November commemorates 7 years of me posting on Chowhound. While I was much more active in my 20s, I thought I'd relate as to how my life has changed for the better, and it's all thanks to this message board. Let me explain.
I had been stuck in a cubicle job in an LA suburb, and decided to take a pro-level cooking class as a hobby. There, I met lots of like-minded cooks, got the chance to more fully explore the city of Los Angeles, and most importantly, became fascinated with food writing. Jonathan Gold and Michael Ruhlman gave me inspiration.
An article in the NYTimes talked about Portland, Oregon, as an up and coming food destination. I decided to throw caution to the wind and quit my job and moved up there to pursue a career in food.
At around this time, a poster by the name of ErikM translated the menu of Jitlada. Erik and I became fast friends, as his brash attitude and my calm demeanor seemed to translate to fun times exploring food throughout LA.
Now, back to Portland. I had no friends, no family, no job even. But I had some savings so I figured I could endure it while I looked. Erik gave me one contact, another user on Chowhound by the name of ExtraMSG. I arrived in Portland, exchanged a few emails and met up with him.
ExtraMSG ran a local food message board (remember way back when CH didn't have a Portland section?) and through that message board, I made some of the best friends in the world. I became a food writer for the local alt weekly and was exactly all I imagined Portland to be. For two years I called Portland home, and I was happy with my new life. I became more involved with the bar and liquor scene, moreso than the restaurant and food scene, and befriended bartenders not only from Portland but from across the country.
I'm back in LA now, I have a different cubicle job, but I now have this rich and fulfilling hobby and wonderful new circle of friends thanks to this message board and the tiny online acquaintances that turned into deep real life friends.
I remember the weekend market at the Wat Thai temple.
I remember the taco stand at Cooper Tires on the corner of Fletcher and Larga.
I remember what a revelation it was to try Santouka, and meeting foodnerds like Rameniac and EatDrinkBeMerry and OishiiEats (back before they were married)
I remember being the first one at Jitlada after Erik's translation.
I remember visiting Little Saigon for the first time, and Koreatown for the first time and Torrance and the outer edges of the San Gabriel Valley
I remember wondering who would win a food fight among Brookhurst St, Pico Blvd, Sunset Blvd and Valley Blvd
I remember having drinks at the Hungry Cat when Matty was bartending there (before he went on to open The Varnish)
I remember being sheepishly embarassed to take photos of food, at a time when nobody did it.
I'm no longer writing professionally, but I do love tweeting and I certainly love exploring the city for the next hole in the wall. I bemoan how PR companies have perverted the foodie subculture into hype machines, but the fantastic part is that a city like Los Angeles is so big and so vast that there are still large pockets of the city untouched and unexplored, and if you do just a bit of extra travelling, LA is still quite a fun place to go Chowhounding.
This message board has gone through a lot of stylistic changes over the years but the LA board has always maintained a critical mass of knowledgable locals. That accumulated wisdom spans not only pages of text but also miles of travel for anything to go into plate or bowl or open hand. Chowhound made me really understand the importance of sharing this knowledge with strangers, but most of all, the importance of exploring and finding your own way. Thanks, CH.