Food for Thought

by Jeanne

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The 2004 Best Food Writing anthology was released a few weeks ago. If you aren’t familiar with the 5-year old series, it’s a collection of essays, in this case 51, all on food-related topics. Best Food Writing is required reading for all undergraduate students enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America and is used as a textbook at other culinary schools nationwide. The writings are culled from the past year’s books, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and Web sites.

Culinary author Molly O’Neill’s essay “Food Porn” is included in the 2004 collection. A longtime food
columnist for the New York Times Magazine, she is also the host of the PBS series Great Food and has published three award-winning cookbooks, The New York Cookbook, A Well-Seasoned Appetite, and The Pleasure of Your Company. To give you a flavor of the caliber of writing in this book I have found the essay online. If you have even a passing interest in food writing you should read this Columbia Review of Journalism essay. The premise is that food writing is not about journalism, but more about the selling of a fantasy lifestyle defined by comfort and affluence. Excerpt:

“Some of the most significant stories today-the obesity epidemic, water purity, the genetic manipulation of the food supply as well as its safety and sustainability-are food related.

“But you won’t find these stories in the food section because the focus of food stories is on entertainment, rather than news and consumer education,” according to Molly O’Neill, who was a reporter and food columnist for The New York Times for 10 years.

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