Stepping out of the airport a chilly breeze carries the scent of salt water as well as a delicious shiver of anticipation down my spine.
I have arrived in Seattle for the International Food Bloggers Conference and consumption is the only thing on my agenda. Before me stretches three days of excellent of food, wine, beer and knowledge. I intended to partake fully. Gluttony of this sort is not out of bounds, in fact I expect 249 other food obsessed people to feel the same. In this moment I allow myself to live the glamorous delusion that there is no Monday, and no return to real life.
During the strangely intimate cocktail reception held in the dimly lit subterranean rooms of the Hotel Monaco, amid the crush of other like-minded individuals angling for savory nibbles, clinking glasses of wine, and bags bulging with swag, I have my first taste of what is to become an obsession. Bliss, thy name is Theo Chocolates.
Carefully I select my matte, mahogany prize, a Ghost Chili Caramel that promises a spicy sweet reward from the flecks of ruby chili on top, and place it on my tongue. Slowly the warmth of my body melts the creamy confection, and a symphony of flavor compounds are released that wrap me in a cocoon of theobromine bliss before the tingling burn of the chili flashes across my palate.
Hold it … wait … I can’t do this.
What you have just read is me trying too hard to write with a voice that is not my own. I want you, dear reader, to feel as if you are sitting in my kitchen while I prepare dinner and prattle on about one thing and another. While I feel I can improve as a writer, I’m not changing who I am!
Penny De Los Santos, who presented a beautiful slide show of her work, gave what I consider to be the best presentation at IFBC. From her I learned that I am far too comfortable with what is comfortable, if that makes sense. I need to explore more angles, give my food more space, I need to get ‘inside’ the food, and I should stop ‘taking’ pictures and start ‘making’ pictures. Honestly, I struggle with my photography. Will I get my food to come across in the most appealing way? What props should I use? Does it look too much like every other shot in my portfolio? Will I get to eat the food before it is stone cold?
A funny thing happened after Blogging Ethics:
If you were following #IFBC on Twitter you know that there was a great deal of snark, humor, and *ahem* sexual innuendo during many of the panels. Get a bunch of over fed, over stimulated bloggers together with the ultimate instant social media tool and what you get is some of the funniest, and most creative, live blogging ever.
Anyway, during the panel on Ethics one of the panelists, Robin Goldstein of Fearless Critic Media and Blind Taste, became something of a fan favorite. Maybe it was the high ratio of women to men, perhaps it was the wine served with lunch, or perhaps it was the remnants of the sexual tension inspired by the ‘lemon porn’ written during the Writing with All Five Senses panel, but mid-way through Robin’s part of the discussion (“Recent Advances in Bullshit Reduction”) the Twitter feed nearly exploded with unrestrained lust.
There was breathless panting all around me. “He’s so hot,” one woman gushed. Twitter was much the same, if a little worse. I will be quite honest … I did not get it. He is very cute, as you can see from the picture on his site, but I did not get the vapors and quite bluntly said so. For example:
I think that sometimes hotness is amplified based on the ratio of men to women … #IFBC #NotTHATHot
Not saying he is not hot, just not epic hot … he is no Gerard Butler :D. #JustSaying #IFBC
After the panel my friend Linda from Salty Seattle met Robin and, after some discussion about the Twitter feed, brought him to meet me. I will admit I was slightly flustered, unprepared as I was for this face-to-face meeting. Not knowing his reaction to what I said I steeled myself for some sort of rebuke, but he was very kind. In fact, he was sort of amused and was nice enough to call me ‘feisty’. I said to his face what I said on Twitter, that he is cute but I was not melting in my seat for him. We laughed about it, and I truly hope he was not offended by my candor, but I stand by my words.
Moral of the story: If you write it on Twitter you MUST own it in real life!
- Do not give anything away for free! If they want your work, recipes or pictures, they should pay. Ask around for the going rate, and do not be afraid to negotiate.
- Bloggers are a very carnal people, and if you get enough of them blogging on the same topic the discussion will inevitably turn to sex. I love them all for it!
- If you want to be published you have to do one of three things: First, stalk the publisher relentlessly. Second, give them bribes (apparently chocolate works). Third, use what connections you have to get your foot in the door. (For the record, I do not see myself doing any of these)
- If you wondered if it is REALLY about who you know … rest assured, it is.
- Practice makes perfect.
- Your writing voice is you, only a better, more interesting you.
- Sometimes when you have too many beers, and you are having fun with a great group of people, a spelling mistake can turn into a movement! (Ruke!)
So, what did I think of IFBC?
I think these kinds of events are what you make of them, and I tried to make the most of my time there. What I am taking away with me, aside from some knowledge, is a group of new friends. It is exciting to bond over food, drinks, and laughs.
Overall, it was an excellent experience that I would gladly do over. Yes, there were moments I found insipid, and even insulting, but those were balanced by things that inspired me in ways I did not expect.