Monday, 16 November 2009

Why I am not a food blogger

I’m one of the fortunate people on the planet who lives to eat. I visit friends I have not seen in 18 months and am immediately presented with a list of meals that they wish me to make for them, my reciprocal requests having already been relayed by telephone some weeks previously. My travels, trips and holidays generally revolve around eating and my answer to many a stunned questioner about whether I think about anything that isn’t food is invariably, “Well there is wine.”
However in the past few weeks I have been asked another food-related question by some Londoners. “Why don’t you become a food blogger?” There are a plethora of food bloggers in this city all reviewing restaurants and various food products taking photos, uploading them reviewing places and products, so why not become another one?
These blogs range from the virtually unreadable to Proustain prose. Actually far more entertaining than Proust (has anyone ever managed to read Proust’s entire oevre AND have a full time job?); many give more reliable views on food than the national newspapers while also covering a larger geographical range than Mr Gill’s West London.
The best of them all is the above linked Dos Hermanos and one look at that will also make clear my lack of desire to take food blogging on. To be good at it you need to as they say ‘Go everywhere and eat everything’. To be a good London food blogger you have to go be able to go to lots of restaurants regularly and have your finger on the pulse on what celeb chefs, non celeb chefs and the restaurant world of London is doing. This requires a sizeable disposable income, far larger than the one as I posses, as well as a near heroic level of stoicism. While constantly eating in new restaurants might sound like great fun and would be in Madrid, Barcelona, or Luxembourg; in London this can be fraught with difficulties. There is way too much fame chasing for most restaurants in this city to actually be up to much food wise, at least within my budget. They have PRs, gimics, fusions, themes and concepts. I just want some good fresh food properly made with some care and attention. That does not seem to be a particularly popular concept at the moment.
The places that are good are often heavily oversubscribed as well as over-hyped. You don’t need my opinion on it around 3 to 6 months after everyone else. And sometimes I don’t want to ruin my evening out by making notes on sub-standard food.
About a week ago I went out with a couple of friends to that frightening popular combination of pub with a Thai restaurant at the back. I was there principally to catch up with them after a few months and they suggested the place. The combination itself sounded pretty awful and I set my expectations suitably low so I wasn’t too disappointed. Despite my vegetables being undercooked, my duck slices drier than an Arabs sandal and the sauce just thrown in at the end, my food was edible (well I hadn’t had any lunch) and I had a pleasant evening chatting with my friends. I did not want to focus on the food. I know, how can you not focus on the food when you are in a restaurant? Answer; practice and a lot of it.
I learned after far too many meals alone on business trips that a mediocre meal with company can be a better experience than a good meal on your own. At the very least you can share the mediocrity while with the good food unless you take loads of photos for twitter, you are on your own. So if I am in company and the food is rubbish I don’t want to ruin everyone elses night and my own by drawing attention to it unless it is completely inedible.
Also if I am choosing the place I want to go somewhere where I can rely on the food. Until my disposable income increases I won’t be going anywhere that hasn’t been tried and tested by bloggers I trust or previously by me. Either I can review the same places on a regular basis or not bother at all. I choose the later.

15 comments:

MsMarmitelover said...

Must admit it stuns me how all these food bloggers have the budgets to eat at these restaurants. Then again most of them are young, have disposable income and no kids.
Some of them are city types so would be eating at these places anyway.
I've been invited to a couple of restaurants but never have time to go, too busy with my own little affair of the stomach...

goodshoeday said...

Food blogging surely isn't just all about eating out in restaurants and reviewing them? There are great food blogs out there that aren't restaurant reviews at all but are about love of food and company. Yes there are loads of food bloggers and only a few who offer something truly well written and interesting. The restaurant review blogs are useful but for my money its some of the other ones that are amore fascinating.

A Scot in London said...

Ms Marmitelover For me it's not just about money it's also the stoicism involvved in slightly disappoinitng meal after meal.
Goodshoeday I agree there are lots of people blogging about food in general.But then I'd have t6o disect what I cook and tell people rather than my usual 'watch and learn if you want to.'

Anonymous said...

Or... most of all, you're not a food blogger because you can't write.

A Scot in London said...

Well there is that too anonymous.

Douglas Blyde said...

Very good post. Message understood! (From a wannabe Proust).

The Ample Cook said...

Good luck with your blog and don't be put off by anyone's comments.

I think Goodshoeday hit the nail on the head really.

Enjoy.

Andy Lynes said...

Scot, don't listen to anonymous. A nicely written post that makes me want to read more.

Andy Lynes said...

Apologies for calling you "Scot" in my last comment which seems rather rude now I realise my error!

Lizzie said...

I think there's a big difference in a food blogger and a restaurant blogger. I don't have the budget to be swanning around restaurants, but similarly I like to cook as much as I like to go out - if not more.

As for good fresh food made properly, there seems to be more and more restaurants following this ethic; St John, for example.

A Scot in London said...

Thank you all for your comments.Anonymous didn't bother me.I used to be involved in the Reiki world and they are the the most vicious back biting people I know of aside from mono-theist fundamentalists.
Lizzie I still think though that anything decent in London is really over-hyped. I really like St John but nose to tail eating is hardly 'ground-breaking' in the rest of the world. And St J to me only has the iconic status it does because of being in London. That saying I like going.

The Happiness Project London said...

Great post (and I'm a Scot in London too btw). I'm just getting to know food blogging and agree its a crazy world. Personally, I would be embarrassed to take photos of all my food in restaurants, and think my friends would be mortified. And I don't see the point in giving bad reviews about places - I only want to recommend good places to go so if I've tried something bad, I just don't bother posting about it.

I agree with you on the money front, and on the trendiness front (often style over substance, but they get the most traffic don't they?) - what I do is whenever I meet friends for dinner I pick somewhere new to try. Most of my friends are skint too so we go for somewhere budget normally, and they haven't got too annoyed at me so far. Next place thats trendy and doesn't look too expensive is Polpo...

scandilicious said...

Great post, I agree with you there are too many 'destination' restaurants in this city and we seem to valourise places like St John when really that should be the norm, not the apotheosis of what London has to offer.

A wise decision not to become a food blogger, you're much better off just enjoying your food and relying on word of mouth and a few trusted bloggers for info on where's good to eat in this dirty old town ;)

Helen @ World Foodie Guide said...

Interesting post to read, all the more so because I retired from food blogging a month ago after two and a quarter years of non-stop eating. Yesterday I ate out for the first time in weeks (with a food blogger!) and really noticed the difference in my attitude and behaviour. I was simply enjoying the food and the company, without being overly critical, writing the future post in my head or taking endless photos. I love my newfound freedom!

greekcookeryclass said...

I loved this post! Am not going to go into the debate on food blogging, it's like film and music reviewers only about food, and usually not objective, how can it be? But what I did love was this and I quote: "I just want some good fresh food properly made with some care and attention." And this is hard to find in London in my experience, without forking out loads of money.