Project Food Blog | Entry #1: What defines me as a food blogger and why do I deserve to be the next Food Blog Star?
As a new food blogger, I am still trying to find my voice in the written word and after 75 posts, am still very new to this gig. The decision to blog was not born out of necessity, but simply, to share with family and friends my own personal experience with food.
Blogging takes discipline and commitment and is not something I take likely. And although I am intimidated by this process and by the many seasoned food bloggers who’ve been doing this a lot longer than I have, I’ve made a commitment to contribute to my blog as often as I can, stay true to myself, and have fun! I’m not going to define this blog by the number of comments, RSS feeds or subscriptions I may have. Or how many other blogroll lists I may be included on. I can’t be intimidated by my predecessors whose work I respect and enjoy. I can only be me and do my best.
I made the decision to compete in Foodbuzz’s first ever Project Food Blog competition to test my mettle and challenge myself in seeing how far I can go on this culinary-inspired ride. View my contestant profile HERE. Foodbuzz is a unique site that maintains a community of bloggers worldwide dedicated to sharing their passion of food and dining. Featured Publishers will be competing in a series of culinary blogging challenges for the chance to advance and win $10,000 as well as a special feature on Foodbuzz.com for one year. Entries will be judged by Featured Publisher peers as well as a select panel of judges which include: Dana Corwin, Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine Magazine, Nancy Silverton, Founder of La Brea Bakery and Co-Owner of Mozza and Pim Techamuanvivit, author of ChezPim.com and The Foodie Handbook. Ever since the challenge descriptions were posted, I’ve been pondering on how to approach the first assignment. It’s definitely thought-provoking and here I am at the eleventh hour, still trying to answer that first challenge question: What defines me as a food blogger and why do I deserve to be the Next Food Blog Star?
My blog, The Princess Gourmet, is a collection of short food-related essays and accompanying photos to document my personal experience or a memory that I can’t wait to share with the world (or at least within my own gravitational pull!). My topics are broad and I embrace all types of cuisines. I can say with confidence that I am a great cook but, more often than not, prefer to eat out. Attempting to balance and juggle a full-time job as an HR Director and my outside food-related activities which includes nurturing and developing my blog is challenging. After putting in many hours at work, it’s easier to enjoy a meal prepared by someone else and leave happily nourished without having to clear the table, store the leftovers and wash the dishes! So my blog is not a “food” blog per se, as evidence by the many who registered to partake in this competition but is a subset of it. Put simply, a restaurant blog, with a few of my own contributions as a cook (although a majority of my posts are the former). I don’t care if the food comes from a fast food restaurant, a hole in the wall, a gourmet food truck, a food booth at a festival, or from someone else’s kitchen; or served on a paper plate, an edible wrapper, a plastic cup or beautifully plated on fine china. As long as the food is well-prepared, flavorful, and pleasing to the eye as well as the palate, I am content. We are blessed in this country to have so many choices when it comes down to food. And I’m happy to simply share those experiences.
My passion with food began at an early age. Both of my parents are great cooks. My dad was a cook in the U.S. Navy and I remember the box of recipe cards he would bring home which included American classics such as beef stew, macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti, that he would have to convert so that he could make it at home (we were a family of six, not a military base full of servicemen and women)! The recipes were typed on large, colorful index cards and would list out the ingredients and instructions on how to prepare the dish. My mom, on the other hand, was the typical stay-at-home American housewife who had four kids to care for and feed and her contribution to the dinner table were traditional Filipino dishes. I grew up eating both American and Filipino dishes and sometimes, a blend of both. The common denominator between both was steamed white rice cooked in the automatic rice cooker. No matter what we were having for dinner, there would always be rice on the table. As we got older, mom and dad pulled us kids in the kitchen to help with the cooking process. As soon as we got home from school, rice would have to be cooked and the meat (or chicken) needed to be prepped. By the time they came home from work (mom eventually went to work to help pay for private school tuition), all that was left for them to do was to pull the dishes together and finish them off. Meals always started with a salad and ended with dessert.
My palate was further challenged once I entered college. I was introduced to dishes when eating out with friends that was not part of my normal food repertoire. I discovered there was more to pasta than just spaghetti with ground beef, sweet italian sausage and tomato sauce. Sushi? I never fathomed eating raw fish and my first experience with wasabi was not a good one (I still shudder at the thought). And rather than green lettuce and salad dressing, salad bars were in now in style. Chinese chicken salad? Yes! I saw my culinary world opened up in front of me and I saw myself buying cookbooks and using ingredients and spices that I was not accustomed to working with in the kitchen. When I started earning a real paycheck after college, part of my disposable income went to eating out and did I eat out! I also started to develop a relationship with my cookbooks and began trying out new recipes in the kitchen. When I got married and started my family, entertaining became an event in our household. Before I knew it, our home was the venue for all get togethers where food would take center stage–birthday celebrations, graduations, weekend BBQs, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I would pour over recipes and develop a menu as well as prepare all the dishes with the help of my husband in the kitchen. My mother would tell me that it wasn’t fair for me to do all the work in the kitchen. But I really didn’t mind. Seeing how much my family enjoyed my cooking made me happy and I loved how it brings our family together. I love the whole lifecycle of preparing a meal and infusing a little bit of myself in each dish. But it’s all done with love and pride.
The process of blogging has really opened my eyes, heart and stomach to food. What do I mean by that? It has opened my eyes not only to the wide variety of cuisines available to enjoy, but the infinite number of food possibilities, combinations I would have never thought possible that work together in harmony with one another. This last year alone, I’ve tried cuisine (or given it a second chance) from different cultures that I would normally shy away from, putting my faith and trust in the hands of those that encourage me to take that extra step and at the very least, just take one bite and give it a try.
I remember when my youngest son was around five or six years old, surviving on a diet of comfort foods such as plain pasta and finally putting my foot down with him, telling him that he would have to learn to eat what I cook for the rest of the family without me having to prepare something special for him. That evening I had prepared meatloaf with brown gravy, steamed corn with butter and white rice (I’m Filipino so we have to have white rice on the table). He cried for what seemed like forever. After 30 exhaustive minutes of trying to get him to eat, I finally told him that if he would take one bite, and if he didn’t like it, I would prepare him his beloved pasta. He finally stopped crying and took a small bite. He quickly turned his head but not before I caught the big smile on his face that he was trying to hide from me! Success! And to this day, he will still ask me to prepare my meatloaf with gravy, steamed corn with butter and rice.
Now grown up, it was his turn at “role reversal”. Him being enamored of the Korean culture, my picky eater son was now enjoying Korean cuisine and eating kimchee! When did that happen? Other than Korean BBQ short ribs, it was one of my least favorite cuisines. I was scared of the unknown and with Korean dishes, there was a lot to be scared about. Remembering the meatloaf experience and him pleading with me to at least try while out dining at a Korean restaurant, I decided to bite the bullet. Korean is now one of my favorites. And this year alone, I’ve bitten many bullets and tried new dishes. My own food experience and blogging about it has really opened up my eyes, heart and stomach. And with heart, I mean the joy of savoring and enjoying as well as sharing, either by passionately sharing those experiences in conversation or on The Princess Gourmet. Which brings me to answering the second part of the first challenge question: Why do I deserve to be the Next Food Blog Star?
Deserving is such a strong word. I am blessed to be doing what I’m doing and the intent of developing and publishing my blog was not for fame, glory or popularity. People that know me remark that they don’t know where I even find the time to work on a blog but I don’t see it as work. For myself, I see it as a food diary–documenting my experiences and creating written and visual memories. It’s also a blog that can connect with the average reader and can appeal to a wide variety of palates. If my blog resonates with readers and encourages them to try or recommend the places that I’ve posted about with others so they can create their own memories, wonderful! Rather than state that I deserve to be the Next Food Blog Star, I would rather, and very humbly, state that I would be honored to be the Next Food Blog Star.
My own food journey is a never-ending discovery. As long as we depend on food to live, there will always be opportunities to experience and share our relationship with food. The Princess Gourmet has opened up a new world for me and I have met so many talented and passionate bloggers, restaurant owners, sommeliers, chefs, cooks and foodies. And if I don’t make it to the next round, I’m very okay with that. I will be content in the knowledge that I tried my very best. I am still learning and growing and will continue to have fun!
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