Some terrific reading on food and writing (and writing on writing) that came across our desk this week:
Leite’s Culinaria posted a stupendous survey of food writing gleaned from diaries of New York visitors and residents through history. Teresa Carpenter, who edited these New York (Food) Diaries, has read ambitiously and brought a poet’s sensibility to what she found.
“What you will find here is an unorthodox history covering roughly four centuries of the New York experience. The criterion for selection was simple. I chose these entries because I liked them. They moved me, fascinated me, made me angry, made me laugh, invited tears, or simply satisfied my curiosity. They also serve a more vital purpose, and that is to transform the New York of postcards, the gray, still abstraction of granite, the denatured Gotham of science fiction, into a living city. And so in this spirit, they provide the kind of detail of daily life that so delights the armchair anthropologist.”
Cook ‘n Scribble student Tom Hirschfield had me buying extra eggs this week with his beautiful piece on omelets. Tom’s blog was also nominated and is a finalist for a 2012 IACP Food Writing Award.
Picking up the thread on food and class that Molly O’Neill, Jane Lear and Paul Freedman discussed at the Roger Williams Cookbook Conference, the Guardian ran an engaging story suggesting that the Food Revolution is class bias in drag.
Is the food revolution just a big fat lie? Does the idea of ‘celebrity chefs’ cooking at home ‘just like us’ bring more people into the kitchen, or does it give people unrealistic expectations and turn a blind eye to class, ethnic and gender disparities?
By its nature, any sort of bias constricts and that undermines one of the greatest powers of food writing — its ability to expand one’s view and constantly enlarge the realm of the possible. The current issue of The Cincinnati Romance Review does just that in a series of scholarly essays on the culinary literature in the Hispanic world. Claudia Cornego Happael’s piece that studies food as an expression of social indentity in the Colonial Andes and M. Dustin Knepp’s piece that traces a history of tamale-making as seen through Latino children’s literature are especially engrossing. Which may be as much a reflection of my inability to read Spanish as it is of the essays in the collection.
Bon Appetit Magazine named Phaidon the “best book publisher for food lovers” in its list of 2012 Tastemakers. The house has minted a graphic sensibility and clean design that is irresistible . While they rarely break new culinary ground, they generally provide an encyclopedic sweep of recipes that are stylish, highly accessible and well-written— no wonder that books such as Silver Spoon, Noma and Creole are rapidly becoming standard issue in shiny new Ikea kitchen cabinets across the USA.
With books like these we NEED Food Book Fairs. And this Kickstarter program has ambitious plans for a fair the weekend of May 5 on Kent Avenue in Brooklyn, followed by fairs in Chicago and San Francisco.
The smell of street food is riding warming currents on sidewalks throughout the country. This week in the Huffington Post, Fabio Parasecoli, a professor at the New School in New York City, explored the contrasts and similarities between food carts and “gourmet trucks.” Then,the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance posted a collage of its street food scene that made mouths water.
Photo credits: Aaron Tilley for The Guardian, One Big Table, Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance