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Ellen Shapiro

Great Food & Travel Writers

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A number of writers have been mentioned in passing during this roundtable, but I wanted to frame the question of great-food-and-travel-writers more comprehensively. So, step right up: those who have influenced you most, and why?


Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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It's got to be John Thorne. I said it all in a previously published essay:

Though not overtly political, Thorne's work constitutes a rejection, not only of mass-produced food, but also of the social organisation, and most especially the frame of mind, which is required to produce, distribute and consume it. His is the archetypal Slow Food, but without the overtones of conspicuous consumption. Time is required to carry out Thorne’s experiments, but not much money – a hippie or a pensioner could first follow his recipes, then begin to understand his rejection of recipe as rigid formula, and finally, if very lucky, reach that Zen-like state in which a collection of ingredients suggests its mode of preparation.

   

All this takes place because, if there is one thing at which Thorne is more adept than cooking, it is writing. He thinks deeply about food, not only as a form of sustenance or self indulgence, but as a metaphor of the human condition. We're talking art.


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Calvin Trillin was the first star in the sky. I didn't know food writing could be that good and that funny until I read him. I remain a major fan.

James Beard's American Cookery still amazes me. The man invented American food history.

MFK Fisher's essay style has always been an inspiration. I love her bizarre first sentences.

Stan Sesser at the San Francisco Chronicle who wasn't a full time food writer, but he had a lot of fun writing about interesting subjects like chile peppers and he showed me a new way to think of newspaper writing.

I think Patricia Wells is one of the best newspaper food writers of all time. And I treasure my autographed copies of the Food Lover's Guides to France and Paris.

John Thorne's Outlaw Cook and Simple Cooking were major awakenings. I was inspired by his incredible honesty. He called "bullshit" on bad food writing and he named names.

Waverly Root's work, which I am still discovering, is inspiring. His encyclopedic book titled, "Food" has come in very handy several times already.

I could go on and on.

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