This isn’t my first blog, but it’s certainly my first of it’s kind. My first blog was for a creative writing class, and the rest of them sprung from adventures around the world and my desire to publish parts of my travels. Those blogs are dormant because the adventures are over, for the time being. And now I’ve begun a new adventure–moving to a new city, not knowing where I’m headed, living independently–and I feel ready for a new format. I get to set a new design theme, color palette, title, and font. Writing is easy when you’re sinking into a new structure. Inspiration strikes more often, and the words want to try out their new environment. It’s like getting a haircut and feeling like you suddenly smile more.
Oats is a blog that’s been begging to be let out. About two years ago I began to take more interest in food, ingredients, and cooking. During my senior year of college, I was lucky enough to live with two unique ladies who also loved to cook and were also thinking a lot about food. We had allergies, dietary concerns, budgets, and partialities, but somehow we managed to make beautiful food together. We owe a lot of it to Marie Claire’s Spicy cookbook, the Middlebury Co-Op, Tracy Young’s culinary ingenuity, and finally living off-campus. After a year of fancy experimentation, failed baking and fabulous cocktail mixing, food just keeps getting more interesting.
My burgeoning interest in food hasn’t died down, and suddenly I find myself in the epicenter of foodie-ism. San Francisco is replete with gorgeous and delicious food. Lush asparagus and glistening navel oranges greet me at the many organic corner stores. Farmers Markets happen daily and year-round. Restaurants for every ethnicity and budget beckon in every neighborhood. If you’re living in San Francisco, I don’t need to tell you how lucky you are. If you are elsewhere, believe me when I say, no exaggeration, this is food paradise.
But food is not a static entity. It is not simply the tasty fuel we imbibe, digest, and expel. These days, where food comes from is quickly becoming the hottest question in both kitchens and congress. I am interested in food writing because food connects to much larger-scale issues. Food relates to culture and regionalism and family. To taste and tradition and history, to science and biology. Perhaps most importantly, food is very simply an important part of pleasure and happiness. It pervades the environmental and agricultural problems that urgently demand our attention around the world. In September, Michael Pollan wrote a poignant letter in The New York Times to the then-future president about the need for drastic reform in our agricultural policies. If you are still reading this post, please take the time to read Pollan’s letter: “Farmer in Chief”
I know by now that it’s cliché, but I can’t help but rave about Michael Pollan. It’s writers like him that illuminate the interconnectedness of food and personal, community-based, and global concerns. I plan to include more articles like this one in my blog, and I look to Pollan, Slow Food, The Ethicurean, Epicurious.com, Mark Bittman, Wendell Berry, Bill McKibbon, Alice Waters, and other food-writing pioneers as supplementary material.
I want this blog to address stories and experiences and ideas that relate to food. But I also want it to be about writing, not just as something being written but as something that is conscious about writing and concerned with literature and language. I am blending a tangible, tactile thing with a very abstract one. We’ll see where the recipe takes me. Keep reading!