Confessions of a Caribbean Food Blogger
April 23, 2007.
By Franka Philip
I’m back from a short break and during that time I chatted with three fellow Caribbean bloggers, Chennette, Trinigourmet and Cynthia to explore the reasons why Caribbean food bloggers do what they do.
I’ve found that although our blogs have very different styles, the underlying reasons for why we blog are basically the same.
I started blogging in February 2006 with the intention of getting the discipline and inspiration I need to start writing a cookbook. There was no idealism about it, no grand illusion of becoming rich off blogging; it was just something I wanted to do for fun.
Plus, I know I can string two sentences together and I figured that it would be a good way to convey my passion for food. In the year and a bit since I’ve been blogging, it’s become more and more obvious that there are several reasons why my fellow bloggers and I must continue doing this.
1. Recording our food history
Most of the recipes we call favourites or classics, have been passed down orally through the generations and as a result, there isn’t a lot of consistency in the way that most of our favourite dishes are made. Trinigourmet pointed to an established cuisine like French cuisine and noted that there are standard ways of making certain dishes, like soufflés, for example.
However, if you’re looking for a classic Caribbean recipe, you’ll often find many variations depending on who gave you the recipe or where you got it. We can use our blogs to exchange information and arrive at consensus at some of those recipes. Another important task is making a detailed pictorial record of techniques, something that isn’t done very much for Caribbean food.
2. Our chefs don’t write
Unfortunately, not many homegrown chefs have published in any serious way. In the US and the UK books by chefs like Anthony Bourdain, Ina Garten, Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver practically dominate the market but in the Caribbean, not many of our chefs have published any books you can call ‘top notch’.
By using the medium of the Internet, people like Cynthia Nelson who is already a passionate food writer, can use her blog to write about food topics that aren’t generally covered by our chefs or any other writers for that matter. Cynthia, who has a food column in Guyana’s Stabroek News says she hopes to write several cookbooks and is already using her blog to explore some of the ideas she wants to put into a book.
3. Owning our food culture
Too often, foreigners who don’t totally understand our context have written awful cartoon books posing as books about Caribbean food. As far as our cuisine goes, there are no better connoisseurs than us! We know how the food should look, smell and taste and as part of the new generation of food writers I feel we’re in a great position, given the technology at our disposal to give the world a true representation of what our cuisine is about. As Chennette said, “I just want to give helpful information on Caribbean life.”
4. Building pride in our cuisine
We love our food and we’re proud! It’s time for Caribbean people to step up and boast about what we have to offer and also, to correct the errors we often see when others have written about our cuisine.
According to Trinigourmet, “part of the problem has been a sense of inferiority, an inappropriate amount of gratitude when we get mentioned (in foreign media) – even if they are wrong,” she said. “We shouldn’t be so hungry for external validation that we settle for things that miss out basics. Bloggers don’t have to bother with the traditions of the food world because we’re making our own and setting the rules.”
Franka Philip is a food expert and a journalist with the BBC in London. She blogs at www.cancookmustcook.com
Please e-mail comments to email@example.com