Why I Write About Food 018: Sandy Arevalo of Fan Girls Cook

Food bloggers get recipe inspiration from various places. Sandy gets hers from watching movies and TV shows. If you pay attention, you'll notice how much pop culture is driven by food. Let's also not forget movie and TV characters eat too. And Sandy brings them to life by recreating iconic dishes from her favorite shows. Want a slice of Sheldon Cooper's birthday cake?

Tell us about Fan Girls Cook.
Fan Girls Cook was an idea that came to me after watching The Avengers movie. At the end of the film, Iron Man says that they should all take a day off, try shawarma; he doesn’t know what it is but he wants to try it. And then there’s a "hidden scene" in the credits where all the Avengers are sitting in a restaurant, in silence, just eating shawarma. And I started to realize how big a part food plays in the films and TV we watch. Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory is notorious for the way he eats his Thai food, Lorelai on Gilmore Girls is known for drinking copious amounts of coffee. The food takes on a life and a story of its own. So I thought if would be fun to bring these characters and shows to life by making what they make, eating what they eat.

Why do you write about food?
I love food. I love eating it and I love making it. I thought it would be fun to share what I enjoy so much. Especially when it allows my TV and movie-geekiness to come out.

What's your all-time favorite food-related movie or TV show? 
Without question Chef. Jon Favreau is absolutely fantastic. It’s a great look at the passion for food required to be a chef. It’s funny and heartwarming and makes me seriously hungry every time I watch it.

Do you also enjoy watching cooking shows?
I don’t often watch the Food Network. I get agitated when I watch cooking shows either because it makes me want to make what they’re making and I don’t have the ingredients so then I’m just left wanting, or more likely, I feel like they are lacking originality. I mean, no offense, but how many celebrities can they find to host a cooking show?

How do you select the dishes from shows to recreate? 
Usually I’m watching a movie or a TV show and food has played a key part and I think, I should try making that! But I also love suggestions, and I’ll get ideas from fans on Facebook. My kids love coming up with ideas too, so I added a FanGirlsJR page where I can make recipes from their favorite shows.  

Has cooking from TV shows or movies led you outside of your comfort zone in the kitchen? 
Absolutely! There are so many things that I made for the first time because I wanted to turn it into a blog post. For example, I’ve never made shawarma before The Avengers. Or bread with fruit and nuts in it (from the The Hunger Games). More recently I was watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Boyle was eating, and spilling, pho. I had to google it because I’ve never tried it before, much less attempted to recreate a recipe for it.

What are you currently reading?
I’m an avid book reader. Currently I’m reading After You by JoJo Moyes. Mostly because the book before it, Me Before You, left me uncontrollably ugly crying, and I’m desperately hoping the second book ends better. I’m also reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was a referral from a friend and I love it! It’s all about tapping into your creative side so you can live your most creatively fulfilled life. I feel like I’ve been to a blogging conference every time I read it, like maybe it’s not so crazy that I want to write a fandom food blog!

I also read to the kids at dinner time, and we’re reading Wonder right now by R.J. Palacio about a boy with a severe facial deformity who attends public school for the first time. It’s a great lesson in kindness and acceptance.

I’m not big on magazines but I have two favorites, Food Network Magazine and a digital magazine called writeHackr, which is a writer's magazine. I’m a terrible writer, it’s where I struggle the most when it comes to the blog, and this magazine gives tips and helpful articles on improving your craft.

What's your favorite recipe on Fan Girls Cook?
I think one of my favorite recipes is Notting Hill Brownies. 1. Because, Uh hello, Brownies. And 2. It’s a prime example of how food plays a key role in movies. I mean, the whole scene is them competing for the last brownie, without which they would have all just been competing to be pathetic. The brownie was important, it was the prize for being pathetic.

I also loved the Good Hearty Bread post. The Hunger Games is one of my all-time favorite book series. I so very much love the boy with the bread. And while my photography for this post was not the greatest (I’m learning as I go), the bread was ah-mazing.

Question from Richa of My Food Story: How do you manage your time and do everything that a food blogger needs to do? (Click here to read Richa's interview)
I really try to plan ahead when it comes to my blog. Sometimes that means preparing and photographing multiple recipes in one weekend when my husband can entertain the kids, or meal planning in advance so that we’re eating a recipe I made for dinner that night, or making sandwiches because my oven is in use. I do all my shopping at once and just pay separately and schedule time each afternoon, before I get the kids from school, to work on blog posts and send out social media love.

As far as TV goes, thank goodness for Hulu and Netflix, as I never get to watch anything on time. I usually catch it at night after the kids are in bed (they hog the remote in their waking hours) or the next morning when I’m on the elliptical machine. I pretty much only exercise so I can get caught up on my shows!

Visit Sandy's website at www.fangirlscook.com
Recommended Recipes:
Sheldon's Birthday Cake
Notting Hill Brownies
Good Hearty Bread from The Hunger Games