Skype Call with Javier Cabral on 3/29

These are the notes I took form the Skype call with Javier Cabral. It was really interesting to hear his back story and all about his current career at VICE.

  • He couldn’t believe how much the media blew up about our class
  • our class — the chew created a show off of our class
  • started reading Johnathon Gold- the only food critic when he started his career by reading his stuff
  • How did you reach out and make it happen?
    • He still ahs his food blog (he is 27, started it when he was 16) he says it is embarrassing lol
    • He started asking for the food people he knew and asked them if hey needed nay help
    • “no matter how many food writers there are out there, it doesn’t matter. You’re thoughts are your own and as longa s you have an idea or a good idea go for it. We all have different takes on a burrito”
  • He recommends going broke for a little bit and buy a camera to take food
    • You have to be able to be a Jack/Jane of all trades (pics and writing)
  • Instagram is about being candid- he is neurotic- instagram is clutch when it comes to reading and writing things. Pics can come in handy when writing and composing things about food
  • Different styles of food writing
    • News reporter- GMOs in food
    • Critic- food and ambience (narrative)
  • “food writing is a matter of making nothing into something”
  • he still uses the basic guidelines of a narrative-
    • good opening sentence
    • thesis
    • and a good though provoking clincher
  • advice to young writers
    • “whatever happens in your life, it is a learning experience to use in your writing” — difference between a good writer and a bad writer
  • what is it like working for Vice?
    • “utterly insane”
    • Writing for food for money for 11 years
    • worked under Gustavo Arellano for a little bit
    • VICE is a universal angle
    • A lot of his stories get translated into Dutch, German, French, Mexican sites
    • He writes something everyday (about 1000 words)
    • Been there for a year and just now getting the hang of it
  • Evelyn’s question about the elote cart- does he put pressure on himself to enlighten others about where we actually get our food (gentrification)
    • He tries to wrap it up neatly
    • The owner of the elote cart uses a card swipe so he can sell his elotes
  • What did he study when he went to school?
    • He dropped out of college
    • Studied journalism and reached out to food critic
    • He also studied a little bit of culinary arts
  • Journalism is all about networking, being nice and being a “yes man”
  • How does social media influence his job?
    • 100% important
    • plugs all his stories into Facebook, twitter and sometimes Instagram
  • the age of food we live in: “food is cool”
  • overarching theme in your food writing?
    • Social issues
      • Refuses to write about food street vendors—illegal in LA
      • He thinks here is a big demand for political food writers
    • Pictures tell 1000 words? Do you think there should be a focus on sharpening the use of photos
      • We live in an age of visual stimulation
      • Long posts are easier to swallow when it is broken up by photos
      • He also uses pics for rhetoric (pizza box guy doing coke)
      • Good for our world because our attention spans are getting smaller, smaller and smaller
    • Because he is Mexican-American background, did he feel pressured to write about Mexican food
      • Both parents from Mexico
      • He was pigeonholed in Mexican food writing in his stages of finding jobs
      • He thinks you can specialize in whatever and how much you want—so not just Mexican for him, but also aliens
    • What is your take on “authentic” Mexican food?
      • Complex topic
      • he thinks : suffers when you take the food out of the original region
        • not the same corn, same meat or same cheese
      • He talked about Tex-mex, KY-Mex, LA-Mex
        • we have to be open to change
        • Don’t judge someone if they like orange cheese on their tacos
      • He also talked about his article about the tacos not being good in LA and he got a lot of slack from it
      • Being a food writer is all about having an open mind
      • Favorite food or dishes
        • Like asking a parent who is their favorite kid
        • He cant sleep very well at night if he doesn’t know what he is going to have for breakfast the next day
        • He likes a lot of Asian food- regional Chinese food, dumplings
        • Death row meal: a good rancho feast- perfect beans, salsa, nopales, quesadilla
        • Indian food- beautiful cuisine because of the spices
        • West coast food-seviche
      • Were you surprised that UK was the place to have class on tacos?
        • Who is to say that you all can’t do it??
        • A lot of the comments were negative
        • You just have to have an open mind
      • Favorite story that he has written as a food writer?
        • He has probably written over—- insane he didn’t even say
        • A cover story he write for Suburb magazine in 20011
          • He was still in college
          • “secrets of Mexican cooking”
          • people worship Puebla, Quahaca, Mexico and other places for different things all around Mexico
          • he and his parents went to a place in Mexican that is very glamorous- great rice and beans
          • the magazine paid for his mom and himself to fly out there to them
        • that’s how he et his girlfriend—that was the first magazine of the year she had ordered and she looked him up on Twitter and bam- now they live together
      • as a Mexican- American how do you go about writing about things that nobody really knows exist (American)?
        • Don’t exoticize them- someone else’s food, but not exotic
        • It is someone else’s food-not crazy
        • You have to find things that they can compare to (like an apple seed)


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