I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I blogged about restaurants in New Mexico, despite not having been there when I started. Phew, that feels like a weight off my shoulders.
I was asked by my employer several years ago to write about the New Mexico food scene either based on neighborhood, type of cuisine, or other linking factors. Luckily I’d already had some knowledge of Southwestern Cuisine, though New Mexico has some of it’s own distinct variations. Red and green chile is almost an obsession in the region and can be found in many restaurants. It’s essentially a stew that can be used as a sauce on everything from eggs to pizza. I’d had a version before on a trip to Colorado, though New Mexicans will tell you it’s not the same.
When it came to actually writing a piece, I was very careful to do my research. I’d make sure locations hadn’t closed or moved, sometimes calling to double check. These were never reviews and I never pretended to have visited the restaurant. I’d cross reference tweets, Facebook comments, other food blogs, and user-based reviews for what stood out. I might say “make sure to try X” or “we hear the Y can’t be beat” if a certain dish was mentioned in multiple places. Photos and maps would help me get a feeling for a place – was it upscale, or fast food, did it have a scenic view, or was it on a highway. I had to learn the lingo of the area – geography is tricky with streets and neighborhoods having very specific nicknames and reference points.
I would eventually make it to New Mexico and try some of the dishes, though not all. A few months after my visit and when I’d moved on to another project, the site shutdown and all of my writing went with it. It was a fun exercise that provided some unexpected challenges. I hope to make it back to New Mexico one day and try more – if I only had a food site I could use for guidance!
Movie referenced: My Dinner with Andre