Grimod de la Reynière – the original foodie – wrote a bunch of essays that, in today’s food blogging world, would make him a foodie. After all, Grimod was an expert in:
- Reviewing restaurants and writing the occasional revenge-motivated essay;
- Food trivia on ingredients and foodstuffs that you can’t have, and;
- Waxing philosophically on random food items as metaphors for life.
For all intents and purposes, Grimod “blogged” way before we started going into openings of restaurants in malls clutching netbooks and iPads because we review food. Or become part of a “food blogger” niche.
Of course, Grimod did not walk into restaurants for the sole purpose of taking pictures of food, as is the norm today. It was the 1800’s: Grimod did not paint still life of bouillabaisse or made woodcuts of suckling pigs. Grimod ate, analyzed, left, and ate again. For all intents and purposes, Grimod was the Big Bad… Gourmand.
Don’t get me wrong: I like reading food blogs, I like foodies, and I think that it’s a sad state of blogging in the Philippines to think that such a happy topic is more prone to flak than, say, political blogging. The bashing of a “member of the Yellow Horde” is nothing compared to the online flogging of a “gatecrasher” or a “free food blogger;” mostly because it affects social taste, and hits us pretty bad in the stomach. Had Grimod lived today and blogged in the Philippines, he would have been so hated, reviled, and pretty much blacklisted by that omniscient bearer of invites and press kits, “PR.”
No, this is not a knock on “biases” or “reviews” or whatnot. I just feel that in this age of the free and the sponsored meal that happens almost every day, there’s no review for the guy who sells lunches to the offices. No McDonald’s meal has been reviewed. There is no single compelling piece out there that will defend the giniling of a C. Palanca Jollyjeep from the fans of Monday lechon kawali over at a Valero Jollyjeep. This is not just about the quality of the food we’re writing about, but the quality of writing. The synonyms of “delicious” and “succulent” do not make the difference. It’s easier to find things in a thesaurus than to find real, delicious food. More than the marketing, it’s in the eating, and the expression of the eating.
I don’t question the love for food, but I do underscore the big difference between the gastronomic essay and the food review. The former is an exposition, the latter is a laundry list. The former is an exploration, the latter is a sell. The foodie from the gourmand: the former loves food, the latter lives food. I guess that’s what I’m looking for as a reader: not a Doreen Fernandez with an encyclopedic knowledge for food, but a Grimod who has a deep appreciation for food and expresses it well. I tried, but somehow I really can’t do it. I really don’t know how, but all I’m saying is that maybe the marketing can take the backseat when we’re writing about what matters: taste, texture, flavor, and the things about food that take more than a recommended adjective to describe. One, as a friend says, that takes passion.
Before we start sticking telephoto lenses on steaks, or raving about how flaky the cream dory is on 20 or so fish restaurants, or scramble over invites to dinner to some foo-foo restaurant we could go to once or twice a year on, a word from Grimod:
Life is so brief that we should not glance either to far backwards or forwards… therefore study how to fix our happiness in our glass and in our plate.
Anyway here’s a picture of fried chicken and fries.
Crisp, almost cookie-like breading on the chicken. The fries had an earthy note, I guess from the sweetness of the sugars in the starchy wedges and the crisp skin left on the potato. The meat on the chicken remained juicy but the peppery crust on the skin was perfectly seasoned, with a lemony aftertaste. Superb, delicious, great value at P170.
Of course, I’m not really a food blogger so that’s all I got.