I had this idea a few years ago, that one thing I’d love to be able to do with my life, is to write about food. Anything about food: recipes, restaurant reviews, editing cookbooks, etc. So one day while browsing through the bookstore, I came across Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob. “NO WAY! This really exists?” I was starting to scare nearby children by my loud, outward enthusiasm about this book. I bought it immediately and read it… twice.
Let me start off by saying that I have the first edition of this book. Dianne Jacob has recently come out with a revised, second edition. I’m sure it’s just as incredible and thorough! The one thing that bothers me about the new edition is the cover. The quote by Anthony Bourdain from the first edition, has been removed, and replaced by a quote from Ree Drummond (“The Pioneer Woman.”). I understand that, this is the target audience for this type of book: amateur writers with a passion for learning. But, The Pioneer Woman seems like a very “now” person. Like the Backstreet Boys. Remember them? Yeah exactly. A memory. But Bourdain is a freaking legend! Don’t send me hatemail, because I don’t hate The Pioneer Woman, I’ve been reading her blog for years. I digress..
Having absolutely no prior knowledge about how one “gets into” this field (my dad was a man’s man and worked in a factory for 30+ years, and my ma was a homemaker) I needed the bare basics: hold-my-hand, walk-me-through explanation of this profession. Will Write for Food does this, without any snobbery. Jacob’s voice is friendly, encouraging, and helpful, all throughout her book. Some of the chapters are titled: “What, Exactly, Is Food Writing?” … “Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer” … “The Art of Recipe Writing” etc. Will Write for Food is a perfect blueprint for one to follow, if she/he is looking to walk this way.
Jacob introduces the reader to some already successful food writers, such as Alan Richman, Darra Goldstein, Greg Patent, and more. They help Jacob throughout the book, by describing their own writing style, and voices. There’s even a section in which Patent lets us tag along, during a day in his life as a recipe writer. Will Write for Food covers a lot of ground. When I was finished with it the first time, I had zero questions. I went back and read it a second time so that I could muck up the pages with notes, and bookmark other pages for references. That’s another great thing in this book: references. Jacob gives us lists of websites in the back of the book, so that one could look up cooking classes, cooking schools, associations/non-profits, etc, which gives the reader more activity when she/he is finished reading the book.
My favorite line of this book happens during the chapter titled “The Art of Recipe Writing.” Jacob says: “Distinguish between “1 cup almonds, chopped” and “1 cup chopped almonds.” I should have known that, that should have been obvious to me, but it’s not. I had never even thought about how simple wording plays such a crucial role in the creation of a recipe. Awesome.
I love my first edition because of how old it is, it houses all of my scribbles and side notes, and I love the yellowy, crinkled pages in every chapter. But I’ll go ahead and check out the second edition to make sure there isn’t anything I may be missing. Will Write for Food is an absolute, and essential resource for amateur writers like myself.
Are you on your way to the bookstore yet? Why the hell not?
**Neither Dianne Jacob, nor Marlowe & Co know I exist. I found this book by myself, paid for it by myself, and read it…by myself.