Writing food reviews

Although there are quite a lot of people who like to eat, and quite a lot of people who like to write, not many people like both. Eating is a rather sensual and worldly affair, distinct from the interests of literary folk who are often more concerned with deeper, more profound, metaphysical issues. So outstanding food bloggers are rare, and you find that when browsing through the food blogosphere, the same ubiquitous names pop up everywhere (101 Cookbooks is an example: iGoogle has even set it as the default for the recipes tab, and nearly every food blog has placed it on their blog list, puzzling me at first since it was always listed prominently at the very top, then I realised it was because of its numerical beginning!).

I never knew it takes so long to write up restaurant reviews… I say, on average, it takes about 40 minutes to write up a review for one restaurant… it’s probably because I’m trying to remember back to such a long time ago (well, in part due to my procrastinating tendencies..), googling for their online menu, looking through photos in an attempt to treat food as an artwork (and translating that into words!), fumbling over the adjectives to use to describe something as subjective as taste, searching the thesaurus to avoid repetitive and lacklustre descriptions, researching the restaurant/food to get some inspiration for story-telling and finding diplomatic ways to express any criticisms. I guess, particularly for the first point, that’s why it’s smart for people to write down little comments/notes when they’re actually in the scene of the restaurant? But the downside to that is that while I’m there, I want to concentrate on the food and have fun with it, rather than getting bogged down with having to write down things. I guess that also explains why I enjoy writing restaurant/food reviews: because I can recount the pleasurable encounters I have had with food glorious food!, rather than finding ways to critique it, and also because it’s a creative outlet for me.

Well… now I know I’ll never want to become a professional restaurant critic! Yet I find it strange that, as someone who is a proud aficionado of art, I did not start up an art blog.

It’s not that I enjoy food more than art; it is hard to compare things that way. But with art, it invokes such emotional, subjective responses, and in such intangible ways that it is hard, nay, almost impossible, to express with words. I also have many many more encounters with food than with art, and that is also true for the rest of the population, so it gives a lot more room for connection. Food is, I admit, much easier to talk about than art, which requires lengthy investigation into the context, motives, symbolism, etc. of the artwork, rather than the simplicity of food. Lastly, there isn’t much out there about restaurants or particular food types (aside from the occasional magazine/food blog articles), but when you type in the name of an artwork into any search engine, you are inundated with a flood of reviews/critiques; so food gives me a little niche to write about, something that has not been explored as much, something that is flexible and subject to change.

Well, that’s enough of my ponderings… better get back to study! (four exams in the coming week…)

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Preamble

After having spent a considerable amount of time surfing food blogs, I was inspired to create one myself. My name is Bonnie Lau, and I had studied Landscape Architecture at university for one semester before quitting as I realised how much I disliked it. After deliberating over a range of alternative career paths, I finally decided to become a dietitian. So that would be nurturing the soul through means of food rather than the beauty of nature! It was excruciatingly difficult for me to choose, because I am the sort of person with numerous passions in life: visual art, humanities, science, language, teaching, and of course, food. I guess being a dietitian had always been one of those things that I shoved to the back of my mind (when my friend Linda had told me she wanted to do that when we were in Year 10, I had thought it was a cool career), for I had assumed I would not be knowledgeable enough in the field of science. But if one persists, anything is possible. I hope that my abiding love of food, even as a child, and inner desire to help others attain good health, will help to guide me through a fulfilling career.

But on to less weighty matters, this is a food blog that I will try to maintain amidst my studies. Some posts may be about recipes I would like to share, about particular foods I love, about my gastronomical adventures, about interesting facts on nutrition that I may have learnt… Anything related to food, really! One thing you’ll notice though, is that my food blog will be less photo-intensive than others, because I can’t call myself a pro photographer, and in all honesty, I think I’m more interested in ideas and notions than pretty pictures (although they do help!). Hopefully I will be a balance between the devout foodie who owns a yogurt maker/coffee grinder/equally as obscure kitchen gadget and has tried and meticulously reviewed every dish from every restaurant in town, and the health freak that has an obsession with counting calories and daily intake of nutrients, bans junk food and will only ever touch organic produce, and throws away the egg yolk just for the whites. Balance is the key!

I hope that I can share my journey as a foodie and aspiring dietitian with you all.

Blog+food=alphabet soup!

Blog+food=alphabet soup!