The Case for Neighborhood Walks
I've worked in food journalism for a couple of years now (for Pepper.ph before SAVEUR). In that time, I've been able to have my first tasting menu experience, enjoy caviar, and eat Haitian, Georgian, and Polish foods (I've basically eaten the world from the two test kitchens I've been in). But it's overwhelming to think that anybody would assume I have an expert opinion on—or have any authority over—food. I just like to eat it, really.
Whenever I get an invite to dinner—whether in Manila or in New York—I'm always asked to pick where we go. And there’s this pressure to impress my friends and family, or to choose something a little more sophisticated, just to try and prove that I had something to show for the years I’ve spent reporting on food. In reality, I just turn to Yelp like everyone else.
Admittedly, I also love taking people to Serendipity 3, no matter how many times people call it a “tourist trap.” I still like pretending I’m Kate Beckinsale, sipping on my frozen hot chocolate, minus John Cusack.
I really just know about the places in the videos I edit and in the articles I write. Sure, my colleagues have introduced me to some good spots—which I am ever so grateful for—but I’d like to be the type of person to give recommendations and know exactly where to go. I can’t help but wonder how people, by themselves, discover great hidden gem-type places to eat.
I find that whenever I step into a nice food joint I just happened upon, I end up sitting down in an Instagram-perfect space with Instagram-ready plated food, taking a bite from what turns out to be a mediocre meal.
I hear all these incredible stories about writers coming across these unbelievable places and can't help but feel jealous. I definitely cannot name any cool places off the top of my head. All of this is just to say: I should probably just take more walks around my neighborhood. That might be a good first step.
I want to be a better food person who knows more eateries that aren’t ice cream parlors. But then again, what’s the harm in that? —Jasmine P. Ting, production assistant