I have made a recent transition in my career. From covering the crime beat, I have shifted gears completely and gone into the less travelled road of ‘food journalism’. When friends and family ask me what I do, and I give them the usual spiel, I can see the ill-concealed look of disappointment.
Food writer? Can that even be a thing?
That is the thought in their minds.
To all such non-believers, here is what I have to say. (And yes, I do believe writing about food is sacred. After all, we cannot LIVE on the excitement of a crime spree now, can we?)
The simple fact is, food is important. If we do not eat, we do not survive. That’s pretty serious business if you ask me. But surely when Obama is visiting the country on the Republic day, a post on the best oils for deep frying will seem like fluff, don’t you think? No, it won’t. While Obama is surely visiting the country, and it is a highly significant event, that does not mean that people are going to stop deep frying things in the near future (even if they should!).
So fellow food writers, the next time someone makes a comment and gives a pitiful tilt of the head, know this; just because you are not crawling on your knees and covering a war in some far-flung country or shuffling between courtrooms covering trails and tribulations, it doesn’t mean that what you are writing about is not ‘important’ enough. And who decided that one should only write about the so-called important stuff. Writing is fun, it is liberating, it is empowering. If what you write gives you joy and someone is willing to pay you for it, hell, don’t stop. Live the dream, ride that high!
Food is precious. From the time we are born, food and cooking impact our lives in so many overt and covert ways. From building connections that last more than a lifetime to creating bonds that even unite countries, to preserving entire cultures, food and cooking have a lot of importance in our lives. And I am certainly not embarrassed to admit that I feel a vicarious pleasure when I write about the tastes, sounds and smells that make most mortals go weak in the knees.
But beyond the excitement and decadence of writing about food, is the undeniable fact that we SHOULD be writing about food and cooking.
The gross ignorance about cooking and nutrition have given birth to a world of disease and disorder. If only someone had written about Salmonella and Reiter’s Syndrome and Papayas and Pregnancy, and a lot of other really ‘important’ information, fatal incidents could have been prevented. Although these things are considered common knowledge, it is about time we realise that there is a lot of things that people still don’t know about food, eating and cooking.
When a generation starts living on takeaway food and steering in the direction to lifelong obesity, somebody needs to write about it. When birds that we consume become infected with diseases, someone needs to write about it. When recipes that are symbolic of entire cultures are becoming extinct, someone needs to write about it. When relationships are forged over dinner conversations, someone needs to write about it.
This article was originally written by Ramya Menon and appeared on Medium on January 26, 2015. You can read the rest of the article on Medium.