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Slightly Off Topic

I've been musing about my partner Elizabeth Licata's thought in Mackenzie Carpenter's recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette piece about garden blogging: 

"If you look at food writing, in the New York Times or Saveur Magazine,
it's much sexier and more fun," says Garden Blog ranter Ms. Licata.
"Why isn't garden writing like that?"

Here's living proof: Henry Alford's hilarious piece about goat meat in today's New York Times

Posted by on April 1, 2009 at 1:08 pm, in the category Uncategorized.
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13 responses to “Slightly Off Topic”

  1. Susan Harris says:

    “Gay meal”? “Tender as a Jennifer Anniston move”? Omigod.

  2. Tara Dillard says:

    This isn’t off topic at all. It’s why gardening is poorly represented in magazine, radio & TV. The words are a bore.

    Cathy Horyn, NYTimes, describes, Sexy booties licked with long black fur, it translates into, Monet seduces with his tree, licked, bound, and whipped in the wind, with long climbing rose tendrils.

    My paying jobs edit that stuff. It all goes into my lectures. An obvious reason why my garden speaking pays more than garden writing.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  3. Linda says:

    Excellent post! A few thoughts:

    I think part of the reason for this is that food and cooking provide quicker gratification than gardening. The payoff comes sooner, which can make for a neat story. Gardening is sometimes a slog, and sometimes the reward is fleeting (see the cherry blossoms we are currently enjoying here in DC). This is gratifying, but not necessarily sexy or fun in the way that finding the recipe for no-knead bread or the perfect chocolate cake is.

    You also have less room to maneuver in gardening. You can’t have a rose garden in the shade. You can’t grow an Australian tree fern (outside) in Zone 6. And so on. With food and cooking, you can let your imagination run wild, tweak a recipe, flout conventional wisdom. This might make for writing and reading (as well as eating) that’s jazzier and a little bit more fun.

    Also, arguments about the best barbecue or pizza can go on forever, yet differences are (usually) not as fraught as, say, the battles between pro- and anti-lawn people.

  4. commonweeder says:

    It seems to me that questions of ‘good taste’ that reign in much garden writing, don’t allow for as much humor as what tastes good in the kitchen, where lots of individual quirks are allowed. I did enjoy the goat article.

  5. Big Diff I see between Food and Garden writing — everyone eats, not everyone (not even close) gardens. That makes Food frontand center when it comes to share imagery and experiences. You can describe the feelings of mucking out a pond, but how many of your readers wil join you in it?

    Agree with Linda – food is immediate gratification, gardening is a slow yearning process with great rewards but few have patience to stick with the story that long. There is a reason Food TV is #1 and garden has all but left HGTV and it ain’t the writing.

  6. Plantanista says:

    Indeed, gardening is a slow *yearning* process. I like that!

  7. If you’re a foodie and you go outside the box, you get a show on the Food Network.

    If you’re a gardener and you do the same, you’re (with all due respect and I consider him a hero) Felder Rushing.

  8. Some years ago I thought the same, and started off a story about discovering what a lawn could be this way:

    “I want to corrupt the American lawn.

    I want to take the strait-laced lawn of the suburbs and wet its lips with Martini-juice. I want to run my fingers through the middle-parted, morning-combed turf of the Long Island mansions and stir a longing in its loins. I want to take the working class grass square of backyards everywhere and drag silk lingerie across its stiff shoulders.

    I want to introduce weeds.”

    Last year I was approached by a couple of film makers to film a teaser for the Networks about urban gardening, hoping to sell a show. The idea was Nigella meets the rooftop herb garden kind of thing, though clearly I am no Nigella. Making it was a lot of fun, and though it was a long shot to begin with, the feedback was, “We don’t want gardens…”

    But gardening will become sexier. The Green wagon is a-moving. And soon gardening shows will be as annoying as the food network. Careful what you wish for!

  9. Barbara says:

    One person’s “hilarious piece” is ho-hum to another. hey, it got in the paper. Ho-hum here. Why does EVERYthing have to be sexy to some people?

  10. Kathy J, Washington Gardener Magazine says:

    Yes, not a typo — just forgot the comma — it should be: “slow, yearning process”

  11. Lisa-Ontario says:

    I think it is more about passion. Matt James (who is nice to look at too) is clearly very passionate about gardens, so is Alan Titchmarsh (?spelling). They are so passionate that I end up finding them sexy. Of course their passion is about something that I share with them. I could watch someone smell different Austin roses and describe all the intricasies of the bouquet (much like deconstructing the aromas in wine), if they loved what they were doing I would watch it and dream for hours. That is what Food TV is doing. Watching Nigella wax poetic about food is sexy.

  12. karen says:

    i imagine that gardening is like golf. probably just more fun to do than to watch or read about. i don’t understand how people can watch golf–and well, reading about gardening, BORING!! Most garden tours –also boring! Yet I love to look at my own garden, watch each little shoot develop–i don’t expect others to get it. Maybe it’s just too personal a hobby. Dunno.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Here in Buffalo I see people go ballistic about pizza–talk about passion! On our local blogs, the only thing that will start a fight almost as fast as politics or development is food.

    Tuesday I want to talk about my favorite food writers–I have so many more of them than favorite garden writers, sadly.

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