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UK food writing rant


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Decadent  Is your dessert really symptomatic of cultural and moral decline, or do you actually mean "chocolatey"?

Repellent, but perhaps we shouldn't blame the food writers for that one. It's part of a larger cultural shift amongst advertisers to confuse chocolate based products and sexual fulfillment in the eyes of female consumers.

How many times have you seen an ad in which an unintimidatingly ordinary woman is offered advances by a range of attractive men, all of whom she rejects in favour of a steaming mug of chocolate texture enhancer drink with a 'hint' of some ghastly chemical flavouring?

Mmmm! Yes, even though I'm as homely as a bag of spanners I'm going to turn down a spectacular and protracted rogering by all of these beautiful men because chocolate is better than sex.

(There's actually technical name for the genre - they're called 'turndown ads')

I'm trying to imagine any other culture than the British who could view ads like that in anything other than stupified amazement.

Mmmmmmmm! Indulllllgent!

Barf!

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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I do have a particular soft spot for the phrase "eats very well".

For example, the hake eats very well.

Intended, of course, to mean the exact opposite of what it says.

The hake, I fear, will never eat again.

...The soft spot I have in mind is a shallow grave in Epping forest.

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For example, the hake eats very well.

One could say, grass-fed beef eats very well. Or at least, ate very well. And was probably very well hung.

Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

There's a lack of sweetness in my life...

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A couple more:

At table

A warning sign: what follows will be a dreary, paternalistic lecture about how our culinary culture used to be better in the olden days. The word 'foodways' will not be far off.

Accurately

As in 'accurately cooked' or - God forbid - 'accurately sauced'. Smug and knowing in a Mr Creosote-ish way (subtext: 'of course we all know exactly how turbot should be prepared, and you will be pleased to know the cretins at Chez X managed it'), yet completely uninformative (does it mean any more than 'I think they cooked it right'?). I remember seeing this quite frequently on eG's UK board back in 2002/03, but a Google search turns up nothing. Perhaps it's been purged - if so, well done Language Police.

I would have added to fry off - but I realise Tim beat me to it in his pant-wettingly funny website.

Edited by Stigand (log)
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Can we chuck in 'sourcing' for an honourable mention? It's unbearable enough when it's used by a consultant getting tenders for supply of eighteen thousand anti-static mousemats. For a magazine reader going out to buy a bit of fish it's absurd.

Missed this the first time through.

I am in full agreement.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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This thread is to die for. It's like egullet on acid! It's so moist and succulent it melts in the mouth. I've never tried this thread before but I'm really surprised how much I like it, I'd definately try it at home. Absolutely. Its got so many flavours and textures. I'd never have thought of putting Stigand and Busboy together but they really work. If you couldn't get Stigand, could you use grahamR instead? I thought it was going to be really heavy, but its not at all, its really light. How long would it keep for in the freezer. My friend gave me a whole load of comments by Zoticus and now I don't know what to do with them, have you got any suggestions for how I could use them up?

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local reviewers... "calamari was melt in the mouth, complimented by a rich sauce and the sea bass was an exquisite combination of pure white tender flesh and crispy skin"

http://www.localsecrets.com/showreview.cfm?id=10775

Edited by adt (log)

Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

There's a lack of sweetness in my life...

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I think, rather than favour one style or another, the next step is for food writing simply to reflect its muse.

Under this system, a review of St John might say “Steak. Cooked as requested. Very satisfying”; Tom Aikens: “This was not just steak, this was the very essence of cow, distilled into a surprising expression of protein, the physical manifestation of which underwent an apotheosis into the ethereal upon the eating”; and Gordon Ramsay “F**k me, that steak was the dog’s bollocks”.

You should know that this post as been lovingly hand-typed on a locally-sourced keypad using only the very finest of vocabulary…

Gareth

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  • 3 years later...

This is a hilarious thread. I really don't know why metaphors and similes are being excommunicated from the food writer's repertoire.If used well it can add a bit of colloquial color to a piece of writing. Also don't understand the length some writers go to avoid words they feel are overused. Will this drag professional writing to the level of the common blogger? And how long does an overused word need to be quarantined before being allowed to circulate again?

Edited by melamed (log)

Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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In some ways food writing can be as crappy as sports writing, which, unless done by an unusual talent seems required to be cliche-ridden and awkward. The same sins are committed by sports writers and bad food writers. Most of the food sins have been recounted...use of pretentious jargon (eg flavor profile), chiche'd hyperbole (eg decadent), pointless jargon (eg aromats instead of aromatics..Ruhlman!). Where food writing separates itself from sports writing is the use of the too-clever put-down. Our UK colleagues in particular seem to relish snark, and it detracts from their work.

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