The AP Stylebook was my Bible for four years of college and three years of grown-up life.
For my non-journo readers, the AP Stylebook is sort of like a dictionary for reporters. It’s the book you look in if you have a question about how to spell a brand, the proper usage of a particular term, etc., to maintain consistency in newspapers. For instance, I would go to the Stylebook if I didn’t know if Walmart has a hyphen, or when to use the term “transgender” versus “transexual,” or whether to capitalize the word “Dumpster.”
Anyhoo, the Stylebook has added a 16-page food guidelines section to its latest edition, according to Poynter.org. The section provides such entries as:
pears – In general, capitalize most varieties, including Anjou, Asian (also called apple pear), Bosc and Bartlett.
locavore – The preferred term for a person who strives to eat locally produced foods.
blind bake – To bake the crust of a pie before filling it.
So why am I so jazzed? This addition to the Stylebook shows how much food has made its way into news and our culture, and how important it is to be accurate when referring to all things food and drink. I haven’t bought a Stylebook in a couple of years, but I’m this close to hopping over to Amazon and ordering a copy.
I have been pretty good this year. I’m eating my vegetables. I’m working out again. And I started a new job that allows me to give back to the people of my hometown.
If you are willing to overlook a couple of things (like the times I gave my dog, Roscoe, people food) I hope you can find it in that big heart of yours to give me a few books about food for Christmas. I know you’re too busy to guess what I want, so I took the liberty of making a list of the books I would like so your day will run a little easier.
America the Edible: A Hungry History, From Sea to Dining Seaby Adam Richman. The author is the host of one of my favorite shows, Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food. Richman travels around the country visiting homegrown restaurants and undertaking epic eating challenges. In his book, Richman explores the history of some of America’s favorite dishes. If the book is half as interesting as Richman, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. I also have a bit of a crush on this chubby Yale grad, but I digress.
Starting next week, Bits and Pieces will return to Mondays. Now, on to the news.
This first news item brought a tear to my eye. Some experts say that chocolate will be an expensive rarity similar to caviar in 20 years, according to an article in The Independent of London. According to the newspaper, the demand for chocolate exceeds the supply of cocoa beans, which make for a beastly crop to tend that yields little reward for farmers. We need to get the Oompa Loompas on this one.
Speaking of chocolate, Betty Crocker has devised a marketing plan to sell its Warm Delights dessert and play up on feminine stereotypes. According to the website Jezebel, the company has created a free PMS app. Check the link – I can’t make this one up. When it’s a woman’s time of the month, she and her partner will receive a coupon for Warm Delights to satisfy cravings for chocolate. From Betty Crocker via Jezebel:
When it’s “that time of the month,” most girls could really use a couple of things: a little advanced warning, a bit more understanding and support, and a lot of chocolate. … This free app also helps guys navigate this special time – from a place to practice foot massage, to suggested escape routes. Because sometimes the best thing to do is get her chocolate and get out of the way.
For the busy breakfast eater in all of us, Dunkin Donuts has launched Sausage Pancake Bites, little pieces of meat wrapped in syrup-soaked pancake, according to The Consumerist. I’ll just skip this and have the coffee, thanks.
The LA Times did a wonderful profile of Gluten-Free Girl, aka Shauna James Ahern, aka blogger, aka author. Shauna turned a diagnosis of celiac disease into an avenue to share her story and tasty recipes. Kudos to her success.
This novel isn’t just about food. Rather, it’s the story of a girl who can taste what people were feeling when they cooked the food she eats. As weird as it sounds, the novel works because of Bender’s great writing.
As I kid, I knew Roger Ebert as the chubby guy who was famous for something to do with his thumbs.
Now I admire him as a critic, cancer survivor and foodie.
Ebert, known as half of the Siskel-Ebert (then Ebert-Roeper) movie critic duo that hosted At the Movies, has inspired me to be a better writer, a better critic and a better person. Here’s why:
He can’t eat, but he just wrote a cookbook. Cancer in his thyroid and jaw and the subsequent surgeries to remove the diseases tissue has ridden Ebert of the ability to speak or eat (in case you missed it, here is a wonderful profile about Ebert’s life after cancer). That didn’t stop him from writing The Pot and How to Use It: The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker. According to an article in the New York Times about Ebert and his book, “Most of the recipes came from Mr. Ebert’s head, from friends and from a dedicated group of blog readers who started a sub-cult built around him and rice cookers. They form just one of many tribes who have recently discovered him as a prolific, post-cancer online personality.” Consider me a part of one of those tribes.
He’s not bitter about his restrictions. In response to his inability to eat food, a reader wrote to Ebert, “That sounds so sad. Do you miss it?” His response was one of the best essays I’ve ever read about food, the power it has to bring people together and the memories it creates. Ebert taught me that life happens, and sometimes it really sucks, but the only thing you can do is move forward.
He’s more honest than ever. I use Ebert’s movie reviews as a litmus test when I head out to the theater. My opinions usually dovetail with his. I’ve found that he has become more sincere about his movie reviews in wake of his cancer. Ebert knows when a movie is meant to entertain instead of enlighten, and he’s OK with that (see review for Iron Man II). But he’ll also trash a movie that deserves it (see recent reviews for I Spit on Your Graveand Life as We Know It). I try to be as earnest as Ebert in $10 Challenges, even if the food is bad and I might hurt feelings.
He embraces new media. Ebert’s blog is a hit, and it even earned him the Webby Person of the Year award. Ebert also uses Twitter and has more than 260,00 followers who read his musing on politics, movies and life. If a nearly 70-year-old man can embrace new media, everyone can – and should.
Books and food have formed a wonderful partnership in my life.
I remember my excitement when a grade-school teacher handed me a book in which each thick page was the ingredient of a sandwich. I flipped slices of lettuce, cheese and onions and devoured the words and the vivid illustrations.
Then, I graduated to cookbooks that served as my guide into the world of responsibility, money management and self-reliance, also known as adulthood.
I have recently journeyed into fiction books in which food is a major focus. A friend gave me The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cakeby Aimee Bender. I’m only 39 pages in, but the novel has me hooked with wonderful descriptions like these:
“Two brown eggs nestled in the grooves between tiles…”
“A yellow block of butter blurring at the edges…”
“The clicking sounds of a warming oven…”
“The berries popped points of red in a wavy row.”
Words and food evoke some of my most pleasant memories. What about you?