POP Profile: Food Loves Writing
photo by Rebecca Brogan
Shannalee T’Koy’s writing on her blog, Food Loves Writing, is like a ripe peach at full blush — lush and irresistible. Part of Shannalee’s appeal is how intimate her voice is. Whether you are reading her blog for the first time or the fiftieth, the feeling is that she is confiding just to you a discovery or a family treasure. And this would explain, in part, why when she decided to throw a blog birthday party, her readers showed up eager and hungry and left happy. Oh, and her photographs? Let’s just say they leave me hungry and happy, too.
Tell us about Food Loves Writing. What made you decide to do the blog?
I wanted a place to honor my grandma, the woman who taught me how to bake and who’d passed away nine years earlier. After she died, I used to say that I’d name my first daughter Caroline, after her, but by the summer of 2008, I realized there is more than one way to honor someone you’ve loved. Food Loves Writing has become just that, a place where I’ve continued growing and learning as a cook and as a person, with her a part of it all along.
What are the biggest challenges, and what inspires your posts?
It’s definitely been challenging to teach myself the technical side of blogging, but I guess that’s like cooking: no one is born a great webmaster any more than she’s born a great chef, right? It’s all about trying and learning and taking things one step at a time, so I do.
As far as what inspires my posts: I subscribe to so many well-written, beautifully photographed, creative, interesting blogs, and I can’t say enough about the inspiration they provide; I read magazines like Bon Appetit; I subscribe to newsletters like The Splendid Table; and I get the nicest e-mails from people, pointing me towards new things to try.
I share your feeling that food is a good entry point to talk about life. What do you think it is that makes food such a good reference point for, well, everything else?
Maybe because food is something we all have in common. No matter our age or race or culture, we all have to put something into our mouths in order to keep living, in order to keep doing everything else. Food sustains us and pleases us and, even more than that, connects us, through cooking, eating, standing around a table for the community of shared experience. When you think about it, food is such a gift.
Has your life changed at all in face of the recession? Has your cooking changed?
It’s true we’re all a little more aware of our spending these days, whether directly affected by job loss or pay cuts or not, but eating well doesn’t have to be. I am continually looking to lower my grocery and dining costs, whether by coupons or more eating from the pantry or just overall creativity (while not compromising quality), but I’d like to think that would always be true of me, recession or not.
What’s your ideal day look like?
Lots of sunshine, good food, thought-provoking conversation and friends to share it with.
What’s some of the best advice you’ve gotten?
Write about what you love – this is particularly valuable advice for blogging, where you may or may not have readers right away.
What’s on your bedside table right now?
I am currently in the midst of Best Food Writing 2009, a wonderful showcase of diverse and gifted food writers, filled with essays that have made my stomach growl, brought tears to my eyes and inspired me to see life from new perspectives. I almost don’t want to finish it, which is one of the best things you can say about a book, I think.
Finally, what song never fails to make you kick off your shoes and dance — even mid onion-chop?
I don’t know what this says about me, but “Build Me Up, Buttercup” always makes me smile. That’s probably true of most oldies – you can’t listen and not sing along!