What's been surprising to me over the past few weeks since I've been writing and posting on this space is how hard it's been to figure out what I want to share, how, and why. Fairly early on, I decided to let go of thinking about this blog as a potentially income-generating project. Partly because the blogs that I love the most tend to be personal rather than professional spaces, and partly because I wanted the freedom to experiment to see what would fit best: Am I a weekly poster? Monthly? And I wondered what would I gravitate towards writing about: Personal thoughts and stories? How-to's and recipes? Meditations on food?
Before I started the blog, I often would have an idea about food, or be enjoying something I was eating, or recall a memory, and I would think, I wish I could share this with someone. And now that I can, I find myself surprised at how embarrassed I am about sharing everyday pleasures because the stuff that I'm really enjoying doesn't seem to belong in the universe of blogs as we know them today. Often, what I love isn't particularly photogenic, plus, I'm a regrettably awful photographer. And on top of that, I'm resistant to "curating" my life as if my day-to-day is some kind of gallery, or "best of" playlist that I show the public. It would feel too much like I was making everyday moments some sort of commodity for other folks to consume, and that in order for me to share something, it would need to have "added value" by being helpful, or beautiful, or perfect. But sometimes the things that give me pleasure or sustenance don't fit those metrics.
Here are some things that I have not shared over the past two weeks:
1. Kavli crispbreads, spread with ricotta, then salted and peppered. They were wonderful, and really hit the spot for me as an afternoon snack. But I figured they were just too simple to share, so I didn't.
2. About a billion fantastic recipes that I've made from Alexandra's Kitchen. Seriously -- every single thing I tried was a blockbuster: lamb meatballs, brown butter blondies, cabbage soup, eggplant involtini. But I either forgot to take photos, or the photos were just too awful to share: lamplight hitting a plate and emitting an orange glow, everything grainy in the dimness of my living room. The tyranny of photographs!
3. A small detail about when I made chicken stock and schmaltz a couple weeks ago (and hung out near the kitchen while they were bubbling away): when I was done, I literally could not get into bed afterwards. When I approached my side of the bed, Kevin started laughing uncontrollably -- and then I started laughing uncontrollably -- because he could smell me from five paces away. The scent of fried chicken was so deeply embedded in my every pore that I had to shower before we could peacefully sleep. Too gross? Funny? I couldn't decide, so again, I didn't share.
But at the end of the day, this blog is a public space, a space that I hope friends and family use to stay in touch, a space that might eventually connect me to kindred spirits. If I wanted to keep things completely private, I'd choose a different medium, like a notebook. So I'll be doing some exploring over the next few weeks and months -- if this space isn't about public consumption of my life as product, what is it?
I'll start with two things:
1. A list of my favourites. I think of these blogs as guiding stars, in that I am always, always, delighted to see new posts. To me, they encapsulate the best thing about blogs as a public, interactive medium, and they don't exist as small businesses, or as marketing units. At heart, their writers seem to be about thoughtfully welcoming us into their sometimes shadowed, mostly joyous, idiosyncratic lives.
Ben and Birdy - Catherine's sense of humour reminds me of Emily Dickinson's line, "Tell all the truth but tell it slant," and so I find truth told -- hilariously, sometimes heartbreakingly -- about chickpeas, and children, and books, and spouses.
In Praise of Leftovers - I worked in the not-for-profit world for many years, and was always a bit in awe of consultants who managed complex projects while also having really rich family lives. To this outsider looking in, Sarah's way of being in the world seems very right.
The Yellow House - This one is a beauty, in every sense of the word. That's all.
2. I'm posting a photo of a green mango, sliced up and served with bagoong, a Filipino fermented shrimp paste whose pungency is rivalled only by fish sauce, or maybe a French washed rind cheese like a Reblochon. I snapped a photo because it was so lovely, and reminded me so much of Manila. Green mangoes are simply unripened mangoes, and it's virtually impossible to get them in North America -- even the one I've posted, which was a present from my visiting mother, is already a tad too ripe for this traditional snack. Eaten green, a mango will make your mouth pucker, but is also fruity and clean and refreshing. If you smear some bagoong on that same piece of mango, it's like getting a salty-sour-ocean-scented punch to your mouth. To me, that kind of vibrancy, playfulness, and impertinence feels so Filipino, and feels so foreign here in Vancouver, which is exceedingly grey, and polite, and cloaked in elegant mountains and moody forests. I almost didn't post it, because it didn't seem useful (why post something that people probably won't make, or can't buy?) but there it is, because it reminded me of a city that is still close to home.