We live in the information age. Anything we would ever want to know (and more) is out there just a Google search away. But, the information age is much more than that. Technology has made it easy for all of us to not only seek information, but to become individual sources of information. And what we think, how we live, what we wear, what we like and where we go have become interesting and sources for information and trendsetting. Take Yelp, for example. Ordinary people spend hours critiquing everything from restaurants to plumbers. And these critiques and ratings have, in many instances, replaced one’s own personal experience. My husband consults Yelp before deciding where he wants to dine for any given restaurant, bar or burger joint. He no longer chooses to make his own mind up by trying a place, but defers to the opinions of a bunch of ordinary people whom he has never met.
Blogs are another way ordinary people have become lay experts and a source for information. Political blogs have played a huge role in reshaping our national political dialogue in the last few years. At times, these blogs break the news that traditional media outlets fail to report on or end up having to play catch up. Local businesses have found a great way for getting their names out to the entire world through their blogs. If you’re a little Parisian flower shop, you are no longer bound by the logistics and geographical location in which you find yourself. People from every corner of the world can learn about you through the little blog you have created.
I read several blogs on daily basis. As matter of fact, my life has become more beautiful through my new daily ritual of visiting dozens of blogs on Paris and French living. This is how I spend part of every day in the City of Lights without ever leaving the City of Angels. I also love fashion, design and lifestyle blogs and often learn new and fun information I use in my everyday life. And, obviously, I blog myself and love the process.
In short, blogs = good.
The other night, I came face-to-face with the true impact and importance of bloggers in the real world. On Wednesday night, my husband and I dined at Comme Ça, a well-known local eatery in Los Angeles owned by the renown chef, David Myers. We’ve been wanting to eat here for years, but somehow never made it before. Wednesday’s “Japan Relief Dinner” was a star-studded event showcasing various celebrity chefs’ culinary creations in an attempt to raise money for Japan.
I had never been to such an event before, but have a feeling that this was a very typical event in Los Angeles. After each of the six courses, Chef Myers came around each and every table and introduced each patron to the chef whose food we had just enjoyed. Among them, we met Michael Voltaggio, of the Top Chef fame. It was very interesting to watch everyone fuss over these chefs as it they were rock stars. The conversations around the dinning room also felt novel to me. I had never really come across foodies until Wednesday night. All anyone could talk about were amazing restaurants with celebrity chefs and the dinning experiences people had or hoped to have in the near future. Restaurant names like Per Se and French Laundry were being thrown about as if they were McDonald’s and Burger King. As someone who loves to go out and see, experience and eat at cool and new places, I should have felt right at home during this food related conversation, but I honestly felt like a fish out of water.
Then, the discussion was elevated by leaps and bounds when two young well dressed men sat at the table next to us. They arrived, each armed with a huge professional camera and a notepad. As soon as they sat down, they began to take pictures of everything on the table, from the menu, to the beautiful cocktails, to the hors d’oeuvre passed by Chef Myers himself. Click, click, click, click. The clicking and picture-taking would only halt for short periods of time when the two diligently took careful bites of the food and immediately dropped their forks and picked up their pens to take meticulous notes and discuss their take on the course with each other and those sitting next to them, including us. Beside the fact that all this frenzied action gave me an huge case of indigestion, I kept wondering if they actually enjoyed anything they ate all night.
Their behavior obviously drew the attention of those sitting by them and soon they were being peppered by questions from every direction. Turned out that they’ve been best friends since elementary school, work together for the same company at their day jobs and each have their own food blogs. “How interesting!” “So, have you eaten at this place?” “How about that place?” “How much in advance should one call to get a table at this place?” And on and on and on.
I felt like I had just fallen down the rabbit hole and ended up having tea with the Mad Hatter and all his wacky cohorts. Gone were the ideas of savouring this beautifully long meal and enjoying the moment. Instead, there was unending talk of food as a status symbol and a way to elevate those who have the means and desire to dine at ridiculously expensive restaurants run by rock star chefs. Inevitably, we asked for their blogs and they graciously wrote them down. (And no, I’m not sharing them here-now.) I asked if either one had any experience or training in culinary arts and was not surprised to find that they had neither. They were just a couple of lay people with enough money to spend on expensive meals who bring their cameras and notebooks to dinner and never seem to just sit back and engage in joie de vivre. What will the French think? [Gasp!]
But, one got the distinct idea of their power in their interaction with the chefs. Here are these Gods of Culinary Arts, these Celebri-chefs, whose name most foodies know and throw about as if they are talking about rock stars…and they bowed and lingered just a little longer with these two guys with cameras and notebooks. “Ah, so great to see you again!” “How do you like everything?” “Thank you so much for coming.” “Looking forward to seeing you at my restaurant soon.” “GREAT to see you!”
Bloggers really do rule the world, don’t they? It is amazing, cool, huge, scary and at times a little sick. It is the reality of our world.
P.S. Wondering what the food looked like? Not to fear. This little nobody blogger with no follower also took pictures (in between savoring, enjoying, and engaging in joie de vivre). Hypocritical? Maybe, but I still maintain that I enjoyed my food more than the clicking twins next to me.