Writing About Food

Food is not only something that most people eat three times a day, it’s an integral part of all culture and civilization. This makes it a worthy subject for writing, which can take many forms including restaurant reviews, cookbooks, long and short journalism, memoirs, culinary mysteries, fiction, non-fiction food history, and even full-fledged academic research papers. Whatever genre of food writing you choose to pursue, the basics of good writing—voice and style, compelling detail, knowledge and research—apply to all types of writing, including articles about food.

Whether it’s an article about food at a particular restaurant, or a discussion of the best ways to cook chicken, a well-written piece will keep readers engaged and will make them want to read more. Using fresh imagery and creative language will help the reader experience the story you’re telling, just like when Proust describes his mother cooking eggs or Murakami narrates how he savors his favorite fish dish.

In a world where there are 7.4 billion people, feeding them all their daily needs takes incredible effort. Despite this, we’re still managing to shovel huge amounts of “stuff” into our mouths every single day. But what does this stuff actually consist of? It could include anything from processed sweeteners, synthetic trans fat (margarine and vegetable shortening), artificial colors, common preservatives, to additives like MSG. The real definition of food, however, is anything that sustains growth, repair and vital processes, or furnishes energy.

Local traditions and customs play a significant role in what people eat, and how they prepare it. English tradition encourages roast beef and a type of bread to be eaten together at dinnertime, while rice is served as a staple in Asian cuisine. Likewise, the ingredients of a dish will often depend on where it was made, such as with French or Spanish dishes that call for cheese and wine from regions far away.

It’s also important to eat mindfully, so that we can enjoy the experience of eating. This means taking a few minutes to appreciate each bite of food, and stopping eating before you feel stuffed. It also helps to eat with others whenever possible, as eating alone can lead to mindless overeating.

In addition to enjoying the taste, texture and aroma of food, it’s also worth considering its origins, and the impact it has on the environment, communities and individuals around the globe. Purchasing directly from the source will often ensure quality, while supporting local farmers can have a positive effect on a region’s economy. It’s also a good idea to reduce food waste, by planning meals in advance and shopping with a list, so you only purchase what you need. Lastly, using apps or websites that allow you to locate local markets, find seasonal produce, and get recipes is a great way to support your local food system.