Institutionalized Food Writing

Two major culinary schools in NYC—French Culinary Institute (FCI) and International Culinary Education (ICE)—include food writing as their career course. School of Food Journalism & New Media Courses at FCI opens two courses: The Craft of Food Writing and Food Blogging with Steven Shaw. Similarly, Center for Food Media at ICE includes three programs: Food and Recipe Writing, Cookbook Writing, Visual and Digital Food Media. The followings are the course descriptions of Food Writing (with Marge Perry) at ICE, Food Blog program (with Brooke Parkhurst) at ICE, and Food Writing (with Alan Richman) at FCI.

 

“To be a food writer, you need to do more than just write about food. You must transport, inform, and entice readers; take them on a journey of sights and sounds, smell, taste and touch; and sometimes, simply tell them “how to.” There are as many types of food writing as there are venues for it; to be a food writer means finding the right fit for you. Through a combination of lectures, discussions, and exercises, we’ll explore the types of writing and venues, how to break in to food writing and how to stay in. You will learn to refine your writing; how to make your topic and voice fit a publication–or find the right publication for your idea; how to craft a pitch letter; and what it takes to get that all-important second assignment. You will walk away from t You’ll explore the ingredients of good food writing and hone your skills while learning to develop food reviews and features, craft editor pitches and enjoy visits from special guests. his class understanding how to turn your passion into words and your words into paid assignments.” (Emphasis is mine)

“Conceptualize, develop, and run your own food blog! In this seminar, you’ll discover how to find your “foodie niche” and develop a unique voice. You’ll also learn how to promote and distinguish yourself in the overcrowded blogosphere and how to transform a hobby into a viable writing career. All blogging “ins” and “outs” will be covered: hiring a website designer, finding a server, providing fresh content for readers, uploading photos, and much more. You will also have the opportunity to workshop your ideas as a group.” (Emphasis is mine)

“You’ll explore the ingredients of good food writing and hone your skills while learning to develop food reviews and features, craft editor pitches and enjoy visits from special guests.” (Emphasis is mine)

It seems to me that the culinary institutions regard food writing as just skill and craft. Although they stress the “unique” voice of each food writer, that voice is institutionalized: what to include and what to exclude are already given. The “unique” voice seems not to be far from the repetition of dominant or hegemonic voice. Particularly, the first course description says, “you must transport, inform, and entice readers.” There’s no room left for readers to participate in knowledge-creating process. Of course, this is a perspective of culinary industry. However, this form of writing is exactly what Adorno criticized fifty years ago. He stressed the importance of the essay as form, which is in between science, art, and philosophy; which is a critique of system.

Do you think food writing can be a form of essay? Do you think food writing should be a form of essay?

 

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