When the Blog Backfires

When I brought this blog back to life several months ago, my entire intention was to shift its focus from (poor) attempts at covering Austin’s food scene to intimate glimpses into my kitchen and–by extension–into my life.

If I haven’t made it clear yet, food is a love vehicle for me. It reminds me of people I love, people I kind of like, cities I miss, memories for which I truly ache. When I cook, I cook to nourish myself and others, to enjoy every bite, and to turn on the creative side of my brain.

I’ve played the food critic game before, too. And I enjoyed it. When someone decides to do something professionally, whether it’s make breakfast for the masses or scream at people from a spin bike, they are opening themselves up to opinions. And though I’m hardly the expert, I particularly like offering my views on all things food.

But that’s not what my blog, or my life, is all about.

So why, I have to ask, will no one cook for me anymore?

I can’t count the amount of people — women, mostly, and that’s an entirely separate discussion — who approach me with trepidation because of my presumed “expertise” when it comes to food. And I often laugh it off, trying to convince them that I actually know very little, that I am so far from an expert that a true chef would chortle in my face. It has never really gotten under my skin.

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The key to meeting expectations? Make something you’ve made before. An old favorite: Korean jap chae with prawns and veggies.

I laugh off the presumptions that I know the very best places to eat, offering the yummy options that come to mind, knowing full well that my knowledge is severely limited. I smile warmly when folks joke about how they HAVE to come to our house to eat soon, inviting them with open arms. I stress and sweat over those same meals, suddenly feeling a pressure I’ve never felt before, wondering if maybe this whole food blog thing is working against me.

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A tiny roasted chicken for Wednesday night dinner guests

Then, I start to notice that dinner invitations from my friends are becoming either nonexistent or are now accompanied by an apology or disclaimer about what they will be serving me. I mean, I love cooking, but eating? Something that someone made with their own two hands? There is actually nothing better than that on planet earth. The food is always good, even if its not, because someone I respect, love, or maybe just like a little bit put part of their self into the meal.

I tell myself I am overreacting and shake it off. People are busy. Dinner parties are a pain in the ass to throw. Not a lot of people like cooking for other people.

And then, the biggest food holiday held in this country rears its gobbled head, and I’m faced with the sad realization that Marc and I will be making and eating the meal on our own once again.

 

Do other bloggers feel like this? Fashion folks, do your friends/family/acquaintances BEG to go shopping with you, assuming you will be their sweater savior? Photography enthusiasts, do people thrust their phones at you at the bar at 2 a.m., expecting that perfect photo? And worse: are your friends afraid that you, the hobbyist, will judge them on their sweater-picking/photo-taking abilities?

The crazy thing is this: I appreciate every single one of you who reads this blog and gets something from it, but I am hardly, HARDLY deserving of true food blogger status. I’m a writer. And I really like writing about food. And I want to do it forever, and maybe get paid for it someday.

I do not, however, want to stand alone in what I assume folks think is my ivory tower made of cheese (only the highest quality parmigiana, of course, dahling), eating the walls because no one will throw a meal together for me.*

But I simply cannot stop writing.

So this year, for Thankgiving, I’ll be making a whole mess of food in my tiny kitchen, attempting to create some new memories. Some of it I’ll pull from family recipes, some from my fancy Food & Wine Mags, some from my own brain. And I’ll definitely write about the experience, though the food part will only be a pinch of it. Maybe I’ll write about the nostalgia that is canned cranberry sauce. Or I’ll write about my Aunt Leslie’s pumpkin pie, one I think about all year long. I could write about how hot it gets at my Uncle Eric’s house in Cincinnati, so much so that everyone emerges from the delicious meal with an extra rosy complexion.

Most likely, I’ll write about missing my family so much it’s killing me. I’ll write about my first Thanksgiving in a home I own with the man who wants to marry me.

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If you’re hungry on Thursday, come on over. I might cry real tears into anything you bring to the table, but don’t be alarmed. It’s my own way of expressing how grateful I am for you, for the things you make, and for the joy you bring to my life. Happy Thanksgiving, folks.

 

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Last year’s feast. Not pictured: me passed out on the couch.

*I don’t want to discount the people – my lovely future husband included – who have cooked for me in the past several months. Grateful for you. I can safely say I enjoyed every second of picking up what you put down.

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