Nor do I pretend to be.
Recently on my blog, I wrote about the food of a newly opened restaurant, and also responded to glowing reviews, for the same restaurant, on a public food-lover forum. The resulting remarks degraded into back-handed comments pulling my credentials into question, and essentially calling into question the credentials of all who blog about food.
The customer is not always right, but as an eater, diner, and someone who loves reading and writing about food, this backlash solely serves to degrade those who work to enable the entire food industry, and have a passion for food.
Are my opinions worth anything, if I only give positive reviews? Are my opinions worth anything, only if I am a chef?
My aim is to encourage a love of cooking, and a love of good food. Not all food can be good. We all need to nourish our bodies, and should do so with care. I do spend substantial time pondering the origins of the food I put in my body. If it is less than healthful for me, it must be very, very good. Every morsel needs to be worth it, not just bang for buck, but bang per mouthful. Expensive or cheap, I just want good food, and something made by a real person, with a penchant for flavour.
I started this blog for myself. I love good food; I travel frequently, and I wanted to document my experiences. Food is in fact an obsession for me, and it seems it always has been. I have to laugh when I find old postcards I sent as a child, in which I solely describe the foods consumed throughout a vacation. My parents also had an enormous garden. I grew to appreciate fresh vegetables, and the honey I used to have dripped on my finger, from the vat my Dad used for beekeeping. I consumed fresh cream and cheese from the farm, and nearly every imaginable homemade Ukrainian food that a Ukrainian granddaughter could be fed. It was certainly not pretentious, but always very good. Baba's food is not fancy, but there is a reason my Baba's first boyfriend named his perogy company after her. I have never had a better perogy than hers, and believe me, I've tried.
I do not often create dishes for my blog with excessively refined techniques, as I also believe that everyone can cook something. No excuses. It doesn't mean that I can't use refined techniques, or that I don't; I just don't share those dishes, as others seem discouraged, when I am trying to mandate that we can all cook, and should share in a joy of good food. We do not need all of our food prepared for us from a box, we are all capable of preparing something.
I work long hours with my two occupations, besides my preoccupation with food, and can always find the time and energy to prepare something. My idea of fast food, is a simple spread of flavourful and fresh vegetables, accompanied by equally simple meats or grains. Good food, doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to be good. Sometimes I write about food that seems so absurdly simple, as I hope to encourage friends to eat fresh, and enjoy a meal prepared with their own hands. A meal that is healthful for the body, and for the family as an opportunity to be together to enjoy each other's company. A meal is an opportunity to be savoured.
For a while I lived on the Eastern Seaboard of the
Unfortunately, I know too many people who do not dine out in this town because they are tired of having overcooked fish or similar, at anywhere other than super high-end restaurants; they are tired of receiving inferior food, or likewise paying through the nose for something edible. There has to be some middle ground. If a restaurant sends out food, and I am paying for it, it had better be good, no matter the dollar figure. I find that overly glowing reviews are too difficult to swallow, as it seems just too artificial and contrived. I am not painting a less than rosy picture because I have a flair for the dramatic, but because to I prefer to be honest, as I am a meticulous and particular eater. If I can make a dish better at home than in a restaurant, this is disappointing for me. This is just as disheartening when I have enjoyed beautiful dishes in the home of a friend, who is interested in food, and creates dishes more enjoyable than at restaurants. I just want to say wow, even for a dish that appears relatively simple. I eat out to be inspired, and this is my expectation. The food has to be better than the home cook, or at least equally as good, but I didn’t have to do the work. I do not dismiss the ridiculously hard work of chef's as something which can be easily imitated, or that should be less than highly regarded. But, I do not put myself on a pedestal either. I do not want exceptional food to go under appreciated. However, I have great difficulty supporting blatant mediocrity, in any form. We need to discuss the bad and the good, and to distinguish ourselves from mere lemmings. Not everything can be good, nor can everything be good for everyone. We all have our own taste; no I am not Thomas Keller, and I do not consider myself solely entitled to criticize others outright, but I do strongly encourage others to form educated opinions for themselves.