FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF MYDARLINGFOOD
We’re at this Newari joint tucked away in the folds of Indrachowk. It’s no more than a couple of weathered benches propped outside a claustrophobic dark little room that appears to be the kitchen. A sweet elderly woman is on the wooden stove scooping up the batter from a jug and pouring it on a waiting pan to make Bara. Mydarlingfood approaches us with a couple of taparies and places them in front of us. One of them contains Alu Sandheko, the other has Kakro ko Achar. She goes back to the kitchen and brings us another serving, this time of Nutrela ko Choila, and Mushroom Choila.
I say, sort of confused and underwhelmed, “So… where’s the meat?”
She replies, “This is a vegetarian place. Besides, food is not just about meat.” A wisdom possessed by only a food blogger.
We here at TNM go out once a month to review restaurants and eateries for the magazine. Rest of the time, we go out just because we’re hungry. Never have we done it because we see it as a career option. But as the scene of food blogging in Nepal is becoming and it seems like everyone is a food blogger, there are a handful few who are actually good at it and are honest about it.
On July 19, 2016, Mydarlingfood uploaded her first food content, a humble plate of Buff Chilli. She got 71 double taps for it. Then, a steady climb until May 6, 2017, a picture of Khichapokhari’s Dahi Puri that got 500+ likes. From this point on, she sort of skyrocketed, reaching 10k followers on October 4 of the same year. Since then, she has doubled the number of followers at the time of writing this, with an average of 1.5k hearts per post. She is probably one of the bloggers that’s destined to make it big.
But enough about the stats. Mydarlingfood has sort of a mystery around her.
Her posts have never revealed her face, and she intends to keep it that way, because after all, it’s a food blog. And it became a food blog after her friends expressed their absolute hate and envy towards her posts on her Gram, which were all drool inducing pictures of food. She took those complaints, however, as suggestions. Hence, Mydarlingfood was born.
When I reached out to her for this feature, I wanted to see how she does all of this. I was expecting that she’d take us to one of the places food bloggers are usually invited to. But, she said that she doesn’t like to take up such invites and prefers to go on a food hunt, especially around the Durbar Squares of the valley. So, it was an adventure on the menu for us.
The first stop was Japanese Takoyaki Solo in Jhochhen, where we tried the Octopus Balls they’re known for. It’s a popular street snack in the land of the rising sun and with no reference point of an authentic Japanese flavor, I’ll say that it tastes Japanese. The taste of the octopus did punch through, but to me though, it was more about the texture; ooy gooy. Something I wish all cheese balls were like.
Mydarlingfood got into action right away. From filming the cook making the balls to conversing with the store manager, she sprung into whatever need to be done for her posts that her viewers eagerly wait for. In addition to it, it was also quite impressive to see how she picked up the flavors from the moment the food hit her trained palate.
Rest of the day, we hit up bunch of other places she had on her mind. And while we made our stops, I asked her what she absolutely hates about this field. To this she said that people don’t really understand what food bloggers do. For instance, she had gone to this one place where the food was horrendous. Naturally, she would write a negative review on the place, which she did. And at the moment, she thought she had nothing to lose, apart from her time and money of course.
But a few moments after the post went up, the restaurant reached out to her requesting (ordering) her to take the review down as it was hampering their business. Then they went on to invite her to come and taste their food once again in hopes of getting a good review. Talk about unethical practices, right?
Such invites puts Mydarlingfood, and other bloggers for that matter, under an obligation to write a positive review, which of course will be a biased one. And that is what she wants to avoid, and thus, sets her apart from the rest.
She’s been in the game for 3 years now and when I asked her what difference has she seen within herself, she promptly says that it’s her photography, which as far as I can tell, is true. That Buff Chilli from 2016 is nothing compared to the Vegetarian Newari ensemble she took on the day of our day out.
“What keeps you going?” I ask her as my final question.
“My love for food.” She puts it simply.
And that explains the story behind the name Mydarlingfood.
Story by Nirveek PPJ Shah
Photographed by Gaurav Xhompate Sunuwar
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