FOOD FOR THOUGHT, SOMETHING TO SINK YOUR TEETH INTO
Who among us wasn’t both nervous and excited? Scared to finally be revealing ourselves, exposing ourselves naked in front of others, wondering if our real up-close-and-personal self was the same as our internet persona. Nervous to be meeting those food bloggers whom we so admire, the friends we tease and laugh with, those talented cooks and writers who share information and tips with us, who leave us drooling in front of jaw-dropping stunning food photos, wondering if our ideal image of whom they are and what they are like will be shattered into a million shards, fragile like a crystal decanter. Yet so excited! Sure in our hearts that the friends we’ve made, those distant friends, will be all that we have expected and waited for, that meeting them face to face will simply confirm the ideas we have formed in our heads and solidify an already strong connection.
And then it happened. Tumbling into it head first, I found myself standing in the middle of the London City Airport Hall, blue party hat perched jauntily on my head, and Mowie appeared, the first meeting. Both nervous and happy, hesitant at first, but only for a split second, then chattering like magpies, out of control, catching up a lifetime of information in the shortest possible time! After dumping suitcases at his place and meeting “The B”, off we trotted, neither of us able to contain our excitement, to our first meeting point, the “Great Meet Up”, under the Eros statue at Piccadilly Circus. Alessio, then Deeba and Pam, Beth then Hilda, screaming and screeching, arms flailing and arms thrown around necks, it was love at first sight, an absolute electrical current of immediate connection, a lifetime of friendship, and we were off and running!
I couldn’t have been more thrilled or honored to have been involved in the organization of the first Food Blogger Connect with Beth, Hilda, Mowie and Meeta, along with Jeanne and Kang. As the days drew us closer and closer to the magical event, the number of e-mails sent frantically back and forth escalated, morning, afternoon and night, speeches were recited nervously while brushing teeth, ironing, showering or preparing dinner, fingers flying over keyboards clackity clack or pens scratching furiously across the printed version towards that dreamed-of perfection that would sweep our listeners off their feet. As the days rolled forward, spouses slipped by us in hallways, avoiding all eye contact, not wanting to be sucked into the whirlpool of Food Blogger Connect Mania that was washing over us, out of control, as we dashed out in the cold and drizzle to buy that one last gift, as we checked and double-checked hotel and airline reservations, meeting spots and last-minute thoughts and ideas. Suitcases were packed, unpacked and reorganized to fit in those last minute buys, no more space left for clothes. Twitter was ablaze with FBC09, the excitement tangible, contagious. And then, all of a sudden the great weekend was upon us!
The Food Blogger Event heard round the world! Indeed, I don’t need to add to the details, evoke the exotic tastes of the Lebanese cuisine, the warm, rich atmosphere or the wonder in the air. I don’t need to recount in detail the amazing speeches, Meeta and Kang, Jeanne and myself and how it all came together, how well we worked as a team to share our ideas, experience, passion and knowledge to a roomful of nodding heads and smiling faces who would later, in turn, teach us their tricks and share their own knowledge and exude their own passion for food blogging; or the energy and vivacity of Beth and Mowie, their talent for energizing and pulling us together towards action, or Hilda’s calming words, reassuring us and making us laugh just when nerves started to rattle, and always with that promise of a peek at Papoose. Nor do I need to repeat the stories others are telling of the time spent finally putting faces to names and blogs, completing the vision of each, the joyous “Oh it’s you!!”s, one after the other, more hugs and laughing, all packed in around the front desk, not daring to move, anxiously awaiting all the others, not wanting to miss one.
I don’t need to repeat, as others have described, the pure pleasure, the joy as we discovered the common passion behind each and every food blogger who attended, the passion that binds us together as one. Yes, we realized that we all do indeed share so much beyond that passion for food, the uncontrollable exhilaration we feel as we write about it, the giddiness that makes our head spin as we finally snap that one perfect photograph of the plated dish, the thrill that shoots and shivers up our spine whenever we step over the threshold of a new restaurant. Food Blogger Connect allowed us to realize that each and every one of us who attended the conference shared a wild sense of humor, an interest in everything around us, and as different as we all are as individuals, we meet in the center, this crazy je ne sais quoi pulling us together like a strange, inexplicable magnetism that strengthened our friendships, our commitment to excellence in blogging and a determination to continue along this shared path and better ourselves, better our blogs, drawing not only on everything that we learned from each other in this compressed space and time but on all the encouragement and support that we walked away with, the knowing that we are no longer alone, floating lonely and silent around the foodblogosphere, that this incredible, generous group of bloggers who gathered in London from all over Europe and beyond are truly one huge family and that they are always with us, watching over us, sending out virtual hugs and encouragement along with real-life advice over the waves.
Next year’s Food Blogger Connect is going to be even bigger and better, spread out over 2 or 3 days to allow more time for workshops and round tables, talking and sharing. And eating. Have a hop around the blogosphere where you’ll find more write ups on Food Blogger Connect 09 and visit our Food Blogger Connect website for all the news, pictures, videos of the great event as well as all the information about Food Blogger Connect 10, now already in the making. Bigger and better! Onward and upward! Truly something that you will not want to miss! We may even offer a workshop for the spouses: “How to Live With a Food Blogger”!
I learned so much from the other bloggers and my fellow speakers that you may see changes, more or less subtle, in my blog over the next few weeks, so don’t be surprised. And if you, too, want and need to know more about optimizing your blog, improving your food styling and photography, finding your ideal writing voice, cleaning up your space and presenting your brightest self to the food blogging world as well as increasing your visibility and maybe even getting published, then keep your eyes open, follow the #FBC10 hash tag on twitter (follow me @lifesafeast) and visit the Food Blogger Connect website for all information and updates and mark your calendar! Be on the alert because spaces will be limited (and coveted)! Can’t wait to see you there!
Also a quick shout out to Aoife, Ozoz, Sarka, Claire, Kerrin, Davina, Sunita, Sarah and Nic, special ladies along with my great friends who I grew even closer to!
A special thanks to Deeba, Mowie, Sunita, Hilda and Sarah for sharing their pictures!