Introduction to Food and Wine Writing
Tutor: Stuart Walton
Duration : 6 weeks
Week 1- Historical background
A general introduction to food writing. Its history since ancient times, through the groundbreaking figures of the early modern era and up to today’s star names. To include representative extracts from the Roman cookery book of Apicius, the early English domestic writers and the classic food writers of the postwar era. We’ll look at the contemporary tradition of global food history and come right up to date with modern work by Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver.
Week 2. Food writing skills
The different approaches to writing about food, explaining and illustrating the different skills each approach requires. These will include: ingredient-led writing; historical research; the regionalist slant in which the cuisines and traditions of particular parts of the world are explored; the seasonal approach; and travel-based writing.
Week 3. Cookery writing
An introduction to the skills and technical demands involved in recipe-writing. How to test recipes. How to adapt existing recipes. The importance of precision in instructions with regard to measurements and cooking times. Formatting a recipe. We’ll contrast and compare published recipes from Delia Smith, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson, Simon Hopkinson and one or two of the restaurant chefs who have produced books, as well as looking back to the earlier era of David and Grigson to see what’s changed.
Week 4. Restaurant writing
The skills involved in reviewing the cooking in restaurants and hotels. The need for accuracy, analytical expertise, taking into account ambience, service, etc. Different demands of reporting for the restaurant guides as well as the weekly restaurant columns in newspapers and magazines.
Week 5. Food politics
Increasing editorial space in food sections is being given over to articles on food issues, politics and campaigns. We’ll look at some of the current concerns environmentalism, food miles, marine conservancy, GM, vegetarianism/veganism, additives, salt/sugar/fat levels in processed foods, the power of the supermarkets, with a view to developing the reportage and current affairs aspects of food writing.
Week 6. Wine writing
The final week will look at the history of wine writing, as well as current fashions. We’ll cover the skills involved in setting up tastings, evaluating wines against each other, and the various styles in tasting descriptions. The different approaches of British and American wine writers will be compared, The wine tuition will specifically address the challenges faced by women writers in breaking into what has traditionally been a male-dominated specialism.
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