Ah the life of a food writer. Unless you're measuring time in dog years, I have not been in the food writing game for very long. But I started a food blog in the early days of the medium, and I think that put me on the radar of a bunch of publicists eager to cash in on the “new” social media. Combine that with my two regular gigs for the fine people of Renaissance Publishing, and I have become a magnet for press releases. Probably about two-thirds of the releases I get are from the New Orleans area, and almost all of those are at least arguably useful. But the rest are from out-of-town businesses who've obviously gotten my email address (and rarely, my name) from some sort of publicist list-serv, I imagine. I have no other explanation for why I receive so many emails alerting me to restaurants opening in Detroit, for example. I have never been to Detroit, and given that I am now about to turn 44, I think my window for visiting Detroit has probably passed. From what I hear, there's some good food there, though.


I get a lot of invitations to restaurants opening in New York, too. Those releases are generally very well written, and usually they even use my name. “Dear Robert,” these releases will start, “You are cordially invited to the grand opening of [insert restaurant name here] this Thursday.” I have mixed feelings about these invitations. On the one hand, the publicist has gone to the trouble of looking up my name, rather than just addressing the email to “Appetites” or “Haute Plates,” which actually happens a lot. On the other hand, the publicist has not done enough research to ascertain that, a) I do not live in New York, and b) do not write about New York restaurants.


Then I get releases touting new products. This is just an example:


Hi Robert,


Things tend to heat up in the kitchen, and chefs know that time spent in front of hot appliances makes it easy to overheat. There is a new pocket sized solution for anyone from the professional to the at-home chef – Natural mini wipes quickly cool you down by using cooling herbs, moisturizing botanicals and essential oils! The innovative icy cooling towelette reduces skin temperatures an average of 13 degrees. Perfect way to cool off while cooking – COOL OFF™ makes it easy to renew, re-energize, and refresh, anytime in a convenient, pocket sized packet.


That's one of the more interesting ones, actually. I did not ask for samples, but I'm not sure why. I am curious as to the "essential oils!" that might cool me in the kitchen. Still, I can't think “towelette” without thinking of something I might use in connection with changing my 9-month-old's diaper, so perhaps I'm not really in the demographic they're seeking?


I thought this next one was a joke at first, but it appears I was mistaken. London is among the more geographically remote locations from which I receive releases, but again, when I do, they're usually well-written:


Good Afternoon Robert,


I hope you’re having an enjoyable week. At the Lanesborough London, Afternoon Tea at Apsleys, a Heinz Beck restaurant, is the domain of Karl Kessab, the world’s first tea sommelier. Every year since 2005, under his guidance, the hotel has won a coveted “Award of Excellence” from the UK Tea Council. Twice it was crowned The Tea Guild’s Top London Afternoon Tea.


Below, please find Mr. Kessab’s secrets to the perfect cup of tea. Feel free to share Mr. Kessab’s tips and tricks of the trade to enjoy a taste of London’s finest.


If you're like me, the first thing you want to know after reading that is, “Who the hell is Heinz Beck?” The next thing I want to know is, “Karl Kessab?” Regretfully, I will not be jetting across the Atlantic to attend the afternoon tea at Apsleys, A Heinz Beck restaurant at the Lanesborough, London. That week I'll be in Moscow, at the samovar convention.


Last, but not least, I get exotic ingredient press releases. The one I'm going to share was not addressed to me, but there's just something endearing about the style, and I love the dateline:


Janesville, Wisconsin, February 26, 2013 — National Poultry Day, March 19, celebrates the white meat of the American diet. And for most poultry-lovers, chicken and turkey flock to the top of the list as the go-to-white meat for everyday meals. This year, go beyond traditional and feast on MacFarlane Pheasant.

A hearty meat that is conveniently available year-round, pheasant is a lean protein with superb flavor and superior nutrition. When compared with chicken, domestic turkey or beef, pheasant is lower in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.

Whether you're an experienced cook or a rookie in the kitchen, you can cook a MacFarlane Pheasant. A white meat low in fat, pheasant is best when slow-cooked at a low temperature (250°F to 325°F). Like chicken, there are many ways to cook a pheasant. Bake, grill, sauté, glaze, marinate, roast, stir fry or kebab to your desire. You’ll discover that pheasant is a moist and flavorful ingredient for entertaining appetizers, lunch salads, gourmet sandwiches and delicious evening dinners. Choose from MacFarlane’s whole pheasant, boneless pheasant breast, pheasant breast fillet, pheasant half or breast meat strips to add flavor and flair to your meal.

For a fresh take, incorporate this easy-to-cook-with protein; in place of turkey or chicken in your recipes. The MacFarlane Pheasant website at www.pheasantfordinner.com, offers enticing chef-inspired recipes such as Pheasant Fajitas, BBQ Pheasant and Gouda Pizza, Pheasant Salad with Fennel and Pheasant Pot Pie.

With poultry being the second most widely eaten meat in the world,the specialty artisan flavors of MacFarlane Pheasant will create memorable meals. MacFarlane Pheasants are all-natural third party-certified—they’re fed all-natural grains, with no antibiotics, hormones or animal by-products.

For simple cooking tips and chef-inspired recipes, visit www.pheasantfordinner.com. Available nationwide at MacFarlane’s online retail store with convenient shipping coast-to-coast via UPS, MacFarlane’s on-farm retail store in Janesville, Wis., or ask your grocery or natural foods store for MacFarlane Pheasant.


Did you know March 19th was National Poultry Day? No? See, you learn something every time you read this column, don't you? I could go on, but I think you get the picture.