I had the privilege of interviewing Ruth Reichl recently. She’s been a restaurant reviewer, memoirist, a cookbook writer, recipe developer and former editor of Gourmet. One thing she has never been, she says, is a food writer.
When I asked her to define food writing, I got this response:
“I find food writer a pejorative term. I’m a writer. I don’t only write about food. It’s like saying woman artist. You’re either an artist or you’re not. I would hope that anybody who writes about food is a good writer, and that’s the important part.
“One of the real problems with food writing is there are so many people who aren’t writers, they think the topic is so interesting in itself it doesn’t matter if you’re not a great writer.
“I have never wanted anyone to call me a food writer. I have taken food as my subject as a long time but hopefully I can write about other things as well.”
Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with calling yourself a food writer, just as there are business writers and science writers. It’s about expertise.
What do you think? Is “food writer” a pejorative term?