Having just entered FoodBuzz’s competition to be the ‘next food blog star,’ my first challenge is to explain what defines me as a food blogger, which is a really good question. It gets right down to the heart of the matter and allows me to really examine the motives behind what I do here.
I spend more time on my blog and its accompanying web series, Pan Asian, than most people spend at their regular day jobs. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a regular day job that I can afford this ‘luxury.’ Self-employed, I spend my days making films, making music, writing, cooking, and traveling. Though none of these activities in particular allows me to make a living, through a combination of them all, I am able to fashion a pretty interesting life. (Knock on wood.) So I refer to blogging as a luxury simply because it seems that anytime you are doing something that you want or like in life, it is a privilege—even though I don’t get paid for doing this.
But money isn’t everything, right? I chose a long time ago to forgo a ‘career track’ in order to follow my passion(s), and now at 40 I have a wealth of experiences to show for my time so far on planet Earth. Though I have my share of regrets, I also live the life I love and love the life I live.
Speaking of love, the driving force behind everything I do, I’ve discovered that when you have it, nothing else matters—not even food, sometimes. When you approach something out of passion, I believe the universe conspires to make magic happen for you.
Take blogging, for example: my entrance to the blogging game came comparatively late, and in a very elliptical manner. As a journalist, blogging was a no brainer. I used to write a lot about music for some big magazines and newspapers, as well as run my own record label, but when the music industry crumbled in the early part of this decade I was left wondering what to do next. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but I turned to it even more. In fact, I had always wanted to do a cookbook—specifically about the food of my motherland, Sri Lanka—and with nothing but time on my hands, I decided to go back there for a year and learn everything I could about making Sri Lankan food myself. It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life.
When I returned to the U.S., however, everyone told me that I had to be a celebrity chef in order to have a cookbook published in the current economic climate. After shopping the book around unsuccessfully, I decided to publish it myself though the self-publishing site Blurb.com. Since I had the photos and recipes all ready to go, it took me a week to layout the book on Blurb’s free software and upload it into their web store. I had a few copies printed and sent one to Anthony Bourdain, whose show, No Reservations, I had been following by then. I told Bourdain that if he was ever planning a trip to Sri Lanka, I was his man. A couple months later I got a call from the show’s producers, taking me up on my offer.
It was upon returning from that trip that I started my blog, Rice & Curry. I wanted to document what it was like behind-the-scenes while shooting the show, and these dispatches turned out to be my first blog posts. But I also realized that very few people in the west really knew about Sri Lankan food. My year’s worth of research on the cookbook and a lifetime of eating the food had made me somewhat of an expert, but more to the point, I had a burning desire to introduce people to Sri Lankan cuisine because it was sooooo good, and yet so obscure.
Over the past couple of years, my blog has expanded to become a celebration of all things spicy, while also featuring significant video content in the form of Pan Asian, a web series in which I show people how to make quick, easy, and delicious Asian dishes in under 10 minutes. I also sell my cookbook, and my own homemade curry powder through the blog, but the whole thing is really a labor of love and a true reflection of who I am. Blogging, after all, is just another form or creativity and expression. So, I am therefore I blog! And as far as being the next food blog star? I am that as well, along with all the other stars in the cosmos whose passion for what they do shines bright.