My friend and fellow writer Emma and I have been talking a lot about how uninspired we are with the food writing world these days. For the past ten years or so, food writing has been in overdrive and the result is that there's nothing edible on this great green earth that hasn't been discovered, written about, rediscovered, interpreted, plated, plattered, poured, tweeted, tweaked, tweezered, photographed, Instagrammed, think-pieced, dissed, defended, appropriated, reclaimed, and exclaimed over. Nothing.
So we decided that when we did occasionally stumble on something that made us pause, something that snagged our interest and made us say “hmmmm … ” (or in Emma’s case 'Ooooh, that’s interesting!’) we would share it with each other. Here’s Emma’s recent list and below is mine. I hope to update this every now and then, provided the inspiration is out there.
Healthyish Instagram feed. Lately, those branded Insta grids of overstyled food have started to blur into one big mash of meh. So I appreciate the random, completely non-food pictures that appear every now and then in the feed of Healthyish (an offshoot of Bon Appetit). I like it when brands go off-brand and I like it when they manage to preserve a singular, opinionated voice. And specifically with Healthyish, I like how art and odd architecture and vacation landscapes have a place amongst the plates and platters.
The narrative recipe. I’m 57 years old and have been cooking since I was 11 so I can safely say I know the basics. While I completely support and understand the utility of the explainer recipe, I really don’t need it in most cases. Hell, I usually don’t even need ingredient amounts. Just give me a list of stuff and the rough outlines of what you did with them and I’m off and running. Which is why I’m starting to appreciate this mini-trend of the narrated recipe. Here’s a great example from Hannah Davitian. Obviously they’re not for everyone but I think it's important to pay attention to the fact that there are (more than ever) smart, experienced cooks out there who don't need it all spelled out in classic recipe form.
At the same time, moving in the opposite direction, I love this over-explained recipe from the non-food writer Felix Salmon. It goes on and on and on but instead of being annoyed, I hunker in for the tale, imagining Felix (a complete stranger) and I are hanging out at my kitchen table and he’s telling me how makes his Tarta de Santiago -- every single step and consideration from start to finish -- while we kill a bottle of really nice Pinot.
In my Buddhist sangha we chant the words “Innumerable labors brought us this food, we should realize how it comes to us” before each meal. These are words that I’m very dedicated to and so following the writing of Andy Griffin of Mariquita Farm is like my spiritual reading. His Mariquita Farm Ladybug Postcard arrives in my inbox about once a week or so and is always cause for me to stop, make a cup of tea, and spend a few moments in the sometimes muddy, sometimes dusty, sometimes soaking wet boots of a hard-working organic farmer. His website is not so good at archiving these newsletters but here’s a recent example. If you care about food, if you care about deliciousness, if you care about small family farms, immigration and workers rights, if you have even the tiniest sense of how important it is to recognize and appreciate those who grow our food, then subscribe to Andy’s newsletter.