Long-form Food Writing: Journalism You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

Outside of food - dare I say even more than food - I love reading.

Long-form/magazine* journalism, especially pieces involving history, land/land use/the environment, migration, cultures, and foodways, appeal most to me.

I like writing that challenges and educates, engages and provokes - and that stimulates thought and discussion.

I’ll be posting links to some pieces I’ve found intriguing; I’ll be thrilled if you share long-form works you’ve found interesting, too.

*Long-form journalism: in-depth, often narrative or investigative in nature.

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“On a summer day in the San Joaquin Valley, 101 in the shade, I merge onto Highway 99 past downtown Fresno and steer through the vibrations of heat. I’m headed to the valley’s deep south, to a little farmworker town in a far corner of Kern County called Lost Hills. This is where the biggest irrigated farmer in the world — the one whose mad plantings of almonds and pistachios have triggered California’s nut rush — keeps on growing, no matter drought or flood. He doesn’t live in Lost Hills. He lives in Beverly Hills. How has he managed to outwit nature for so long?”

This work, by former LA Times journalist Mark Arax, won a James Beard award.

If the name “Resnick” sounds familiar, that might be because the family made headlines last fall.

Some thoughts on this:

Edited to Add: If you’re at all interested in water in California (you should be!) Arax’s The Dreamt Land is a must-read (https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/california-farmers-vote-trump-dreamt-land-book-844649/) - so too, I think, is his King of California (http://mark-arax.com/the-king-of-california/).

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Thank you, love to read as well! Can’t wait to dip into this thread

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Thank you, @robert: I wasn’t reading Lucky Peach when that was published and so I’d missed it. (Now I need to track down the rest of that issue!)

I’ve not given much thought to sexual orientation as it relates to food; I’m thinking I have more reading to do. :slight_smile:

Somewhat tangential to food (and a book, sorry) but it might also be worth checking out Cadillac Desert. Angelenos in particular might be interested in how water policy helped shape our city and state. Full disclosure, I haven’t been able to get all the way through the book but I keep picking away at it. Also, Pop-Pop Wiremonkey said the characterization of William Mulholland was a bit unfair but I really couldn’t say.

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I live in a house overflowing with books; absolutely no need to apologize!

Cadillac Desert is one of those canonical works that I think most everyone should read, especially Californians.

The follow-on to it, A Dangerous Place: California’s Unsettling Fate, is almost as compelling as it brings up a What If scenario of a major quake hitting the East Bay and destroying levees in the Delta, allowing saltwater intrusion into the California Aqueduct.

That would forever destroy a significant portion of the water SoCal depends on for basic needs.

Regarding Mulholland, I cannot recall how Reisner portrayed him; he was definitely a complex individual. (I thought Wilkman’s assessment of him, in Floodpath was reasonably balanced-ish, but I’m not a scholar.)

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Really off topic but this subject always reminds me of one of my favorite movies Chinatown.

@ElsieDee Lucky Peach was awesome really worth tracking down back issues! makes me cry to think it’s gone but great writing and interesting recipes

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I was thinking the same thing. That movie probably did a lot to shape how we think of Mulholland.

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I’ve been lucky to pick up a couple of used copies here and there; mainly I read it online, though, assuming it would always be available. Definitely the wrong assumption on my part.

I agree with you and @TheCookie regarding Chinatown: it has shaped how we assess Mulholland and all he did.

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Hi @ElsieDee!

I was lucky enough to get the Lucky Peach Chicken issue not realizing it was to be one of or possibly the last (?) issue. I think @Bookwich who knew I love Chicken alerted me. Thanks!

Bittersweet!

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“Father Divine was equal parts holy man, charlatan, civil rights leader, and wildly successful restaurateur. The key to his movement’s influence and longevity could be found in the bit that started it all — food.”

This piece was nominated for a 2019 James Beard Journalism Award in the “Profile” category.

However, it was this entry which won:

“For me, Ernie Mickler’s books, stories, and photographs gave me a sense of place, a well to return to. And for many, I believe Ernie forged a portal into the South — a South unto itself — proudly bound up in all its contradictions. He helped Southerners of all strata hold onto their roots, spanning the spectrum from blue-blood aristocrats to rednecks. But more specifically, he helped queer folks find that root in a place that — particularly during the AIDS plague of the 1980s — wanted to expel them.”

The above-linked profile, on Father Divine, led me to “discover” that the main Eater site has a whole section devoted to long-form articles; I’m slowly starting to work my way through the pieces.

https://www.eater.com/longform

And in that process, this weekend, I ran into this:

which immediately made me think of Birdsall’s Lucky Peach article, which @robert linked to upthread:

Whoa, very cool there’s an actual dedicated URL to long form pieces!

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Well heck, @WireMonkey, then this will make you really grin (at least it elicited great happiness on my end!):

Oh, and this, too:

https://longreads.com/category/food/

Seriously, there is a lot of excellent long-form, food-related journalism happening (it’s actually kind of overwhelming to contemplate the vast amount of information that is now so readily available). Always new things learn, new stories to hear, new concepts to explore. We’re really lucky!

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It looks like the Wayback Machine from Internet Archive managed to grab a lot of the Lucky Peach content before the site was taken down. Formatting is a bit wonky, and not all the images loaded for me, but the text is there:

I’m running into random error messages (likely a result of user error: I haven’t spent time learning how to navigate the Wayback Machine interface), but here’s the Lucky Peach stuff:

https://web.archive.org/web/2019*/http://luckypeach.com/

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There goes my morning…

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… and afternoon, evening, weekend … .

You’re welcome!

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Yup I’ve done that! Trying to find an article they posted on various pie doughs. And found it :smiley: isnt the way back machine awesome.

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It totally is; just wish I’d remember it exists!

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