So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.

3 FishLike most reasonable people, you’ve just read the title of this post and may be wondering a number of things. Or one thing. Or possibly nothing at all, if you’ve just stumbled upon this blog by accident. Or you’re not even actually here because I haven’t posted on and barely visited this site for more than three months and you are now beyond caring.

Let me reassure you that the heading in no way means that I’m shuttering Food for the Thoughtless, or that I’m planning to bump myself off, or that I’ve come to believe that I’m a dolphin and making a hasty escape from planet Earth. It signifies something else entirely.

It means that I quit my job. The restaurant one. The one where, over a span of seventeen years, I have sold (and possibly eaten) several tons of sea life. Bream, huachinango, sardines, anchovies, smelt, rock cod, idiot fish, porgy, and bass. Then there’s the octopus, squid, cuttlefish, sea urchin, and that one calamitous special of sautéed calamari strips in pesto over matchstick potatoes I described to my guests as “caterpillars found dead on a tiny haystack” and was ordered in spite of my dire warning.

I’d only meant to take a six month leave of absence because I told myself I wanted that time to start writing my book. Some of my regular guests who knew me better than I know myself said, “You won’t be back.” I thought they were crazy.

French FlagI’ve worked in the preparation and service of food from the time I was fifteen, when a strange man wearing pink golf pants decorated with bunnies hungrily eyeing carrots offered me a job fondling oranges across the road from the Jungle Cruise, until last June. And with the exception of a few, excruciating school boy jobs in retail, I have done nothing else to earn my living. I’ve enjoyed every juice squeezing, celebrity scrutinizing, table serving, food styling, recipe testing, cooking show slaving, pastry making, ice cream churning, cater waitering, napkin folding moment. At least, I enjoyed most of them.

Then, at one point over the summer, high on a hill in a converted Alsatian convent, surrounded by Riesling grapes and mirabelle plums and chickens which may or may not become dinner, I understood I wasn’t going back. I realized that, in the amount of time I’d spent at the restaurant, a human being could be born, potty trained, endure puberty, finish high school, get accepted to college, and lose their virginity in celebration. I figured it was time for me to do something similar. It was time to graduate, move out, and move on. Finally losing my virginity is another topic for another time.

Turnip bloodBut I was also truly burnt out, crispy-fried, beyond exhausted. I’ve been blogging, in one place or another, for twelve years. I’ve kept Food for the Thoughtless going for ten, for g-d’s sake. Most people who were blogging back in 2008 have long since given up. And that wasn’t what I wanted. Not at all. But the Faerie Spring of Good Ideas was clogged with cat hair and running dry. And the thought of digging around in the emotional minefield that is memoir writing was especially horrifying. So I walked away from absolutely everything for a while. No “Sorry for not posting”, no explanations. Just a good soaking for the houseplants and a quick shuffle out the door. All the blood from this human turnip had been let.

And I have to tell you– even if it means betraying my Orange County roots– that it was awesome. Zero regrets. I slept a lot, went for long walks, read books, made myself salads. I more or less kept my own company. Never in my adult life had I had the entire Holiday Season free from the stress of working and being cheerful for other people’s Christmas parties. This year, I chose to ignore the Yuletide altogether. It was wonderful.

But now I am back. The little brook of inspiration is again flowing at full babble. I plan to have more fun on this here blog than I have in a while. My navel-gazing will now be reserved for the book that I now feel ready to attack, although I still find the prospect of doing it terrifying. But not in a bad way. I mean in a challenging sort of way, which is good.

I do thank you for your patience. You’ll be hearing from me on a regular, monthly basis again. With an extra lagniappe or two thrown in for good measure.

And a special shout out to Kokkari Estiatorio— my wonderful home away from home for seventeen years. It was hard to quit you, but I’m glad I did.

I am no longer a waiter who writes. I’m now a writer writing full-time, Monday through Friday.

So for now, all I want to say is, “So long, and thanks for all the fish”. And, of course, “Hello again, and thanks for reading.”





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About Michael Procopio

I write about food and am very fond of Edward Gorey. And gin.
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66 Responses to So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.

  1. Laura Pauli says:

    Bravo! Well done and huge congratulations!

  2. Sharon H Miro says:

    Alright. Allright. ALL right.

  3. Lise says:

    So lovely to hear from you again! Even better to see that you’re (finally) taking care of yourself, and that your well honed wit will continue to pop up in our email. Courage, mon cher!

  4. Carrie says:

    oh boy, this sounds exciting. 🙂

  5. Bravo!!! Congratulations on listening to your heart!! Looking forward to new stories… and BTW… you were missed!!!

  6. Queen Artoeat says:

    2018 will be a great year for you! Sometimes taking a huge leap is the best thing to do. The Queen and her NotSoSilentPartner moved cross country to spice life up this year. One looks forward to your missives, musings, and bon mots and I’ll be polishing my specs to read your news!
    Congratulations on new beginnings and a bright future!
    Queen Artoeat

  7. Mary says:

    Glad to finally hear from you and so glad all is well. Looking forward to reading everything you write! Its gonna be good! Cheers

  8. Kitchenbeard says:

    Well done Mr. – Go be brave.

  9. ACK! I , too, have had this epiphany this December. After my job was gone because of the terrible fires in Northern California, I had no job for two months and I LOVED IT! And I no longer want to work in the so-called hospitality industry because I have become way to inhospitable.

    So good luck, here’s to new stuff. I won’t say “paths” or “adventures” or any of that crap. Just new, good stuff for our lives.

  10. Carole in Largo (previously Cleveland) says:

    Yay! Glad to hear from you again and know you were being cooked (so to speak) to your death.

  11. Brooke B says:

    Congratulations, Michael. Bravo for all of it. And thank you for the inspiration for writing the “while I was away from my blog” post. I’m on 2 years away but can’t quite bring myself to say I’m quitting Foodwoolf just yet. 🙂 Love you and your writing. Good luck with the writing!

  12. kellypea says:

    Best to you in all that comes next. I left my profession of 20 years and never looked back. As for this blog, once a month sounds perfect. Now if I could only get myself to open one of mine occasionally, it would be miraculous. I’ll look forward to your book.

  13. Kathleen Purvis says:

    About damn time you got back to work.

  14. Congratulations on deciding to take the plunge into writing more. I’m sure that it’ll be an adventure and am looking forward to reading your first book. And I’m relieved to hear that you’ll continue blogging too.

  15. Hugh says:

    Congratulations. I worked my butt off as a chef and then Cheese Shop guy for 25 years, and then I said goodbye to it all and haven’t had a real job for 6 years now. I scratch out a happy frugal living by (very) part time gardening now. One of the things I’ve done was discover your blog and I realized that a food blog can be about more than just the recipe. The writing counts too! Love yours.

    • Hugh,

      You are in a dwindling-but-much-treasured minority who seems to think that writing on blogs counts. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

      Here’s to scratching out a happy, frugal living.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Congratulations! Been reading since you started and enjoy what you write. Sometimes it takes time to find ones self and I believe you have done that. Wishing you all the best!!

    • Jennifer,

      I like to think that finding one’s self is a lifelong process. One is never quite done with it. But I’m definitely moving forward on that front! And thank you for the wonderful well wishing.

  17. Deborah says:

    I’m very excited for you. I’ve tremendously enjoyed your writing over the years, and can’t wait to see what springs forth now!

  18. Thea says:

    Oh, just fine, my year commences on a high note. You and your wickedness and wit are returned. Thanks for all the previous years, you.

  19. Becky says:

    Congrats! Your books will be smashing. (Plural intended)

  20. By stopping your life to care for the life you are sharing, you given me impetus for my own personal nurturing which I will pass along. Thanks for the New Year’s present!

    • I’m so glad you see it as a present– that is delightful. Yeah, I’d never had the opportunity to take a break from life before. I couldn’t resist grabbing it when it was needed. I highly recommend it if you can manage it.

  21. Peggy says:

    I’m so happy you’re not giving up the blog. I look forward to the book!

  22. Annabelle says:

    Missed your missives, Michael! Good luck with the book; you are a wonderful writer.

  23. Chris Bryant says:

    Uh-oh! Cue up the David Byrne.

    Good for you and good for us.

  24. Mrs. McSorley says:

    I was hoping 2018 would bring good news. This is an excellent start. Enjoy!

  25. Denise says:

    Congratulations! Well Done! So happy to know you will be back here writing all the time. Change is a very good thing, and this is some of the best news yet.

  26. MaggieToo says:

    Oh frabjous day! Calloh, callay!

    Welcome back, you beamish boy.

  27. Bonnie says:

    I’ve so enjoyed your wit and am glad you will continue writing – congrats on finding a new way to live a better way.

  28. Millie says:

    Best of luck!

  29. Carrie says:

    I was scared there, for a bit. I thought we’d lost you forever! I was sad to see Cenk Sonmëzsoy leave his blog “Cafe Fernando”… and I was afraid I’d lose you, too! but now Cenk is back and you’re back, so all’s right with the world. at least the world of my workstation at lunch time. welcome back !!!

  30. Lynn says:

    Congratulations! We should all have those sabbaticals and come back refreshed! Glad you are back and I look forward to seeing what comes next!

  31. Gypsy says:

    Best of luck Michael! I’ve enjoyed your blogging since discovering it, and I can’t wait to see what else you come up with! 🙂

  32. Jan Morrison says:

    I quit my job in December, but unlike you I’m a dab hand at quitting jobs. Such a thrill wha? It makes it almost worth it to work for someone. Nah, it doesn’t. Anywhoozie, please enjoy your liberation! If I was working this would be a snow day but I’m not yet so it is just more freedom which is like more pregnant. I’ll be working soon enough. I’m on the Freedom Death Plan.

  33. Judy says:

    Your living decisions make me so happy. Thank you for allowing us to follow along!

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