Becoming a food-writer
There have been several conversations about daydreaming in recent days, reminding me of my own career daydreams over the years.
When I lived in London some years ago, I became mesmerised by the culture of food. This surprised me, because I’d always thought Australia had one of the most diverse and innovative food cultures in the world.
The U.K. was awash for food shows – Jamie, Gordon, Hugh, Raymond, Heston and of course, the best ever version of MasterChef. I devoured them all.
Having just spent two years in Jerusalem, where I shopped in the markets of the wondrous Old City and learned about finding the best hummus and falafel, I found the whole food thing in London very inspiring and I decided to enrol in a food-writing course.
One thing lead to another, and in my spare time, I became an infrequent restaurant reviewer for Time Out London. I was assigned to the Chinatown beat (because of my background in China and Hong Kong) and of course it was all secretive; you didn’t announce yourself to make sure you got a real experience.
I continued this for another publication after returning to Australia, until I got my ‘termination notice’ from the friend who’d employed me. It came at the right time.
Over the years, I’ve also dabbled – quite fanatically – in finding decent chocolate during my travels. I’ve also become quite knowledgeable (and fond) of Champagne.
An old friend reminded me last night that my first writing assignment at university (which was given a bare pass by a former tutor named Peter Temple – now one of Australia’s finest crime writers) was on the subject of chocolate.
And I discovered that there is a competition for amateur champagne lovers, some of whom become such experts, like Bernadette O’Shea, that their passion becomes their livelihood.
I realised that I could search out fine chocolate whenever I liked and bore people talking about it. I realised too, towards the end of my brief time moonlighting as a food reviewer, that I was fed up finding new ways to describe noodles (slippery, slurpy, silky, sublime). Trying to describe the difference in the ‘bead’ (size of bubbles) in Champagne… well, I realised in all of these passions, I really just wanted to consume and enjoy them. Very much.
Having to dissect and explain what makes chocolate, food and champagne so enjoyable just took away the magic.
It’s always good to dream. For some the dream becomes something enduring.
Thankfully for me, I did not give up my day job.