How To Write A Food Article
Some Initial Thoughts
Oh, we do love to eat, don’t we? From the Big Mac to the Prime Rib, and everything in-between, the satisfaction of our hunger is a worthy pursuit. Perhaps that explains why so many writers choose this genre to “sink their teeth into.”
I apologize for that pun. I couldn’t help myself.
If you are interested in becoming a food writer, there are several distinct niches you might consider. Before we discuss those, however, let’s take an overview of the subject and then we’ll get down to specifics.
Writing about food is writing about eating. Since we have all eaten, and we have all experienced the pure joy of a great meal, we all have a basic foundation from which to build our food genre platform. Now to move to the next step, namely to write with some conviction and to write in a manner that will be interesting to readers.
Consider these suggestions as you embark on your food writing career:
- Food should be sensual: remember that food writing should focus on the senses. What does a dish look like? What does it smell like? What does it taste like and yes, what does it feel like? From your words you want your readers to smell the apple pie, to feel the fuzzy down of a peach, to see the vibrant colors of the spices, to hear the bite and to taste the sweet and sour.
- Limit your use of adjectives. If your writing is strong enough you do not need words like delicious…what a silly word. Rather, you will use the English language the way it was meant to be used, describing without embellishing to the point of redundancy. Try some metaphors or similes. They will do the work of adjectives and actually interest your readers at the same time.
- Avoid generic terms. Again, words like delicious or tasty are boring, and boring is not what you are trying to convey in a food article. Go for something like satin-smooth or buttery if you must use an adjective.
- Make the act of cooking an action movie. Don’t just tell the reader how to prepare the recipe. Tell them what happens while you are preparing it…..”the crust cracks audibly as you press it with your fork”….or…..”the butter glides down the stack of blueberry pancakes as raindrops glide down a leaf.”
Remember, always, that there are many, many food writers out there, so your job is to find a new way to present the same old material.
Take a look at this passage from “The Great Texas Barbecue Secret,” written by Alan Richman:
“Because the meat is seldom pricked during cooking, the fat accumulates, sizzling and bubbling. Slice, and the drama unfolds. Think of a bursting water pipe. Better yet, imagine a Brahman bull exploding from the gate of a rodeo.”
Now that, my friends, is how to write about food!
Let’s take a look at some of the different niches in food writing. Maybe you will find one that appeals to you.
MEMOIR AND PERSONAL ESSAYS
Show me a recipe and I yawn. Show me a recipe told through the personal experiences of the chef and my interest is tweaked. Never underestimate the power of our personal memories. People relate to people, and many a writer has made a good living by telling of past moments in a way that we can all relate to.
This is a niche that has obvious rewards: you get to eat what you are writing about. Of course, if you read my article about travel writing, you know a little secret about restaurant reviews: not everyone who writes about restaurants has actually eaten at those restaurants! I know, I know, very shocking indeed!
Set yourself up as an expert and start small….start reviewing the restaurants in your hometown and start a restaurant review blog….or submit your reviews to your local newspaper. Once you have established your niche then branch out regionally.
Yes, it seems like everyone and their grandmother writes about recipes. The trick is to find a new angle, a new hook, if you are going to follow this path.
Think about it for a moment. Hundreds of thousands of writers write recipes and post them online. How are you going to make yours interesting enough that others will look for your next recipe article? If you can answer that question then you can make it in the recipe/food genre.
INFORMATIVE PIECES ON FOOD HISTORY
Do some research and make a niche for yourself writing about the history of food. Some of my SEO content writing is for a restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, and I am constantly doing research on different dishes.
If presented correctly, food history is actually very interesting, but it is your job to make it interesting. Do you know the history of the hamburger? Look it up!
PROFILES OF CHEFS OR EVEN FARMERS
Yes, this is a very selective niche, and yes, you are narrowing the field a bit and pinpointing a very specific audience, but do it well enough and you will have that audience all to yourself.
A hot topic these days is organic farming. How about a series of articles about the leading organic farmers in your country, or a local angle featuring local farmers’ markets in your area?
Start out small and do a series of articles on leading chefs in your city, and then move to regional, then national, etc.
FOOD-FOCUSED TRAVEL WRITING
Where do you find the best steaks in America? Where are the best wine cellars in Italian restaurants? Which restaurants offer the best authentic Mexican food?
Which is the best restaurant in Florence? Now expand and work your way across Italy until you have a whole series of food/travel writing and yes, an ebook of the same.
Advice from a pro
What do you think? Can you give it a go and be a food writer?
There Is Only One Thing Left to Do
And that, of course, is to write.
I am of the belief that a good writer can make just about any subject interesting. I do not have to be a food expert to write about food. I do, after all, eat, so I’m somewhat of an expert and have been since birth…..and I am a writer….so, it is not much of a stretch to see myself as a food writer.
And it is not much of a stretch for you, either. If you enjoy food and enjoy writing about it, then my best piece of advice is to find a unique way to write about it. There are far too many boring recipes out there. Find a way to turn a boring recipe into a written piece of art and you will be well on your way to building a platform with you atop it as a food expert.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
"Helping writers to spread their wings and fly."