One fine day in 2010 I decided I wanted to be a food writer. It was that out of the blue. Clunk.
I’d happened upon a classy local food magazine in a specialty food store, took it home, and emailed an inquiry to the publisher. She asked if she might review some creative work I’d written. This was a roadblock: At the time I was a commercial copywriter and had been for a decade or so. My portfolio consisted of broadcast spots, fundraising appeals, website copy, things like that. Oh, and editing. Not dry at all. I guess you could argue that convincing people to go to Pooltown and not Home Depot for huge Labor Day savings on Jacuzzi filters was creative. But I’d never written an article in my life. I have a B.A. in English, but I’d never taken a Creative Writing class; they always filled up before I could get in. My degree was essentially made up of research papers. It wasn’t creative, let alone food oriented.*
I sent her one of my appeals that had been unusually successful, and luckily she liked it. A few months later, when she had an article assignment that needed an author, she got in touch with me. My first piece was to be a sidebar about a hot sauce full of local piri-piri peppers, made by Jon Bon Jovi’s childhood friend and original stage manager.
Obviously this had potential.
I’d never done an interview in my life, let alone one in person; and moreover, with a guy who had celeb leanings. So I just talked to him as if we were on line at Target or something. I figured if I don’t know how to be an interviewer, then I’d just be a regular person who likes hot sauce and wants to talk about it. It worked; we laughed our bottoms off and got on like peas and carrots. The article turned out pretty well. I remember I called that sauce, very truthfully, a ‘red-orange Matterhorn ride.’
Around that time a buddy of mine suggested I start a food blog. My first reaction was, ‘But…that’s essays, right? Personal musings?’ I wrote back to him: ‘I don’t know what I could say that anyone would want to read.’
Understand that I’m not used to calling attention to myself. I certainly wasn’t taught to do that; quite the opposite. But the idea grew on me. During down time at my contract job at Vonage, and there was a lot, I’d scribble down topics I might be able to write about. Then I sat down and tried one of them out. It took all afternoon.
Rereading that first post today, just try it, it feels very rough—it rambles, gets too intense. I was full of opinions, and they have merit. It did sum up the spirit of what I wanted the blog to be. But I didn’t have any control yet, and zero practice in writing from a personal standpoint. I could speak from a client’s perspective with no problem. That was as easy as falling off a log. But from my own?
I hit publish and the friend who suggested the blog asked why I hadn’t included any photos. I said, ‘You can add photos?’**
The original name I’d chosen for the blog was semisweet, after one of my favorite varieties of dark chocolate. But it also describes me well—and would nicely sum up what readers could expect. But someone else swiped it first. eve’s apple was my next idea (holy crap—I just realized I came back to Milton and the apple after all!). It was a diva of a name, and I loved it. When you’re a nutcase former teacher and home cook who wants to encourage people to try something new, or better still, to see the familiar through a different lens, the name fits perfectly.
You all know I love ingredients; I can rhapsodize endlessly about Meyer lemons, for one example, and have (here, and here, and more, but I’d break the internet trying to find every mention). But at heart I’m a sociology/anthropology nerd, much more interested in how we approach food as a culture. My friend Tom describes eve’s apple in a different way: ‘Marisa has a blog about food. Well, it’s about more than food, but it always comes back to food.’
I threw a (1) in the title. (2) will be next week. Stand by.
*My final paper focused on Milton’s Paradise Lost and argued that Eve’s blind love was the catalyst that led to original sin. Maybe I should have worked the apple in more.
**I am such a technodweeb. Just with a WordPress account. Totally not kidding.