It’s been troubling me for a while so I’m going to have to get it out.
Sorry, I know it’s not what you come here for. You come for pretty pictures of food and clumsy attempts at describing beautiful meals, lascivious pen portraits of sensual moments often induced by gluttony and excess, and all the fun frippery that comes with this hobby food blog.
I’ve always known it’s a bit of fun. Of course, there are important issues around food and I’ve often tried to use this pastime of mine for good, such as championing independent businesses or helping find new places and new experiences.
But ultimately if we’re honest this blog is a self-indulgent bit of fun that satisfies my own love of food and joy in writing. The bonus by-product is that a lot of people love food and sharing experiences, which means one or two people actually read it and enjoy it. Who knows why. Perhaps you use this kind of stuff as escapism from some of the uglier stuff in life. I know I do.
The problem is, that ugliness is bigger and scarier than it’s been for a long time – in my lifetime at least. I’m not going to rehash the many conversations I’ve had away from the online world over the past few weeks, but there’s one thing we can all agree on. The world is falling apart. It’s terrifying, depressing and sad all wrapped up in one and is getting worse by the day.
Which leads me to the conclusion I’ve reached – cemented by a few days away from posting pictures of my dinner, reading about other people’s joyous takeaway deliveries of fine food and the endless game-playing that is the life of a ‘food blogger’, however much we all pretend we’re so much above that.
That is – when the world’s falling apart before our very eyes, when so much is so wrong, how important is food?
I don’t mean eating it. Obviously it’s important. We’d die if we didn’t. But all the other stuff – the restaurants, the dreaming of food, the discussions about it, pictures, blogs, reviews and everything else in between.
I’m sure in the past I would have argued that food is about community, heritage, culture, collaboration, unity and a million other positive words, ideals and optimistic yet trite phrases. Perhaps it is. But at the moment I can’t see that.
Why, when we face questions of division and inequality on so many levels, not to mention the small issue of a global pandemic – would food be at all important? Try as I might, I am struggling to see how a list of the restaurants I want to visit when we can, or a picture of my breakfast, or any of the other blog posts I’ve half-written then trashed over the past few weeks can be anything other than self-indulgent, ignorant, shallow and to miss the seismic change all around me.
I don’t speak for all people who write on this subject, and I certainly don’t judge those who are made of sterner stuff than me and can keep their pecker up despite everything that’s going on out there. In fact, I’m definitely up for someone somewhere reminding me why food is important right now, why sharing stories around food matters, and why writing about it may well be positive.
I just can’t for the life of me see it.