Two Months

I brought you a slice of red velvet cake as a peace offering...
I brought you a slice of red velvet cake as a peace offering...

It’s been over two months since I posted here. A lot can happen in two months.

In two months, you can find yourself living in a completely different part of the city, in a rambling old house from the 1920s, devoid of husband or dogs or cat. In two months, you can ultimately find happiness and some measure of comfort in something incredibly painful. In two months, you can turn a hobby in to a more-than-full-time job and find yourself resenting what you used to love. In two months, you can reinvent yourself.

Over the past two months, I’ve been heavily active on Twitter. Who hasn’t…? But I’ve found myself increasingly disillusioned not only with the ephemeral nature of Twitter — the fleeting attention spans, the condensed and often thoughtless coughing up of little blood spatters of information or thoughts or ideas — but with the inelegance of Twitter itself. Twitter is a spasm, a knee jerk, a poorly played game of Telephone.

That’s not to say it’s all terrible. Twitter can be useful. And entertaining. And engaging (perhaps too much at times). But I don’t like what it’s done to me or the people around me. We’ve found ourselves endlessly checking our Twitter apps on our iPhones at dinner, ignoring conversations with others to scroll through the timeline, thinking of TwitPic’ing something the instant we see it or instantly relaying inane, overheard discussions as OH’s. There is no time to process — only to Tweet. We’ve found ourselves alternately obsessed with ourselves and with people we don’t even know, ignoring our real lives in the process. There is no time to live — only to navelgaze.

I’m guilty of all of this. And I don’t want to be that person anymore. Of course, I can’t get off of Twitter entirely. It’s a large part of my job to be plugged into Twitter at all times as the @HoustonPress. But I’m more or less abandoning @she_eats for now. It’s become too much to keep up with and the intensely private person that I am (truly, although no one really seems to believe this) is exhausted and frightened by people thinking they know me just because they follow me on Twitter. We are more than our Twitter profiles, people.

So for those reasons and many others, it’s back to blogging for me. Equally narcissistic? Perhaps. But that’s not why I got into this game in the first place. I love it here — the words flowing from my fingers to the keys to the peaceful white void of the screen with no 140 character limits or constant need to entertain or be entertained. I feel comfortable here. There is more even footing here. There is more space to explain, to engage, to be useful — all the things that I initially thought Twitter would be better for — but with far more thought and effort put into it.

So with that… I’m off Twitter. And back here (and always at the Press, of course). Hope to see you around…

Twitter Etiquette for Foodies: A Hot Potato

Note:  If you’re my mom, or someone else who is otherwise unfamiliar with Twitter, allow me to direct you here.

Since its inception in 2006, countless guides on Twitter etiquette have been written by well-meaning users attempting to provide some definition and guidance to people using the microblogging service.  Widely-accepted Twitter etiquette includes things like not @ replying the same person several times in a row and instead taking the conversation to DM, making sure your Tweets contain substance and not just endless links to your blog or whatever product you’re trying to promote, and not following people to increase your own follow count and then immediately unfollowing them.  (Again, if none of this made sense, check out the link above or…maybe you can play a nice game of Solitaire until my next post.)

Because everyone uses Twitter differently — whether to keep up with friends, promote their product, network with like-minded individuals or simply entertain themselves — it’s no surprise that foodies have their own way of using Twitter, too.  In my case, I use Twitter as an extension of my blog and to interact with my readers and friends.  That means Twittering about restaurants at which I’m eating, food or meals I’m enjoying, recommending places to folks who ask, answering food-related questions when able, and other food-related (and often non-food-related) errata.  Other local foodies who use Twitter this way are Alison Cook of the Houston Chronicle, Jenny of I’m Never Full, Chris of Houston Foodie and Misha of Tasty Bits.

However, not all Twitter users are created equal.  As I’ve discovered on many different occasions, Twittering my location invariably leads to one of my Twitter followers showing up at that location to join me.  Do I mind?  90% of the time, no.  I’m usually glad for company and to get to know my followers better, if we aren’t friends in real life already.  However, it begs the question: Does announcing your location on Twitter mean that you’ve issued an open invitation for others to join you?

I surveyed my followers on Twitter about this issue and was surprised at the wide array of responses. I shouldn’t have been surprised, though: It’s just another example of the amorphous nature of social media and how everyone uses Twitter in their own, unique way.

On one hand, it’s astonishing how one small tool can be used in a million different ways.  How often has technology been that endlessly flexible in the past?  On the other hand, it can be disturbing when there aren’t at least a few rules around its use.  What if people drove cars without any rules?  There would be chaos in the streets, quite literally.

My opinion on the matter is straightforward: When I Twitter that I’m at a certain location, it is not an invitation for others to join.  I am only sharing an experience — to my point above — that I believe is no different than what I would share on this blog.  If I were having a conversation with someone, whether on phone or email or in person, and I mentioned that I was going to be at Feast for dinner, that is not an implicit invitation for that person to join me.  I’m simply relating a fact about my life, not issuing an invitation.  Twitter — as a conversation between a lot of people at the same time — is no different.

However, I will happily have others join me and often issue invitations via Twitter: I’m at Boheme. Drop by and join me for a glass of wine if you’re in the area.

That is entirely different than, for example: Enjoying the duck gumbo at Rainbow Lodge. What a great view from the dining room!

I trust that we can all see the differences between those two statements.  And I hope that no one would take the latter as an invitation to come and crash a dinner.  And while I suppose I can’t be entirely surprised if someone does show up, I’m not going to censor myself or my Twittering on the off-chance that someone might do that.

As mentioned, there are plenty of guides to Twitter etiqutte while you’re online, but nothing about the offline world.  Because Twitter is such a social medium, you’ll meet your fellow Twitterers out in public much more often than you would, say, fellow posters on a WoW forum.  So it only makes sense to develop some sort of guideline for interacting with each other in an offline setting.  Common sense would dictate that human beings don’t really need guidelines on how to interact with one another in person, but experience has shown that’s not always the case.  Example:  Is it really appropriate to have your opening words to someone be, “What’s your handle on Twitter?”  No, of course not.  But it happens all the time.

Below, I’ve included a sampling of the responses that I received when I asked the original question.  They’re loosely grouped, as it’s difficult to aggregate such dissimilar responses.  Read them and please feel free to provide your own feedback in the comments section.

Continue reading Twitter Etiquette for Foodies: A Hot Potato

To Everything There Is Some Seasoning

…wait, did I get that right?

Anyway.  Two things.

Number One:  In case you missed it, today is your last day to pick up the March 19th edition of the Houston Press on newsstands, which contains my review of The Grove in the dining section.  If you’re reading this from France or the future and can’t get a physical copy, here’s a link to the review: Downtown Attraction at The Grove.  Being in print is awesomely fun, as is working with the good folks at the Houston Press.  Which leads us to the second thing…

Number Two:  For those of you who have been following me for a while (whether here at she eats. or at my previous blog), you’ll know that I was never happy in my day job.  To put it mildly.  So it is with great excitement and an affirming sense of self-actualization that I’m happy to announce that I’ve resigned from my day job and have taken a full-time position with the Houston Press as their Web Editor.  I’ll still be blogging about food here and at Eating Our Words, but I’ll be taking on a wholly new docket of responsibilities as well.

To say that I’m merely excited by this would be a massive understatement.  How can you just be simply excited about turning over a completely new page in your life…jumping off a cliff into the great unknown…realizing the goals and dreams you always had for yourself…watching the hustle and sweat finally pay off…moving in an entirely new direction as before?

I’m not excited.  I’m ravenous.  I’m fiercely hungry to do this work and to succeed at it.  I’m feeling more alive than I have in years.  I feel like I’m standing on the stage at my high school graduation all over again, full of hope and joy and elation and passion.

Would that everyone have a chance or opportunity to fulfill their dreams, we would all shine so much brighter.

Thanks to everyone who’s supported me along the way and offered words of praise and encouragement.  I couldn’t ask for better readers, friends and family.  Much love to you all.


Eat What’s In Your Pantry

Inspired by this recent post on the eGullet forums (and whomever pointed me to this, let me know in the comments section, because I can’t remember who you are!), I decided to take stock of my cupboard, fridge and freezer. The post calls for people to go without shopping for a week and instead live off the bulk of their presumably packed pantries:

Surely I’m not alone in having a freezer and pantry full of food, much of which will get thrown out as it expires over the course of the coming months and years. Indeed, I live in a small apartment. People with houses, basement freezers and walk-in pantries surely have far more of this stuff lying around than I do. Surely I’m not alone in having overbought at the supermarket last week. Surely I’m not alone when I get home from the supermarket and can barely fit the new food in the refrigerator because there’s so much of the old stuff. Surely I’m not alone in being able to skip a week of shopping and still eat well.

So let’s do it again, together. Let’s all skip a week of shopping. Let’s declare national eat the stuff in our freezers and pantries week.

Think about it from an economic standpoint. Times are tough right now. If you spend $100 a week on groceries, this experiment will put $100 back in your pocket quicker than you can say stimulus. If you’re home 50 weeks of the year and you perform this experiment once per quarter, you’ll reduce your grocery bill by 8%.

So this Sunday, I’m not going shopping. And whether you shop on the weekend or on another day, I’m asking you not to shop either. Instead, let’s eat all the stuff we already have around. And let’s talk about it, compare photos, help one another figure out what to do with that jar of giardiniera or that packet of pilaf.

I know plenty of people (Mom, I’m looking at you!) who could comfortably subsist on the contents of their pantries for a week, if not an entire month. In fact, my great-grandmother and great-grandfather — notorious horders who kept huge freezers full of food on their property in anticipation of the next stock market crash or an impending zombie apocalypse — would have stared this challenge in the face and laughed hysterically at it.

I, however, cannot. I’m not an all-at-once kind of shopper. I love Costco, but don’t buy in bulk. Instead, I go shopping nearly every day, buying whatever looks best for dinner that night and grabbing any staples that may have run out. That said, I’ve been…a bit busy lately. Without elaborating, allow me to simply run down a quick list of what is currently residing in my fridge, freezer and nearly-bare cupboard.

Continue reading Eat What’s In Your Pantry

Just Another Manic Linkday

Congratulations!  You made it through yet another soul-killing Monday with at least a few shreds of your dignity and sanity still intact.  You deserve some links.

First, my own links from the Houston Press:

  • Depart From Me!  I Never Knew You, Eaters of Bacon:  An article about Joel Osteen’s decision to preach his personal diet to his congregation at Lakewood Church, in which I am accused of being “condescending,” “ignorant,” “offensive,” disrespectful, hateful, controversial and perhaps anti-Semitic.  We all know that only the first six of those are true.  27 comments and counting!
  • Taking Stock of Galveston’s Restaurants:  Surveying the restaurant situation on the island five months after Hurricane Ike.  Bonus: pretty pictures!
  • Spring Is Here at MAX’s Wine Dive:  Serious food porn lies ahead.
  • Monica Pope Is Plum Crazy:  Free cooking classes, taught by the cuisine queen of Houston using fresh, local ingredients?  Sign me up.
  • Avery Cask-Conditioned Ale at the Petrol Station:  It gets oddly and worryingly poetic towards the end.  I feel like the IPA is going to take out a restraining order against me any day now.
  • Bawitda-Brew:  They’re making Kid Rock brand beer.  You can kill yourself out of a desperate lack of hope for future generations now.

And now links from around town:

Okay, don’t fill up on just links.  You’re going to spoil your dinner.  G’night, y’all!

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

I’ve noticed a proliferation of women at my office lately who go into the ladies’ room after lunch to brush their teeth.  They have a little arsenal of dental hygiene products with them: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, tiny cup for rinsing, etc.  It’s really quite the production.  They cluster at the sinks like sparrows in a birdbath and do their brushing, flossing, gargling, as though it were just another chipper afternoon coffee break but with lots of spitting.

Perhaps it’s just me.  Maybe it’s the result of being an only child, or just rather private in general.  I don’t know.  But I prefer to keep my routine hygienic activities at home, behind a closed bathroom door, where they belong.  I don’t like pulling large chunks of partially-masticated food from between my teeth in front of other people, then displaying them like fresh kills and guffawing at their immense size.  I don’t like gargling in front of other people.  I don’t like spitting in front of them.  And I’d really rather they kept these activities to themselves, too.

Moreso, I’ve seen how often and how well these bathrooms are cleaned.  I’m not particularly interested in getting that well-acquainted with the sinks (I’m looking at you, ladies who lean over and drink directly from the faucets!).  I’ve had salmonella; I don’t wish to experience e. coli as well.

So here’s my question, dear readers: are you one of those folks who religiously brushes their teeth in the office bathroom after lunch?

And if you are, explain yourself.  The world (you know how incredibly self-centered I am, so by the “world” I obviously mean “me”) wants to know.

Could’ve Said Something Nice About My Profiterole

Let’s take a a quick look this morning at what the Houston food world has been up to lately:

As for me, I’ve been busily writing away:

And if you’ve made it this far, a little treat for you:

“I feel like a prize asshole, no one even mentions my casserole.”  *sigh*  We’ve all been there, Jermaine.