Haute Cuisine: Food Journalism, Once a Throwaway Compendium of Recipes and "What's Hot" Articles, Has Gone Upscale. Newspapers and Magazines Are Dedicating Top Talent to the Food Beat, and They Are Hungry for Sophisticated Stories with Timely Angles

By Brown, Doug | American Journalism Review, February-March 2004 | Go to article overview

Haute Cuisine: Food Journalism, Once a Throwaway Compendium of Recipes and "What's Hot" Articles, Has Gone Upscale. Newspapers and Magazines Are Dedicating Top Talent to the Food Beat, and They Are Hungry for Sophisticated Stories with Timely Angles


Brown, Doug, American Journalism Review


R.W. "Johnny" Apple, the famously formidable New York Times chronicler of wars, presidents and political horse races, now spends his time scrutinizing such complexities as the bouquet of the French brandy Armagnac, the hybrid cuisine of the Italian city Trieste and the wonders of Wisconsin bratwursts.

The New Yorker every year dedicates entire issues to subjects like the arts, books and money. Last summer, a double issue revolved around food. Food-related features, too, are common in the magazine (including a profile of Apple by prolific food writer Calvin Trillin).

The Atlantic magazine has a full-time food writer, Corby Kummer, and Newsweek's executive editor, Dorothy Kalins, was editor of the food magazine Saveur before joining the newsweekly. Maybe her stewardship of the magazine had something to do with a cover story--smack in the middle of historic debates among Congress, the Bush administration and foreign governments before going to war in Iraq--about organic produce.

Food journalism has long persisted as an oxymoron, with newspaper food pages little more than wire-service recipe dumps and magazine articles barely scraping deeper than "what's hot and what's not."

But that's changing, food writers and editors say. Newspapers around the country are dedicating top staffers to the food beat, and they are hungry for well-reported stories with timely angles. Magazines, too, are hiring accomplished writers and paying them to travel around the world in search of good grub copy. Food writers Jeffrey Steingarten of Vogue and Jonathan Gold of Gourmet were both up for National Magazine Awards for criticism and for other categories in 2002. Steingarten won the Leisure Interests category. In 2000, the food magazine Saveur won the National Magazine Award for general excellence, and in 2003 it was a finalist for the award.

The transformation of food journalism from "five things to do with cream of mushroom soup" to the subject of an entire issue of The New Yorker, longtime food writers say, has a lot to do with changing attitudes about food across the country.

"Food is coming into American culture in a really strong way, but I started writing about food 30 years ago and everybody thought it was weird. It was seen as 'women's page' stuff," Gourmet Editor in Chief Ruth Reichl says in an interview in her grand Times Square office. "Food has become a part of popular culture in the way film or theater is."

Cable television is crowded with celebrity chefs wielding knives and shaking saute pans. Supermarkets from Atlanta to Albuquerque carry dozens of different olive oils, heaps of fresh lemon grass, organic poussin and sushi. The same cities might also support one or more of the natural-foods emporiums--for example, Whole Foods Market or Wild Oats Market--peppering the country. And just about every town of any size, says former New York Times restaurant critic William Grimes, has "a decent approximation of a bistro now."

"Readers aren't going to put up with wire-service copy and grocery ads," Grimes says. "It was a huge day at the Times when salsa overtook ketchup as the No. 1 condiment. They made that a page-one story. That says a lot about how journalism has changed. The sense of what has a claim on reader interest and what qualifies as news has changed remarkably in a short amount of time."

It wasn't long ago that little more than free-floating recipes and sappy features larded the food section of the Baltimore Sun. The section, says former Sun deputy managing editor for sports and features Stephen Proctor, was "a 1950s idea, with a focus on recipes" and "designed for the woman at home making dinner."

Management had talked about revamping the section since the mid-1990s and finally decided to spend the money on a makeover, which was unveiled in early 2001.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Food "has become more of an entertainment now," says Proctor, now deputy managing editor for news at the San Francisco Chronicle. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Haute Cuisine: Food Journalism, Once a Throwaway Compendium of Recipes and "What's Hot" Articles, Has Gone Upscale. Newspapers and Magazines Are Dedicating Top Talent to the Food Beat, and They Are Hungry for Sophisticated Stories with Timely Angles
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.