Does food writing matter? It's a question that food writers ask themselves in moments of self-doubt, and it's a question Monica Bhide asked on her blog back in August. When there's so much going on in the world, does what we eat and cook warrant our time and attention as writers?
Since Bhide posed the question, there have been many responses from food writers (not surprisingly, I've yet to come across a response that says “nahhh … it's just fun!”). But the one that comes across as most convincing is Michael Ruhlman's, which was published on The Huffington Post's food blog yesterday.
Ruhlman, a writer and author who himself has one of the best food blogs around, takes on food writing from the point of view that the two main aspects of food writing — cooking and telling stories — are the very things that make us human. Yes, he says, there are food writers out there addressing matters of great importance to the environment and public health. But his most convincing argument comes when he writes about what makes us human.
So telling stories about food and cooking is not only natural, it's necessary for our survival. It's important to understand how something that is essential to our humanity and our well-being affects all other aspects of our lives and our humanity. No one questions the need to explore string theory and economic policy, or asks for justification for art and literature. But people do question the seriousness of writing about food. I can go weeks without quantum physics or a good movie. Can't say that about food.
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