Music Writers Are Just Young Food Writers

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This is a post for those who enjoy opining in letters about musical sub-genres like twee-pop, shoegaze, trip-hop or hyperdub. One day, you--an amateur/aspiring or professional music writer--may find yourself quibbling over the finer tastes of "cave in cave aged cheese," or amount of "freedom in free-range chicken" or other such nuances of prepared delicacies. To put it bluntly: the characteristics that allow you to be a music writer may give you the tools to become a successful food writer.

This theory, floated by blogger Drew Tewksbury, boils down to the notion that "both music and food journalism deal with writing about something intangible." Thus, in order to describe something that isn't there, "analogy, comparison, hyperbole" are used to fill in the gaps about the texture of music (i.e. a "chilling" bassline). "Music journalists coin phrases and make up terms for genres that have never existed before. Chill wave? Witch House? Coke Rap? We describe something by its effects, like describing the wind by the movement of the trees," Tewksbury writes. And while food writing is much more of the "sensory related" variety, "food and music writing are linked."

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Here's how:

We communicate the way our bodies and imagination react to a stimulus. Food and music aren’t typically meant to be experienced alone. In restaurants and concert venues, patrons and audiences are surrounded by people, by strangers with whom they interact, and look to for cues on how to act. What is that person ordering? Should I dance to this song, or just cross my arms and sway? Choosing a restaurant, at least here in L.A., is much like going to the record store (remember those?, 6 ); as you stare into the abyss of possibilities, wondering what experience you want for the day.

But mainly, the reason that Tewksbury cites for music writers moving on to become food writers seems to be an evolution of taste (or snobbery): "and for music snobs, as we, ahem, they get older and fewer people are impressed by your knowledge of Black Flag B-sides or Kraut rock samples in Kanye West songs, foodie-ism is the next frontier of one-upping your friends."

Basically, he figures, "when music writers grow up, they become food writers."

[H/T: GOOD magazine]

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.