Why Food and Fighting?

Why food and fighting? The simple answer is why not? Of course, there is more to it than that.

Food has long been a driving force in my life. As a kid I went through my mom’s spice cabinet sampling everything. I watched weird, pre-Foodnetwork food television that most people do not remember; I knew who the Galloping Gourmet was at an age when I didn’t know what it mean to be a gourmet. Pasquale Carpino, the opera singing Italian chef was also a favorite of mine. As a teenager, these weren’t things I could discuss with my friends. Not because I was embarrassed, but because no one shared my interest, and certainly not my enthusiasm. “Did you guys see the Frugal Gourmet yesterday? He made all blue food!” These sentiments were not fodder for discussion in the mid 90s.

Much the same can be said for fighting. The two earliest versions of “I want to be a (fill in the blank) when I grow up” that I can remember expressing were stuntman and boxer. I liked jumping off things, and I loved Larry Holmes and Sugar Ray Leonard (still do). But as time wore on, I became sensible enough to know jumping off things was scary, and that, in spite of the fact I was drawn to the act of mutually agreed combat, I was indeed, kind of soft. Not what you would call a wimp, I don’t think, but a very sensitive kid who couldn’t separate emotions from physical conflict. Crying during a fight doesn’t encourage one to get in many fights, let alone pursue it as an occupation.

One thing I have always been is a writer. I have been compelled to do it for as long as I can remember. Though there are times when months will pass that I don’t put pen to paper, the words are always there. Some phrase, some string of verbiage that I can’t shake. I talk to myself constantly, my inner dialogue threatening to escape at every turn. Maybe I think I’m a little more clever than I really am, or for some self-absorbed reason I think my way of putting things is cute enough that other people need to hear it. Writing has won me awards, gotten me published in a variety of places, made me a meager (very, very meager) amount of money, and even, on a few occasions, gotten me in some trouble. Whatever the reason behind my compulsion, I can’t stop.

In the past I wrote mostly about music. I filled the pages of numerous fanzines with the inane drivel of an overly opinionated, uneducated kid, without an inkling of the self awareness required to realize I had no idea what I was doing. And it was fun for quite a long time. I got in to shows for free, met a lot of cool people, many of whom I really looked up to, and for the first time in my life felt as though I was an insider (to however small a degree) and as though I might be able to make a stab a writing as a career. Within a few years though, my interest in music journalism waned. Interviews were fun, show reviews got me through the doors for free, and the rare editorial gave me a place to spout off about whatever I wanted. But more and more I was doing records reviews. At that time, a band needed only to send a copy of their CD in for review and it was almost guaranteed someone would have to do so. Too often that person had to be me. Month after month I had to spend time listening to albums worth of garbage, all the while trying to think of new and exciting ways to say something was garbage. Putting out so much negative criticism took a toll on me. It didn’t feel good, and having never played in a band at the time, I was slowly starting to realize that I was in no place to be judging what other people took the time to create. Compounding this was dissatisfaction with progress towards anything that looked like a move towards paid writing jobs. My main publisher was making a good living off the advertising he brought in each month, and seemed to be increasingly critical of his writers, for small errors or not turing things in on time, in spite of the fact no one was being paid. So I stopped. I decided to devote myself to school and all my writing efforts were geared towards academics.

In college I started writing about food history and around the same time, found an interest in mixed martial arts. Two very different things, but as time has passed, those are the two places I feel my words will mean most. In grad school I continually shoved my square peg of food history in round holes of classes, yet somehow I made it work. I had papers published and was lucky enough to go around the country presenting my oddball research. All the while I have been watching and studying combat sports, too. I’ve contributed to Mixedmartialarts.com on a few occasions, almost had a job writing for King of the Cage (back when they actually mattered) and have spent hours on end writing opinion pieces and fight recaps for my own blogs that next to no one would ever read. My Twitter feed is awash with fight and food news. They are the two things I think about more than any other, so why not write about both of them in one place? Indeed, why not?

Occasionally I might fire off some quick words about something unrelated to one or the other. I might link some of my academic work here, just to prove it actually exists, but I don’t expect anyone will be interested, let alone read it. By and large, though, this is a place to make an honest effort at writing about the two things that, for some odd reason are the most compelling things in life: food and fighting.

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