Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hi I'm a Food Blogger! And Oh I'm Asian Too!

I love the Internet. I love food blogging. I love food bloggers. Where else can I talk about something one night and find out that 1000km away, the same thoughts are being permeated in the minds of others. I was reading Chocolate Suze' post about how she is a food blogger and how she is Asian. Go read the post for the full details. Then come back and continue with this post.

Reading that post made me smile, because the previous night at The Langham Christmas In July Pudding Class, a group of us food bloggers were invited and had the exact same conversation.

So let me set the scene. The Langham was holding their annual Christmas in July pudding class. Food industry personnel and a handful of food bloggers were invited to the event. When we all got there, we were lead into a nice room where we stood around, drank champagne, ate canapes and chatted. When the canapes arrived, we all whipped out our DSLRs and started snapping. This prompted one of the non food bloggers to comment what big cameras we all had. Michele then said that she came even more prepared, and had on her wonderful food blogger t-shirt. Obviously, I loved the t-shirt as I'm a food geek too, and said I'd wish I wore my Yoda Says "Blogging This, I Am" t-shirt.

We all laughed and joked about what massive food fans we were. Then I looked around the room, and asked Michele, "How come there are so many Asian food bloggers?". Besides Michele, who is "of Asian descendance" as they would describe on TV, there was also Sarah, Agnes, Joyce and Penny, all of who are also of "Asian descendance".

Michele and Joyce thought that it was probably because Asians love to eat, more so than many other cultures. Then I asked why are there also more woman food bloggers. Agnes and Michele said that it's probably because woman like to share their stories more than men. Both these statements I would agree with. We all laughed at that and left it there.

Things got much funnier later on in the night though. As we were all in one group, we tended to stick together a bit and chatted, as we didn't really know many of the industry people. Finally, when the class was over, we just happened to be standing next to the editor of a major food publication in Melbourne. The editor turned to us all and asked "Are you all South East Asian food bloggers?". We all laughed, and Sarah politely replied, "I mainly blog about Melbourne." The editor then repeated her question, and again Sarah said "I've blogged about Vanuatu and Germany when on holidays, but I live in Melbourne so mainly write about Melbourne things". It was totally hilarious and I had to stop myself from laughing. Here was the editor of a major food publication having no idea about food blogging, its influence or the people who wrote them. Agnes and myself had to explain that we had full time jobs, were all very different from each other, and didn't make any money from our blogs. It is just a hobby that we love.

I then proceeded to asked the editor what their opinion on food bloggers was, and mentioned this article, which their publication may or maynot have written. (Is that how I should phrase it Joyce, to not incriminate myself? Joyce is a lawyer). The editor had never heard of the article and said that their publication would love to do an article about food bloggers. I think the fact that the editor knew very little means they have to do a lot of catch up with how the Internet operates nowadays and the distribution of information. The world is a-changin', and food blogging is just a small part of the democratisation of the control of information. I'm not saying that food blogging is better than traditional media, merely another outlet in which one can consume and further improve one's decision making.

So it brings me back to ChocolateSuze's post about how she is a food blogger and she is also Asian. Yes, I too carry a big camera around and snap photos of what I'm eating. But why should I be singled out as opposed to a Caucasian male? What differentiates us? I'm courteous and do not use flash in dark restaurants, I don't shove my camera in people's faces without asking and I never (ok hardly ever) post embarrasing photos of my friends on my blog. Haha.

The question of "we need variety" from ChocolateSuze's reader (who apparently is Asian so hence instantly is not racist) makes no sense. If all the bloggers in Australia were Caucasian, would there be a complaint that we need more variety? I thought the fact that Asians, as a whole population in Australia, are less represented in the community and over represented in the food blogging community is a good thing. Where else can you hear more from a minority sector? Surely, the views of Asians about food, and inevitably about other aspect of society, is a positive thing. And this request for variety, does it mean that because I'm Asian. I'm exactly the same as the next Asian? Huh? Am I not an individual with different points of views established from my upbringing, social influences and personal experiences? The fact that I grew up in Australia for nearly all my life means that my views also incorporate much of the Australian culture, meaning that I provide more variety than a Caucasian food blogger as I can see things from an Eastern and Western point of view.

Finally, as with the freedom that is afforded us in Australia, if you don't like reading someone's blog, don't visit it. You have that right, as is my right to write a food blog, despite being Asian.


  1. Firstly, AWESOME tshirt!

    What a day Suze's had today! I think it's great she did that photo and post. And like one person commented; I'm a food blogger, I have an asian background, I have a massive camera and I drive a toyota :P

    I'm not 100% Asian, I'm half Swiss, but born and raised in Australia. I only started blogging to keep a record of what I was cooking as I learnt how to cook. I didn't even know people were reading it.

    But I agree, if you don't like reading 10 reviews of the same restaurant, move on to a different blog. I like reading everyone's take on the same thing, and seeing their different photos. Is Jackie going to whinge they all went to the Food and Wine fest too?

    There are many food bloggers that aren't of Asian decent. I only know of female ones at this stage.

    There is plenty of variety out there. You just need to find it!

    I think this is the longest comment I've ever left on a blog :P
    Rant over!

  2. Well-said, Thanh.

    Also don't you realise that we have more younger bloggers these days? A few yrs back, it was different scene altogether!

  3. heh heh i like your tshirt more! awesome post dude it's a shame i get all the crazies

  4. I love the fact that you food bloggers are all out and proud to be Asians. I love Asians, oh wait I may be biased LOL.

    There are crazies everywhere.

    So what if one happens to be of South East Asian origin? There may be a trend here, but evidently it goes to show how cultured all food bloggers are :-)

  5. HEHE love the T-shirt. you should print and sell these :-) thanks for the link for The Age article. i've been trying to find that one as i've heard about it recently. i'll have to come back to this post as i haven't had a chance to read all the way through it.

  6. This came up in conversation last night at a friend's house (I'm also of Asian descent and yes, I food blog, among other things) - I think it's fine to make the observation but as I was telling them, there was one Twitter account that wouldn't stop banging on about it. Okay, we get it. There are lots of female Asian food bloggers. Mention it once and move along! Admittedly, I'm the 'wrong' kind of Asian (Filipino/Indian - born in the UK but spent most of life in Australia) as I like to joke!

    Besides, it wasn't like anyone was ever reading my personal blog which talks about books and poetry. One thing I really love about the food blogging scene (in Melb at least) is that it's so social and seems to be fairly welcoming.

  7. Well said~! I am a food blogger and Asian and carry a big DSLR. I think respect is the right word. And there are many people out there that is still learning about this whole blogging this.

    Bottom line, I try not to care what people think. hard to please everyone and having a blog is for myself and I can do what I like with it. that differentiates us from professional writers and journalists.

  8. i don't think jackie was intending to be racist but i think it may have come across as so when she mentioned 'variety'. she later tried to explain what she meant and said: 'My definition of variety is this: stop all going out to the same restaurants together and mix it up … otherwise you have 10 + food blogs all blogging on the same restaurant and the same meal because you all seem to go out together ALL the time". even so i think this might not also be technically correct because the 'tight-knit' group of bloggers do have their own food adventures as well which they independently blogged about. i noticed jackie's first comment seems to have disappeared from chocolatesuze post??? :-)

  9. @simon the comment on the first post accidentally got deleted when i tagged their ip address but their comment on my tshirt post is still there

  10. Michele, I drive a Honda haha. It's funny how there's claims about ten reviews of the same restaurant, but what about 50 reviews of the same movie? People happily read those. Long discussion comments are good. Keep ranting.

    Anh, yeah there are a lot of younger bloggers nowadays. I gotta keep up, hence the Twitter account. We "older" bloggers were from a different era where food blogging was an extremely niche activity and no one even heard about it.

    Suze, I love my hand made t-shirt too. You think you got crazies, I had a supposed self proclaimed top Melbourne chef leave abusive comments on my blog for about three months before I started to moderate comments.

    Ling, you are a bit biased haha.

    Simon, I don't think many people would want the t-shirt, but thanks for the compliment. I don't think Jackie was racist too. What can you say about all going to the same restaurant. There are only so many restaurants, plus everyone wants to go try the latest hot restaurant. Also, if food bloggers are friends, of course they would go eat out together and inevitably write about the same things. You can just read one review and skip the others. That's what I do.

    Gem, funny how everyone seems to be talking about the same things. Haha I didn't know you could be the wrong type of Asian. I'm pretty ecletic too. Grandparents are from China but parents and myself born in Vietnam. I consider myself Australian/Chinese having grown up in Australia. The food blogging scene is pretty good in Melbourne. It wasn't always like this social. Food blogging in the early days was quite a solo experience. Just random people who loved food and decided to catalogue it. Obviously, as the activity has become more popularised and with the rise of social media like Facebook and Twitter, people are actually connecting in real life and becoming friends, or at least acquaintances.

    Penny, respect is always the key I think. And yes, you can never please everyone so don't stress out too much about it. A blog does offer a lot of freedoms that writing professionally wouldn't. Just look at Mellie at Tummy Rumbles as an example, she gave up a paying writing job so it didn't compromise her food blogging and being able to write what she wanted to.

  11. Hi Thanh - really good post! Just because lots of food bloggers are Asian doesn't mean that we are all the same - Asia is huge and encompasses so many different countries and cultures.

    It's an interesting question about why there are so many Asian food bloggers. I wonder if we are actually over represented, or whether we just meet up more so it seems like there's lots of us? Did you read the post written late last year (I think) by an LA based blogger about this question?

  12. Agnes, exactly, we're all from such varied backgrounds, why lump everyone together.

    It could be that we meet up more, hence seeming that there are heaps of us. I haven't seen that article. If you have the link, I'd appreciate it if you could send it to me. Otherwise, I'll have to search the information superhighway and try to find it. :-)

  13. This is the one I was talking about:

  14. Well said Thanh! You have prompted me to put my first post in!
    Ling's friend, TJ

  15. I have no real answer about why so many food bloggers are Asian, and female, but does anyone ever comment or complain that the majority of traditional media food reviewers (not all) are middle-aged male Caucasians?

    I'll just continue writing, eating and being Asian, thanks.

    Jetsetting Joyce

  16. Agnes, thanks for the article. It was a great read. I agree with the points that Kevin makes, especially the conspicuous consumption part.

    Hey TJ, thanks. Hope you keep enjoying the blog.

    Joyce, we can only continue doing what we love.