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What Do Writers Eat?

August 9th, 2021

First, thanks to Simon for last week’s post. I suspect that certain types of writing come into fashion because of what’s going on in the world at that particular time and ‘Cosy Crime’ seems an ideal genre when we’ve just been through what we have in the past 18 months! It’s not surprising people want gentle escapism rather than graphic blood and gore.

Last month I mentioned a documentary about Ernest Hemingway. There were six hour-long episodes and the interest never waned. These days it has become commonplace for readers to judge an author not just on his or her literary output but on their private lives. Were they ‘bad’ people – racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, homophobic? I’ve always disliked this way of looking at literature but I suspect Hemingway was all of those things and when I sat down to read a much-lauded collection of his short stories recently I decided that it wasn’t just the man behind the books that I found unacceptable but I didn’t even rate the writing. And as for his much-praised novel, The Old Man and the Sea, only Edna O’Brien had the temerity to say that it wasn’t one of his finest – and I suspect that was an understatement!

Still on the same theme – coverage of books and authors on TV – please try Write Around The World with Richard E Grant on BBC 4 (and iPlayer). The locations (so far southern Italy and France) are sumptuous; the authors he references and the books he mentions are fascinating and he draws interesting facts from the people he interviews. Plus – as a sideline – we see him eating some fabulous food! Definitely one not to be missed if you want some good ideas of what to read next – it will certainly whet your appetite.

Talking of food, why not have a look at Scoff: A History of Food and Class in Britain by Penny Vogler? It’s currently Waterstone’s book of the month. They say:

Mapping the entwining paths of comestibles, culture and class, Vogler’s deliciously entertaining social history of food in Britain reveals how what we eat brings us together and sets us apart.

Bringing together evidence from cookbooks, literature, artworks and social records from 1066 to the present, Vogler traces the changing fortunes of the food we encounter today, and unpicks the aspirations and prejudices of the people who have shaped our cuisine for better or worse.”

And still on the subject of food (can’t you tell I’m on a diet at the moment?) you might be interested in Poetry School: Eating Our Way Around the World, One Poem at a Time. This online course runs from Tuesday 28 September until Tuesday  7 December (5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks – live chats on Tuesdays, 7–9 pm GMT; first live chat 12 October) .

Discover how writing about food can be a lens to discover other cultures and help you dig into your own customs. In the workshop you’ll explore the many ways food shows up in poetry everywhere from Peru to China to your local supermarket, as well as compose your own odes to your favourite meals and write about dishes that allow you to explore ideas, cultures and daily lives in new ways.

The workshop leader is Natasha Hakimi Zapata, a poet, journalist, university lecturer, and literary translator. The fee is £118 and you can book here.

Well, enough about food for this week, hopefully by next week I’ll be less obsessed!



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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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