Aptly titled: on food and writing (in no particular order)

The mood has been decidedly down these past few days. That’s why I’m writing. I find that lately – well, the past few months or more – I write when I am upset, anxious, angry, or just about any other negative emotion. Is this a good thing? When I look back at my recent blog posts, I see myself from someone else’s eyes. I see someone else reading those depressing blog posts and thinking, I’m not coming back here again. But somehow I can’t seem to find that brightness in my writing anymore. In my head, I’m still sometimes witty and funny. Then I sit down and write and when I read it from the top, I realize that things get depressing, fast, as in a matter of 500 words or so. Is there something wrong with me? Am I not happy? Well, never mind that. That was a bad intro. Let’s start over.

As I sat at our dining table this afternoon, spreading copious amounts of butter onto my tuna sandwich which I am prone to doing when my sister isn’t watching me with disapproving eyes, there was a moment of peace. Just a moment. In that moment, I managed to think, why can’t it be like this every day? The next thought followed immediately, I suppose every day would be boring then.

Then that moment ended (read in Flynn Rider voice). “Shut up and learn to keep your mouth closed.” Not to me, but that would have burst anyone’s bubble.

Anyway, I meant to write about writing yesterday but never got around to it because 1) I spent too much overthinking what to write and ended up reading Michael Procopio’s blog for hours and 2) I wanted to start a new piece of fiction and was overthinking that too but I’ve learned that it’s usually not a good idea to start writing when I’m in a funk/crappy mood.

Two days ago – or was it three? – I was bored at work – and since I finish my work fairly quickly, I’m left with many hours of spare time – so I decided to Google for more food blogs to read because I discovered Serious Eats (where has it been all my life?) earlier last month and I’ve been spending my free time reading food blogs ever since. My everyday internet browsing ritual – Tasty on Youtube, CNN, New York Times, Serious Eats, local food blogs, in that specific order; sometimes National Geographic (where I read up on the Tiger Temple controversy, felt a surge of anger towards human beings who deliberately abuse animals and make money off them then lie about it, and briefly wondered what my mom would say if I told her I wanted to be an animal activist). But I soon exhausted all those sources quickly and there are only 1 or 2 Tasty videos uploaded a day (sad).

So I Googled and clicked on The Food Blogs You Should Be Reading Right Now, According to Saveur on Huffington Post. It took me to the site where food blogs were categorized under labels such as Best Cooking Blog, Best Culinary Travel Blog, Best Photography Blog, you get the drift. I browsed through the blogs under the Best Cooking Blog label but found none to my taste. Those blogs feel too elegant and stuffy with their fancy photography and tiny fonts and pristine layout. I’m sure they are wonderful blogs with great recipes and I have nothing against neatness and fanciness but I’ll pass on those.

I skipped the Baking and Desserts category because as I’ve announced on more than one occasion, baking is not for me. Not that I don’t bake. I do. I just highly prefer cooking over baking and I wouldn’t want to be a baker. The measurements are too precise and tedious to work with. I’m a no-measurements-please kind of person. That’s why I took the easy math class in college even though my math doesn’t suck.

I skipped past the Best Cocktail Blog and Best Wine or Beer Blog categories, past the Best Regional Cuisine Blog and Best Culinary Travel Blog section (briefly acknowledging Eating Asia which I discovered only two weeks ago), and spent some time looking through the Best Family Cooking Blog. I have a soft spot for family cooking blogs since Menu Musings was where I found my now favorite dish to make – tomato basil chicken pasta. Best. Recipe. Ever.

Is this post even about writing anymore? I do this – wind off some other path and talk about something other than the main thing I mean to talk about – but I’m getting there though, I swear. The part about writing, I mean.

The next category was Best Photography. Something about perfect edited photos make me uncomfortable. I admire people who take the time, trouble, and patience to arrange food, lighting, and props to create beautiful food photos but I honestly cannot see myself arranging strand after strand or leaf after leaf or spoonful after spoonful of whatever food just for a photo. Also, I want to see a bit of imperfection. Food that is not so staged. Pictures of food that people can relate to – a smudge (or ten) on the plate, uneven potatoes, a burnt edge, a salad accidentally drowning in dressing. On the other hand, maybe that’s why I don’t think anyone would read my food blog if I were to ever create one.

My favorite category turned out to be Best Writing. Best Food Writing? I thought. What could that be? Well, I’ll tell you. Culinary Bro-down is genius. I laughed until I nearly cracked a rib and had to dry my eyes on my sleeve reading Josh’s writing. His writing is honest and hilarious with a dash (read: piles) of profanities my mom wouldn’t be proud of. Oh, and his recipes are great though I doubt I’ll ever make that 8-layer burger.

Food for the Thoughtless written by Michael Procopio is also genius. His dry humor captivated me immediately followed by his remarkable arsenal of vocabulary and down-to-earth style. I wanted to read more… and more… and more… Okay, I started reading his blog from the very beginning because I didn’t want to miss a post. His ‘Yelp’ post set me off again and I couldn’t stop laughing for a full two minutes. He is the kind of writer I look up to, equal parts awe and envy.

I want to write like that, I think whenever I come across awe-inducing writing like Michael’s and Metin’s and Ashten’s (I’m terribly sorry I haven’t replied to your email, please forgive me). Needless to say, my mom is in that awe-inducing writer category since she is the reason I started writing. I want dry humor and wit and honesty and passion and impressive words and the ability to mash that all up into a beautiful, fluid piece of writing.

Then I get sad because I know that I can’t. Then I also get sad as I start to criticize my own writing style and wonder if I could have done something in the past to bring my writing style a bit closer to these demigods (just kidding, I wanted to use this phrase after seeing it in an article about the current Japanese emperor who plans on abdicating the throne).

Should I have read more?  I should have read more. I should read more. Why didn’t I read Shakespeare when the whole damned volume surfaced in our house? Should I have become an English major? Damn it, if I had grown up elsewhere in a school system that didn’t focus on forcing kids into molds and suppressing creativity or if I had grown up in a place that emphasized less collectivism and more individualism, would I be writing like that now too? Those two questions would just make my mom sad for reasons I cannot divulge. I also wonder if English weren’t my native language, would I be able to write better? That might be a funny thought to you but non-native English speakers actually make good writers because they learn the language from scratch and appreciate it the way native speakers hardly do.

But then, it is what it is, isn’t it? My mom and sister tell me my writing style is casual and funny (I’m sorry, I don’t remember exactly what the adjectives are). I don’t see it. I see a tween writing choppy posts with no clear goal on her Myspace account (I’ve never had a Myspace account), using lots of ‘like’s and ‘kind of’s and ‘really’s. Okay, that might be exaggeration. (I did say above that I sometimes write witty and funny) But I see it even less these days since all I have to offer are chunks of my anxiety or sadness laced into my writing. I have avoided calling myself a writer for years and I don’t have the guts to show anyone my writing so yeah (see, what I mean about the tween?). Cue insertion of ‘the struggle is real’ meme.

That’s the sad ending. The not-so-sad ending is that my dream has always been to write a book. I don’t know if it will be in this life or the next but it will be done. I will write that acknowledgement page, I just know it. The neutral ending is that I don’t know if I’d actually want to write like anyone else rather than me. Include insightful Dr. Seuss quote that I sadly can’t think of since Dr. Seuss wasn’t a big part of my childhood.

I’m all over the page today – pun intended.

I understand that I write with a lot of parentheses. I suppose I could remove them and make them into regular sentences but I just like that bubble around the words, you know?

Hey, I managed to write about food and writing – two things I am particularly fond of – in the same post. Not too shabby, self, not too shabby.

Raine
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