(What is “Milkshake Face” and how does it relate to a food blog? And what ever happened to my 140 character restaurant reviews?)
The first time I can remember when a food made me do it was the carrot cake at Rosie’s in New Canaan, Connecticut. Much like LA magazine, the state of Connecticut has a similar publication but for the entire state. They rattled on about the “best carrot cake” in the state and I thought “how good can it be”? I was never a big fan of carrot cake until I tried Rosie’s. Have you ever had a food so good that it made you close your eyes when you ate it? No, then you’re missing out in life. Although it had happened to me before Rosie’s is the first time I can remember being conscious of it. Ever since then I always tried to scour my surroundings for a food that can recreate these types of moments.
Flash forward to a few years later and one of my ex girlfirends and I had a similar moment with a milkshake in LA. She started laughing at me because my face went from amazed to orgasmic to angry after sipping this milkshake. Then she tried it and the same thing happened to her. What the fuck, its just a milkshake right? It’s still just milk and ice cream so how can this be so far superior to any other milkshake in my life? And how can it possibly lead to mild anger. I also get this reaction with a a really good piece of art and the only thing I can think of to explain it is that your senses are so overwhelmed with emotion, passion, or flavor that your body can only process the confusing mass as anger. But back to the milkshake, there are many factors that can contribute to such a food moment like ambience, company, palate, or how hungry you are but the from that moment on we coined the term “milkshake face”.
That’s why I love food so much, and I’m talking great fresh snobby amazing food. Not Doritos and velveeta, I’m talking kobe beef and foie gras. I’ve had many of these milkshake moments since then like the PB&J doughnut at the Doughnut Plant in NYC, the Halal Guy on 53rd and 6th, a wild boar salami and butter sandwich in Florence, the hot chocolate from La Duree in Paris, the Fried Egg Sandwich at BLD, or the banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery. Every time I go out to eat I try to recreate this moment.
By writing a restaurant review blog though all of these LA restaurant visits started to become a chore. Going to three new places a week and taking photos of everything started to take away my “now”, my in the moment happiness, because I would constantly be future focused. What can I write? Was this photo good enough? What should I shoot next? I would usually go to lunch, by myself, to get the best lighting and then eat and fire away. Often when I would go to meals with friends though, I would find myself focusing on if “that shot was good enough” instead of the person and the meal in front of me. That’s disrespectful to your friends and takes away from the experience of dining at a restaurant.
There also came a point when I would start to compromise my product for the sake of a review. Take Jitlada for example, a review that I knew everyone would love because the familiarity and popularity of the restaurant. The problem? Those photos were taken at night and are complete fucking garbage. You should never compromise your art because you compromise yourself. Unless you are in Hollywood and your producer wants you to change your script, I get that. Sometimes you have to sacrifice things in order to gain notoriety and trust for artistic license in future endeavors. But I don’t want to get paid to write food reviews. I do want to get paid to be a writer someday but I know that time will come. So I won’t be writing food reviews anymore. The moment it stopped being fun was the moment I knew I should stop.
So foodlatio (now ChrisBackley.com) will be going through some changes in the coming weeks. My columns will continue to be regular and more frequent. If you follow me on Twitter though my guess is you don’t follow me for food reviews, you follow me for an entirely different reason. I know my writing speaks for itself so stay tuned, there’s plenty more where that came from.
[Photo: Forage Restaurant in Silverlake, Los Angeles]
[The 140-character restaurant reviews are now hidden on this website]