Last Updated on January 16, 2023 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD
Are you curious about the dishes you eat or the stories that led to their creation? If so, consider writing a food memoir. This unique form of writing allows you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with food in an intimate and entertaining way. Writing a food memoir will be a fun project, but it may also give you insights into your culinary preferences that you would never have thought possible. Ready to get started? Here are some tips on how to write a food memoir that will make your cooking journey come alive!
What is classified as a food memoir? How can it be done?
A book full of emotions and recollections is what a food memoir is. Food memoirs aren’t just about taste or how much one enjoys a particular cuisine. They investigate the personal aspect of food, food preparation, and eating.
However, very few cookbook authors make a living from writing cookbooks. For the most part, in reality, you need to be very good and lucky with your book before it makes money for you. Even then, not everyone gets rich or even breaks even on their first book – there are some terrible books that sell tens of thousands of copies but don’t make anyone any money at all. It can take years – sometimes more than one cookbook written — before an author gets close to earning back.
According to her book More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen, Laurie Colwin is not a foodie or culinary savant. She is a lover of food who works as a writer. Nonetheless, she tells personal tales, foibles, and secrets to the reader to explain why she loves it so much throughout the book. The methods are grounded in life and linked to emotional or interpersonal experiences.
Yet, there must be more to a food memoir than simply the food and cooking. Reading about someone who is only passionate about one cuisine and isn’t interested in another quickly gets monotonous. The majority of the text can’t be made up of recipes. There must be conflict or a more prominent tale that connects everything.
The Cooking Gene, by Michael Twitty, delves into Southern cuisine history and his family line. He shares stories and recollections related to the diverse crossroads of his identity and places them in the more extensive framework of the history of the South, slavery, race, and culinary history.
Top 9 tips to write the best food memoir like Ruth Reichl
Food memoirs are a great way to capture your personal stories and retell them in an engaging manner. More importantly, they can benefit the person who has written it and those around her/him.
Many food stories are sentimental, and so many food memoirs have never been read. Here is how to write a food story by showing off your family’s history of food experiences:
Food stories can also be written like an essay with several paragraphs, as shown above, making the story more readable for readers. Food stories do not always need to include recipes or people, it could be about your childhood memories and growing up around food which makes this book one of a kind.
1 – Don’t get picky!
You shouldn’t try to be a food writer unless you’re willing to eat many different things, which may seem self-evident.
You’ll need a deep understanding of different cuisines if you’re a culinary specialist, and that knowledge can only be gained by trying new things if you’re not afraid.
2 – Drive the narrative with conflict
Ultimately, readers keep reading to find out what happens next. Publishers want non-fiction that reads like a story. This involves comprehending the essential components of a narrative. A narrative with a narrative arc full of struggle and challenges, a climax, and a conclusion is presented by the protagonist’s predicament.
3 – Don’t be a perfectionist!
A fundamental element of “a hero’s voyage,” a style of storytelling that works particularly well with memoirs, is a flawed protagonist. Track and describe your personal journey, whether physical, mental, or spiritual. Accept those horrible, shameful experiences. Make fun of yourself. Be imperfect. Bumble. Be real. Drop that duck. When something succeeds, readers can celebrate.
4 – Some new things may not be strange!
In your food writing, there are specific terms that you shouldn’t use. You may regard a particular meal as “abnormal,” “odd,” or “freaky,” but it may be frequent if not the mainstay of other civilizations. In your food writing, avoid using any of these words. These statements carry negative connotations and imply a restricted perspective on your part, even if your intentions are good. Similarly, it’s best to use the words “cheap” and “inexpensive” with caution. Just because something seems cheap to you doesn’t mean it is for locals.
5 – Artificial Intelligence can make you super creative!
Simply using the Creative Story template of Jasper AI, you can start creating compelling content around the theme. For this purpose, you need to choose the tone of voice and enter the story’s plot, which is our food experiences in this case. Not only you but giants like Facebook, Amazon, etc. are using AI’s help to generate compelling content quickly.
6 – Try various writing styles!
Don’t restrict yourself to writing reviews when there’s so much you can do in food writing.
Not only will branching out into new genres broaden your repertoire, but it will also force you to think about food in new ways. Try writing a combination of reviews, recipes, features, or history pieces if you want to specialize in a specific type of food writing.
Keeping you from getting bored or jaded is another benefit of mixing it up. After you’ve written your fifteenth piece on the finest burgers in your city, it might be time to take a break or try something new. Being a food critic may seem exciting, but it may get tiring.
7 – Be trustworthy for the readers
A memoir is an intimate non-fiction book you’d share with complete strangers. Begin your narrative by pretending you’re whispering a secret to the reader that you’ve never told anyone else. This technique establishes trust by making the reader a confidante from the start.
8 – Consider reaching out to food bloggers
If you want your memoir to reach a wider audience, consider collaborating with other food bloggers. Not only will this give you exposure and help promote your work, but it can also cultivate valuable relationships that could lead to more collaborations in the future. Food writing is a community-building activity that benefits everyone involved!
9 – Be open to feedback
No matter how spectacular your work may be, someone always has something negative to say. Take constructive criticism seriously and use it as motivation to continue improving. Receiving criticism from others helps you hone your skills to produce the level of writing excellence that will make you a household name in food writing.
Best food memoir examples
Food isn’t just a means of survival, but it’s also how we experience pleasure, suffering, love, and humor. An excellent food memoir addresses the valid reasons we eat. These books keep our employees enthusiastic about cooking, reading, and feeling.
1 – The Gastronomical Me by MFK Fisher
2 – Never Eat Your Heart Out by Judith Moore
3 – The Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl
4 – Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes From My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg
5 – Tender At The Bone: Growing Up At The Table by Ruth Reichl
Now you know all the tips and tricks to write a successful food memoir. All you have to do now is choose whether or not to write. Keep practicing until you know that writing this book will be a great pleasure and bring some additional income to your life.
If something is missing from our list, feel free to share it in the comments below!
How do you write food stories?
Like soufflés, great food articles are a delight to behold. Its pillowy perfection hides the effort and expertise involved in its creation. You must follow the expert tips below to write the best food stories.
Select a fresh story angle
Food periodicals, websites, and food blogs (such as New York Magazine’s Grub Street and National Geographic’s The Plate) are targeted at a defined, specialized public. Decide on the particular publication you want to pitch and its editorial interests. Know the person’s temperament and energy level. What are the intended viewers or readers? Your suggestion should be intriguing and unique while still fitting into the topic mix.
Layer your story writing
Get started researching and writing as soon as your idea gets approved. Are you looking for an article on food labels? Bring in reports, analysis, and data. Show your readers how reading the fine print affects their health. Reviewing a restaurant? Why a dish delighted or displeased you is detailed in the recipe. Be objective and fair in your judgment.
Create a tempting pitch
These few lines will determine the fate of your piece, so make sure they’re perfect. A stellar pitch should provide a clear picture of your idea. What is the subject of your tale from the beginning? Leave the editor with plenty of food for thought by capturing his or her attention with your insights and arguments. Tell us why you are the ideal author for this job.
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