Back in high school, I was one of those earnest little newspaper kids, working with a ragtag crew of other writer-types for the Brea Olinda High School Wildcat. When I wasn’t playing Starcraft with the other dudes in the production room, I was studying for my AP classes, catching up on late assignments or working on lifestyle stories (such as they were at the age of 16).
It was my first taste of food writing.
The Wildcat was published once a month, yet we somehow got it into our heads to create an annual food issue. I don’t remember the details, but we were able to convince Brea’s “top” restaurants to feed our little gaggle—like, a team of 10—for free, wherein we’d review them in the Perspectives section. Journalism!
Looking back, I’m pretty sure our little operation with restaurants like Souplantation and Claim Jumper—it was suburbia, guys—was an upper middle class grift. There were 10 of us! Eating for free! These places didn’t need our reviews—there was only a nascent “online” then, and there’d only be one printed review disseminated amongst the student body. WHO WOULD EAT THERE ANYWAY. Being the only game in town, these places had a constant stream of customers, because the only other choice was Denny’s. They certainly didn’t need glowing prose word-vomited by an acne-pocked, puberty-stricken teen.
We wanted to work the system, and boy did we. Plates of buttery rolls, gooey mac and cheese, and well-done (yup, judge me harshly) steak graced our greasy faces. There was nary a green to be found, and there was always room for dessert. Man, we were damn hell ass kings for an hour or so before regressing back to being nerdy, social-climbing virgins again.
Of course, I know better now than to be a mooching d-bag. Even still, those issues of the Wildcat were my favorite. I got to stretch a muscle I didn’t know was there. Because of the food issues, I caught the bug that took a decade or so to metamorphose into what is now my career path.
Sadly, I have no mementos from that past life. How I wish I had copies to read, if only to laugh at myself. It’d be nice to see what the baby-me had to say about CJ’s seven-layer Motherlode cake, or the newborn-sized éclair.
I bring this up only because in the last few weeks, I’ve felt itchy fingertips to write more. Those kinds of memories have been dredged up, and I hope to transcribe more of them onto the page, or this blog, or whatever.
Being online all day, er’ryday, I see a ton of talent I wish I could emulate, but in the meantime, action on my own memory is required, not idle envy of others.
From the travel sphere that was once my short-lived haunt to the wine and food scene I now find myself circling, I find myself constantly smacked in the face with storytellers, visual and otherwise, who show me that there’s so much promise in the online world. As a green-ish journalist (though probably not, since I’ve been staging this dog and pony show going on five years now), it’s all so very hopeful. I hope to wade deeper into the pool in the coming months.
This has been my long-winded way of introducing some food-adjacent links I’ve been digging this week, precisely for the reasons above:
- Food writer Josh Ozersky lays down some knowledge on the food writing game. While there’s nothing new here (work hard, write often, find a niche), it’s still a worthy read for aspiring food writers.
- I first read about Pen & Palate on Design*Sponge this time last year. When I initially read about it, I realized that I had actually met co-founder Tram Nguyen when I first interned for Gen Art in Chicago. At the time, she was an upstart fashion designer behind the modern/chic Apparatchik fashion line. I was pleasantly surprised to see this new project. Needing some blog inspiration, I recently sought out Pen & Palate again—it’s chockfull of great narrative stories and whimsical illustrations. Surprise, surprise, they won this year’s Saveur’s Best Food Blog Awards. If you want to see people on top of their blogging game, this duo is a team to watch.
- As I’m sure you’re all aware, comment sections are where souls go to die. Lucky for me, I haven’t created/uploaded recipes here (yet), but surely you’ve seen comments like these left by roving Internet goons (aka bored housewives).
- Yo, you gotta check out Canadian blogger Gabriel Coco’s blog, The Artful Desperado. If you’re not drooling over his evocative, impressively styled photos or sexy-as-fuck GIFs, you’re living your life wrong and I feel bad for you.
- School’s back in session with Harvard University’s annual Science & Cooking lecture series and Eater’s on the ground reporting it. Gastronauts and fans of Ted Talks can get their kicks in equal measure.
- Food Republic shared this news report about Colorado Correctional Industries, a for-profit business that employs inmates, imparting skills such as goat milk production or wine cultivation. Apparently, they make the chevre as well as raise the tilapia sold at Whole Foods! There’s some opposition to the program, but I’d love to see a deeper report about its pros and cons before coming to a conclusion.