America's interest in food seems to be at a high point right now. The various forms of food writing that is currently in circulation support this claim.
It is difficult to argue that diet books should be catalogued as forms of food writing, but it is undeniable that they have been the most popular and prevalent publications on food in the past thirty years. The Atkins diet was first introduced onto the dieting scene in 1972 with the publication of Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution. Weight Watchers has published a series of inspirational diet books in addition to books of recipes. More recent was the South Beach diet, which took America by storm.
The diet book form of “food writing” focuses on the physical impact of what foods one eats. In other words, what one should eat to be thin. These books lack art, emotion, and creativity.
In the same vein, another form of food writing has erupted in the past few years. Journalistic food writing. These writers are not asking what should I eat to be thin, instead they are asking what should I eat to be healthy. One of the more explosive books in this area of writing is The China Study written by Dr. T. Campbell published in 2005 in which Campbell advocates for a plant-based diet. The other more popular writers of journalistic writing are Eric Scholsser and Michael Pollan. These writers try to open readers eyes to the current state of our food system. Scholsser and Pollan investigate the inner workings of the dairy and meat industries; industries that have been conveniently hidden from America for the past hundred years. One could argue that Upton Sinclair was the inventor of journalistic food writing with the publication of The Jungle in 1906.
Blog writing is the everyman's approach to food. It is accessible, easy, and convenient. Some bloggers choose to simply write about literally everything that passes through their lips. Others post when they have tried out an interesting recipe they want to share with readers. These sorts of bloggers tend to divulge into more detail about the food they are preparing and the emotional process that goes along with it. Orangette is a good example.
Lastly, there is the tried and true novelistic food writers. These writers draw the readers' attention to the dining experience, interweaving personal stories of their lives with the culinary experiences that seem to shape them. I am currently reading M.F.K. Fisher's Long Ago in France in which she reminisces about her culinary amakening she experienced while living in France with her husband.
Novestic writing is arguably the most artful form of food writing, which could explain its growing popularity. An example of said popularity is the literary magazine, Alimentun. Alimentum is a collection of essays and pieces that nourishes one's literary appetite. I have yet to receive my copies of Alimentum in the mail, but there will be more on that later.
Over the next couple of months, I will dedicate posts to the various forms of food writing and the many ways in which they differ.