How do you write about food?

Jennifer Rubell: Well because I have a column, I’m always doing something related to the time of year, the season, a particular month – something that’s bubbling up in food in general.  So the first thing I do is sort of   . . .  I’m always writing four or five months ahead.  So the first thing I do is think about that time of year and what I’m going to be really interested in that time of year.  And then I set about kind of honing in on one broader idea.  And then and only then do I start really going into the kitchen and cooking.  So for instance I’ll start thinking about February.  I’ll think you know it’s just disgusting outside.  All you wanna do is sit at home inside, and you want something you can hold tight, that’s warm, that’s hearty, but that’s not really, really bad for you because you probably went to too many holiday parties and are not dying to, you know . . .  So then this year when I was doing that, I felt like that dish was vegetarian chili.  Then I thought to make it more interesting and to tie it into some interesting things that are happening on a farmer level, a lot of farmers have been starting to grow heirloom beans, which like heirloom tomatoes are . . .  are, you know, beans that were popular in the 19th century and even the earlier part of the 20th century, and that have gone out of popularity.  There are also . . .  I didn’t even know this until I started getting into them – that if you plant one, the same one will grow.  Whereas a hybrid, which is what most beans are when you go to the supermarket and you see the bag of beans, a hybrid is sliced together in a way that if you plant it, it can grow this kind of bean or that kind of bean.  It’s not gonna grow itself, which is very, very interesting.  As a total non-gardener that blew my mind.  So then I’ll get in . . . deeper into the heirloom beans.  And I’ll . . . those will become a part of the chili.  And then I’ll tweak the recipe so that . . . I mean the flavor of the recipe is always the final word to me, and that has to be there.

Recorded on 12/13/07

Rubell writes about food seasonally.

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