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Observer Food Monthly


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that's not true, Andy, the sad fact is there are many publications around the world that pay little or nothing and get excellence in return. It's only excellence and reputation that attracts the same. Nor is it true that one bad article in PPC, even if it occurred once an issue, is a sign that the slender budget attracts shocking writers.

Cheers - that's an articulate answer to the question I was about to ask ... "so what makes the good writers submit pieces to PPC?" ....

and also, is one very bad piece sufficient to condemn a publication?

I thought the debate and negative view on OFM so far seemed to be based on an accumulation of lightweight pieces.

FWIW - I usually buy the Observer anyway and am quite happy to flick through OFM when it's there. Some pieces I like. Some I don't. But given the enormous pile of foodbooks, magazines and other online material, I don't feel too starved of reading matter. In fact, if you gave me any more stuff on food, my tenuous grip on "normal" life might finally snap!

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PPC only survives by not paying its contributors - not something I'd be thrilled to see repeated elsewhere.

And also reflects the quality of the contents. Not stuffed full of fluff for restaurant hobbists for instance.

You don't get quality if you don't pay for it. There is at least one article I can think of in PPC that was absolutely shocking.

PPC have long prideed themselves on never reject an article - until recently it was, I believe, part of their informal constitution.

But to be fair, PPC isn't modeled on a commercial magazine. It's much more like a learned or literary journal. People (in as much as deep food nerds can be called 'people' :) ) are contributing to PPC to go on record and for peer review as much as for entertainment.

Actually, PPC is much more like an old-media proto-board than a magazine.

I agree that research, travel and the time to write are all costs as far as a writer is concerned and thus, in the broader sense, magazines get what they are prepared to pay for. On the other hand food is an obsession for many people and they are researching and writing great stuff that nobody has the vision to pay for.

It's unfair to a large number of talented people though, if there's any implication that if you're not getting paid you can't be any good. It's the luxury of an established working journalist not to put pen to paper until a fee is agreed

All of which reinforces the original point. OFM is paying the usual suspects to write about celebs while there are people out there, many of them online, writing about food with intelligence depth and passion. There's an audience to read them and the fact that OFM fails to connect those two is a waste, a shame and shows disappointingly lightweight thinking from a quality paper.

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 know I said I'd stick out of this but... ever pitched a piece to OFM?

I was waiting for that :biggrin:

As far as I understand it, the process of getting stuff published goes something like...

1) Find the kind of magazines that publish the sort of stuff you write

2) Study them assiduously until you understand the kind of thing they might publish

3) Come up with a series of ideas that you feel might appeal to them

4) Write a brilliant proposal

5) Try to get the relevant person to look at your ideas and respond

So the answer to your question is, as you are probably aware, no.

Because...

1) OFM doesn't publish the kind of thing I write

2) I've studied it assiduously (and am sharing my impressions here)

3) If I came up with a list of ideas that I thought might appeal to them it would approach parody

4) ... actually it might even be funny

5) ... but, particularly after this exchange, I think I'd be lucky to find anyone who'd answer my emails with anything other than a justifiably contemptuous snort.

C'mon Jay, you've been exposed to enough of my nonsense. :biggrin: If you think there's the slightest chance there would be any point in my submitting anything to OFM I'd appreciate the encouragement.

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 know I said I'd stick out of this but... ever pitched a piece to OFM?

good to have you back.....as a mass market magazine, the OFM hits the spot and I generally cheer up when I see it fall out. Like any magazine, cook book, dish, pub people get a bit bored and need something else to stimulate them from time to time...hence eGullet for some.

as to.... 'the produce we do a mixture of both supermarket and non, varying in proportion from month to month. We are a mass market publication. Most people shop in superrmarkets'.....I would just like to see supermarkets not promotted, as yes alternatives are offered, but supermarkets are supermarkets.

The editor of a free magazine called 'season' turned up this morning to do an article on my business. While cirulation is only 7500 their aim is to roll it out accross the UK but specific to each county/area. While not yet intellectually high brow it does cover a lot of interesting things. And yes, I am sure I will get bored of it in time as there is a limit to what one can write about in this area but it is an excelletn guide/focus on food things in the area. You can pick it up at any number of food outlets but if anyone wants a copy let me know.

http://www.seasonmagazine.co.uk/

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and also, is one very bad piece sufficient to condemn a publication?

Absolutely not. My intention in posting was to point out that despite all its merits, PPC is not the ideal alternative to OFM from both the reader and the writer's point of view.

I'm not sure that anybody suggested that it would be an alternative. How could the two possibly be compared? Personally, I would rather look through the writings of unpaid enthusiatic amateurs and check the facts later, then read OFM. Which is mostly what online sources provide isn't it?

Anyway, the point is not if one is better or could replace the other, it is why there is such a narrow range of publications in the UK? Given it is the gastronomic centre of the Universe and all.

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Anyway, the point is not if one is better or could replace the other, it is why there is such a narrow range of publications in the UK?

Typical. I waffle for about 8000 words and the bloody Antipodean expresses it in 28.

Fucker :biggrin:

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 guess another angle on the question of why the UK has such a restricted range of food mags, is it because people are happy with what they have?

There are plenty of restaurant reviews, some recipe sections (especially exclusive peeps into new cookbooks, which is nice), some very nice informative articles and lots and lots of popular culture. Maybe that is all that is required?

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Yes Adam, I think what you're saying is what is generally assumed.

But that doesn't mean that Tim's point is not valid or indeed, timely...

It’s not like everything is broken, but after five years, you are talking life cycles and maybe it’s time for a new angle on food. Obviously the food nerd niche isn’t exactly the bulls-eye target for OFM or any of the food publications, but by the same measure, the Guardian/Observer readership isn’t exactly Big Brother.

Isn’t it possible that a more in-depth look at food might actually appeal to a broader audience? If Heston has got his own show, and kids think the science is cool, surely we are moving into the deep information phase of food, which is possibly the last stop on this done-to-death journey. And yes, I agree with Tim that we need a bit of humour thrown in to get us there. Heck, if anything, it takes the pressure off all of those busy people, with big shiny cookers, who want to cook but never seem to get past the good intention.

I think it is safe to assume that the media literate Guardian/Observer reader will be only too happy to have a culinary notch up on the Jamie’s Dinner public.

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So did anyone else see the Independent Magazine food & drink issue on Saturday?

Unless I'm missing something vital, it looks like it can be done.

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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The celebrity table 'joke' is bad but Briffa is worse. Why does the OFM let him promote his neurotic dietary advice as if it's well established fact? (This is a genuine question - he isn't even an entertaining writer.)

I think he is actually a fully trained medical doctor with interest in nutrition. When he had his article in the normal magazine he seemed to base his 'facts' on recent scientific research, from extensive and reputable journals. I like his bit in OFM.

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The celebrity table 'joke' is bad but Briffa is worse. Why does the OFM let him promote his neurotic dietary advice as if it's well established fact? (This is a genuine question - he isn't even an entertaining writer.)

Christ I'm glad somebody said that.

I'm reserving a special place in Hell for Briffa. I want him gaffer taped naked to "Dr" Gillian 'the poison gnome' McKeith to spend eternity in a miasma of lentil fart.

I'm trying to work out whether the fact he's not just pretending to be a medic makes him better than the gnome or whether using his qualification to promote such unscientific bollocks makes him worse.

On balance, both.

Edited by Tim Hayward (log)

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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The celebrity table 'joke' is bad but Briffa is worse. Why does the OFM let him promote his neurotic dietary advice as if it's well established fact? (This is a genuine question - he isn't even an entertaining writer.)

that's the same as how that wacked out con-woman Gillian McKeith is still allowed to call herself a doctor in some outlets - despite an Independent journalist registering his dead dog with the same "online doctorate" that she is claiming. She has been debunked and some mediums won't let her use Dr, but others do. personally I think she should be shot, and then shot again.

as long as people read/watch/get sucked in, then the facts become secondary.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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Can't say that I have read much of that particular column, but I was confused a few years ago when advice was given not to eat marmite (yeast extract) due to yeast growth in the gut. The bit that confused me is that first the yeast is dead and brewers yeast is about as closely related to Candida albicans as a chicken and a giraffe.

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Can't say that I have read much of that particular column, but I was confused a few years ago when advice was given not to eat marmite (yeast extract) due to yeast growth in the gut. The bit that confused me is that first the yeast is dead and brewers yeast is about as closely related to Candida albicans as a chicken and a giraffe.

Adam, interesting though these discussions are, it's about time you posted some photos of your cooking since descending to the Isle of Cricket.

From a British admirer.

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I think he is actually a fully trained medical doctor with interest in nutrition. When he had his article in the normal magazine he seemed to base his 'facts' on recent scientific research, from extensive and reputable journals. I like his bit in OFM.

He is a fully trained medical doctor but I have no idea where his nutrition training comes from. The two are not necessarily connected. He is very selective in the research he chooses to highlight and the way he discusses it.

Besides, anyone who's prepared to write that rice, pasta, potatoes or bread shouldn't be eaten should not be writing for a food magazine.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree it was a very interesting issue but has Polly Vernon been reading this forum as she really sounds like she's trying to wind us up on the last page...

"I'll never make it as a restaurant critic. The reviews I have done, have been thorough assesment of the loos, cutlery style, and the handsomeness of the waiting staff- and nothing to do with the scoff... Here's the point: good restaurants are theatre and flirtation and fancy; and the food can go to hell."

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/foodmonthly...1971262,00.html

hmm...

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