What Amanda Hesser Got Wrong
John Birdsall, senior editor at CHOW, wrote this rebuttal to Amanda Hesser's article on the death of food writing last week. Sure, it's hard to make a living as a food writer, but Birdsall thinks this is nothing to write home about:
Except for a golden age that lasted maybe a couple of decades at most in only a handful of mostly New York–based publications, food writing was always a shitty way to make a living. The great women food writers of the 20th century—Elizabeth David, M.F.K. Fisher, and Jane Grigson—never supported themselves from their books and articles (David’s family was rich, Fisher helped support herself in the 1940s by writing gags for Bob Hope and Bing Crosby movies, and Grigson’s husband had a distinguished academic career). Maybe only Julia Child ever figured out how to make bank, but that was never simply from writing alone.
D Magazine's Nancy Nichols responded a couple days later with a post titled "Food Writing Will Not Die an Easy Death at D Magazine." She may be a "geezer" to some, but she's not worried about that:
Professional food criticism is on life support. Websites like YELP have contributed to the mass murder of true critics. I’ve learned a lot from following some food blogs and I love the idea that an identifiable food community can be just a 140-character tweet away when I need it. Nothing stays the same. As soon as internet businesses learn how to make money with food writing, there will be food writing opportunities. Everybody has to eat and most people care about how much they get for their money when they choose to dine out. I hope you are all smart enough to continue to value and balance professional opinions instead of getting a quick fix from Siri or YELP. I’m hanging in with an open mind until the river runs dry. I don’t think it will.