Creme brulee, a culinary classic. Credit: Angelica Portales / Flickr Creative Commons
- Ruth Reichl, author of " ," and former New York Times food critic and editor of Gourmet
The Future of Food and Food Journalism
For Ruth Reichl, the act of preparing food is what makes us human.
"I truly believe that cooking is what separates us from other animals. We cook; they don't," says Reichl.
But the current state of food is in flux. With increasing emphasis on quick, pre-packaged food, Reichl fears we might lose the communal feeling that is so deeply entrenched in cooking and eating. She points to the rise of Soylent, a drink created by a software engineer, who didn't want to spend time buying, preparing, and cooking food.
"What happens at the table is more important than what's on the table," Reichl notes. "It's the one time of day that we slow down, pay attention to each other, talk, and relax. That's the power of food."
This yearning for a communal feeling is also what turned Reichl, the former editor of the now-defunct Gourmet magazine, to social media. Reichl is a proponent of using Twitter to rekindle the community around food - and food journalism.
She also happens to have one of the most unique Twitter feeds, characteristic for its dramatic, drool-inducing descriptions of food.
Bald eagles. Bears. Sunshine. Sea. Another gorgeous morning in Alaska. Best meal in Juneau: http://t.co/tzjOgtcwLs— ruthreichl (@ruthreichl) July 6, 2014
Steamy, sultry morning. Air hanging heavy. Lemonade, very cold. Fresh strawberry ice cream. Cooler.— ruthreichl (@ruthreichl) July 3, 2014
Glorious morning. Outdoor shower. Long walk. Wind rustling leaves. Warm shrimp cakes: gentle flavor. Corn, tomato, chile salsa. Happy.— ruthreichl (@ruthreichl) July 1, 2014
Rain clouds gathering. Hawk hunting, descending in a vertical swoop. Cold rare steak, heaped onto buttered bread. Sprinkle of salt.— ruthreichl (@ruthreichl) June 18, 2014
But Twitter and other outlets for food journalists have not yet filled the void left by publications like Gourmet, according to Reichl. Blogs simply don't have the funds to pay for investigative pieces by writers like David Foster Wallace, who wrote his famous "Consider the Lobster" article in Gourmet.
Nonetheless, Reichl, now the author of Delicious!, is optimistic about the potential for good journalism:
"I think we're going to be able to do fantastic things in journalism. We are at the awkward point where we can't quite see where it's going. We're in the middle of a revolution that's scary right now."
To hear more about Reichl's vision of the future of food and food journalism, listen to the full interview, above.