Montreal food blogger Erika David says the most important qualification in her bio is that “I LOVE to eat!” Her passion for food and for her native city of Montreal definitely come across in the restaurant reviews on her blog, This Is Why We’re Fat, which she started in December 2010.
Each review is accompanied by multiple mouthwatering close-ups of food. We also love the lack of pretension: she covers everything from “crummy hole in the walls to stuffy, stuck-up eateries” and doesn’t mince words when highly rated places fall short of expectations.
Tell us how and why you started This is Why We’re Fat.
It all started with snapping pictures of everything I ate and posting them on Facebook. My friends responded really well to it—seems like everyone enjoys a little food porn. Whenever they saw something they liked they’d ask me, Where can I get this? Was it good? How much did it cost? That gave me the idea to launch This is Why We’re Fat, a journal about my food adventures to share with anyone and everyone interested in discovering Montreal’s food scene.
What’s your background? Do you have a “day job”?
My degree tells me I should be an anatomy and cell biologist, but I’m following my heart—and my stomach—working as a doe-eyed freelance food/restaurant writer with big dreams.
Do you consider yourself a food critic? Why and why not?
Heavens no. I do however over-analyze everything I eat and write about it. But I’d be taking myself way, way too serious at this point by dubbing myself as a food critic. Right now, I’m just that girl with the food blog and side gigs. But who knows what the future holds….
Was your family very focused on food when you were a kid?
Absolutely! I come from a family that celebrates food, and my parents made sure my sister and I started out young: “Eat these vegetables, Taste this strange-looking goop” and “It doesn’t matter if it’s smelly” have been drilled into my head for as long as I can remember. Apparently I wasn’t fussy then and I’m definitely not fussy now. I also grew up in a multicultural neighbourhood, so I’ve acquired a taste for and interest in different types of cuisines. I’m down for anything!
Some food reviewers only cover restaurants they recommend. You don’t do that—what are your thoughts on the subject?
I can understand why some people don’t want to publish negative reviews and articles—they’re probably thinking if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it or they don’t want to draw any attention to a restaurant that doesn’t deserve it or maybe the chef and staff were having an off night. I get it. But I took an oath to write about everything: the good, the bad and the ugly. I don’t want to keep anything from my readers. My reviews are subjective, of course, but they’re honest and could help some people avoid a disappointing situation. I don’t write negative things for the sake of being mean or to stir up trouble, but I’m not afraid to say it like (I think) it is.
What are some things you’ve learned by blogging about Montreal food?
I’ve learned to pay more attention to my food in terms of presentation, flavours, contrasts and textures. I’m actually able to taste subtle things I wasn’t able to before, so I guess my palate is a little more refined thanks to all that eating for blogging.
You’ve eaten your way around the city a fair bit, so could you share one of your favorite spots for:
Lawrence for an English-style brunch to start the weekend.
A cheap meal?
A half-chicken combo with extra spicy sauce from Portuguese rotisserie Romados (115 Rachel St. E; 514-849-1803)
You have covered quite a few burger joints on your blog. What are your go-to spots burgers in the city?
That’s a tough one. Most burgers I’ve had so far were good, but I’ve yet to come across one that stands out from the pack. My burger quest seems trivial compared to Mr. Lew’s Great Burger Search or The Montreal Burger Report; now those are the guys you need to get in touch with for everything burgers in Montreal.
What do you find most unique about Montreal’s food scene? What should visitors absolutely not miss?
Montreal’s food scene is as diverse as the people that make this city so great. We don’t have to travel all around the world for food because we’ve got (almost) everything here! It’s heaven for food lovers like myself. Visitors definitely shouldn’t pass up Montreal staples like Schwartz’s smoked meat, St-Viateur or Fairmount bagels and our claim to fame: poutine. For the food enthusiast, a reservation at Au Pied de Cochon, Joe Beef and/or Toqué are musts. But there’s so much more to this city than these places. One quick visit doesn’t do Montreal justice, which is why most people keep coming back for more!
Finally, which of the famous Montreal bagel houses take the prize in your opinion: St. Viateur or Fairmount?
Oh yes, the great Montreal bagel debate. Team Fairmount for the win.