I write Big Bites Tiny Kitchen not just to show you that you can do it too, but that you should do it
Recently someone asked me why I decided to write Big Bites Tiny Kitchen. It’s a good question. Why would any writer in her right mind chose to write about food these days? Doesn’t The Food Network with its hit-a-minute celebrity chefs have that covered? Wouldn’t I just be lost in the enormous crowd?
I started a food blog by accident, by mistake really. I was prompted by the photo gallery on my phone and the one on Mike’s phone, my partner in food and life. We had photo galleries filled with nothing but pictures of food. At the time, I had no idea that photos equaled Instagram and recipes equaled food blog. That’s OK though because it wasn’t really the photos that excited me. They were terrible anyway as our initial Instagram feed proves. I was compelled by the stories our photos had to tell. They were stories of amateur home cooks with limited time and space; each picture connecting my past with my present and offering a glimpse into my future. We don’t have the budget or the resources that Rachel Ray has to devote to cooking and recipe development, but that’s the beauty of it. Because if we can do it; you can do it! I write Big Bites Tiny Kitchen not just to show you that you can do it too, but that you should do it…that it’s worth it. Making dinner in your own kitchen and sitting down to share a meal with someone is worth it. And the Food Network doesn’t have the rights to our story (at least not yet).
From the time I learned what a blog was, I always suspected I might write one someday. The problem was I didn’t have anything to say at the time. I was half joking when I said to Mike, “we should start a food blog. ” In the same way that ill-advised friends wake up one day certain that they should open a bar together, I was certain we should start a food blog together. So on that May evening a few years ago when Mike surprised me with the digital skeleton of what is now Big Bites Tiny Kitchen, I had nothing to do but write.
I found myself with a thousand words for every picture
It was time to tell the story. Big Bites Tiny Kitchen started with the story of bread. We didn’t even provide a recipe in that first post because it wasn’t really about making bread. It was always about breaking bread. Growing up, every meal included bread, crunchy, crusty, hearty, Italian bread. Luckily, I was starting a blog and the rest of my life with someone who thoroughly appreciated this tradition. Bread literally and figuratively represents mealtime. It brings us to the table together.
Mike decided to make homemade bread because there isn’t a bakery in our neighborhood. But that’s not the whole story. We could have found another source. We could have made do. Instead, Mike scoured the internet to find out exactly how to make the best homemade Italian bread. He watched videos of little old Italian ladies. He created spreadsheets to track his progress. He A/B tested and went into excruciating detail when he finally shared the recipe on the blog (stay tuned for the new and improved version). I learned so much about him from this. It was important to him to respect tradition and to do dinner right. Maybe the bread was just bread, but I think it was symbolic. It really showed me how important our meals are to him. If bread is the foundation of a good meal then mealtime is the foundation of a good day and by extension (if you believe those two at Big Bites Tiny Kitchen) a good life.
I wanted to do more than provide recipes; I wanted to convey the importance of sharing a meal
We don’t claim to be the world’s greatest home cooks and we don’t suggest you need to be either. Instead we believe that food plays a powerful role in your life. It has the ability to transform a situation and bring people together. When I was a kid this used to annoy me regularly. Everything we did had to revolve around a meal, even on vacation, even when there were adventures to be had! Throw caution to the wind and focus on the fun? Nope. Not my family. We had to be home in time to have dinner or we had to eat before the “adventure” began which kind of takes the excitement out of things. All these years later what’s funny is that Mike is the same way. I don’t know if he was always this way, but he is now. Sometimes on a beautiful Saturday morning, I just want to head out and explore the city, get an early start and worry about stomach grumblings as they come. Nope, not Mike. He insists on starting our adventure with a meal even if it means a late start. Every time he does, I think about being a kid and how my parents raised us with regard to mealtime. It’s funny how it’s come full circle.
By writing the blog, I wanted to do more than provide recipes; I wanted to convey the importance of sharing a meal. We don’t just talk the talk either. Mike and I actually do have all of our meals together around the table. We eat dinner as a family…a tiny family of two. If one of us is working late or has an after-work event to go to, we wait for each other. Sometimes that means we eat dinner at 10 pm, but I’d always rather eat late than without Mike. Sure, sometimes we’re feeling lazy or the fridge is bare. It’s not always an exciting gourmet meal. Often it’s the same old pork roast with potatoes and onions or our standby ‘what’s in the fridge’ pasta. Sometimes we just can’t bear to mess up a clean kitchen and we order out or explore the city for food options. That’s fun too and we highly recommend it as an exception to the rule. The rule being: cook dinner at home and share a meal with the people you love most. I can’t think of anything better to offer someone.
Big Bites Tiny Kitchen is really a love story
The photos have gotten better over time and the stories have evolved. The blog was initially inspired by my upbringing and family traditions. It grew into an account of my life with Mike in New York City. It uses the nuances of living and cooking in a small urban space to hopefully convince you just how important meal time is. Home cooking can be challenging anywhere, but in NYC it comes with its own unique obstacles. We cook in a small kitchen with no dishwasher, minimal storage space and the most inefficient rental refrigerator in the history of rental refrigerators. Delivery is a tempting option given those circumstance. We’re grateful for the convenience of food delivered to our door at literally any hour. Some days it means we won’t have yet another sink full of dishes to contend with. Most times it feels just as easy for me to whip something up myself though. By the time we pick a place, deliberate over the too-long menu and wait for the delivery person to show up, we can be done our meal and dealing with those dishes. Yes, everything really does revolve around food for us. We talk about the next meal while we’re eating the current meal. It isn’t always convenient to cook it ourselves but it’s always more fun and infinitely more satisfying. As I write this there is noise coming from the kitchen – chopping, clanging and sizzling. The smell is savory and rich and wafting into the adjacent living room where I sit at my desk typing on an empty stomach. Is he making next week’s blog post I wonder?
We plan our adventures around each meal. Of course we write a food blog! We eat cold food on a regular basis so that I can photograph it first because it’s important to me to share this conviction with you. And as it turns out, crazy friends who open bars together are not always ill-advised. Sometimes their venture works out just like the best love story. I love food and I’m so grateful that I found someone else who does too. After all Big Bites Tiny Kitchen is really a love story.