Sometime last year, I started following a man on Instagram named Mike Bagale (@mikebagale) who is a chef at the famous Alinea in Chicago. Alinea was featured on an episode of Chef’s Table (if you haven’t watched, you’re missing out). Shortly after, I started to follow a fab food writer named Kate Odell (@kat_odell). She writes for Eater and just realized a cocktail recipe book called Day Drinking. As I prepare for graduation with my Master’s in the fall, I’ve been trying to learn more about how people who don’t cook start out and maintain food related jobs and she has been a great inspiration study.
A few weeks or months pass, and suddenly Mike and Kate are tagging each other in posts. Suddenly more frequently and with more 😘☺️❤️😍💖. Holy shit, I’m saying to myself. These two strangers are dating and I’m jealous. It was only a small portion that kind of makes-no-sense jealous of a celebrity. The other 95% is me yelling “I WANT THAT TO BE MY LIFE.” It was one of my first real cases of Instagram envy.
So other than your unintentional stalking, how the fuck does this concern Sarah, you’re asking. Great question. About a year and a half ago, I started saving and planning for a trip to Central and South America. I have a post coming with details so I don’t want to give too much away. 🤗In February, I started making plans for my first stop, Mexico City. The backbone of the plan is solely which restaurants are going to take all my money. Being in a country with so many beautiful tropical regions, I also wanted to visit a beach! I asked Santiago, a Norway friend who lives in Mexico City, for recommendations. He highly suggested Tulum. Just as beautiful as Cancun but far less touristy, meaning fewer commercial locations, chain restaurants, and huge boards of people. I started researching and planning: flights, hotels, beaches, accommodations, transportation. The idea came to a end when I realized it was unrealistic to combine a trip to Tulum with my stay in Mexico City. While the flight is affordable, transportation and accommodation in Tulum aren’t. It’s a full vacation destination in itself, not suited to a quick day trip. It was a disappointing decision, but I decided I would rather spend more money in Mexico City on day trips, food, museums, and food than spending so much money just travelling back and forth to Tulum without much time to relax and enjoy.
Around the time I was researching Tulum, Santiago and I found out about noma Mexico. A limited time pop-up restaurant in the jungle of Tulum, created by Rene Redzepi, the renowned chef of noma In Copenhagen with focuses on hyper-local, traditional, minimalist cuisine. The restaurant is only open for 7 weeks and the tab comes out to about $750 per person with taxes and tip. You can imagine reservations were scarce. I read recently that the reservations, which were released in December, sold out within the day. Being a food lover himself, Santiago and I mourned together our lack connections or disposable income, as well as the lack of sugar mamas and daddies available on Tinder, any of which could have afforded us reservations,
In the following months of Tulum research and Noma discovery, Kate and Mike, as well many other internet famous influencers have travelled and vacation in Tulum. No less than 10 other Instagram famous people (just those that I follow) have photographed themselves in the hotels, beaches, and restaurants I was researching months before. And not just chefs or food writers! Beauty bloggers, travel bloggers, musicians, models. One fashion blogger’s sponsorship by American Express got her a day-long personal tour of Noma Mexico by Rene Redzepi and the in-kitchen chef’s table. Over the last two years, it’s become one of the trendiest places to visit. The addition of an unattainable restaurant experience has only increased the allure. She and many others snap photos of a meal I can only be bitterly jealous of from afar. They are living the life I planned for myself if I could only afford it. So I sit here, resentful, that if only a few $100K found its way into my hands, I too could be trendy.
To rub a little bit more salt into my instagram-fueled inadequacy wounds, Kate the food writer is now hitting every restaurant on my list for Mexico City. At least I know I have good taste.