Food Writing

Some clips from a decade of food writing:

I got my start in food writing with restaurant reviews for lunch options available in the mini-mall across from my high school. Upperclassmen with campus leave privileges were pleased to read in the school paper that I found the bread sticks and marinara sauce at Little Caesars satisfying, the avgolemono at the Greek diner even more so.

After this first sweet taste of culinary journalism, I knew I’d need to take it slow or I’d sugar-crash and burn, so I finished my education and resumed my career while I was finishing up my Ph.D.

Culinaria Eugenius tracked my seven-year adventure into the food of the Willamette Valley. It chronicles a period (2008-15) during which the movement to relocalize food seized the American collective consciousness, and our growing awareness of the unique bioregion in which Eugene and Portland lie led to new agricultural ventures in grain, beans, and winter produce.

The blog opened doors for me to write for local newspapers and magazines as I worked my day job as a professor at the University of Oregon; I eventually became the food columnist for Eugene Weekly (2008-11) and Eugene Magazine (2013-16), judged culinary literature for the International Association of Culinary Professionals for several years, achieved my life dream of being the mistress of ceremonies (as well as a judge for multiple years) of Eugene’s Iron Chef competition, and co-hosted Food for Thought (2011-13), a food news and interview radio program on Eugene’s NPR affiliate, KLCC, an opportunity that allowed me to produce content to introduce south-central Oregon to the cookbooks, chefs, farmers, and local food our team found captivating.

My greatest pleasure in writing about food is, without a doubt, conviviality and the delight in discovery — a scientific curiosity for innovation more than the trend of a particular ingredient or technique. Another was supporting the unsung people in the industry.  One of my favorite pieces is still one of my columns for EM on Ethiopian food and a local chef making a go out of a take-out business in Eugene.  I’ve written about canning tuna and butchering pigs and Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen and deviled eggs based on an ancient recipe by Apicius, and I’ve taught about mushrooms and bread and butter and the history of ketchup, and I’ve laughed with some of my favorite writers in the food world.

I now write about seafood and coastal dining delights, but occasionally I’ll get a bag of Little Caesars breadsticks and relish a taste of the old country.

 

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