Writing Food/Food Writing:

It’s not just restaurant reviews and recipes, it’s not just how to cook–no, writing about food encompasses much, much more, from personal profiles to memoir to long-form articles about food, agriculture, hunger and the environment. We’ll be looking at all these aspects in our one-week course, but we’re also going to do some nitty-gritty occupational therapy—how to craft a pitch for a food feature, the many ways to construct a cookbook, working with a photographer, and how to focus your efforts to get the most out of your work. https://www.mainemedia.edu/workshops/item/craft-food-writing-jul-22-29-2018/

Meanwhile, there is that basic business of writing a recipe, and we’ll deal with that too. One of the best recipe-writers I can think of is the late, great Marcella Hazan who was one of the forces promoting good Italian food in this country back in the 1970s when she began her work here. Her instructions for handmade homemade egg pasta (Pasta all’uovo fatta in casa) take up a full eight pages, including some remarkably accurate drawings, in The Classic Italian Cookbook, but every page is necessary, every numbered step in the recipe is clear and unmistakeable. I’m not saying you’ll turn out beautiful pasta the first time, but if you follow Marcella’s directions precisely and give it a couple of tries, you will soon find you’ve become an expert pasta maker. I’m not about to quote all eight pages for you, but here’s a taste from the head note  that gives a sense of the clarity and concision of the writing, and the underlying passion that motivates it:

“Macaroni pasta is factory made with flour and water. In home-made pasta, eggs take the place of water and hands replace machines. Although egg pasta is now produced in almost every Italian province, it is the specialty of Emilia-Romagna, and even today the pasta produced there is incontestably the finest in Italy. Until comparatively recent times, spaghetti and other macaroni were nearly unknown to the Emilian table. The only pasta consumed was homemade pasta, and it was made fresh every day in virtually every home. My grandmother, who died at ninety-three, made pasta for us daily until the last few years of her life. . . .

“There is no denying that, for a beginner, making pasta at home takes time, patience, and a considerable amount of physical effort. The rewards are such, however, that you should be persuaded to make the attempt. . . . As you become skillful, you will discover, too, that the fresh egg pasta you are making at home is not only vastly better than what you can buy in any store, but that it is also superior to what you are likely to eat in any restaurant this side of the Alps.”

And then follow eight pages of scrupulous instructions.




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