What It’s Like to Be a Food Writer: A Spilling of Guts

“Ohhh, a food writer. That sounds like an awesome job.”
Every time I hear this phrase I puke a little. 
It always comes from a well-meaning person at a cocktail party.  And I gag because I hate to break a well-meaning heart with the truth.

This career is a b*tch, and every food writer knows it.  For every Anthony Bourdain there are 10,000 people who’ve “tried” secret shopping convinced that a free $25 meal is worth four hours of writing about toilet paper quality and sticky floors.

If you think about it, what type of red-blooded American takes photos of her dinner until the eggs get cold and the sauce congeals?

Who the hell wants to secretly take review notes on a phone while friends get full and drunk around her?

Can I tell you the number of times I’ve eaten something disgusting right in front of the proud chef – chewing and chewing because my esophagus closes when I try to swallow?

I do this work because I moved to Tokyo at the age off twenty-one and learned something lost on many Americans: Good, groan-in-your-seat food, does not have to come from a drive-thru, does not have to make you fat and does not have to cost a fortune.

What kind of demon could keep this knowledge to herself?

I was raised Irish Catholic by-proxy in the suburbs of Boston.  I can’t shoulder that guilt.  Instead I bear the cross and send story ideas to the black holes of editors inboxes and consort with a flock of seagulls better known as publicists.

Trust me if I didn’t feel conscripted to spread the gospel, I would just skip all the “free” meals and go buy food like normal people.

So what about you?  Do you write about food? Why?

If you don’t write about food what are the glamorous things you envision food writers doing?

How to Reheat Pita Bread: Secrets from the Middle East (3-4min)

Pita is best from a bakery like this one in Haifa, Israel.

In the U.S. a place like that is hard to find, but with a few tricks supermarket pita can be turned into the next best thing.  

Here’s how:

Step 1

Place the pita over an open range flame at medium low heat.

Step 2
Wait for it to puff (approx. 45 seconds).

Step 3

Turn over and repeat.

Bonus Step
The first three steps come from my Palestinian friend Sabrina and her big family up in Yonkers, New York.  I’ve consumed many warm pitas with cheesy eggs and hummus at their kitchen table. 

It was my friend Dina, raised in UAE, who taught me how to take it to the next level.  Dina places her pita over the gas flame, just as Sabrina’s family does, but after it has puffed with hot air, she immediately returns it to the plastic bag it came from.

The pita steams with its own hot air inside the bag creating that fresh from the oven balance between toasted and chewy.

Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Warning Warning
Am I really advocating the use of plastic and all of its carcinogenetic evils?! 
Yes, I sort-of am.
Do not microwave your canned-soup-lunch in a Ziploc container everyday, but on the odd occasion that you want a perfect pita, I say spurge on a little plastic—At least until your neighborhood gets its own ancient oven.