How Food Gal Got Her Name

Why “Food Gal’’?

Why not Food Girl? Food Goddess? Food Fanatic?

Eleven years ago at my former newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, I was anointed with the title of  “food editor.’’ Back then, I felt a little unworthy of such an esteemed handle.

Sure, I grew up in San Francisco, so a love for good food and fine dining was steeped in my blood. Even as a teen-ager, I baked almost every weekend (after finishing my homework, of course!). My high school friends and I didn’t give each other “normal’’ gifts for birthdays and Christmases. Instead, we’d save up our money to treat each other to dinner at Chez Panisse in Berkeley and Masa’s in San Francisco, even if we were too young to drink wine, and we didn’t always recognize every ingredient on the plates.

Certainly, I have always been rather obsessed with food, but I didn’t know absolutely postively everything about cooking or wine; nor was I an authority on every single restaurant or chef in the world. As a result, I felt a little undeserving at the time.

Back in the day, when readers would ring me up to ask about recipes or restaurant recommendations, I’d humbly answer the phone, “Mercury News food section. Can I help you?’’

One day when I was still fairly new to the job, an elderly woman with a frail, creaky voice called to ask a cooking question. When I answered the phone in my usual way, she slowly, but pointedly, asked: “Is….this…. the…. fooood gahhl?’’  It was the first time anyone had called me that, and something about it just made me smile.

My sarcastic newspaper colleagues liked to rib that I was the Food Goddess. But that name was pure jest. Food Editor still seemed a bit daunting. And Food Girl sounded too young and goofy,  as if I was decked out in a caped crusader’s outfit emblazoned with a pink-frosted cupcake on my chest.

But Food Gal — now, that was endearing. It sounded so down-to-earth, which I am. It sounded so spunky, which I like to think I am. And it sounded comfortable, like someone you could have a chat with about anything, anytime.

Indeed, Food Gal was like a great pair of jeans or a beautifully cut dress. When I tried it on, it just fit.

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  • Way to go Carolyn. This is shaping up to be a great site.

  • Hi Carolyn… I like the name you chose… but then I would have liked any name you came up with, just because it was the choice you made. I have utmost confidence in any decision you make. The food section of the Mercury News is simply not the same without your articles. I miss them!!!
    Mountain View

  • Hi Carolyn! Welcome back!! We all missed you!

  • Love this site. I have it bookmarked already.

  • Naomi Seid-Cronkite

    Carolyn, I have missed you in the Mercury. Thanks for including me here. I am looking forward to more.

  • Hi Carolyn! I love the new site– it looks fantastic. Kudos to you!

  • Way to go, sis!

  • Carolyn,
    Many thanks for not abandoning your fans, me included. Looking forward to many more entries from the Food Gal. When will the logo’d tote bags be available? 🙂

  • Carolyn, I like this web site. Looks good, sounds good, even ‘tastes’ good. I am also looking forward to reading more. I saw the entrance price for the Pebble Beach fete was something like $4,750, could that be, to see Thomas Keller do veggies and Jacques Pepin do blinis. So your piece was a nice peep inside for those of us who couldn’t fork up the dough. How’s that for a couple of awful food puns. Look forward to more from you.

  • I had a moment of panic just now when I opened your email and got the message that neither Mail nor Safari could open the page “ because it could not load any data from this location.” I was immediately struck with stomach pangs — like incipient starvation. Then my husband pushed a couple of buttons and told me to be patient, and lo, your blog appeared. Ah, food — it was like the promise not only of food, but of great food. I’m so glad you’re back.

  • Bessie Yap-Sarmiento

    Hi Carolyn, It’s nice to know that you are back!! Last Wednesday, I was still looking at your articles at Mercury News… sad, sad, sad.

    And now, I’m so happy to see your email. Way to go food gal!!

  • Well, you will always be a food goddess to me!! So glad you’re back.

  • Wow. Lovely site, beautiful, clean look. And “Food Gal” … it fits perfectly. I might just sum it up this way: “Whoo Hooo!”

  • Hi Carolyn,

    Nice to have you back!!
    I’ll be looking for your updates everyday! Bookmarked for my daily routine!
    Wish you all the best~~

  • You go, food gal!! Congrats on the blog, Carolyn. And I love the spiffy logo by design gal Elizabeth “Speedy” Goodspeed.

  • Congratulations! Looking good. Glad you weren’t gone for too long. I’ve got foodgal feeding into my home page.

  • Congratulations, Carolyn! The blog and logo look great – and it’s bookmarked already.

  • Hey Carolyn, Way to go, gal. Glad you’re back to your “old tricks” giving us great food writing, recipes & fun food facts. Best to you and see you here again soon.

  • ronnie campbell

    Hi Carol: Thanks for letting me know about your site. Enjoyed your Pebble Beach reporting and your logo is just fantastic (type face very cool). Looking forward to getting regular scoops from the “Food Gal.” I plan to be a longtime member. Congratulations. Best, Ronnie

  • You have fans all over the country, Food Gal. Congrats on the new blog, and happy eating!

  • I love Food Gal. Miss you and keep in touch. Your departure was a big, big loss.

  • Hi FG,
    Love your blog. I am looking forward to savour all the juicy delicious dishings…

  • Great job Carolyn! Blogging is the way to go. Look forward to your food adventures.

  • Carolyn – congratulations on new spring beginnings. I love your sensitive, intelligent writing and am delighted to know your voice will continue to ring strong and true on all topics food. Bookmarked for daily reading!

  • Funny you should mention logo’d tote bags, Sara. When my buddy Elizabeth first showed me the design she created for “Food Gal,” my first reaction was: “Oh my gosh, this would make for THE cutest T-shirt!” We are investigating possibilities, so stay tuned. It may be a reality yet.

  • Awesome. In my RSS reader, your blog is right next to ToolGirl 🙂

    Look forward to reading your new blog!

  • Barbara Feder Ostrov

    Congrats, Carolyn! The blog looks great and it’s so nice to see your work again.

  • I miss you every day. So glad you started the blog so we can keep in touch!

  • Food is the glue that brings the world together. But it’s foodies like the Foodgal that make it stick.

    It’s nice to see your new blog and it looks like you are off to a great start! You already have us all jealous that you got to spend the weekend at Pebble Beach.

  • love the blog, food gal!!
    love the logo, speedy!!

    miss you both!


  • Congratulations Carolyn! I knew something great was headed your way! Looking forward to reading your blog- good luck!

  • So nice to see your writing again! Looking forward to more tales about Food Gal (and Meat Boy!)

  • You’re the greatest, Carolyn — I’m so glad to know there’s a way to keep reading your material and getting tips on my favorite topic: good food.

  • A writer is a writer.
    An eater is an eater.

    You love food and everything that is a part of it, from beginning to end.
    Your passion, who you are and what you have given so many through your written word is everlasting.

    Keep it up Food Gal, We need ya.

  • How wonderful you’re up and running. This first course of your musings is lovely…. as is your site.

  • Carolyn, this blog can make you a superstar, and I’m not exaggerating in the least.

    Best of luck, though w/your mad skilz, it won’t be required.

  • I love your blog (no editing required) and having been the food editor’s editor, I can appreciate how “food gal” came to be. You’re a TREASURE and keep us supplied with your “jewels.” P.S. “How Food Gal Got Her Name” is a nice piece of writing — looking forward to more. The other Carolyn

  • after reading this post, any uncertainty about our relationship has been answered. we are definitely long lost cousins! come visit me in LA and i’ll treat you to a butterscotch budino. 🙂

    i am so happy to see this new blog. i am already a huge fan!

  • Oh my gosh! The butterscotch budino at Pizzeria Mozza in LA is one of my fave treats. Well, that and the awesome pizza there, too. Yum!

  • Good to see you’re back! I’ve got you bookmarked, and although I still miss reading you on Wednesdays, I guess now I don’t have to wait.

  • Congratulations Carolyn ! It’s a beautiful blog. I will tell my friends to check it out.
    Keep up the good work girl. I know you can do it.

  • Great to read your “voice” in print again; loved the piece about how you got your name, and it was touching to read the comments from “Merc-niks” past and present. I’ll be back as a reader and hopefully, tipster too!

  • Joanne Ho-Young Lee

    Your new blog is sooooo lovely. Congratulations, Carolyn! Now that I have more time to dedicate to cooking and baking, your blog will definitely come in handy. I’m so glad we’re neighbors….

  • Theresa Garoupa

    Carolyn, I was so happy to find your blog. The Merc is not the same without you. I always enjoyed your style of writing and am thrilled to know that I can continue to enjoy you.

    The greetings from your co-workers, restauranteurs, and Carolyn Jung fans (and there are plenty) on this blog say it all. You are on to bigger and better things, and those of us along for the ride are lucky, happy foodies!!! You rock!!

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