Sunday, June 6, 2010

On Food Writing

I've had two slices of peanut butter toast, and two cups of coffee.  It's three o'clock in the afternoon and I'm hungry,  but I don't want to eat beans.  I want to write about food writing, and I want to write about food blogs.  There's a difference. I don't read food blogs very often, but I read them often enough to know that the most commercially successful and popular of them are written by hacks who follow formulas.  The blog-o-sphere is pasture land: it's fertile, but most of the food that grows on it is only good for cows.    

That hoagie looks incredibly delicious but it's totally inedible.  If you eat it you will wind up with garbage in your gut.  It's not food.  It pretends to be food.  This is what I think about all of the main-stream, food-related writing that passes itself off as food writing all over the internet: It's recipes under cute banners.  Successful food blogs have clever names!  You don't top the pop charts without a catchy hook.  The same goes for food bloggers: come up with something catchy and the masses will eat it up like piles of macaroni 'n cheese at Ponderosa buffet.  I don't go anywhere near that stuff unless it's free.

That's a lunch I ate at Whole Foods Market after teaching college freshman David Foster Wallace's essay, "Consider the Lobster."  Not many of them considered the lobster, but I know they considered the new buzz cut I rolled into class wearing that day.  To college freshmen, buzz cuts are more exciting than good writing.  Anyway, I digress, but digression is a good thing.  Main stream food writing forbids digression.  It often forbids thought.  Just get to the food already.  I'm hungry... 

Yesterday I was reading M.F.K. Fisher's masterpiece, "How to Cook a Wolf."  The best part about that book is that she doesn't subdue the reader (or patronize her) by hammering into her ears a bunch of tedious, propagandizing, B.S., as if words are galvanized nails that are best used to create puncture wounds in the brain.  M.F.K. Fisher actually has back-bone.  She can write!  Too often, amateur food writers cannot write, but they can convey data.  Data is a good thing, but data has no personality.  Data has no bent.  Data has no guts.  Data has no draw except for the draw that a flashy umbrella lends a hot dog stand.  

Anyway, I think I've gotten my point across.  OilChanges is rotten name for a food blog; Julie and Julia is much better.   



Dara said...

I do appreciate it. DW

tussin78 said...

I sent Jono a link to a corporate blog written by some total ninny-shit woman. She talked about her 6 seed soda bread rising in the oven; herself, kicking back in the backdrop to the story, with a stick of butter awaiting. It's funny, I've hung around a lot of magazine offices in my time, and have heard folks say sometimes that they didn't think their writing was any good, but then when it gets blocked into print in the mag it looks fine. True for such a puny-brained lady, speaking on behalf of her trip to Portland of all places, and how it all ties into her whimpy little lunch, and "in effect" of course, a discourse broadcast worldwide for millions of people to peer over her pitiful prose.

A lot of people can bake in the world, but few and far between can actually jot down their motions into clever copy. Unfortunately though, such blog unfancies can be found, dripped over via convenient advertisements on Google sites, and everywhere else that a neophyte to the world of food literature would be looking: possibly right at the top of their Windows Live Hotmail home page.

The same writers for these trashy blogsites likely randomly with closed-eyes pick up a copy of the latest corporate novel at their nearby grocery mart. So you see, this is where their information comes from: "the fluf" of the grocery store. She can pick out a perfect avacodo, but her taste in fancy literature stews with the toads in the sewer!!

pierre said...

what is your view between a foodblog written by a man and a woman? Pierre de Paris

Jono Tosch said...

Dear Pierre de Paris, if that is you real name,

Both men and women can write good food blogs.

Dr. Crowbar said...

I just read "How to Cook a Wolf" about a month ago. Great read.