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Episode 7 of Edacious – Food Talk for Gluttons.

11070961_917469298304925_243279824965475478_nNew episode up now! Available at Edacious – Food Talk for Gluttons, on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and your regular podcast outlets. Food Writer C. Simon Davidson’s passion for food began young, ordering an extra appetizer at dinner when the rest of the family was ordering dessert. His website, The Charlottesville 29, is a hall of fame of sorts for restaurants in our area. Named after the road slicing through our community, it names the top 29 restaurants in our area – an impossible task given the circumstances, and one Simon is happy to tackle. In this discussion we talk about the challenges and rewards of being a food writer in Charlottesville, and the changes and growing pains the food writing industry is encountering because of the explosion of interest in recent years.

An engaging discussion for anyone who loves restaurants! What do famous restaurant reviewers like Tom Sietsema do to ensure chefs don’t recognize them? How does Simon’s “Five Finds on Friday” column promote community and conversations around food in Charlottesville? How did a lawyer find a passion for food and turn it into a rewarding side career as a food writer? What’s the reasoning behind Simon’s belief that “…a rising tide lifts all boats?” Is a favorite restaurant in town about to close? And may have closed by the time this airs? Listen now to find out!

Food Writing Discussed During the Episode:

A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway eats his way through Paris. A food writing classic.

Chicken of the Trees by Mike Sula – Award-winning piece about why eating the urban squirrel makes perfect sense.

Consider the Food Writer by Josh Ozersky – Was MFK Fischer a hack? Does food writing need to undergo a major shift? You decide.

Food for the Thoughtless – one of my favorite food writers, Michael Procopio

How Food Journalism Got as Stale as Day-Old Bread  – Chef Marc Vetri of Philadelphia’s Vetri, Osteria, and numerous other restaurants laments the state of food writing.

On Food Writing – A Response to Marc Vetri by C. Simon Davidson – Charlottesville food writer and star of Episode 7 responds, wondering if the state of food writing is as bad as all that. Great read!

Plated Stories – Jamie Schler and Ilva Beretta create gorgeous words and photographs that revolve around a single theme.

Remembrance of Things Lost – Is recording every minute of our lives on a device affecting the way we remember things? Walter Kirn thinks so. Thought-provoking and timely.

The Soul of a Chef – The one that started it all for me. I read this book and thought, “I could do that.” Michael Ruhlman presents three stories, about Chef Thomas Keller, Chef Michael Symon, and his own journey through cooking school. A fascinating look behind the scenes. Ruhlman is the most talented food writer working today.

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food by Michael Moss – Why Cheetos rock. Hard.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox by Rachel Khong – The life and times of Chef Jeremy Fox. Published in Lucky Peach, my personal favorite food publication.

Up at the Old Hotel – If there’s one writer in this world I dream of being, it’s Joseph Mitchell. His collection of essays from his 50+ years at The New Yorker is stunning. And his food pieces bring to life a time long past. They never fail to amaze me. Read them.

 

Seven Episodes In . . .What I’ve Learned.

microphoneFriday I will post my seventh episode at Edacious. According to my podcasting teacher Cliff Ravenscraft, seven is the one separating the serious casters from the hobbyists. By the seventh episode the entire process has become seamless, your voice has found its voice, and you aren’t so timid about speaking into a mike. It feels more like a regular gig and not something you took up on a lark because it sounded fun. You have a better sense of what the podcast is and could be. And your listeners, if you’ve been posting regularly, realize you’re in it for the long haul.

For me, some of this is true. I still get nervous doing an interview – it takes me until about minute 22 to settle in and get out of my head. Doing the intro and outro comments? I put it off until the last minute because the sound of my own voice makes me cringe. But the process has become easier, and I’m banking interviews at the average rate of one a week. I’m definitely in this. It’s not just a lark. And I’ve learned a few things:

No One’s Here for The Money.

Not one person I’ve interviewed has said they cook, bake, grow, write about, or sell food to make a buck. They hope to make a living certainly, but they do what they do to make a life. The passion and zeal I hear in their voices is infectious. Not only do we live in a terrific food community, but the way the person I’m interviewing speaks with love and support for other folks (often in the same industry) leaves me astounded. So much mutual respect for others in our food community bodes well for Charlottesville as it emerges onto the national scene. And it will. It makes me really glad I chose this path. You know that feeling when you sense all your “ships” are in alignment and the wind is at your back? I feel that with every interview.

Beginning and Ending.

The hardest part is starting and finishing the interview. I get overwhelmed when I glance down and realize I have 50 areas to hit and only 45 minutes to an hour to do it. Which makes finishing the interview even more awkward. Time is up and I want to keep going. Beginning the interview is like opening a Pandora’s Box. One question leads down a path I never even considered and before you know it you’re lost within a forest of great conversation. Not a bad thing.

It’s Taking Me Away From Writing.

Which isn’t necessarily terrible. This very post was supposed to be up last Friday, but because of podcast interviews I’m late. I’m not worried because I know the more I talk, the more ideas will emerge, the more topics will float to the surface. Which can only make my writing better when I sit down to do it. Podcasting has become another facet to my writing because I’m not so isolated at home with my thoughts. I’m out and about, getting a behind the scenes look at how things are done and made and getting to know these folks. That can only help when I finally sit down to put words together.

The Topic Of The Day is Kind Of Pointless.

Because the question I ask rarely ends up being what the conversation is about. Where you start out isn’t where you end up. Again a very nice thing. Being lost in a forest of conversation, not knowing where the path will take you, forgetting to leave breadcrumbs so you can get back to the topic at hand, allowing yourself to become lost. It’s scary. But nice. At its best, at its most pure, I can actually see the conversational energy between us like a great white cloud. Call me a hippie but when the conversation is flowing, I feel in the zone. A rare thing for me.

The Interview Is Never Over.

Because in the car on the way home and for two days after I think of things I should have asked, topics I could have covered. It’s just the beginning of my thoughts on the subject and thank god for voice memo on the iPhone, otherwise all these magical brainstorms would be lost forever. The thoughts and brainstorms on the way home are even better than the ones I came up with before the interview and I see them as a thin, fragile, gossamer thread, tying me to the next interview, the next topic. A web of possibilities! Says the writer whose parents were hippies. It’s in my DNA ;)

I’m excited about the direction podcasting is taking me in, I can see a soft outline of something, some goal in the far future, but as of yet I’ve no idea where I’ll end up. That’s fearful, and exciting at the same time. Already my personality has changed. The very fact I’m interviewing folks like I know what I’m doing, calling people I don’t even know to talk to me for an hour is kind of a miracle for a dyed-in-the-wool introvert like me. I still have to rest up after an interview. Recharge my energy from all that social interaction. But it’s a good kind of tired. An accomplished kind of tired. One I could definitely get used to. And I hope you’ll join me in the forest. It’s pretty fucking cool.

Stories. By Hand. By Mouth.

My podcast, Edacious – Food Talk for Gluttons, premieres TODAY! Subscribe at the website or on iTunes. Thank you for all the support and encouragement. This has taken me almost a year to complete, and I’m so grateful. And excited. Time to crack open a beer!

I’ll never forget the day I figured out how to get an “A” every time. In English at least. I was a Senior, and as part of our Advanced Placement class, we had to write an essay every Friday on a given topic. It was shitty and we hated it. Imagine that’s how you end your week every week? But we did it, and now I’m grateful to Mrs. Boyce because I can write a 5-paragraph essay in my sleep. When I figured out if you include the word “alienation” in the essay you automatically get an “A” the rest of my high school (and college) writing classes were a breeze. As was the formula for the 5-paragraph essay. Introductory paragraph, followed by three paragraphs supporting the thesis, and a clever conclusion.

Embarrassingly today I still write most of my blogs using this format. I present an idea, then spend the rest of the time offering supporting material, then attempt a clever closer that brings you back for more. Hey, if a formula works. Sometimes I have a hard time finding a topic to fit within the framework and so the edges of the formula might bleed a bit, but for the most part the 5-paragraph idea is there. In theory at least.

I read an article in Elle magazine recently about the writer Alessandra Torre who became a superstar by self-publishing women’s erotica on Amazon. She’ll publish a book every six weeks or so, speed-typing the plot and when she comes to a sex scene she’ll type something like “THREESOME FORMULA” and later she’ll go back in and plop down formulas for these scenes she keeps filed away. Mad Libs for the horny soccer mom? Quite a formula.

Why so many words about formulas? Because lately I’ve been getting bored with my own. Not the topics, God no, there’s enough stories around here to keep me typing until end of days. No it’s the written formula I want to break away from.

Which is why I started a podcast. As of today, February 27, 2015, you’ll find me telling stories with my voice instead of my words. At Edacious – Food Talk for Gluttons, every other Friday I’ll tell stories, then offer up interviews with food folks in our region. All of whom have stories of their own. In addition, we’ll broach a food topic and discuss it in depth, hopefully starting a conversation that continues above and beyond the podcast.

Why? Not to get too hippie-fied but every time I turn around the signs point to me doing this. Someone telling me I have a good voice. My own intense love for Maron’s podcast and This American Life. The fun I had being interviewed for two different podcasts in the past. The clincher was Jack Hitt’s book, “Off the Road” about his adventures while walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. He mentions the medieval epic poem the Chanson de Roland and the oral tradition of poets during that time. Most people assume these “singer of tales” memorized the entire story, but no. They memorized phrases, or “formulae” (there’s that word again), consisting of scenes, names, events, and dates they interplayed so each retelling was unique. No one telling of the poem or story was ever the same.

This fascinated me. Stories by mouth rather than written formula. Sure there are certain phrases I’ll use during a vocal, spoken podcast, certain names and dates and events. But I bet the telling is always unique. No podcast will adhere as tightly to the 5-paragraphs. No retelling will ever be the same. I feel real honesty in that. And I want to try it out.

I’ll still blog. But I want to branch out. I don’t want to say I never tried. I want to live my life as a learner, an experience gatherer. This will be a new, hopefully exciting experience and journey. Please join me. I’ll do my best to provide you with enlightening, entertaining podcasts and as always I welcome your feedback. You can subscribe on the home page or through iTunes on your phone or iPad. Thanks again. Cheers.

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