Thursday, May 29, 2014

What It’s Like to Be a Food Writer: A Spilling of Guts

“Ohhh, a food writer. That sounds like an awesome job.”
Every time I hear this phrase I puke a little. 
It always comes from a well-meaning person at a cocktail party.  And I gag because I hate to break a well-meaning heart with the truth.

This career is a b*tch, and every food writer knows it.  For every Anthony Bourdain there are 10,000 people who’ve “tried” secret shopping convinced that a free $25 meal is worth four hours of writing about toilet paper quality and sticky floors.

If you think about it, what type of red-blooded American takes photos of her dinner until the eggs get cold and the sauce congeals?

Who the hell wants to secretly take review notes on a phone while friends get full and drunk around her?

Can I tell you the number of times I’ve eaten something disgusting right in front of the proud chef – chewing and chewing because my esophagus closes when I try to swallow?

I do this work because I moved to Tokyo at the age off twenty-one and learned something lost on many Americans: Good, groan-in-your-seat food, does not have to come from a drive-thru, does not have to make you fat and does not have to cost a fortune.

What kind of demon could keep this knowledge to herself?

I was raised Irish Catholic by-proxy in the suburbs of Boston.  I can’t shoulder that guilt.  Instead I bear the cross and send story ideas to the black holes of editors inboxes and consort with a flock of seagulls better known as publicists.

Trust me if I didn’t feel conscripted to spread the gospel, I would just skip all the “free” meals and go buy food like normal people.

So what about you?  Do you write about food? Why?

If you don’t write about food what are the glamorous things you envision food writers doing?


7 comments:

  1. I use to do restaurant reviews, now I pretty much just do my recipes for fun. It is hard reviews. I can relate when I started at my current job I used to write a travel guide and people that is was the coolest thing, not!

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  2. Yeah, I write about what I cooked up, on my blog. No pressure, when there is a story, I talk about it. Most of the time, I keep it quite and hope that pictures will tell the story.

    ela h.
    Gray Apron

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  3. Love your sense of humor here....I am NOT a writer, thanks, I just stutter along with my blog.

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  4. I hate to be invited to restaurants for reviews because what if I don't like the food. As a personal chef and blogger I have to be honest. I, like Elzbieta write about my cooing and hope that is is well received and letting the pictures tell the story. By the way thanks for you visit on my blog.

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  5. Hehe I get that all the time especially about travel writing and how much fun it must be. It's great absolutely but it's not a holiday :)

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  6. Thanks for visiting my blog! Love this post, it's funny! I am not a writer, I cook and blog about Colombian's cuisine and hope people can learn more about my culture with my posts.

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  7. I think writing is difficult and pretty much stick to my own blog posts. Very interesting post and nicely written.

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FOOD IS ONE OF THE MOST VISCERAL ASPECTS OF A CULTURE; IT CAN BE EXPERIENCED WITH NO LANGUAGE SKILLS, NO GUIDE, AND MOST TIMES WITH VERY LITTLE MONEY.