Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Restaurant Reviews, Articles, Memoir, Fiction and More
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
- Item Weight : 11.4 ounces
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-1569243770
- Product dimensions : 5.5 x 1 x 8.25 inches
- Publisher : Da Capo Lifelong Books (April 10, 2005)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,005,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Whatever your needs are with regards to writing about food, Dianne Jacob is the Food Guru. I have looked into so many other books to try and find professional help in this area, but nothing can touch this book.
Dianne Jacob's book is inspiring and confidence-boosting, and is packed with tips that all food writers - whether amateurs or aspiring professionals - need. I am particularly grateful also for the amount of contacts, references and links to useful organizations which she includes, that are very helpful to have access to.
So, in short, if you are wanting to move forward, if you are stuck in a rut, or if you just want to polish up your act, learn more, or simply garnish your platter with gold dust information, then 'Will Write For Food' is the book for you.
Two words come to mind, actually 3 to be more precise: EXCELLENT CONTENT - THANKS !
Miriam Sorrell, [...]
Dianne's style is one that makes learning fun and keeps the reader's interest heightened. There is no doubt that she knows what she is writing about, and that only makes this book all the more valuable to one who is hoping to learn. Dianne covers the technical aspects of food writing as well as the artistic and creative voice of the potential author. This one book qualifies as the "best text" and the number one on the "best reads" lists.
Now I am going back into it with my highlighter! So much good, solid information here that I can't afford to miss any of it! I'll be making notes too. I wish for you the same great adventure that I am having!
The second most important thing about Ms. Jacob's book is that it does not intend to teach you how to write. She does give a few pages of suggestions and hints, especially on word usage in culinary applications are spread here and there around the book. And, a few references to sources on training for writing are given, including my very favorite `The Elements of Style' by Strunk and White.
Thus, the book is more about the food writing market than it is about writing. This is a very good thing, as all your writing efforts are worthless if you don't have a clear notion of your audience, your medium, and your medium's picture of their audience. And, the quantity and quality of sources, especially web sites given in this book are truly astounding. There is not a single culinary web site of which I am familiar that is missed, although the name of the TV Food Network web site is a bit out of date. And there are many, many more which are new to me. I am also happy to see that Ms. Jacob includes a mention of a personal web site or blog as a means of getting your writing in front of an audience. This is the modern world's version of self-publishing with even less overhead than a paper and hard covered book. She even mentions `printing on demand' where the vendor only prints the physical volume when they receive an order for the book. All this means is that this is a very up-to-date manual on all your outlet alternatives.
So, Ms. Jacob's primary focus is identifying all the culinary writing markets, finding the one which best suits your interests and skills, and giving you suggestions on how to maximize your success in each market. Along the way, there are lots of interesting bits of information on, for example, why there are so few negative restaurant reviews. From the newspapers' point of view, there is simply no point to publishing a highly critical review of a local eatery, even if they don't advertise in the paper. People give much more interest to suggestions on where to go than where not to go. Unfortunately, Ms. Jacob's book was probably in galleys when Ruth Reichl's `Garlic and Sapphires' book was published, so there is no reference to that book. So, if you are really interested in restaurant reviewing, Ms. Reichl's latest book is also a must read.
Along the way, Ms. Jacob quotes a really impressive range of successful culinary writing professionals, starting with Judith Jones (VP at Alfred A. Knopf and original editor for Julia Child, Madhur Jaffrey, Lydia Bastianich, and Diana Kennedy) and including Julie Sahni, Deborah Madison, Tony Bourdain, James Villas and Ruth Reichl. With all these bases covered, I'm surprised she has no mention of Michael Ruhlman who is both a major culinary journalist and collaborator in cookbook writing with Thomas Keller.
As Ms. Jacob does not cover cookbook reviewing (my favorite culinary writing hobby), I will comment on her extensive tips on writing recipes. In general, I believe her tips are very good for the amateur or newbie recipe writer. And, I wish most cookbook writers would follow her suggestions. But, I believe there is room for more than one paradigm of a good recipe. Ms. Jacob gives us what may be called the Julia Child paradigm, where the author assumes little general culinary knowledge on the part of the reader. So, as most people react to Ms. Child's recipes, you have the feeling of the author's standing at your side and walking you through each step. This method is especially good for teaching traditional recipes to amateurs.
A second paradigm may be called the Elizabeth David model, as you find in her books on Mediterranean, French Provincial, and Italian recipes. Here, the object is less to give detailed instructions than to cover as broad a field as possible, spending a lot of time on comparing and contrasting recipes from different regions. The recipes are not so sparse that a trained cook could not reproduce them, but doing so may require a fair amount of specialized culinary expertise.
A third paradigm may be called the Joel Robuchon model, which is what I expect to find in any cookbook written on a restaurant's `haute cuisine'. This model allows both unusual ingredients and difficult techniques, as the object of this writing is not so much to teach the amateur a recipe, but to simply tell us how it is done at the chef's famous venue. The best practitioner of this style is probably Thomas Keller and literary collaborator, Michael Ruhlman.
At one point, Jacob advises against using a rather long list of words for culinary techniques in recipes. This list includes `blanch', `braise', `fold', `poach' and twelve other technical terms. I cannot disagree more on this point. The only case in which I would avoid these words is in a community fundraising cookbook. Any book written to teach should not hide its flame under a skillet!