Nieman: Confessions of a Departed Food Writer | Food and cooking

And now the end is near, and so I face the last curtain.

After more than eight years in the best job a colleague could have, I am stepping away from my position as a food writer at Post-Dispatch. Let the wailing and lamentation begin.

Then let them stop. I’m going, but I won’t go far. I suspect it’s about 40 feet or more or less. If I lean forward in my seat, I can see where my new desk is.

But I won’t write about food anymore. I will write about retail for the business department. Vertical will run every Sunday.

Because I’m still working on Post-Dispatch, I’m having some fun writing a farewell column. Farewell columns are for people who are already leaving. They are self-indulgent, but help take the sting out of letting go of friends, colleagues, and readers.

Besides, farewell columns bother me. They are by heart, cliched and predictable.

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They always begin by announcing retirement or accepting a new position. Then they go on to give general thanks to the editors who have been so helpful and supportive throughout the writer’s time at the newspaper (that is, you, Aimee Bertrand). Then they move on to a private joke shared with a colleague that readers don’t know and don’t care about (Am I right, Val? Cheese sticks forever!).

And finally, inevitably, they end up with the same cliched feeling: “But most of all, I’ll miss you, readers. You made this trip so satisfying for me.”

There is only one acceptable exception. Fans of the 1953 Audrey Hepburn/Gregory Peck movie “Roman Holiday” can also say, “I will cherish my visit here as long as I live.”

But I wouldn’t write that kind of farewell column. I prefer to provide a set of notes and impressions from my career as a food writer:

• If you are having trouble making friends, try telling your neighbors and colleagues that you are a food writer. Then periodically bring them home-made baked goods or entrees, and tell them the rest of the story you’ve written. worked with me.

• Want to know what I won’t miss? I won’t miss Thanksgiving. I’ve been a food writer here and elsewhere for 12 years. That means I’ve written about Thanksgiving 12 times.

But there’s only a very limited number of things you can write about for Thanksgiving: basically just turkey, side dishes, and desserts. I ran out of new ideas for Thanksgiving about nine years ago.

• If you have a dinner party, serve homemade flatbread as an appetizer or as bread with the meal. Spread butter on top when you come out of the oven, and sprinkle with Maldon salt or Fleur de Sel.

The idea came to me from Katie’s Pizza and Pasta Osteria, which offers baked pizza crust to serve bread. We had two friends for dinner recently, and the flatbread – no toppings, just the bread itself – was the hit of the meal.

• “Cheese sticks are forever!” It’s not a private joke I have with anyone. I couldn’t think of a real private joke. This is kind of sad.

• As much as I will miss writing about food, my waistline actually rejoices. Starting around Halloween and ending after New Year’s, I usually gain 12 to 15 pounds, mostly from the cooking I do for my stories. Then I spend the next 10 months trying to take it off.

• Homemade food is really better than store bought food in almost every case. Whoever you cook for will appreciate it. If you’re just cooking for yourself, think of it as fun. you deserve it.

This is it. This is 12 years of food writing wisdom collected. I will miss writing about it.

But most of all, I will miss you, readers. You have all made this trip very satisfying for me. I will cherish my visit here as long as I live.

See you in the business section.

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