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Food Writing Competition

By Tuesday, May 12, 2015 Permalink 0
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Food Writing Contest

We are seeking food-related fiction and non-fiction entries for our First Annual Food Writing Competition. We want to highlight what can be vividly done in very few words. You have wanted to try your hand at the greatest possible concision, have you not? This is your chance to be rewarded for that. Winners will be published on Mastering the Art of Food Writing, and qualify to compete for inclusion in the first annual Food Writers to Keep an Eye On 2015 eBook we plan to publish in 2016.

Entries should be a maximum of 500 words, and may treat any food-related subject. This covers the full spectrum of food and travel writing: memoirs; short stories; reviews; poems; travelogues; essays;  guidebooks entries; lifestyle; adventure; destination features; history; and, anthropology. Not sure that’s you? Write us to ask.

Submissions should convey a passion for food and a strong desire to summon up its wonders so as to transport others. It should solicit readers to ask deeper questions about themselves and the world. It should be well crafted, demonstrate animated descriptive skills, have a clear voice and solid structure, and be from a well-defined point of view.

Submissions should be print-ready, in MS Word file format, with clean formatting, by September 30, 2015.

Winners will receive:

  • 1st prize 1 hour of free writing instruction and publication on The Rambling Epicure
  • 2nd prize 1/2 hour of free writing instruction and publication on The Rambling Epicure
  • 3rd prize 1/2 hour of free writing instruction

We look forward to hearing from you. Be assured, if you are a first time writer, we are looking for you.

Please note: Professional writers with a traditional publishing background are not eligible for this competition.

 

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Writing Doctor

By Monday, May 11, 2015 Permalink 0
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Writing Doctor: This Pen is for Hire

Copyediting from A to Z

How’s your prose?

Whether through minute adjustments or major overhauls, getting your prose battle-ready is our mission. We help you build on strengths that enable you to meet the world in your most realized and competitive form.

But the first person you meet, as a writer, is yourself. And neglecting the interiority of your work is devastating to both voice and vision.

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Migraine is a wine made from grapes grown around Auxerre in northern Burgundy.

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WHAT TO EAT IN FRANCE: HOW TO EAT FOIE GRAS

By Thursday, May 21, 2015 Permalink 0
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WHAT TO EAT WITH FOIE GRAS

by Jonell Galloway

I tell you it will be more tolerable for the Fejee that salted down a lean missionary in his cellar against a coming famine; it will be more tolerable for that provident Fejee, I say, in the day of judgment, than for thee, civilized and enlightened gourmand, who nailest geese to the ground and feastest on their bloated livers in thy pate-de-foie-gras.”–Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1851)

In What to Eat in France: Foie Gras, we talked about how foie gras is made and the different legal classifications, which determine both the quality and price. Let’s move on to the fun part now. We’ve bought our high-quality foie gras and we want to eat it in the best way possible. Here are some ideas, both traditional and inventive.

Cooked Foie Gras

So you’ve bought a foie gras entier, a foie gras, or a bloc de foie gras. You’ll be eating pure or fairly pure foie gras, but how do you eat it and with what?

There is no one way to eat it. The Romans soaked it in honey and milk to fatten it still more before cooking. The first recipe on record comes from Apicius in his fourth century De re culinaria: Thinly slice the foie gras with a reed. Soak in garum. Crush some pepper, lovage and two bay leaves. Wrap in a caul. Grill and serve.

Today we eat it differently. Cold foie gras is most often eaten with something acidic to help digest the fat. This traditionally includes cold, sweet garnishes such as apple, rhubarb, fresh or dried figs, grapes, or pears, and toast, but contemporary chefs venture outside these limits, serving it with dried fruit and nuts and toasted brioche or raisin-fruit bread. More contemporary garnitures are onion jam or caramelized onions, Balsamic vinegar, port or Sauternes jelly, chutney, cassis berries, raspberries, blueberries or coarse sea salt.

Some people simply eat it with green salad, although I find that salad dressing deadens the natural depth of flavor. It’s also possible to eat it with cornichons and pickled onions. like one does with regular pâté, but once again, the vinegar is likely to overpower the delicate flavor.

Cooked foie gras should never be reheated. It should be eaten just colder than room temperature, so take it out of the refrigerator about 45 minutes before serving. Slice it with a knife while it is still cold. It is usually served with cold garnishes, most often as a starter.

Raw Foie Gras

Today, the most common way of cooking raw foie gras at home is sliced thinly and pan-seared. The accompaniments are similar to those of cold foie gras, but served hot and most often in the form of sauces. Classics are port, Armagnac and fruit sauces, but chefs take a lot of liberty. One finds sautéed potatoes and apples, mushroom duxelles, candied carrots, lentils, honey preparations, capers: the list is endless. I still hold that acidic fruit preparations help digest the fat. Raw foie gras is occasionally served raw in the form of carpaccio with sea salt.

In restaurants, preparations can be more complex. The great chef Escoffier noted foie gras in brioche, with truffle sauce, cooked in Madeira (Financière), with paprika, and in the form of a tourte and a soufflé. These preparations are time-consuming and not often seen these days. In addition, they are generally too heavy to suit modern tastes.

 

Jonell Galloway grew up on Wendell Berry and food straight from a backyard Kentucky garden. She is a freelance writer. She attended Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne cooking schools in Paris and the Académie du Vin, worked for theGaultMillau restaurant guide and CityGuides in France and Paris and for Gannett Company in the U.S., and collaborated on Le tour du monde en 80 pains / Around the World with 80 Breads with Jean-Philippe de Tonnac in France; André Raboud, Sculptures 2002-2009 in Switzerland; Ma Cuisine Méditerranéenne with Christophe Certain in France, At the Table: Food and Family around the World with Ken Albala, and a biography of French chef Pierre Gagnaire. She ran a cooking school in France, and owned a farm-to-table restaurant, The Three Sisters’ Café, with her two sisters in the U.S. She organizes the Taste Unlocked bespoke food and wine tasting awareness workshops with James Flewellen, is an active member of Slow Food, and runs the food writing website The Rambling Epicure. Her work has been published in numerous international publications and she has been interviewed on international public radio in France, Switzerland, and the U.S. She has just signed on at In Search of Taste, a British print publication, and is now working on two books, What to Eat in France and What to Eat in Venice.

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Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.

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— Mark Twain

WHAT TO EAT IN FRANCE: FOIE GRAS

By Tuesday, May 19, 2015 Permalink 0
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WHAT IS FOIE GRAS? READ THE FINE PRINT!

by Jonell Galloway

The French eat 90% of the foie gras they make themselves. That’s how much they like it, but they didn’t invent it. Although the Egyptians might have force-fed their birds, we’re not sure that they ate foie gras. The Greeks probably did, since the 4th-century Greek poet Archestratus wrote about it in his Gastronomy. The liver is the soul of the goose, he said.

Foie gras is made using a process called gavage, which consists of force-feeding ducks or geese through a feeding tube to fatten them. The Romans stuffed dried figs down their throats. In Latin, the word for liver even comes from fig, ficus. Scipio Metellus, a Roman chef, had the idea of soaking still warm livers in honey and milk to swell them even more before cooking.

Apart from the region of Béarn in the southwest, this practice disappeared in medieval France, coming back to life in the southwest and Alsace during the Renaissance.

French foie gras is made by force-feeding corn to geese and ducks, and still, occasionally, figs, which swells the livers.

Goose foie gras has traditionally been the most cherished because it is fattier, but it cannot be produced year round. Duck liver is less fatty, and can be produced year round and industrially, meeting the ever-increasing demand.

The fattened liver can be made into terrine, pâté, mousse, parfait, and a host of other things, and, in more recent times, there is a trend of cutting fresh foie gras into thin slices and pan-searing it. It can be eaten fresh or preserved in glass jars, and can be seasoned with truffles, port, Armagnac or Sauternes. Southwesterners prefer a simple, less perfumed foie gras, while Alsacians like to add flavor.

When purchasing, there are legal distinctions in names that indicate the purity and therefore determine the price:

  1. Foie gras entier means that it contains the actual lobes of the liver. The only legally allowed addition is truffles. As it’s solid, you cut it with a knife, just like you do extra-tender beef filet.
  2. Foie gras consists of pieces of liver that are put back together and pressed.
  3. Bloc de foie gras is reconstituted liver combined with other ingredients, but containing at least 50% foie gras for goose, and 30% for duck .
  4. Parfaits are preparations containing 75% foie gras and made by mechanical means, to which regular, unfattened liver is added.
  5. Médaillon or pâte de foie de canard or d’oie contains 50% duck or goose foie gras or bloc de foie gras in the middle, surrounded by forcemeat.
  6. Galantine is a butcher’s mixture of meats and other forcemeats, with no defined percentage of foie gras.
  7. Mousse contains 50% foie gras mixed with forcemeat, giving it the texture of foie gras.

Terrine is pure foie gras pressed into pâté shape.

Forcemeat can consist of one or several ingredients, including pork, veal or chicken fat; pork or chicken liver; scraps from deveining; poaching fat; eggs; milk; lactoproteins; flour, and starch.

Foie gras comes in a jar, plastic package or can or fresh from the butcher. When purchasing, be aware of the different cooking preparations, since the temperature at which it is cooked and the method of cooking change the flavor and shelf-life. Generally speaking, fresh is better.

It is important to make sure you are being sold what you ask for in both restaurants and shops. As a consumer, you have a legal right.

The French don’t eat foie gras every day. Traditionally, it is for special occasions and holiday meals, especially Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

Coming soon: What to Eat with Foie Gras

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WHAT TO EAT IN FRANCE: POT AU FEU

By Monday, May 18, 2015 Permalink 0
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WHAT TO EAT IN FRANCE: POT AU FEU

by Jonell Galloway

The French might claim pot au feu as their invention, but my guess is wherever there has been a pan or a pot, humans have made variations of it. Classical pot au feu, also known as petite marmite, is nothing more than beef and/or chicken and vegetables cooked in consommé with a marrow bone, with the chicken giblets thrown in at the end. There are regional variations, of course, some with veal or pork, and occasionally even mutton. Traditionally, carrots, turnips, leeks, pearl onions, celery, and cabbage are used. These are added to the consommé along with the marrow bone and brought to a boil, then simmered gently for four hours.

The soup, vegetables and meat are then served in a bowl with toasted bread, the meat sometimes eaten on the side. Traditional garnishes include mustard, pickles, and coarse salt. It is normally paired with red wine.

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Venice from a Cruise Ship

By Sunday, May 17, 2015 Permalink 0
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Venice Photo Diary: Venice from a Cruise Ship

by Jonell Galloway

Photo by Mark Wood

Does the fact that this was taken from a cruise ship make it any less beautiful?

Cruise ships in Venice have long been a source of complaint and worry. Venetians complain of too many tourists, making their city unliveable. Cruise ships are too large for the shallow waters, and contribute to the gradual rise in tide that is contributing to the erosion of the city’s foundations. Ships ruin the view and are an eyesore. Shall we continue?

In 2014, the Italian offices banned “skyscrapers” of the sea, i.e. cruise ships,Saint Mark’s basin and the Giudecca Canal Venice, proposing alternative routes. This ban was in application of regulations passed in 2013 saying no cruise ships over 96,000 tons were to be permitted entry in the Venice lagoon, with the goal of reducing all cruise ships over 40,000 tons by twenty percent in one year. The city’s regional court of appeal overturned this earlier this year, limiting the number of cruise ships over this weight limit to five per day.

Yes, Mark Wood took this photo from a cruise ship, and, with a good, expensive lens, one could take just as beautiful a photo from the San Giorgio Maggiore tower, although I haven’t yet seen one as good. Does that take away from the beauty of his photo?

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Food Blogging 101: Computer Hardware: Mac vs. PC?

By Friday, May 15, 2015 Permalink 0
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Food Blogging 101: Computer Equipment for Food Writers

by Jonell Galloway

Mac or PC?

It’s a never-ending war: Mac vs. PC. When it comes to computers, there is an age-old argument about which to buy. Computer hardware can make your life easier, or it can cause you to pull your hair out, and writers and bloggers don’t have the same requirements as someone who plays games or works mainly with images.

I’ve owned both Macs and PCs, both pre-Windows and with Windows*. In the old days, before it was possible to convert files from PC to Mac and vice-versa, I owned one of each at all times so that I could provide clients, printers and publishers with files compatible with their own systems. I’ve come to my conclusions through sweat and tears and white nights and almost missed deadlines.

If you’re not computer literate and don’t want to invest time in becoming so, buy a Mac. If you don’t want to spend hours dealing with software incompatibilities and glitches, buy a Mac.

The Mac operating system comes with the computer when it is purchased. It is seamless and less prone to viruses and attack. Macs come with an integrated operating system and integrated software that you are obliged to buy separately on a PC, including mail, photo and music handling and a word processor.

The Microsoft operating system, Windows, is sold separately, as is your chosen word processing software, which almost inevitably includes Microsoft Word. The price of PC hardware may be cheaper, but by the time you add on the extras, it often works out to more or less the same. In addition, PCs are better than in the old days when nothing was WYSIWIG, i.e. before they “imitated” the Mac operating system they call Windows, but the fact that many applications conflict with Windows can be the source of endless headaches.

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Food Blogging 101: 10 Writing Tips for Beginning Food Writers

By Wednesday, May 13, 2015 Permalink 0
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Food Blogging 101: 10 Writing Tips for Beginning Food Writers

by Jonell Galloway

  1. Write every day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes or to churn out 250 words, even if you have nothing to write about. Being a writer means you write, even when the inspiration is not there. A restaurant chef has to serve dinner to her guests even when she’s just had a fight with her banker. See yourself as a professional and you’re already on the way to becoming one.
  2. Write about things you know. If you don’t know about something, but you’re inspired by it, do your research first. Knowing doesn’t always mean intellectual knowledge. It can also be unique life experiences or things you’ve learned in the school of hard knocks. It can even be about how not to follow a recipe because you’ve learned from your own failures.
  3. Revise and revise, then revise some more. These days it’s easy to number your drafts 1, 2, and 3 or A, B, and C, so you can also recover whole paragraphs or chapters you’ve deleted if you decide you liked previous versions better. Drafts are not children you keep forever; you can play around with them like puzzles. They’re like Humpty Dumpty. You can tear them into little pieces and put them back together again. That’s part of the process. Never be afraid you’re destroying by revising. Think of it as perfecting a work of art.
  4. Cut words, then cut some more. Excess is your worst enemy. There should not be a single word or sentence that is not absolutely necessary to the message you want to get across. Again, consider your writing as you consider your family. Every word is a child and every paragraph a parent. Every element is necessary to the big picture and the message, just as every ingredient is necessary to the success of a great recipe.
  5. Practice great first lines that grab readers’ attention. There’s an art to it. When you read, take note of first lines that strike you. Writing is like theatre in that way. When the play is boring, you nod off to sleep. That’s the last thing you want your reader to do. A recipe by the name of Lemon Chicken isn’t half as appealing as Chicken filet au citron, even if it means the same thing.
  6. Writing is not just words. Writers have to paint a picture in their readers’ minds. As you observe the world, in your mind, start using words to paint pictures to tell your readers about later. Flour is often called white, but it comes in many colors: bleached white, off-white, yellowish, white with brown specks, etc.
  7. Don’t be a perfectionist. All first drafts are pretty bad and we have to accept that. We learn as we go, just like everything in life. Perfectionism can give you writer’s block. Accept your writing for what it is. Love and nurture it until it’s good. Care for it patiently, watering it like you do your flowers, until it grows tall and strong.
  8. Practice flow. Put your hands on the keyboard and let it rip. You can polish it later. Just write and don’t let your brain get in the way. We talk about free association. Practice free writing and write quickly. That can even mean making lists of ideas or words and putting them together later. Free writing touches more on your creative self than on your left brain. When you don’t have time to shop for food, you go to the fridge and think up a meal using what you have. Writing can be the same way. You can connect the dots later if your central idea is not yet clear.
  9. Develop a thick skin. Join a writing group and get feedback. Take writing classes and get more feedback. Be dedicated to your mission of becoming a food writer and use criticism as a tool to improve it and a way of understanding how readers will react. Take it gracefully and then think about it.If you develop recipes, share them with your friends and listen carefully to every comment they have. They are probably the kind of people who will be buying your books and reading your articles. Feedback isn’t always right either, but it makes you think about your craft. Your recipes don’t always turn out right, so don’t expect better from your writing.
  10. Read and read a lot; read good writing, not bad. Read the kind of things you’d like to write yourself. If you want to write a recipe book, read recipe books. If you want to write a food memoir, read every one you can get your hands on. Read books about writing. What you read affects your own writing. Never forget that. Reading feeds your imagination by letting you step into other writers’ minds and observe their skills. You learn to cook better when you follow the recipes of accomplished cooks. Writing is no different.

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“The primary requisite for writing well about food,” mused the great AJ Liebling, “is a good appetite. Without this, it is impossible to accumulate… enough experience of eating to have anything worth setting down. Each day brings only two opportunities for field work, and they are not to be wasted minimising the intake of cholesterol. They are indispensable, like a prizefighter’s hours upon the road.”–A.J. Liebling

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