“There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk,” writes M.F.K. Fisher, one of America’s most beloved food writers. My own belief in this communion didn’t so much evolve as simply hatch, breaking open like a crusty baguette, the year I worked in my first restaurant. When a friend loaned me Elizabeth David’s An Omelet and A Glass of Wine, I was inspired to articulate how good food is an essential part of life.
First, I followed the footsteps of many established food writers and aimed for my local paper. I submitted a complete manuscript – a profile of a local chef who shared the culinary intimacies of her home kitchen – and was thrilled to receive an enthusiastic response the next day.
With a nice clip in my portfolio, I began to query magazines. Not quite ready for Gourmet and Saveur (they don’t accept queries, anyway), I scoured bookstores and the Internet in search of smaller magazines, including trade publications (http://www.tradepubs.com has a huge list.) Within a year I published a feature article in a glossy if somewhat obscure barbeque magazine, tackling the glories of wild salmon.
Meanwhile, I invested in reference books like Waverly Root’s Food: An Authoritative and Visual History and Dictionary of the Foods of the World and continued to build my portfolio by covering seasonal soups, award-winning wineries, and European-style bakeries for my local paper. Using what I’d learned from a piece on home coffee roasting, I soon landed a feature in a coffee-related trade publication.
As my professional horizons expand (plans to co-write a soup cookbook with a local restaurateur are in the works), I don’t forget my personal relationship with food. “There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk,” Fisher writes. My food writing success never fails to find nourishment in those famous words.
Elizabeth Short is a freelance food writer from Bellingham, Washington. Her articles have appeared in Fiery Foods, Pacific Yachting, Family Business, and the Bellingham Weekly where she is a regular contributor. Along with her husband, she spends summers harvesting one of the world’s most perfect foods – wild salmon – in the pristine waters of southeast Alaska.