Welcome to Mastering the Art of Food Writing

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Are you new here? Welcome. And if you haven’t come over in a while, then welcome back.

Our renovated site will LAUNCH VERY SOON. To be included in the launch festivities, sign in above right.

Yes, there have been some changes made. The Rambling Epicure has shifted its focus from featuring food writers to forming a community for food writers. You’ll still find the calibre of writing we’ve been identified with since 2009, but, if you write as well as read about food, then you’ll find more here than ever before.

Starting in the summer of 2014, we — Jonell Galloway and Elatia Harris — envisioned a resource-rich hub, unlike any other site on the Internet, for food writers at all levels. Where inspiration was in ample free supply. Where fast, palatable units of education and topnotch services to writers were custom designed and delivered at truly attractive prices. Where virtual and actual events for writers, including one free event every month, opened the door to connections and opportunities.

Want to publish on our platform, or enter our competition for beginning food writers? We’ll showcase you beautifully. Want to teach here? Tell us what you’d bring to the table. And if you need to go deeper, as we have done, into the changing world of ebooks, then come with us on the ride.

And, for a good time in good company, join our food writing forum on Facebook at The Rambling Epicure, Mastering the Art of Food Writing. You’ll make new writing friends there, and pick up a wealth of hot tips.

2014 Top Ten Books on Food and Cooking

 

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By Elatia Harris

Every Thanksgiving I make a list of the 10 books about food and cooking that made the greatest impact on me that year. My criteria? I have to have bought them, read them through, loved them and cooked from them if they include recipes. Not all do. Food writing is changing — one glance at the list below will show you how much. What about your own Top Ten?

1.) The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food, by Dan Barber
A visionary book. Can we make this future? Will we?

2.) The Culinary Imagination: From Myth to Modernity, by Sandra M. Gilbert
The subject as considered by one of the great minds of our time. Endlessly rewarding.

3.) The Food History Reader: Primary Sources, by Ken Albala
Magnificent choices. Now everyone can be a student of the dazzling Ken Albala.

4.) Cumin, Camels and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey, by Gary Paul Nabhan
Nobody knows the desert and its potential like professor and farmer Gary Paul Nabhan. An exceptionally moving book.

5.) Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts, by Aglaia Kremezi
To simplify, to exalt real flavor, to live lightly on the earth — this is the book.

6.) Yucatan: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition, by David Sterling
Deep insight into a marvelous, highly local cuisine with unique features.

7.) Heritage, by Sean Brock
A chef of passionate dedication works to preserve the heritage foodways of the American South. Certain people who shall be nameless have given Southern cooking a bad name lately. THIS helps!

8.) The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu, by Dan Jurafsky
Hilarious and erudite. If you don’t really know if you like language better than food, or vice versa, read this. Zero conflict.

9.) Porta Palazzo: The Anthropology of an Italian Market, by Rachel Black (paperback edition 2014)
The largest open market in Europe holds up the mirror to Italian society.

10) Simple French Food, by Richard Olney (40th Anniversary Edition)
Were you trying, as a teenager, to master the art of French cooking? Then of course you went to Julia, but you might have gone to Richard, too. Matchless instruction, such beautiful prose that you can read it aloud for pleasure, and recipes that cannot disappoint.

Wendell Berry Quotes

When people learn to preserve the richness of the land that God has given them and the rights to enjoy the fruits of their own labors then will be the time when all shall have meat in the smokehouse corn in the crib and time to go to the election. (“W.C.” of Rural Neck, Kentucky in a letter to “Farmers Home Journal – 1892″) ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

Recipe: Shaker-style Apple Custard Oat Pie

by Jonell Galloway

Shaker-style apple custard oatmeal pie

Shaker-style apple custard oatmeal pie

Apple Custard Oatmeal Filling

For one 9-inch pie crust

6 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1 cups brown sugar
1 cup melted butter
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups peeled, cored, sliced cooking apples
2 egg whites, beaten until they form hard peaks

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Beat 6 egg yolks and 4 egg whites until smooth.
  3. Add sugar, oats, melted butter, lemon juice and cinnamon. Stir well.
  4. Add apples and mix gently.
  5. Pour into prepared 9-inch crust (see below).
  6. Carefully spread the 2 beaten egg whites over the top.
  7. Bake at 400° F for 10 minutes.
  8. After 10 minutes, reduce temperature to 325° F.
  9. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, or until custard is set.
  10. Cool before cutting so that the custard will set.

Butter Pie Crust

Makes two 9-inch pie crusts

1 1/8 cups flour, sifted
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup butter, cold
5 T. + 1 t. water, cold

  1. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl.
  2. Cut butter into dry ingredients using two knives or a pastry cutter, adding cold water little by little.
  3. Form dough into two balls. Chill for a few minutes.
  4. Roll dough out so that it fits into a 9-inch pie pan.
  5. Line pie pan with dough.
  6. Blind bake in a 400° C oven for 10 minutes.
  7. Cool.

 

Wendell Berry Quote: Why do Farmers Farm?

Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: “Love. They must do it for love.” Farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable. They love to live where they work and to work where they live. If the scale of their farming is small enough, they like to work in the company of their children and with the help of their children. They love the measure of independence that farm life can still provide. I have an idea that a lot of farmers have gone to a lot of trouble merely to be self-employed to live at least a part of their lives without a boss.― Wendell Berry, Bringing it to the Table: Writings on Farming and Food

10 Classic Writers Who Talk About Food

by Jonell Galloway

Food writing is not confined to food writers. After all, food concerns us all and we all have something to say about it. Some use it as metaphor, others as porn. Here are a few examples from classic literature.

Food as the Essence of Being Human: M.F.K. Fisher

Fisher went straight to the point. Food was intertwined in almost all she wrote and used as a metaphor for the need for love in life. It was inescapable connected with its opposite, hunger.

“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.”

M.F.K. FisherThe Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition

Food, Heaven and Hell: Barbara Kingsolver

“Tortolita, let me tell you a story,” Estevan said. “This is a South American, wild Indian story about heaven and hell.” Mrs. Parsons made a prudish face, and Estevan went on. “If you go visit hell, you will see a room like this kitchen. There is a pot of delicious stew on the table, with the most delicate aroma you can imagine. All around, people sit, like us. Only they are dying of starvation. They are jibbering and jabbering,” he looked extra hard at Mrs. Parsons, “but they cannot get a bit of this wonderful stew God has made for them. Now, why is that?”

“Because they’re choking? For all eternity?” Lou Ann asked. Hell, for Lou Ann, would naturally be a place filled with sharp objects and small round foods.

Continue reading

The Kate Middleton Diet

Everyone is interested in Kate Middleton’s diet(s), especially now that she is pregnant with her second child

by Jonell Galloway

Everyone is interested in Kate Middleton’s diet, but is there really anything we can rightly called The Kate Middleton Diet?

There is more conjecture than anything, and it makes for lots of print in the British tabloids.

Kate Middleton in wedding dress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most tabloids claim that Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge, followed the Dukan Diet to lose weight for her wedding. Pierre Dukan, founder of the protein-based, low-carb diet, told the New York Daily News that Middleton lost far too much weight before her wedding, but stated that it is still safe for her to continue it during her second pregnancy, despite her severe case of hyperemesis gravidarum, characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and electrolyte disturbance during pregnancy.

But word has it that this is just one of the diets Kate has done. Apparently, another diet secret which she followed it during her first pregnancy, and now follows two days a week, is an all-juice diet.

To lose weight after her first pregnancy, The Daily Mail reported that Kate went on a raw diet, munching on only ceviche, goji berries, gazpacho, watermelon salad, almond milk and tabbouleh.

The Dukan Diet is a classic diet French women use to control their weight. The French site Baby Book agrees with Dr. Dukan that it is safe to continue the diet during pregnancy, and that the days of women eating for two are behind us. Of course, Dukan was banned from practicing medicine in his native France in 2013. Both his U.K. and American sites have been removed. The French domain name, dukandiet.fr, is reportedly for sale.

In Touch Weekly alleges that Middleton is anorexic.

Since graduating from college, the Duchess of Cambridge is said to have gone from a size 10 or 12 to a size 6.

Controversy surround Kate’s seemingly favorite diet or weight control secrets and will undoubtedly continue to be followed closely both by the press and readers for years to come.

References

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The TRE Quiz: Were You Destined to Become a Food Writer?

by Elatia Harris

Below you will find a spectrum of behaviors that are food writer markers in early life, as well as some behaviors that do not strongly associate to food writing. Say yes to all that apply. Attach a zero to behaviors that do not resonate with you. Each entry below is weighted separately. Instructions for self-scoring and interpretation are found at the end.

(1.) In childhood under 10, you

(a.) Ate what you were given, mainly, but thought over the texture pretty hard.

(b.) Wondered about the food in foreign countries. Was it better? Could you cook it just fine without going there?

(c.) Read carefully, rather than skipped over, the bits about food in your usual reading matter.

(d.) Sniffed from spice jars.

(e.) Were asked not to complain about the food, ever, even though you weren’t complaining, exactly. You were trying to help.

(2.) In early adolescence, you

(a.) Read and wrote well ahead of your grade level, regardless of other academic aptitudes.

(b.) Cooked with adults, for lack of interested peers. Cooked to get adults out of the kitchen.

(c.) Started feeling passionate about certain writers: they were writing for YOU.

(d.) Put out at least two issues of a newsletter about the food at school and at hangouts.

(e.) Sniffed wine, tried to taste it, daydreamed a lot, wanted to be older — at least 16.

(3.) Mid-adolescence through age 21, you

(a.) Worked to expand your food vocabulary because there were food sensations you experienced but had no words for.

(b.) Considered “year abroad” programs based on the food that might be involved.

(c.) Used more of your available funds to eat well than other students did, cut back elsewhere to afford it.

(d.) Sniffed fragrances, liked satin, drank wine.

(e.) Made lists of destination restaurants, and other things to experience for the sake of writing about them.

 

Self score:

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Food Writing Prompts: Your Own Desk is a Prompt

by Elatia Harris

So many great writers need their writing rooms to meet precise specs. E.B. White preferred a rough-hewn, minimalist space, with nothing but a typewriter. Virginia Woolf needed lots of green around her, and took some serious kidding about it from her sister. I have noticed that a writing room is almost never gender-neutral, even when the writer is going for a low-key, orderly space that gives little away. There’s something I need, that I’ll give up things I like to get: a window. Looking at photos like the National Trust photo above, of Vita Sackville-West’s writing table at Sissinghurst, I always notice — does the writing table face a window, or a wall?

Which leads me to wonder — how much of a writing prompt is your desk itself? It has four corners, like the ancient Chinese idea of the Universe. Within that space, you can put anything you have that helps. When you look up from your work, are you still seeing with the mind’s eye? What could you arrange to see, physically, that would give you the most of what you needed to keep writing?