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Question for the Food Writers

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hi, all

I've noticed that many members here list themselves as "food writers." Very cool.

Can you tell me more about your jobs and how you got them?

I can imagine the rewards, but what challenges do you find in writing about food?

(Like, what do you do when you run out of synonyms for the word "delicious"? :p)

I admit that I find it pretty difficult myself. Didn't somebody once say that "writing about food is like painting about music?" Or am I riffing on some other semi-famous simile?


post #2 of 5
I got my job at the end of a long and arduous search through online listings in Journalism. I hadn't originally intended to write about food but I quickly realized it's a fantastic and fulfilling subject matter!

I write and edit for two sites: Recipe4Living.com and its blog, ChewonThatBlog.com. Recipe4Living is mainly "feature" writing talking about timely subjects--making cider in the fall (recipe4living.com/Common/Article.aspx?id=57480) or the history of honey (recipe4living.com/Common/Article.aspx?id=54852) for example.
The blog, on the other hand, is a more up-close-and-personal look at my experiences with food--both the cooking and eating (primarily the eating!).

I find writing about recipes to be difficult, because I'm still a struggling novice cook, but when I can prepare and then discuss a recipe and make it sound appetizing to my readers I feel very proud.

As for delicious synonyms...hehe. I usually just get all goofy with my descriptions ("apocalypse of flavor," etc), try to represent what the food is as vividly as possible. Don't just say "it tastes good," say how it tastes good--the clash between texture and flavor, the emotions it evokes, whether or not it's "oh god nom nom nom I want to keep eating this forever"...that seems to cover it. :D
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply, Smileytron! Very interesting!

So, were you already writing about other subjects when you got the food jobs? Were you doing freelance work before you got these gigs? Do you have a journalism degree? Are the current jobs full-time, salaried positions, or is it more like contract work?

Sorry for all the questions, but I'm just so curious! I really appreciate your response. :)

p.s. LOL at "apocalypse of flavor" & the "nom nom nom" reaction. I like it! ;D...And yes, I'm beginning to see how you have to describe how it smells/tastes/feels in your mouth but...it can be so difficult to verbally articulate these primal, non-verbal reactions to what is purely a sensual experience....It's like writing about sex. It can be hard to find fresh language to capture the physiological sensations and emotional responses.
post #4 of 5
I spent 8 miserable months freelancing out of college before I accepted a salaried position, primarily writing for trade magazines and advertising companies. I say "miserable" because if you don't have a lot of published clips it can be incredibly hard to get an editor to notice you. No food writing, surprisingly--I did work for a blog about my other love, Japanese cartoons, though.

I do have a Journalism degree, Magazine emphasis. My current job is salaried, full-time; certainly not as lenient a schedule as freelancing, but a lot more fulfilling!

Yeah, I definitely get what you're saying about the difficulty. I find it helps if you just talk about what you ate--even if it's to yourself--because suddenly you're not just staring at a screen, but vocally trying to get beyond food taste good.
post #5 of 5
If I didn't write for a living I'd have to get a real job, which might resemble work. Omigod! Writing, on the other hand, is one of the few ways you can make money without working but without quite stealing either.

I'm a fulltime freelance writer. As such, I'm not allowed to have hobbies. Everything becomes grist for the editorial mill. Being as I'm passionate about food, cookery, and food history, it was an easy transition.

A lot of my food writing is actually an adjunct to something else. For instance, when I write about growing a particular vegetable for, say, Mother Earth News, I include a side story about how to use it on the table, complete with recipes. This is known publicly as reader service. Privately it is known as a double-dip. :D

I also do a lot of food travel type writing. For instance, once did a series of pieces called "In Search of the Perfect Crabcake." Basically, these were articles dealing with touring around Chesapeake Bay, but with food as the theme.

Or take another angle. I read cookbooks the way most people read novels. So it was only natural that I become a cookbook reviewer, and, eventually, the Reviews Editor here at ChefTalk.

As to how you get writing jobs, you ask for them. That's the whole nature of freelance writing. In fact, I offer an on-line course in how to freelance that teaches people just that; how to sell what they write.

At it's most basic, you point out to an editor or list owner a need, and explain how you are the one to satisfy that need.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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