First, thanks so much to new subscribers, and welcome to LCF Update May 2019, a monthly thing I do. You are deeply appreciated.
Meanwhile, following my Greek cuisine extravaganza, where have I been? (Below is a hint. OK, probably not very helpful. Germany.)
And….I’ve been thinking. Which has led to some re-evaluation, which in turn occasions a little bit o’ history.
LCF Evolution: The Big Bang
Back in 2014, I had an idea for a blog: Nanette’s Feast, dedicated to dinner and a movie.
But not just any dinner and a movie, as in that old TV show where you watched something like “Mystic Pizza” and ate…pizza!
I love the cuisines and cinema of the world, and I wanted to celebrate them together. The idea was, you’d make a fabulous dinner with someone you love, then watch a movie that complemented the dinner rather than trying to duplicate it. Obviously, given the site’s previous name, I’ve seen Babette’s Feast. But I sure as hell don’t want to eat that feast, complete with birds that still have the bones in them and turtle soup.
Nanette’s Feast may have been a nice idea, but I had some factors against me. For one thing, I did NOT, under any circumstances, want to become a food photographer. Food blogs were well underway by 2014—not like today, but there were plenty, and they were straight up food porn. I took half-hearted pix, and relied heavily on screen shots from movies to illustrate my posts. The pairing was more important to me than the recipes, but all that anyone seemed to care about was the recipes accompanied by gorgeous photos.
And the truth was, I continued to be fascinated by world cuisine and world cinema. Around this same time, I had begun to anticipate with bated breath the annual New York Times 52 Places to Go list. I wasn’t traveling much then, but I realized I could get to those places with food and movies. So I started using the 52 Places list as my jumping off point.
There is such a thing as having a niche that’s TOO niche-y, and I had dug into one of those pretty deep. And….absolutely nobody cared. I tried lots of things to get the word out, but it just wasn’t clicking. People who read the posts told me how well-written they were, how fun they were, but they weren’t going to follow my carefully conceived date night plans or bookmark me to get inspired or read me religiously. Netflix and chill extended to making the easiest possible dinner, i.e., a plate of microwaved nachos, and immersing oneself either in a non-demanding movie or in the Golden Age of TV that we currently find ourselves in. Nobody really gave a shit about movies set in St. Lucia or filmed in Mozambique, with some sort of dish to match.
Meanwhile, it was increasingly evident that I had to up my game photography-wise. Then a few people who I had taught to cook told me I should be teaching other people how to cook, and bloggers were insisting that courses were the wave of the future. It appeared that what people wanted was food, recipes, and lots and lots of pictures. I complied.
LCF: Moving Ahead
I changed the name, look, and logo of the site. Le Chou Fou, French for the crazy cabbage, came to me while I was in Germany, where I get to travel frequently. (We’re not that far from France, and Le Chou Fou is a lot more fun to say and write than Der Verückte Kohl, which is crazy cabbage in German and doesn’t even rhyme, for heck’s sake.)
Which brings us to now. After thinking for a solid month, I realized I have more to offer than food. I’ve stopped looking at trying to make LCF the Next Very Small Thing (but at least a thing). I don’t want to be the 46th million food blog. I want to go back to what I love: Learning about the world, in person, and when that’s not possible, through food and movies.
Speaking to the in person part, I get to go to a lot of cool places. As for the through food and movies part, there are a lot of places I would love to go, but just ain’t happening. The ‘stans have always fascinated me, as has Iran and much of North Africa. I love the culture, the food, the history, and I imagine the people are pretty amazing, too. But, for fairly obvious reasons, those are pretty much off the table, for now and likely, always.
But I can go anywhere with the right cookbook, blog, and/or movie.
LCF Update May 2019: Next Steps
Over the summer, I’ll be changing things up ’round here. If you’ve bookmarked some recipes or how-to posts, they’re not going anywhere. In fact, they’ll probably be a little easier to get to. The big change will be an expanded travel section, with more worksheets to help you prep for a trip. What should you look for in an AirBnB kitchen? What can you cook in one? (Not much, most of the time, but a little bit.) Below, a typical AirBnB kitchen cabinet.
What should you pack, besides goody bags for flight attendants? How do you get the most out of a trip? And I’ll continue to post recipes from places I have and haven’t been to, or haven’t been to in a while.
Finally, I’m most excited about offering my trip planning skills, for an unspecified time, for free. I’ve gotten pretty good at putting trips together, and want to see if I can help other people figure out the best way, based on what they like, to spend their time.
If you have an upcoming trip and want a little help figuring out what to do, please give me a shout. All I ask is a download of your experiences and your opinion of whether I helped you or not.
So that’s what’s up, my friends. Watch for an upcoming post on AirBnB kitchens, as well as some reports on what I’ve found out in close to two months of tooling around in Germany, Switzerland, London, and….Liechtenstein! It’s tiny, but it DID provide me with my 28th country on that list (only 159 to go, har har). Look, I keep count, because I’m a hopeless nerd, but also because it makes me happy. I mean, I still haven’t done even a third of Europe, so I’m not feeling hugely cocky or anything.
And I’m completely serious: Lemme know if I can help you plan a trip.
Summer is here. Let’s enjoy it.