The changing face of food writing


Since the age of Apicius, the art of writing about food has waxed and waned in popularity. It’s probably never been more fashionable than it is now, says writer Bryan Curtis. He notes that in this era of food bloggers, celebrity chefs, and Instagram, a problem has emerged: everyone wants to read about food but it’s getting more difficult to find anyone to pay for the writing

The article begins with the premise that today’s food writers are yesterday’s rock critics (in some cases, literally). Food “now occupies the cultural airspace once devoted to music,” according to people like LA Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold. The hedonistic pleasures have shifted from rock ‘n’ roll to gustatory delights. 

While this means that everyone and his brother wants to be a food writer, budgets for newspapers and magazines, long the home for food writers and critics, have been slashed. Says Curtis, “Just as the world has minted enough Bourdain-worshipping, elusive-taco-truck-hunting foodies to create a reliable audience for food writing, it is struggling to pay for it.”

Curtis chronicles in detail how we arrived at current state of food writing (skirting dangerously close to my TL;DR threshold) before hitting home with salient points about the industry. For example, one fallout of the decreasing revenue stream – and corresponding reduction in payment to writers – is that some of them are driven out of the business. 

It’s not all gloom and doom for the food writing genre, though. Since reviews and recipes are now more freely available, it frees up space for more in-depth pieces and investigative food journalism, among other things. This summary of Curtis’ deep dive into the state of food writing only scratches the surface; read the entire article on The Ringer website.

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