“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?