How To Fake Your Way Through Law School While Secretly Becoming A Food Writer

Every few weeks, an e-mail arrives in my Inbox from a law student or lawyer who’s read my About Me section and sees that I too once studied the elements of a tort and knew what kind of consideration is required for a contract. These e-mails often marvel at the fact that I made a career for myself as a food writer while simultaneously earning a law degree that now sits, gathering dust, in a frame leaning against the wall of my childhood bedroom.

“How did you do it?” is often the question and my answer is usually a shoulder shrug. The truth is that I never set out to become a food writer, I just knew that I wanted to be a writer and I wouldn’t let go of that dream no matter how hard law school tried to shake it from me.

Looking back on it now, though, I realize that, without really knowing it, I was laying the groundwork for a career as a food writer. From the books that I read, to the meals that I ate, to the posts that I posted on websites like eGullet and Chowhound, the seeds that sprouted into a full-fledged food career were all planted in law school.

Here, then, is some concrete advice for anyone unhappy in law school who wants to make it in food. With the job market being the way that it is, this advice may actually prove to be more lucrative* than anything you’re learning in class…so pay attention! [* Note: I am saying this tongue-in-cheek. In a single day, the average lawyer makes more than what the average food blogger makes in a year.]

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Does Food Writing Matter?

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[Photo credit, Dallas Observer]

By this point it’s old news that Sam Sifton, restaurant critic for The New York Times, has stepped down from his job after only two years. It’s a pretty short run for a restaurant critic, and his reasons for stepping down have been explained matter-of-factly: he’s going to become the Times’s national editor. That means instead of covering Parmesan flan and celery leaf sorbet he’ll be focusing his energies on issues such as the debt crisis, the job crisis and any other crisis that creeps up before the next Presidential election.

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Three Great Pieces of Food Writing

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“By the time the intercom buzzes, I am assembling the greatest grilled cheese sandwiches of all time and the fridge is filled with seriously good Champagne, so packed that the bottles that can’t stand up on the top shelf lie on their sides like stockpiled ammo down below. This is not the day I want to be drinking any of that chardonnay-sweet or over-yeasted bread-dough shit. I want tight effervescence, chalk on my tongue and the roof of my mouth, sugar turned to cold glass.”

That passage comes from one of the best pieces of food writing I’ve encountered in recent memory, Gabrielle Hamilton’s essay “Christmas Eve” which appears in the new Canal House Cookbook, Volume No. 5.

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