…my life changed in a most unexpected way. It wasn’t a sudden sea change. It was a gradual process, albeit inexorable. It was ten years ago on this day that I joined eGullet.com (it subsequently became eGullet.org a while later under the rather large and unwieldy name of The eGullet Society for Culinary Arts and Letters). It didn’t take long before I got hooked and addicted to this then very exciting culinary discussion forum.
It was ten years ago that I was supposed to travel to China on a medical trip with People to People. I had been looking forward to that trip, very, very much, but shortly before the trip was to depart, I came down with a nasty respiratory infection. This happened to be at the height of the SARS epidemic in China and I immediately became concerned about trying to get into China with a pre-existing respiratory bug and then had I actually made it into the country, would I have made it out?
Clearly, I didn’t go. Instead, with two weeks off from work and feeling miserable, I initially stayed home and recuperated. Once I felt well enough, I didn’t have much else to do, but surf the internet. I re-discovered eGullet at that time. I had come across it once before, but it looked somewhat complicated – at least a bit more complicated than Chowhound, which I had been dabbling in over the prior year or so. Now that I had the time, though, I discovered that it wasn’t all that complicated after all. The site was filled with fascinating, generally friendly discussion from people in all walks of life with one major thing in common – a love and passion for food. Quite a few of the people posting on the site were culinary professionals, many of whom were already very well known like Jose Andres, Paula Wolfert, Anthony Bourdain, Michael Ruhlman and Nathan Myrhvold, who at the time was best known as the Chief Technical Officer for Microsoft, but later via the initial inspiration from eGullet went on to lead the project that became Modernist Cuisine; some of whom were becoming well known like Sean Brock, David Kinch, Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa amongst many others and as it turned out, there were many posting who weren’t particularly well known or even culinary professionals at the time, but subsequently became so, like Mikael Jonsson of the restaurant Hedone, Don Lee and John Deragon amongst others. There were also those, who like myself discovered a passion for culinary documentation. This would include people like Bonjwing Lee – the Ulterior Epicure, amongst others.
My initial interest lasted well beyond that two week vacation. I had had a strong interest in food, but now had an outlet to learn more and to share my own experience. It proved to be an invaluable and life-altering experience for me as I came to know both virtually and often actually many like minded people, many of whom I have become very good friends with. It also opened so many doors and avenues of my life that would otherwise have been closed as I started attending culinary events and Chefs’ Congresses on behalf of the Society. My involvement and contributions pale compared to so many of my fellow members from those days, but my participation did have a huge effect on myself and my family.
Unfortunately, within a few years, many fine people began moving away from the eGullet Society either by death, by choice or by invitation and though I never left the eGullet Society, I did leave a role that I had as a Forum Host and severely curtailed my posting as I started this blog and website (I still remain the 10th most prolific poster in the history of eGullet to date). To acknowledge this anniversary, I offer some links to some topics that I started and paved the way for this blog:
There is plenty more fascinating and useful content on the site both from “the old days” as well as more recently. It’s still worth a look or more!