Lifehackers React to the Demise of Paper Newspapers

Lifehacker opened a discussion on the future demise of print newspapers, prompted by news that the Christian Science Monitor will now appear online only.

I’m still interested in the impact this will have on food reporting. Have the genres of recipe books, food memoir, and food history grown large enough to supplant anything newspapers could report on?

Have there been any discussions of newspapers shutting down their test kitchens as a result of shrinking budgets? I think this would be an interesting story.

ETA: Gannett blog reports that the features sections may be completely ELIMINATED from some papers. Via: a Gannett reporter friend who might not want to be linked.

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Eating on Election Day

This week’s recipe is forthcoming.

I have my students for an extra half-hour this week. With Tuesday’s election predicted to draw record numbers of voters, schools are modifying classes Nov. 4 to accommodate for the influx of people on school grounds.

I grumbled a bit that I hadn’t read any election stories taking this angle, but never fear, The New York Times has got it covered. There have been several discussions by papers large and small about the safety aspect of holding elections at a school with hundreds of wee ones, but I haven’t heard many discussions about the logistics. It could be a nightmare.

Our school gym serves as the cafeteria. With the gym shut down all day, all P.E. classes must meet outside in the rain. Additionally, to the horror of our union, students must eat lunch in the classroom, violating the duty-free lunch provision of our contracts. We have no idea how long the lines will be, or whether our parking lot will be able to accommodate the number of voters.

Please don’t get me wrong, it’s exciting that we need to grapple with these concerns, as they mean people are finally interested in fulfilling their civic obligations. I just find it interesting that the schools have to handle all the election modifications on their own.

Finally, of course we also cannot have any sort of material supporting one candidate or another, seeing as how we’re much much less than 300 feet away from a polling place.

I wanted to close with a picture of Allison Janney giving her speech at a Rock the Vote event in West Wing Season 4, but I couldn’t track one down. Can you?

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Busiest Post of the Year

I find it interesting that a large amount of traffic to this site is generated by people searching for the phrase “busiest bar night of the year.” If you Google that phrase, our very own Clipped and Diced comes out as the top link.

It’s surprising to me that more “real” articles haven’t been written on this, other that ones that mention the myth/commonly held notion in passing. When I went to my new favorite site, Google news archives, there wasn’t much available.

You would think the “busy bar night” story would be one of those recurring articles that are written every single year, although the information doesn’t change much. (Another interesting piece, uncovered in my search for cliched newspaper articles, can be found here)

Is it just too obvious to discuss?  If so, then why are so many people searching for it?

Back in 1960, the New York Times alleged that New Year’s Eve was the biggest bar night. Don’t you love that language — “the annual brouhaha associated with seeing in the New Year will be no more than a blurred memory in the convalescent reveler’s dulled brain.”

This 1996 article from the Hartford Courant seems to provide a more modern view. I also enjoyed this article, although I could only view a snippet of it without paying.

Finally, I appreciated Access Winnipeg’s May 2008 article claiming that Good Friday is the busiest bar night, “Good Friday being the only holiday that lands on a Friday every year.”

And there’s always good old Spartan Tailgate, keeping it real with the best bar night of the year for single guys.

What’s your experience as the busiest bar night of the year?

P.S. Speaking of bar nights, meet your fearless Clipped & Diced authors at The Elysian in Seattle’s Capitol Hill next Friday evening!

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Food Reporting at its Finest

I am fascinated by the work of Michael Pollen, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food. Listen to his great interview with Terry Gross of Fresh Air, which aired tonight.

(Note: Look at the above link I sent you to for The Omnivore’s Dilemma — they came out with a mass market edition of the book! They never come out with mass market editions of nonfiction books, other than like, Silent Spring!)

Among all the interesting tidbits I learned, I was particularly excited about Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden. I longed to find a picture of her down in the dirt of her garden, but the Library of Congress archives failed to turn up any gems.

I regret that Toby and I have neglected this blog, which still takes up a significant portion of my creative brain space. Alas, I am teaching an after-school program, coaching track, co-chairing the Math Team, did I mention our classroom library is up to 1,304 books, and I’m working at Display and Costume until Halloween, so perhaps after that I will be cooking more frequently…

Is there interest?

When Toby and I began this project, I wondered if there would be any interest whatsoever in the history of food reporting. I mean, I knew there are a lot of random, niche research topics out there, but I didn’t know what to expect. (That shoutout’s for you, Franny. Sorry I couldn’t find a better comics link.)

With that, I’d like to thank the person yesterday who ran the term “the history of sesame steak” through their search engine and stumbled upon our site. I don’t know if they found what they were looking for, but at least they were interested.

Sesame steak. We didn't cook this.
Sesame steak. We didn’t cook this.

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Published in: on February 26, 2008 at 8:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Related to kitsch, newspapers and food, but not recipes

The Taj Mahal of Ballard has been saved, local news agencies reported yesterday.

City Council voted 6-3 to declare the 1964 “Googie” style building (you’re reading correctly, it’s not Google, Seattle’s other business juggernaut) a landmark.

We used to eat here after pulling costume shifts until 2 a.m. at Display and Costume during the Halloween season. People are making fun of the fact that such a ridiculous building is being saved, but as a recent transplant, I agree with those who are saying it’s one of the most defining features of Ballard (at least when you approach it from 15th and Market St.).

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Published in: on February 21, 2008 at 7:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Why on Wednesday?

When I mustered up the courage to call and ask for a tour of the Seattle Times’ test kitchen, I knew not to reach anyone on Tuesday. That’s because Wednesday is the day the Food and Wine section is printed, so I figured Tuesday calls would be impacted by deadline stress that I didn’t want to be a part of.

Seattle’s not the only city to print its food section on Wednesdays. In fact, ponding why many papers print their recipes and reviews on this day was one of the impetuses that caused us to create Clipped and Diced in the first place.

There aren’t many cut-and-dried reasons for why the tradition started. Nor are there researched answers — I quizzed several of the journalism history profs at Michigan State University, and none of them knew anything definite. I do know the author of the now-defunct Saute Wednesday blog assigned special food significance to this day of the week, reinforcing the fact that I’m not the only one interested in it.

The best information I can cobble together is this: Grocery stores began their weekly sales on Thursday. The ads for these sales went out on Wednesday. Thus, if newspapers printed their recipes on the same day the ads went out, efficient homemakers could plot their shopping list and weekly menu in one fell swoop.

This explanation makes sense particularly because many small-town papers align their recipes to items that are on sale.

The author of Endless Simmer calls Wednesday the nation’s newspaper food section day, a phrase I find accurate and sucinct.

Unless you lived in the Bay Area in the 1950s. If you did, Wednesday were just another day.

I found further proof of the print-recipes-on-the-day-the-ads-run theory when I was fiching through the San Francisco Chronicle (I just made that verb up, by the way. Sort of. This guy beat me to it).

In 1957, the Chronicle’s food pages ran on Thursdays. So did all of their grocery ads. Not only that, but “Jean Friendly”‘s food advice column touting the benefits of the three new flavors of Campbell’s soup ran immediately next to a five-column ad for… you guessed it, Campbell’s soup.

Soup!
Article or Ad?

I attempted to see if Jean Friendly was a pen name, and I discovered there actually was a Mrs. Friendly related to journalism. I don’t believe she contributed to this article, however.

I haven’t yet decided if the small “Advertisement” print at the bottom applies to Jean Friendly, or if it applies to the article below. Here’s the whole page for you to decide (I’m not sure why the PDF formatting is wonky):

San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, October 3, 1957, p. 14.

I know I skipped out on a few weeks’ worth of entries. I’ll make it up to you, believe me. I just raided the University of Washington library for books on the women’s pages.

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Duh

Somehow I managed to stumble across this article, after searching fruitlessly in December.

Marinated Flank Steak Salad

For the full story, see here.

The End!

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Published in: on February 11, 2008 at 6:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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A gift from Father Time

I’ve mentioned before that I find 50’s housewife-chic particularly interesting (and horrifying, in many ways). It should come as no surprise, then, that the neatest book I’ve read so far over break is the 1941 career story, Connie Benton: Reporter. I bought it at my favorite store in the entire country for vintage periodicals, Curious Book Shop in East Lansing, MI.

In it, Connie delivers this information (of particular relevance to this blog):

“Seriously, there’s a need for women who can write entertainingly about food, homes and clothes. Dad claims that women who write for women’s pages entertainingly, don’t know anything about it  — and the women who know their stuff, can’t be interesting!”

(In searching for online information about Connie Benton: Reporter I found a fantastic bibliography of sob sisters in popular culture, by the way. I must investigate this project more.)

My mom has noticed my growing obsession with mid-century journalists, probably beginning with my feverish pleas for anything in the Sally Baxter, Girl Reporter series last Christmas.

And so, she revisited her own past. She showed me her old home ec notebook from 1968, and let me rifle through her manila envelopes full of clipped recipes.

Recipe envelopes
Labeled & categorized recipe envelopes.

But my mom usually keeps her archived material close to herself (which, frankly, is the safest option). So imagine my surprise and delight when I received the full 1970 Detroit News cooking guide AND a general guide to good cooking.

A cooking little Christmas
Merry Christmas! Thanks, Mom!

I haven’t had a chance to read through all the recipes yet, but I’m eager to begin. What a treat, both for me and for you, fair reader.

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Finally, some news related to food memoirs and food reporting. Author Amy Stewart did a great piece on NPR this morning regarding all the people eating local for a year (apparently, they’re called “locavores“), growing their own food for a year, etc. Stewart’s the author of one of the billions of nonfiction books I want to read, Flower Confidential.

Happy New Year!

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Published in: on January 1, 2008 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment