Well, it was never going to last forever, now, was it? Like Piri Weepu's All Blacks career, my time here on Stuff has drawn to an end. Today, in fact. Today is the last post you will ever read by me here, at least, as The Omnivore.
I have a few things I am mulling over. There is still the Facebook page, which, if you join up, will keep you informed as to the happenings at Omni HQ, what I am having for breakfast, and whatever I do next. First, Plus One and I are going on holiday - New York City, which I haven't visited since 1999; Montreal, where I have never been; and to Rhode Island to visit one of my oldest and dearest school pals, KCD. I will doubtless do some extraordinary eating, which I will write up and share in some form and keep you posted as to where on that there FB page. Eating tips in these locales are more than welcome in the comments section.
As much as anything else, I reckon that writing here three times a week has been an organisational feat. You need to find the time to write 700-plus words a week, thrice weekly. You need to get it posted, add the links and pictures. There's a bit more to it than you'd think (but not that much more!).
I feel as though I have seldom lacked inspiration to write about food. Because the scope of The Omnivore has been so broad - cooking, eating, ideas, theories - there has always been something to write about. And just when you are thinking "crikey, what shall I write about for tomorrow?" something presents itself.
Often it has come from one of my favourite feeders; take a bow Steven and Valda Scheckter, at On Trays Food Emporium, Joshna and Sanjay Dayal at Cuba Fruit, Shaun Clouston of Logan Brown, Tee Phee at Little Penang, Agnes Almeida (late of Milk Crate), Lorenzo Bresolin of Duke Carvell's, Meropi and Michael Matsis at Zany Zeus, Jos and Pete at The Garage Project... and so many more. You have provided sustenance and support above and beyond the call of duty, for which I am profoundly grateful.
God, people are, for the most part, pretty bloody nice, aren't they?
In the past week or so, since I declared the imminent demise of The Omnivore (at least here on Stuff), I have received all manner of charming and kind messages of support from people who seem to have genuinely enjoyed my musings here. And, even if they didn't, really, and were just trying to make me feel better, I still appreciate it. So - thanks.
I love the idea that I have filled in a little window in some people's day, 10 minutes over lunch or whatever. I hope it has proved satisfactory reading matter as you chomp back your sandwich, or wrap, or salad. And I am touched to think that some have even had a go at what are more like meal ideas that I have shared than actual proper recipes, per se.
Which leads me to today's subject - where to send you now that you will have a little extra food-reading-time up your sleeve (and so will I).
So here 'tis - The Omnivore's self-indulgent guide to the best blogs and food-reading matter on t'internet, thus:
Forgive me, this week, for not boldly looking forward to the next opportunity to eat something awesome, but rather having a nostalgic, rose-tinted gaze over the last couple of years worth of posts here at The Omnivore.
I don't usually buy "greatest hits"-type albums. When I am fond of an artist's work, I usually want the whole picture, not just the edited highlights, viewed from either their perspective of their own work, or from some schmoe at the record company. However, if you are going to go down the greatest hits path, I reckon there are a few basic principles you must obey.
First, you must include your hit(s). A "hits" set from which you have excluded your most popular songs, simply because you are ashamed or sick of them, is of no use to the casual fan, the kind who will buy your greatest hits set. A Kinks compilation, for instance, that doesn't include You Really Got Me, but rather, favours their later, more cerebral works - pointless. A Neil Young comp without "Heart of Gold" - nope, sorry, just doesn't cut the mustard.
It does, however, need to include some rare cuts and songs you, as an artist, are particularly fond of, so as to rope in the true fan, who may need it to complete their collection. It should also have a good, sturdy cover, one that doesn't look like it was knocked up by me as a Word document. And a whole raft of worthy sleevenotes, guest appearances, interesting details and little-known facts about how the songs came together.
So, with these self-imposed rules (very) selectively (mis-)applied, here is my self-selected "greatest hits" playlist from two years of writing The Omnivore.
It has been just over two years since I commenced this blog escapade. I want to say "two long years", but it hasn't really felt like that at all. In fact, it has flown by. In that time I have been introduced to a whole bunch of new things - food, and places, and people.
One thing I have always craved is the kind of experiences that you can't just step up and buy. I want to experience things that are extraordinary, eat things that are exquisite - not just in an exclusive, highbrow way, but rather to try to better understand other people, other cultures, their ways and why they do things as they do. I want to feel the connection, through food, that comes from sharing a meal with people, from breaking bread, sharing a drink and talking about the things that matter. Or not, at all, as the case may be.
I commenced this forum because, primarily (let's be honest here); I thought people would want to feed me delicious things! And, to a large extent - I was right. Doors have certainly opened, though it took a while for anyone to seem to actually trust me. And fair enough - I had absolutely no pedigree for writing about food. I had written about music, quite a bit, and a little about rugby. But nothing about food.
There is a thing that people talk about called "the Imposter Syndrome" - that innate feeling that at some point, someone is going to tap you on the shoulder and say "OY! You don't belong here! You don't know what you're talking about!" And, to be honest, for the first few months, this fear was very real. I was acutely aware that I was surrounded by people who knew more than I do about what I was talking about. I was shot down a couple of times for making the sort of glib proclamations that I make as a matter of course.
You forget, sometimes, how stuff online doesn't often convey tone. It is sometimes hard to tell when people are being sarcastic, or when they are joking. Sometimes something can seem like a joke when it is, in fact, intended seriously. I apologise if occasionally this has been unclear. Over a period of time, you come to realise that there is a cluster of people who really do get what you are on about - names that crop up in the comments again and again.
I was reading this the other day - decrying the serving of hot avocados. Clearly, hot avocados are not a good thing, though, as ever, there are honourable exceptions. But if you heat an avocado, you fundamentally alter the way it tastes, its texture, everything. Cold, creamy avocados are delicious, and have a rich, oily flavour; hot or warm avos are greasy, shapeless, formless - revolting. They just taste wrong.
The Huffington Post folks are quite right, I reckon. And nothing you can do or say will convince me that the hot avocado is a good idea. There are, in fact, a lot of bad ideas circulating in terms of food trends. We seem, mostly, to have killed off "the plate smear", which always looks as though someone got to your food before you did. I feel broadly the same way about foam - it may be fancy, and lend itself to fine dining, but it always looks as though Sid Vicious has gobbed on your plate. Similarly, the inedible garnish - I have seen it creeping its way back on to plates - the unwelcome rosemary branch, the sprinkles of "raw" paprika...
There are heaps of other things to dislike, some rational, some less so. And we just love complaining about the things we don't like, right?
I have noticed that over the just-over-two-years that I have been writing this thing, people pitch in far more enthusiastically when something negative is being expressed than when you are speaking of the pure, unbridled joy that a meal has given (this is similar to those who feel that Simon Sweetman only writes negative, disparaging things over at Blog on the Tracks, with precious little attention given to when he is gushy and in love with music, as he often is). Any suggestion of crappy restaurant service, or poor food, or dislikes is greeted with utter glee. So - let's fire up the old engine one more time, huh?
For instance, I have never understood people's enthusiasm for kumara chips. I mean, I like kumara, and I like chips - but why would you wanna mingle/mangle them together? Scroggin - there's another one. Is there anything more depressing than those little bags of fruit and nuts, maybe some sad-looking dried pineapple (which I also hate), and, worst of all, carob buttons? They are faux-healthy snacks for trampers and self-deluders alike - what's wrong, for instance, with a piece of fruit?
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