Food writers can be a territorial lot. Particularly those that stay in one place, covering it for all its worth. I once fell into that category. In Shanghai I worked for many years to seek out the city’s secreted dumpling shacks and ramshackle restaurants – alongside the best, rarified stuff the city had to offer. Occasionally, a more accomplished food writer would breeze though town, on an enviable assignment, and ask me to lunch. The first few times I was so flattered I opened up my address book, sending them off in search of my hard-earned finds. Several months later, I’d see a story I might have written myself, without so much as a mention of the source. Emails for promised contacts went unanswered. I learned to keep certain things to myself.
But blogging has quickly changed the guarded dynamics of food writing. It has also changed the guarded dynamics of actually getting paid to write about food, but that's another story. Now, instead of writers hording away their favorite places for features down the line, they’re snapping pictures and slapping them on the web. Because of websites like these, the maxim that “if you write about it, it’ll be ruined,” (an assertion which always struck me as elitist, and also pretty stupid), seems to be losing steam amongst Asia’s food intelligentsia.
The other day, I ate at Chote Chitr, a Bangkok establishment that was a favorite of Robert Halliday (of the Bangkok Post), who introduced it to the late RW Apple, who then passed it on to a hungry tide of writers in this piece. Their walls are papered with praise, and Chote Chitr deserves every bit of it. Without that coverage, this tiny restaurant on a local street in one of Bangkok’s inconvenient corners might not be there today. But it is, and in the kitchen the same ladies still cook Thai food with great finesse and balance.In this blog, and with my entries at the Food Channel, I’ll try to share with you delicious bits that I uncover, wherever work leads me. But don’t think that these findings are necessarily my own. I spend more time trolling message boards and food blogs than most people do – constantly searching for good things to eat. But the best information I ever get isn’t usually from kitchen professionals or even wonky bloggers. It’s from everyday people who love to eat, and want to share that love with others. So please, share your secrets with me here, and I’ll return the favor when I find something new – or old, for that matter.