In my last post I skewered (humorously I hope) the gluttony of food blogs currently devouring space on the Web and questioned the utility of adding yet another filler to the mix in the form of the Couchsurfing Cook. Given however that I seem to have, perhaps unwittingly, plunged into the foodesque, food-ish, blog-like-thingy, I have no choice now but to attempt, at least if I want to look myself in the mirror each morning, to distinguish this blog from the others being offered up for public consumption, or at least keep it sufficiently entertaining such that people don’t come to question the meaning of their lives or wonder whether their time on this earth was well spent by having wasted another perfectly good hour reading this blog.
With that as introduction, what should you, dear reader, expect from the Couchsurfing Cook in future episodes, should you deem her worthy of your time? Well, given that the idea for this blog emerged as part of a half-witted idea that it would be pretty sweet to get paid to travel the world and eat with people and then — given the ice-water shock of reality when I realized no one was likely to pay me to do anything even vaguely resembling such a plan for some time — and then, coming to the third “ah ha” moment when it occurred to me I could simply start cooking with couchsurfers in my apartment to get the ball rolling, upon which I next surmised, “Oh, but what are you going to do when there are no couchsurfers?” and next noting the further factoid that there were already a slew of food bloggers already out there plying their trade who had far more cooking cojones than I, and then, well, yadda, yadda, the narrative could go on and on, but needless to say somewhere in the midst of all this I began writing, and a couchsurfer appeared, and a recipe came forth and now here we are, but truthfully I’m still a bit baffled myself as to what this blog is going to be and more importantly how the hell I got here.
But I digress…
Today (or rather tonight, because in truth it was 10:20 p.m. on 5.11.10 when I began this entry after downing a beer and two shrimp empanadas) my goal is to spell out, for myself as much as for you, “The Ten Commandments of the Couchsurfing Cook” or at least a rundown of what I’m going to strive to provide to you, dear readers, should you find yourselves lost in the foresty ramblings of this itinerant cook as she/I ever-so-bravely traverses the culinary universe.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF THE COUCHSURFING COOK
1. This blog will be about more than just food. Since we’ve already determined that the world has enough food blogs in it, this blog will be as much about introducing you to cool people from around the world who are cooking interesting dishes or doing interesting things as it will be about food in and of itself. Because, at the end of the day, I’m much less interested in food on its own than I am fascinated by people and food in context, as ritual, and as segue way into other cultures. The people cooking on this blog are ones you might not otherwise meet but who, upon having met, may be ones you’d want to hang out with and, who knows, become friends with some day. The Couchsurfing Cook’s tagline: It’s not just about the food.
2. This blog will be FUN to read. There’s nothing worse than wasting your time (time and health being all we have) reading boring dreck. However, to be even clearer, I’m going to offer various departments of fun like Adventures in Cooking, Dinner Party Conversation, Taste Test, Cook-Off, Sunday Dinner, and Food and Sex, so you can choose your food fun poison…if that makes sense. Nah, probably doesn’t but what the hell. You get my drift.
2. The dishes presented on this blog will be affordable for the average person. By that I mean, I’m not generally going to make aspirational dishes that break your grocery store bank. While some of this is dependent on the courchsurfers who stay with me (or the people whose homes I visit), I’m going to try to keep costs reasonable and publish the food prep costs as much as possible (thank you Cathy Erdway for that inspiration) so you know approximately what to expect before heading to your local superette. It’s not that I’m against splurging, but I also firmly believe eating well shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. The Couchsurfing Cook has to pay her rent too!
4. This blog will focus on quality not quantity. I’m not going to publish a recipe or post every day because I don’t think most people can keep up with that much weekly cooking. To my mind, publishing a recipe-a-day or “twittering” every meal you eat is excessive. I want people to be inspired by this blog to cook for themselves, not feel so inundated with recipes they end up reading about what I’ve made and never experiment themselves.
5. This blog will NOT glorify food porn. While I have no problem presenting mouth-watering pictures of food, the last thing I want to do is display gorgeous images of prepared foods that only make you feel worse because you know you won’t have time to make the same dish or worry your version won’t measure up to the glossy hype. In other words, no one is going to be shaving ANYTHING (not even Parmesan) in response to this blog! Got it?
6. This blog will be about regular people not food stars. While I have great respect for culinary experts sharing their passion and expertise with us ordinary folks, I sometimes think we’ve exalted experts so much in our society that we’ve come to distrust our own ability to be creators of our own lives, especially regarding something as personal as taste and what you enjoy eating. In my world, you are a creative cook right now! Yes, there are things you can learn to be a better cook, and I’m happy to share what I know and/or borrow/steal from those who know more than me. But let no one say you need Le Creuset pots and Wusthof knives (though both are nice) in order to make a meal of beauty. Some of the best cooks I know work in kitchens smaller than many people’s bathrooms. Heck, really great meals can be prepared over a hole dug in the ground filled with wood chips.
7. This blog will aspire to be a multilingual conversation among many. Not right away, but in later iterations, I’m envisioning Skype dinner parties and live cooking demos so people feel truly connected in real-time with the community who participate in this blog. After reading the Couchsurfing Cook and joining the CSC community, I hope one day you’ll feel like you have places to eat and people to visit all over the world!
8. This blog will promote food rituals and gatherings. While I completely support eating well alone, one of the practices I feel is lacking in the world today is ritual. Therefore what I want to inspire via this blog is the organizing of Sunday night suppers and Moveable Feasts with friends and family. I want people to host simulcast world-wide dinner parties so people can participate in a multicultural shared dining experience. Optimistic? Probably. Crazy? Absolutely. Possible? Let’s hope!
9. This blog will give back to the larger Couchsurfing community. Couchsurfing changed my life. Okay, maybe that’s grandiose, but it definitely introduced me to amazing people whom I never would have met had it not been for the site. Few experiences in life allow for that deep connection in a short time; couchsurfing does. So whatever goodness gets generated via this site, some percentage will be donated back to Couchsurfing.org. To be clear, the site is NOT making money now. I’m just saying if it ever does, CS will be thanked.
10. This blog will be what the world needs now…or at least what the world needs on a day when the egg yolks dribble into the whites, the milk turns rancid, and the neighbor slams the door in your face when you ask to borrow sugar. And it will make you faster, smarter, and more attractive to the opposite sex. Because I know you can choose to read anything and everything on the Web, my small hope is that there’s something about this blog you’ll come to look forward to with each post. Perhaps it’s a helpful cooking tip. Maybe it’s a fun, new recipe to add to your repertoire. Or it could be a great story to tell at a party you’re going to later. Whatever it is, feel free to stay in touch and send me your input, feedback, and ideas. I’m new at this and can use all the help I can get! Bon appétit!