Writing About Food


Food is a substance that provides energy and nourishment. It is consumed by plants and animals to sustain life and growth. It consists of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, water and minerals. It is absorbed from the environment through the digestive process. Plants provide the primary source of food for humans and other animals. Food is also the medium through which nutrients are transferred from one organism to another. Animals that eat other living things are called carnivores, herbivores or omnivores.

Food and cooking are a fundamental part of culture, civilization, society, history and family. It is not surprising, then, that writing about food is so popular in so many forms: restaurant reviews, blogs, long and short journalism (from profiles to investigative pieces), cookbooks, culinary memoirs, fiction focused on the kitchen, a full range of food-focused nonfiction including cultural history, foodways, and academic research papers.

Writing about food is an art, a highly technical discipline that requires knowledge of science and nutrition, as well as attention to voice, style, description and detail. In addition to these skills, food writing requires a keen eye for sourcing, accurate knowledge of ingredients and preparation techniques, and the ability to capture the flavor of the food in words. It is important to remember that food is more than just a topic for a paper; it is a reflection of a person and a place.

Describe the Food in Detail

Use detailed descriptions to help readers imagine eating the dish you are describing. Talk about how the texture and color of a food contribute to its taste, and include any sensory details that will enhance the reader’s experience, such as the smells or the way a dish looks on the plate. The more you can bring the food to life for the reader, the more compelling your essay will be.

Focus on the Best Aspects of the Food

When writing about a favorite food, it is important to highlight its most impressive aspects. Talk about why it is your favorite, whether it is the way it satisfies your cravings or the unique combination of flavors that makes it stand out from other foods you’ve tried. Be sure to mention the preparation methods, the people who prepared it and the reasons why this particular food is special to you.

Be Wary of Using Obscene Language

When discussing a cuisine, avoid derogatory and offensive language that can make readers uncomfortable. For example, avoid using words like “bizarre,” “strange” or “weird” to describe a dish. These adjectives can make the food seem unappetizing to readers and may even offend members of that cuisine’s community.

It is also important to keep in mind that a food is not “discovered” by outsiders; it has been eaten and enjoyed for as long as the culture has existed. Be aware that certain terms have connotations of colonialism and may be offensive to some communities. For example, it is inappropriate to write that a cuisine was “discovered” by a Westerner, even if the chef was unaware of the cuisine’s existence before his or her arrival.