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.