How to Write About Food

Food is more than just sustenance; it’s also a source of joy, a trigger for memories and a way to connect with others. It is vital to human survival, providing the nutrients needed for growth and repair. It is also an important part of cultural rituals and traditions. Hence, it is not surprising that there are so many worthy subjects to write about: food reviews and blogs, long and short journalism (from restaurant profiles to investigative pieces), culinary mysteries, non-fiction food history, and even books about foodways (with a full-on anthropological concentration).

Whether you’re writing a review of a new eatery or an essay on the importance of family dinners, the right language can make your article stand out from the crowd. Using sensory language, like descriptive phrases that describe the flavors, textures and aromas of foods can create an emotional connection with your audience. This is especially true for foods that have a strong association with emotions or memories. Incorporating the stories behind these foods can further evoke these feelings in your readers, creating a more engaging and memorable experience.

In food writing, it’s important to avoid misrepresenting facts, as well as ignoring or downplaying certain cultures and cuisines. Doing so can be a form of racism and hurt the people involved in those foods’ production. For example, labeling Mexican, Indian or Chinese foods as “cheap eats” takes money from cooks and restaurateurs who are invested in those cultures’ cuisines. It can also perpetuate the idea that these cuisines are inferior to American fare.

When it comes to choosing ingredients, choose organic or locally-sourced options. Purchasing these items helps support the local economy and is better for the environment. They’re usually higher in nutrient content and are less likely to contain added sugar or salt. Also, look for certifications on packaged foods, such as non-GMO or USDA Organic. In addition, consider buying foods from bulk bins, as these are often more cost-effective and reduce waste.

Food isn’t just about eating; it’s also about the process of making and preparing food. Using vivid descriptions of the process can help your readers imagine what it would be like to be there themselves. For example, describing the smell of spices and herbs while the food is cooking can add to the reading experience. You can also share your own personal experiences with the dish, bringing more authenticity and emotion to your writing. This will give your readers a more intimate and enjoyable reading experience, and may even inspire them to try the dish themselves.