This post is really not about mummy’s deep fried chillies stuffed with sesame paste that I bit into nearly two months ago. I wish it were in some ways, because those potent quivers of sesame throbbing chillies can hit right on mark. Unless you’ve grown into a spice wimp over the years like me, in which case you’ll enjoy the first mouthful of a crunch and then go running around the house flailing your arms wildly with fire emerging from parts of your body that you never imagined could emit fire.
But no, this post isn’t about those chillies or about the photograph by Matt Wright that inspired me to photograph those chillies. Nor is this post a sad, pathetic, sympathy-seeking enumeration of all the reasons why my blog has reduced down to a parched trickle of sporadic posts. Incidentally, I almost typed out all my reasons for infrequent food blogging in order of increasing lameness. And then it struck me that most people would much rather turn on the telly than read my blog if they had the urge to tune into a reality TV show.
This post is about my last post, which if you saw it hit my site or your RSS feed or email inbox, was this cryptic password protected post that you couldn’t really access. Oh I know, I can be such a tease.
No but seriously, I had this brilliant idea to use my website as a private discussion forum for a group of UAE-based food bloggers. Clearly that didn’t go down too well and the private post got published out into cyber space. In a fit of embarrassment, I ditched my blog and moved the discussion over to Google documents. Still, the damage was done. The post was published. And I can bet there are at least 2 people - maybe more? - who have this nagging thought at the back of their minds…hmmmm, what was that post about? Why would she password protect it?
So here goes, for the people who saw said password-protected post, and for those who didn’t but are scrunching their minds silly with curiosity now that I’ve mentioned it: The post was a document that laid out a description, an informal framework of sorts, for our community of UAE food bloggers – the same group to whom I gave a birthday shout-out to a couple of weeks ago, on our first year together as a local food blogging community. We're a community of independent bloggers that enjoys sharing ideas and having discussions related to food and blogging and meeting up in the city for crazy fun things like cake-a-thons and outrageous over-the-top dinner feasts. We’re not a formal association with a crazy charter of scary rules and guidelines – and we love keeping it that way.
That said, when you’re talking about 70+ members, you’ve got to have some level of common understanding about basic things like ‘who can join the group’ or ‘how do we organize events’ or ‘how do we deal with PR companies reaching out to food bloggers.’ And that’s what that document set out to do. But most interestingly, the document announced a group rebrand. We had already voted on two names in the past year since we started – Famished in Arabia, and subsequently Table Talk – neither of which ‘stuck’ for many reasons that I’ll spare you from. The more exciting news is that we now have a brand new shiny name that has got us super jazzed up...taaaa daaaa...[clang the closest thing next to you for special effect]...
Yep, that’s our newest name-baby, and we love it to bits. There’s been a lot of positive reinforcement, and even some constructive feedback, but all in all, I think this one’s a keeper. It also let’s us retain our earlier Famished in Arabia initials – FiA (Fooderati Arabia), and God it’s crazy how we can get attached to abbreviations, but as a group, we sure in hell are. I think there would have been a group revolt if we’d dropped the FiA initials…and I’d have been in the front row with a ghastly neon placard leading the rebels.
This is just the first step. We’re getting a logo and website badges designed so that members can gloat over how “I’m a proud member of Fooderati Arabia.” We’re begging for likes on our facebook page (like us, won’t you?) We’re building up our group website at www.fooderatiarabia.com, which just attempts to bundle together members' individual posts in one central place. We’re shoving our beaks as a unified group of UAE food bloggers into twitter. Yep, we're on the path to world domination.
So if I’ve been a little MIA over the past 10 days, this might be one of the more legitimate reasons why. But I’ve loved every minute of it, drafting up that document with MyCustardPie, getting the group’s thoughtful feedback, having different members take the lead on pushing forward our group's social media accounts, and just watching the ball roll forward under a new brand.
It’s been an interesting, and highly enriching journey thus far. I’ve learned a lot about social media, about blogging personalities, about what it means to make decisions as part of a cyber community, about how to build momentum online, and most of all, about how rewarding blogging can really be when it transcends from being a monologue to an active dialogue as part of a smart and super supportive community. Fooderati Arabia, you've taken my love for food to a whole other level, and here's to many more scrumptious years together.
Oscar speech aside, now you all know. The password-protected post has been unlocked and laid bare. Please return the love by giving us the thumbs up on our facebook page.