Writing a food column during SXSW isn't easy
Somewhere in between downing a pickleback shot and hurriedly swallowing half a burger at the Townsend this past Sunday, I realized I had no idea what my column would be about this week. There was certainly lots happening in food over the last few days, from the packed Anthony Bourdain interview at SXSW and the launch of half a dozen new food apps, to celebrity spottings at local restaurants and Austin Beerworks' one-week-only Festbier. But none of that seemed doable in the confines of a few inches.
I briefly considered crowdsourcing. After all, I was sitting with a savvy and opinionated group that live and breathe Austin food every day. There were several good ideas, although the only one I can remember right now related to tater tots. By the time we got to the topics of daddy issues and food and Wanya Morris from Boyz II Men, I knew that that attempt was derailed. Thanks, pals!
Finding a subject is typically no problem. There are enough happenings and controversies in our local culinary scene to fill more than 52 weeks of good old-fashioned bloviation. But keeping that subject local when there is a giant Ferris wheel looming over Congress Avenue and half of our buildings get temporarily renamed is another thing.
The temptation here is to write a think piece about SXSW and what it means for the city, to bemoan the street closures and monied outsiders, to take part in that annual grumble. But generally, I have always thought of this time of year as fun. For sure, there are a few annoyances, but most of those annual Austin elegies are from people who got to eat Franklin Barbecue at a party instead of waiting in the huge line.
Ignoring the hubbub in the city isn't a great option either. Half of the central restaurants have buyouts and half of the casual conversations involve where someone ate and drank the night before. Putting my fingers in my ears and screaming "lalalalala" seems silly.
So what do you write about on a week like this, when you are taking pickleback shots and posing for pictures with all of your friends? The whole city has become a theme park, ringed in wristbands and talk of "activations." Maybe I'll just take inspiration and talk about nothing at all.