Today I took the plunge and launched Beef and Steel, my new food blog. It’s been a long time coming, but the time was right to stop talking and start doing.
Actually, to start doing publicly. I’ve been writing and researching pieces for some time now. And, I’ve been thinking about starting a food blog for some time before that. In fact, I’ve wanted to write about food for years.
The Food Blogging Debate
It started back when I wrote two long pieces on Food Blogging in early 2010 – The Future Of Food Blogging – Part One and The Future Of Food Blogging – Part Two – a 1,200 word essay I split into two posts, written as a reply to Robert Sietsema’s jeremiad against food bloggers.
Focussing on the ethics of blogged restaurant reviews made me realise it was a road I didn’t want to go down. I have friends who review restaurants; I admire and appreciate what they do. And, at the time I was living in Hong Kong and regularly eating at the best and newest restaurants, so the opportunity was there.
However, the debate about restaurant reviews and food bloggers was largely commercial. Food blogs were rewriting the rules for restaurant reviews – rules that restaurant owners had relied on for marketing their businesses and food journalists had depended on for their livelihood.
As important as the debate was, I didn’t personally want to get caught in the middle of it. This is something I was already starting to reflect on later in 2010 when I wrote Lessons in Food and Love.
“…food is never just about commerce (selling advertising, shipping produce, appeasing landlords) and shouldn’t be reduced to that. Food is fundamental to civilisation. I never make a final decision if someone really is trustworthy, or a friend, till I share a meal with them. I do my best to treat every meal as significant and important, even when I’m alone. Looked at across the breath of human history this is not an unusual stance to take. If it seems odd to place such importance on a meal, then it is only because our expectations of food and the place it plays in our life have been so diminished. That’s a problem that really does deserve our attention.”
What Food Means To Me
The more I thought about what I wanted to say about food, the more I started thinking about the role food plays in my everyday life. Then it hit me while I was making a Thai Beef Salad. I was looking down at my wooden chopping board, while slicing thin strips of rare-cooked beef. This was a dish my family loved, one I learned to cook while in Northern Thailand, but I was cooking it in a high-rise in Hong Kong. Personally I loved the dish because, Thai-flavours aside, it evoked the memory of steak and salad, a dish my family often ate when I was growing in Australia prepared in a way my mother had learnt when she grew up in Chile.
The answer was right there in front of me – write about the food I cook at home.
What Beef And Steel Will Be
Once I had decided to start Beef and Steel the real challenge was how to not kill myself. Honestly, there are so many awesome food blogs out there that are so well written and well photographed.
Firstly, I gave myself time. I’ve really spent a year working on my food photography, both with the dSLR and iPhone. And, I’ve already written a lot of drafts and researched a number of recipes. So, I’m not going live with nothing in the tank.
Second, the typical post will be a lot shorter than what you are used to here. I’m aiming for only 240-400 words, but some will be even shorter than that. I feel comfortable with such an approach because I’m not aiming to be comprehensive, I’m just trying to offer an idea and hope you’ll get into your kitchen and give it a go.
The Soft Launch
The first post went up on Beef and Steel today. I’m calling it a soft launch because the site is not fully ready yet. But, I know that if I don’t go public I’ll keep finding reasons to delay the launch. So better to go with imperfect, than wait forever with perfection as the excuse. I’ve even set up a Twitter account as well.
I hope you’ll take a look at Beef and Steel and, as always, let me know what you think, either by email or in the comments below.