I recently came across a buzz feed list titled “Food on Instagram vs Food on Real Life”. With a smirk it made me think about the times I casually snapped a picture of a drink to post. Of course that ”casually” involved ten minutes of ensuring the light reflected off the surface of the beverage just so, highlighting the pattern of the glassware, and the background was manipulated in a “I don’t care but actually I do” sort of way. Keeping up with the Jones has taken on a new meaning as much of life is spent in this alternate reality of social media. One picture, one status update, one post showcases a person in the best possible light. Want to appear politically clever? Re-post that witty article from Huffington Post. Want to appear emotionally deep? Pinterest can help you find the perfect quote. Want to show the world you are happy? A well placed selfie will do the trick.
I have no issues with the manipulated portrayal we all partake in. Whatever way one chooses to depict their life is up to them. Plus, since people see life through the lens they choose, personal emotions can quickly skew a status update into something completely different than the original intention. What I have started to think twice about is that this false world creates the inability to embrace the imperfections that happens somewhere along the way of the manicured life.
Take this food blog. It may appear that I have my act together, traveling the world enjoying delicious food while coming home to a chef husband that inspires me to cook crafted meals while soaking in our blissful love. Some of this is true and some of it is embellished. One phrase in my last blog of “I failed” launched a series of hugs from friends with emotion filled eyes of “hang in there” sentiment. I didn’t have the heart to tell them, I wrote that for effect.
Social media is the ability to escape into a crafted world and that is ok as long as everyone is drinking from the same punch bowl. With a wild hair, I am going to attempt to let you in on some of the realities within this world I have crafted:
I am a scaredy-cat
Yes, this past year I did something unthinkable, I left my job, my husband, my nest and I attempted to reinvent myself while living in Italy. That might sound brave and courageous (and I am ok with you telling me that over and over again) but what people didn’t see was the girl crying on the toilet the day before I was supposed to board a plane. I was terrified to change and terrified of what might change.
Every day living in this new world I had to encourage myself to embrace my fear and to put myself out there. The amount of bathroom pep talks I gave myself probably led my roommate to think I had IBS. On wobbly legs I found myself and embraced that beautiful scaredy-cat, and the fear didn’t stop when I left my wonderland.
Being home after something inside of you has clicked back into place is equally as challenging. The child in me wants to throw a tantrum insisting that I am different and the fear that somehow you won’t be accepted back into this home is palpable. Taking the leap and living the life that I feel is what I am supposed to do, is straight up terrifying. The pep talks still have to happen, luckily for me my cat doesn’t know want IBS is.
I don’t eat the food you see in the pictures…at least right away.
Once I jumped down the rabbit hole of trying to make this blog something more than just a hobby I had to up my photography game. Now the book “Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots” rests in my Kindle and I have a notebook handy to jot down how other food blogs are framing their shots. I even use words like framing. Once upon a time, I would whip up a meal, quickly take a picture (on my phone) and then park my butt to wolf it down (mmm noises optional but strongly encouraged). That meal most likely taking place in the evening when alas, there was not good light.
Now I make the meal, mmm noises still strongly encouraged, write the piece and let it sit in the draft status until I can snap the right picture. That means planning a day where I can snap a picture at 3:00pm when the light is just so in my kitchen. There are usually props, additional garnish, clothing steamers (ideal for that “It’s still hot” look), and 87 pictures before there is the one. At this point, the food gets put into a Tupper ware and hopefully eaten later.
I hate being critical and I don’t like writing recipes.
I want to write about this slightly abusive relationship we have with food. I want to explore where it comes from, who has devoted their life to it, when we stopped treating it with respect, and about the connections it forces us to face. I believe that food is powerful and fundamentally linked to who we are. It deserves our attention. A life devoted to exploring my beloved and sharing my excitement sounds like a dream, one catch…it’s not what people want.
I have been asked several times why I don’t write reviews. There is an easy answer, it is too personal. Who am I to say that what you are doing is wrong or right? Restaurants are hard. There are countless moving parts and it is easy for a part to come unhinged. Reading a negative review is crushing to a chef and their spouse, I just can’t do that.
Food is meant to be an adaptive experience. To truly cook from a place of sustainability and seasonality, the cook needs flexibility. Recipes are designed to be followed, rarely adapted. It pains me to write them when my dream of this blog is to inspire the act of cooking. I want people to think about what they are eating, to try to cook, to be ok with burning something, to sub out ingredients because they don’t want to go to the store. Many times I have been in the kitchen and tried to use a new spice or cook a vegetable a certain way and it has failed miserably. There is a beauty in failure and recipes aren’t designed for failure.
Sometimes it sucks being a restaurant wife.
My husband has a mistress, it is the restaurant. There are many date nights that are interrupted with a phone call or an urgent text. He may not have to leave the table but he can longer be present. Often I am the third wheel on a Friday or Saturday night and there are many of my friends that have never met my husband outside of work. People do not want to cook for me, nor pick the restaurant and on the days my husband has off where we eat is as deeply considered as the name of a first born child. Fights are reserved to the one precious day off and often are swept under the rug because it is easier.
To be married to a chef, I have to be independent and I have to be ok with being alone. Some days that is hard. Some days it is easy to resent the restaurant. Other days, I relish in the person I chose to marry and this crazy life we embarked on.
My messy, confusing, sometimes lonely life is beautiful and mine.
I have spent a long time hiding the messy part of my life. Carefully choosing my verbal adorations of my sometimes infuriating husband. The pictures, the recipes, and posts are designed to show my favorite aspects of my life. Who wants to write about the monotonous or unpleasant? I have depicted my reality just the way I want you to see it, the way I want to see it.
But let’s face it, life isn’t perfect. Delicious isn’t attainable at all meals and life-changing epiphanies are too exhausting to have every day. Life is imperfect but it is ours. And just like food, those imperfections are worth celebrating.