms.
Yesterday, I filled the compartments with fortune cookies.
Fifty-five fortunes. Fifty-five chances to find happiness, friendship, wealth, wisdom, and a winning lottery number.
It's going to be a good year. I like the odds.
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