Wednesday, December 13, 2017

How to write food blogs with universal appeal #indianfoodwriting

So you attended the opening of a great new restaurant in Hyderabad, and wrote about it; why should someone in Ahmedabad care? Learn how to write food posts with universal appeal in this post which is part of my "let's write about food" project. #indianfoodwriting

The Indian food scene is taking the world by storm, but Indian food writing, not so much. If we want the world to sit up and take notice of Indian cuisine, we need to tell great food stories, we need to be convinced of our spices, and of our heritage, we need to bring home the comforting aromas of ghee roasted cashews over brilliantly vermillion winter carrots, we need to make our readers experience the joys of communal eating at a Durga puja Pandal ,with the Goddess Durga’s protima in the background , and the rustling of Indian silks and gentle clinking of the white and red ‘shakha paula’ bangles as the hands reach forward for a morsel of Bhog-er khichuri.

In this post we will deal with food tastings, that many food bloggers attend and are invited to. Do you want to eat exotic meals at fine dining restaurants, and write about them 
convincingly? Have you been invited to such events in the past, but were unsure of how to write impactfully , and with a universal appeal ? then read on.

Indian blogging is, more and more becoming all about reporting – I went here, I ate this. Partly because of the boom in the Indian food PR business, PR agencies bring together large number of ‘food bloggers’ to an event and the sole intention being to ‘get the word out’. And while I have nothing against PR agencies, they are afterall doing their job, I do feel it would be harmful for the food blog as such.
Say, you visited a newly opened restaurant in Hyderabad, and wrote about the 15 dishes you ate “ I had A dish it was nice, B dish was fantastic, C dish was rubbery and lacked seasoning….” This is what I mean by reporting. You are not a reporter! You are a blogger! What this does is that it restricts your blog to those who live in Hyderabad, and who wish to visit that restaurant. If you want to reach a wider audience beyond your city, and have relatability to the post beyond the first month of the restaurants opening , you could start with my tips.

1.       Don’t write about every dish you had : It’s exhausting! The restaurant gives you a sampler of their menu, because they don’t know your palate, but you don’t need to write about EVERY DISH you had. write about the ones that made you stop and revel in their complexity of flavour, or the precision of their preparation. Write about the green salad if it made you sit up and take notice, or even the paan [alate cleanser at the end of the meal.

2.       Speak of universal themes through the food: The joys of being able to source Bengali food in the midst of Hyderabad, being reminded of home, or unexpected flavours which remind you of a cherished holiday memory. Triggered food memories are what will help you connect with your readers , and make your writing uniquely yours, just like your food experiences are uniquely yours. Some themes you can use are love, longing, loss, happiness, bereft, wonder, awe and shock. The more out there your feelings the more outstanding will be your writing.


3.       Be seasonal: A lot of restaurants have seasonal menus, which change evry season. Such blogs have the danger of being obsolete ones the weather changes and the dishes no more exoist on the menu. But if you make it about the season and less about the food, it remains a celebration of the season throughout the year. I remember I had to write an article for a five star resorts monsoon street food festival, and instead of concentrating on the panipuri and paapdi chaat ( tastes and flavours of which are already familiar to Indians) I wrote about the craving to eat street food during the rains, to park the car by a road side curb, and eat raosted corn on the cob with ‘nimbu and mirch’ while standing under an umbrella. The universal appeal had immediate recall for a lot of readers, and I got a lot of letters from readers after the article appeared in my weekly newspaper column. Try the same for a Christmas/thanksgiving/autumn tasting menu. And tag me with #indianfoodwriting

4.       Celebrate the people: the dal rice at home is special, because you know your mom made it, when the cook makes the same thing, we don’t seem to be as emotionally invested. When you celebrate the chefs, and the cooks at the restaurants, when you bring to fore their involvement and training and thought process, you humanise the food. The dum pukht Biryani did not magically appear on your plate, the mango lassi did not churn itself. When you celebrate the people, the food they cook or present automatically is appeals more, and so does your food writing.


Use these tips in your next food / restaurant review, and share it with me and your readers on social media with the tag #indianfoodwriting .
Stay tuned for more tips and exerciseson food writing and blogging this month as part of my #blogchatterprojects.
Read other posts on “ lets write about food” #indianfoodwriting  
and HERE

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