This doodle was a result of Friday morning boredom. All my friends were asleep and I had no one to go with for Friday brunch. So I ended up eating my weekday cereal instead of the stack of blueberry pancakes I had dreamt of the night before. Yes, it’s all quite pathetic. Don't hesitate to feel sorry for me. That was the intention.
On a less pathetic note, talented blogger Dima Sharif nominated the frying pan as one of her five bloggers for a cyber storytelling award. My clinically obese ego swelled to even chubbier proportions at the news that someone was actually attempting to read my whimsical food mumbles...and had gone so far as to think I'd created stories out of them. In fact, said ego over-inflated and exploded out of sheer incoherent joy. Refer to extreme bottom right illustration on comic strip for an accurate pictorial representation of my state of mind.
The shock, stars, and ensuing identity crisis were because I don’t, by any stretch of imagination, consider myself a storyteller. Or at least not a storyteller worthy of any nominations. In a rare moment of introspective modesty, I’ll have you know that I’m a run-of-the-mill blogger. In cases of extreme inspiration, I even do odd bits of journalistic food reporting. But good storytelling is to food blogging, as foie gras is to geese. And I’m just one of them old geese.
In the world of food blogging, while each of us do have our occasional posts of star storytelling quality, there are very, very, VERY, few food bloggers who are consistent storytellers. Very few TGWAEs, David Lebovitzes, Robyn Eckhardts and Nouf Al-Qasimis (whose writing I just discovered this week, and have fallen hopelessly in love with. If a woman can keep me focused on a story whose premise is my gag-inducing nemesis: licorice, there’s GOT to be something magical about her prose.)
There are very few bloggers who don’t just give a mouthful-by-mouthful account of a dinner menu. Who can weave a riveting narrative out of the banalities of life without feeling compelled to stick to chronology. Who have a nuanced understanding of what intriguing details hook in a reader, and what don’t. Who don’t need mouth-watering photographs to carry their writing through. Who make you crave their every word, make you relive each experience with them, however delicious or vile. Who have a distinctive storytelling voice that tugs you right through the mute computer screen.
Dearest Dima, while I really do appreciate the nomination, I think I’m MILES away from being the storyteller I’d aspire to be. Regardless, I’m glad I got nominated, less so because I deserve it, but more so because it made me reflect on the blogs I read and dissect why some keep me engaged and others less so. It reminded me of why I relish the words served up by these five bloggers from my local (UAE) blogosphere, who are far closer to the storytelling goalpost than I’d ever be:
- The Food Soldier
- Cheesecakeism [Meris, why aren’t you churning out those midnight cheesecakeapades any longer?! Come back!
- Eaternal Zest
- The Hedonista
Check them out if you haven't already, and you'll know that I'm not smoking crack when I talk of a distinct storytelling voice. O Ye Storytelling Award judges, aforesaid five fabulous bloggers are my worthy and extremely eloquent nominees for the storytelling award.
One random fact about me—not because I’ve reached my narcissistic zenith and presume that any of you care, but because the storytelling award contest rules require me to—
I despise oily food. I’ve definitely indulged in my fair share of greasy food, but oily and greasy, while closely related, are really not the same thing. Even if thesaurus.com says they are, I’d challenge the dictionaries and thesauri-that-be that they are not. Chicken shawarma slivers with melted fat drippings may be greasy. Deep-fried flatbread that stains its wrapping paper with translucent splodges is necessarily greasy. Thick fried slices of eggplant slapped onto a veggie burger could be guilty of the same greasy crime. But not all grease is bad, and in some cases, the lack of grease could deprive you of the decadence, the naughty indulgence, the chin-dripping juiciness (thanks Salem Pasha for that brilliant adjective. HAD to use it.) of it all. But oily is rarely, or in fact, oily is never good in my books. Oily in those same, very self-serving books, refers to those repulsive situations when your spoon hits a viscous layer of stagnant oil floating in any part of a dish, meandering over a bowl of curry, or lurking stealthily under a leg of marinated chicken. All it takes is a gentle stir to disturb the glistening gloop, and cause it to dissolve into rude oily bubbles that splatter themselves unappetizingly over the entire face of the dish. The litmus test is that if you can spoon away multiple tablespoons of close-to-pure oil from a dish, it’s most likely oily. And if the litmus test is positive, then keep that oil slick of a curry far away from me.
But that’s not the random fact at all. The random fact is that…I’ve never eaten at Ravi’s. Yes, the Ravi in Satwa. Actually, all restaurants with the name Ravi in Dubai. If you haven’t fallen of your chair yet in disbelief, and are hoping that I’ve pulled an April fool’s on you […in May?], no, honest, it’s true. I’ve never pulled up a chair at one of Dubai’s favorite Pakistani haunts because of an unfounded fear of having my taste buds clogged with oil.
And now, having opened up a can of oily worms with that simple question, we all know never to ask me for a random fact again.
But back to the storytelling award, Dearest Judges: if you read this post, you’ll get a fairly good idea of how I am anything but a storyteller. A teller of random disconnected thoughts with a solid peppering of goofiness in chapters here and there, that I may be. But the foie gras of food blogging is still a delicacy that I rarely have the honour of serving to my readers.
That said, do check out my five nominees. A storyteller I may not be, but I know a good story when I read one.