Are you familiar with CHOW.com? It’s a website about food, eating and cooking. Over the years, it has created a robust community of “Chowhounders” — passionate, smart cooks and eaters. (Hey, that describes VWK!) Chowhounders have cooked with my books, dissecting, reflecting, commenting on their experiences. I’ve long lurked on the sidelines and occasionally slipped to make a quick and polite response. CHOW’s policy was no shilling, no self-promotion. That was totally understandable but it also put up a fence for authors like me who like to engage with cooks and readers.
Last week, that policy changed according to Senior Editor John Birdsall, who called and invited me to initiate direct conversations with Chowhounders. I welcomed the idea of coming out of hiding. I thought of what to write about and settled on discussing how I managed to come up with an entire book on banh mi.
Over the weekend, I wrote an essay that opened with this: