Relaunching of The Rambling Epicure E-zine

By Wednesday, April 25, 2018 Permalink 0

I launched The Rambling Epicure e-zine, this website, nearly ten years ago as a literary culinary electronic magazine with a host of well-known food writers and photographers, all of whom are still active members of the related Facebook groups Culinary Travel and Mastering the Art of Food Writing. Editing and publishing this on my own required an incredible amount of gratifying work and because I was busy with my personal projects, I have left it semi-dormant for the last year or two. Today, I would like to relaunch it in a different form as part of an effort to encourage conversation about food, cooking, and writing.

My primary goal is for The Rambling Epicure to become a wellspring of enlightening epicurean essays and culinary fiction. We all have captivating personal and family tales about what we cooked and what we ate through many generations, during good times and bad. These memories are part of our food culture—and our food heritage—and should be an effective way to transmit our experiences and values beyond our front doors.

But my ambitions are greater than just memoir: I’m also interested in publishing articles and essays related to historical research in the field of gastronomy and in reviews of food books.

I would like to make this a cooperative effort that opens the door for us to share our potential as cooks, diners, and writers. Together, we will create a literary culinary site unlike any other, with information and stories that can be passed down to future generations.

To begin, there are two tasks:

1) We need to create a team of vetters and active partners who are familiar with the TRE philosophy and approach. If you have experience in editing, food, or writing and have a few hours a month to help us read submissions on a volunteer basis (we have no budget, only enthusiasm and goodwill) and would like to be part of our team, please PM me.

2) We are calling for submissions of expository essays and fiction and other food-related topics. If you’re interested, please PM me for guidelines.

I am looking forward to this new project and hope we can work together to harness our community’s knowledge and talents as well as to contribute to an intelligent conversation about a central part of our lives.

The first three “editions” or series will be:

Issue No. 1, Food and Wine in Wartime, August-September 2018

Issue No. 2, Women Who Cook, October-November 2018

Issue No. 3, Women Who Cooked, December 2018-January 2019

To take part in the relaunching of this e-zine, click here.

To see other events organized by The Rambling Epicure, click here.

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Italian Hours: Struffoli in New Haven

By Thursday, December 14, 2017 Permalink 2

Long Lost: The Archeology of an Italian-American Family and its Struffoli

by Jocelyn Ruggiero

I’m flipping through a thirty-year-old community cookbook by the Saint Ann Society of St. Michael’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut, when a recipe for struffoli, the Italian pastry, catches my eye. Crispy on the outside and cakey on the inside, these marble-sized balls of dough are first deeply fried in vegetable oil, then drenched in warm honey laced with tangerine peels. Every year at Christmas time, they are served piled high in a mountain of sticky goodness. And for me, struffoli are inextricably tied to my great Aunt Chris.

I tasted her struffoli just once, when I was very young. I sit on a green and gold velvet couch in the living room of another great aunt, from another side of my family. I place the struffoli in my mouth in bunches. They are sweet and syrupy. I know, because my father told me, that my Aunt Chris made them, and that they are special.

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photo by: judywitts

BOOK REVIEW: BAKING POWDER WARS

By Monday, November 13, 2017 Permalink 0

BOOK REVIEW: BAKING POWDER WARS

by Margie Gibson

Baking Powder Wars: The Cutthroat Food Fight that Revolutionized Cooking, by Linda Civitello 

If baking powder doesn’t seem substantial enough to merit an entire book, that’s only because its history and background have not been widely explored and remain generally unknown. Linda Civitello’s carefully researched book has finally opened a window onto a fascinating subject and era in U.S. history. The book is interdisciplinary in nature, shedding light on the science and chemistry behind baking powder, the international exchange of ideas and scientific knowledge that enabled the powder’s development, the history of chemical leavening agents, politics and corruption, suspicion of foreigners (in this case, Germans), and insights into the role baking powder played in the economic history of the U.S., as well as marketing, feminism, and social issues. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found especially interesting the book’s exploration of how baking powder revolutionized women’s lives, freeing them from the necessity of spending long hours kneading and baking bread for their families. The popularity of baking powder in the US  also explains how baking styles here developed differently from European baking — U.S. cooks relied much more extensively on a chemical leavening action while more traditional European cooks relied on beating bubbles into the batter and using eggs as a leavening. This difference created new American baked goods such as cookies, quick biscuits, cobblers, and light, fluffy cakes.

Baking Powder Wars provides fascinating insights into a unique American product — insights that will change the way you look at a marvelous invention that we have too long taken for granted.

Baking Powder Wars: The Cutthroat Food Fight that Revolutionized Cooking, by Linda Civitello, University of Illinois Press

https://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/98ppx5cp9780252041082.html

 

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14 Food Books You Must Read

By Tuesday, November 10, 2015 Permalink 0

“From blogs to many popular books, food writing is now among America’s favorite forms of leisure reading. Gaining usage as a term in the early 1990s, food writing is now composed of a range of genres—non-fiction, literature, recipes, journalism, memoir, and travelogues among them—that explore the fundamental relationship between people, culture and food. In the past decade alone, the number of books that touch on food in some form have rapidly proliferated, not only in quantity and but also in quality, as many of our nation’s most skilled writers are now taking food as their topic of choice.” Read more here.

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Food Blogging 101: More Computer Info for Food Writers

By Tuesday, June 2, 2015 Permalink 0

Food Blogging 101: Tips for Computer Software and Hardware for Food Bloggers and Writers

by Jonell Galloway

Most writers want and need to concentrate on the words, not the computer. Computers, by definition, require technical acumen, and many of us have neither the skills nor the desire to learn. The fact is, in today’s world, we must; it will make our lives easier if we do.

Food writers and bloggers do not need extremely powerful computer hardware if they are posting mainly text files. Working with images, however, requires more powerful equipment. Each publisher will require different software and applications.

Software and Applications

If you’re preparing a book in manuscript format, you don’t need a huge desktop publishing package, though that’s what most people seem to end up using. Many authors use Microsoft Word, others swear by a variety of less-common options.

For those writing for print, if at all affordable, I suggest buying Microsoft Word Professional or its equivalent. It offers stricter spelling and grammar checkers and has more complete dictionaries and thesauri for a long list of languages, if you indeed need the language option. Even if you’re doing content writing for online publications, this version of Word will give you a maximum of tools.

If you’re using Windows or another Microsoft operating system, I’d suggest taking a class in how to maneuver it and problem-solve. Whether you’re using Microsoft or Apple, a class in Word is a time-saver in the long run, and it will save you hours of frustration. Learn to use the Format, Insert, View and Tools options, and how to create and use a style sheet. I’ll be giving a summer class in Word for Writers. Fill in the form below to sign up for the class.

FILE FORMAT

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Writing Doctor

By Tuesday, May 26, 2015 Permalink 0

Writing Doctor: This Pen is for Hire

How’s your prose?

Let me find what ails you, and set you to “writes”. Whether through modest adjustments or major overhauls, let’s get your prose in good health!

You are a food blogger, but your dream is to become a food writer. Writing is a craft, and like all crafts, it takes time and patience to learn. Think of it as a house. You start with a solid foundation, with a frame and a floor, but you have to finish the building so you can house your family.

Working with a writing coach is like adding a roof, insulation and siding to suit the climate you live in. The climate can be compared to the market or the type of writing you aim to do. You have to hone your writing to that market and meet the expectations of publishers and of your audience. Writing free of spelling and grammatical errors is not enough.

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Food Blogging 101: 10 Writing Tips for Beginning Food Writers

By Wednesday, May 13, 2015 Permalink 0

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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Food Writing Competition

By Tuesday, May 12, 2015 Permalink 0

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.

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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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Tradition deserves respects, but art demands sincerity, and cooking is, above all else, an art.–Marcella Hazan, “Gremolada,” The Classic Italian Cookbook

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