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Wednesday, December 17, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 4/29/2014

COMMENTARY

Keeping to the FAQs

BY MARY BILYEU
BLADE FOOD EDITOR

I’ve been asked a lot of questions since coming to The Blade, everything from where to buy good bread to which restaurants serve walleye.

But there are a few matters that really seem to pique everyone’s curiosity, a few things that I’m asked very regularly. Rather than continuing to say, “I should do a question-and-answer column some day,” since so many people are wondering about the same things, it seemed that today was just the right time to do this. And so, here are the most commonly asked questions thus far, and the answers to them.

Are you our new Food Editor?

I am! And happily so. What I find utterly charming, when people recognize me as I meander around the city and then come up to chat with me, is how I’m never asked if I’m the Food Editor. Not once. People ask if I’m their Food Editor. I don’t take it as a possessiveness with any notion of ownership, but rather as a welcome: to me, it feels as though I’m being invited into people’s homes and kitchens rather than being treated as some sort of outsider who’s removed, who’s just doing a job. It makes me feel as though I’m part of the club, that I belong.

Are you going to move to Toledo?

I already did that, back on February 1. I couldn’t be a part of the community if I were schlepping 100 miles round-trip each day to and from Ann Arbor. I’d be staying in hotels after late nights, rather than being at home with loved ones. And I’d spend more time on 23 than I would visiting with all of you, getting to know you and the city.

Do you do the restaurant reviews?

Nope. I’d be recognizable, and would likely get some preferential treatment in hopes of a stellar write-up. Not that I think anyone here in Toledo would force me to go to the extremes that the New York Times’ critics do, with disguises devised by Hollywood make-up artists! But, still, the paper wants to offer objective experiences which can only be facilitated through anonymity. I’m as surprised as all of you are to see which places have been visited and what goodies there are to eat. And I really want to promote Toledo, too, to showcase what’s wonderful about it. If there should be any problems with a meal, I don’t want to be the person who has to nitpick over details, the bad guy whose experience is enshrined as definitive when maybe it was just an “off” day either for the restaurant or for my own disposition.

How do you stay so thin, given your job?

That is an increasingly difficult challenge, trust me. Now that it’s Spring, it’s nice to go for long walks; I’m looking forward to exploring the metroparks. I also strive for portion control, tasting rather than devouring everything in sight (which is what I really want to do). It’s going to be a battle, because there’s too much wonderful food in Toledo and I like to eat. And I don’t like to exercise, so my prospects aren’t good! I was very generously offered a trial membership to a gym, and simply haven’t had time to get there yet ... so many people are very sweetly vying to feed me more calories, which often precludes my being able to burn any off. I need to do it, though. It’s about my health even more than my weight, as it is for everyone.

How do you pronounce your name?

Well, the first name is easy and readily recognizable, since it often feels as though half the planet shares it with me. But I know that’s not what anyone wants to know! My last name is pronounced BILL-you ... it’s much simpler than it looks. But don’t worry if you don’t remember it. If you come up to chat with me — which I hope you’ll do, so I can keep making new friends — you can just call me Mary.

Contact Mary Bilyeu at 
mbilyeu@theblade.com
 or 419-724-6155 or on Twitter @foodfloozie.



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