I’ve always enjoyed cookbooks–but they had to have gorgeous photographs. I suppose it said something that I rarely made anything from the books I bought, but they’d be well-worn from my admiration. I guess this was the early days of “food porn,” before this whole Information Superhighway thing got invented and took off, eh?
And although we now have Instagram and its plethora of dinner-documenting shutterbugs, I still prefer the format of a cookbook. Perhaps that means I’m into “food erotica” and not “food porn”? I do like having the dish discussed and explained, rather than just laid out–void of plot, as it were.
Call me a romantic, but I love the magic of a recipe with instructions. Here’s how you, too, can conjure a rabbit out of a hat. It complements the photograph, makes the experience of reading a cookbook as a pastime something wholesome. A picture may be worth a thousand words and get your juices flowing, but a thousand words are the key to the invisible, exciting your imagination.
A natural descendant of the cookbook, or perhaps an evolutionary side branch, are “food blogs.” They start innocently enough: someone wants to share their joy (Food Makes Me Happy) or document recipes for their family (Just One Cookbook) and it blooms like yeasted dough into a full-blown site with staff and social media. Food brings people together and even when it doesn’t, it can bring up memories and emotions.
Almost twenty years ago, I stopped cooking. Sure, I’d make the rare soup or heat up a frozen pizza, but it wasn’t like before when I would cook. Both my parents and extended family know how to cook, have been or are involved in the restaurant business, and eat like it’s 1999 (this may be because we’re Chinese, for whom the original “how are ya” greeting was “have you eaten”); so I have no fear of turning up the heat in the kitchen.
Yet, nearly two decades ago, I went through one of the worst experiences of my life and I lost the will to cook for myself and for others. It felt burdensome, even when my friends would offer to cook for me.
I could stand eating out when my budget allowed, where emotional connections were absent in an impersonal restaurant. Nobody nurtured me and I had to nurture no one–the check at the end of the meal proved that it was only business. If the servers or owners tried to get too close (as they do in Chinese restaurants with paesani), I’d start ordering take away.
I believed I didn’t deserve anyone’s caring and I made sure that’s the reality in which I lived.
It wasn’t until about four months ago when I paid off my last debt did the desire to cook resurge. I hadn’t understood how heavy my decisions and their consequences had weighed on me until I corrected the last symbol of my mistakes.
This is why I’ve come back to Interior Voyeur and expanded its purpose to include food as well as interior design. I want it to be a place for me to reflect on this process of returning to myself.
Oh, and this is also fair warning that I’m a bad food blogger. My photographs aren’t luscious if I remember to take them at all, and that’s usually because I don’t want to interrupt my experiences by whipping out a camera or phone. I don’t assume anybody gives a hoot what I’m eating or making (hence disconnecting Interior Voyeur from most social media).
This blog is ultimately for me, but if a passerby like you finds something useful here, then please, be my guest.
There’s room at my table now.