De toutes les passions, la seule vraiment respectable me paraît être la gourmandise. – Guy de Maupassant
“Okay, your turn,” they said, and a dozen pair of eyes slid in my direction. “Tell us about yourself.” I have never been comfortable talking about myself, but here I was, the center of attention, albeit for just a brief minute or two, having to introduce myself to the members of a Businessman’s Club that my husband belonged to. Dinner with the Spouses night.
“Well,” I hesitated, not quite knowing how to explain where I was at this point in my life. I glanced from one to the other and noted eyes wide, faces infused with curiosity to understand this American woman, an exotic creature in their midst. I felt the rush of heat as my own face flushed with embarrassment. “I’ve done lots of things, had lots of careers,” I began. “Now I stay at home, moral support for a hard-working husband. And I write.”
“Write?! You write about what?”
A weighty pause (heavy with my own indecision, searching desperately to find the right words).
“About food. About my relationship with food.”
“Is it a love-hate relationship?” someone asks, the shadow of a smirk smudging a half dozen demeanors, imagining, I am sure, a skinny woman battling body image.
“No, no hate at all, just love,” my husband interrupted. “Definitely love.”
In 2008, my husband and older son sat me down for a serious heart-to-heart. You are going to start a food blog, they explained, dispelling any possibility that I could somehow refuse. You are going to start a food blog because we are sick and tired of listening to you talk about food all the time.
I apparently needed an outlet for my obsession with food. Clearly I needed to hook up with like-minded people with whom I could blather on about food day in and day out affording my men the peace of mind and silence they craved. And so they designed and built this blog. We spent several days choosing a name and designing a banner. And then, finally alone in front of the screen, the blank page, I began to tap out what just came so naturally to me: the story of my passion for food. And I began to recount the birth of Life’s a Feast.
And suddenly, something unexpected dawned on me. I came to the realization that there was something even stronger, more powerful than my obsession with food. I discovered then and there that writing about food, telling the stories behind the food that I make was more overwhelming, more thrilling, a joy more intense than the food itself. My passion for writing, something that I honestly never thought I was very good at, was more powerful than my obsession with food.
And so I wrote.
I sat in my little corner and wrote. On and on I wrote.
In 2010, I was asked to write for the newly created Food page of the Huffington Post. In 2013, I saw my first articles and personal essays published professionally. 2013 also witnessed the birth of the Plated Stories blog, my creative collaboration with brilliant photographer Ilva Beretta, an experimental space, a melding of words and images. Plated Stories would win us an IACP award for best photo-based blog and a nomination for the Saveur Magazine Best Food Blog Awards for best writing. I signed a contract for my first cookbook, to be released August 2017.
I had turned my writing from a passion into a profession.
But Life’s a Feast continued to be my baby. I put my passion and myself, my heart and soul, into it. I shared recipes from my kitchen and adventures of my travels and the intimate life of my family. I bared my emotions and revealed who I was. Food and family were my muse, inspiring a never-ending stream of words. I even gave Life’s a Feast a do-over in 2015 when we purchased and moved in Hôtel Diderot so I could expand my storytelling, sharing details of my life in a hotel in Chinon, France. Yet I was never really good at promoting it and so my readership stayed small if constant and recognition sporadic, ephemeral.
Until this year.
I won the 2017 International Association of Culinary Professionals’ Award for Best Narrative Culinary Blog.
I have always loved writing purely, writing for writing’s sake. I love my readers for staying constant, for supporting and encouraging my writing, for cheering me on and giving me friendship and input. Yet, receiving an award for Life’s a Feast, getting recognition for my writing and my stories from such an honored and prestigious organization as IACP is the best thing that could possibly happen to me as a writer.
You rarely win, but sometimes you do. – Harper Lee