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tingling textures needs one of Claudia’s books on the shelf. (My copy of Tamarind and Saffron is well thumbed to say the least…) “Claudia is one of the most gracious women I think that

I have ever met in my life,” says Matthew. “She has this extraordinary capacity to bring together high intelligence, great scholarship and a thorough understanding of what makes food pleasurable.” The more we chat about food – and its place in our daily

canon of articles, books, tweets and more – I realise much of Matthew’s drive is indeed about ‘pleasure’ or, perhaps as Viv would say, bliss. I ask him why he believes food is such a common theme in literature throughout the ages. “You cannot divide human experience from eating, or eating from human experience, so it becomes a fundamental part of any literature or work of fiction. There are only two activities without which the human race is doomed, and for most of us food is possibly an easier thing to write about. It’s also something we all have in common – we all have to eat once, twice or sometimes three times a day, and so it is a form of common currency. Also, I think the thing about food is that, through food, you can tell a lot about social attitudes, backgrounds and experiences. It becomes a describer or marker for people’s path through life. “One thing that has always struck me is that food plays an enormously important part in detective stories. You find it in anything from Sherlock Holmes to the modern phenomenon of Salvo Montalbano, the Sicilian detective, who seems to spend almost as much time eating as he does detecting.”


o, you want to get into food writing? (We don’t blame you.) What’s Matthew’s advice? “Stick to the day job! It’s a very, very tricky

one, but the first thing is to write. Write a blog and search out the best writing. It needn’t necessarily be about food: look for books or articles that give you pleasure – it could be football, history, anything. Think about who

you are writing for. With most blogs, one of the reasons they are so bad is that they are writing for an audience of one, the writer. It seems to me that if you are going to go to the effort of writing, which is lonely and hard to do, you want to communicate with someone other than yourself. Otherwise it is a form of verbal onanism. “My whole approach to food writing is really based on my

experiences. The very first questions you have to ask yourself are, ‘what do I want to say to people, what do they want to hear, and how best can I express that?’ There’s an enormous competition for people’s attention, so also ask ‘how can I get people to read my stuff?’ One of the best pieces of advice that I was ever given was that in an article of 750-1,000 words people will take away one idea – so decide what idea do you want them to take away and how best to convey that idea. The other thing that is absolutely critical is trust. The reader has to trust you.” True words! As we said, Matthew will appear numerous

times at this year’s The Independent Bath Literature Festival. For tickets and full event info visit And, for 20% discount (exclusive to Crumbs) on food events, including those with Claudia Roden, Matthew Fort, Mark Hix and The Incredible Spice Men, enter the code CANDYFLOSS at the checkout. Happy reading, writing and eating...

James Pembroke

HIGHLIGHTS Mark ’em in your diary now!



Julian Baggini: Bliss is… Food Guildhall, £9, 8-9pm

Helen McGinn

MONDAY 3 MARCH Jonathan Grimwood and John Walsh: Food in Fiction Guildhall, £7.50, 4.30-5.30pm


The Incredible Spice Men Guildhall, £7, 1-2pm

WEDNESDAY 5 MARCH Literary Lunch:

The Incredible Spice Men

James Pembroke and Matthew Fort

Allium Brasserie, £35, 12.30-3pm

Claudia Roden

Guildhall, £8, 4.30-5.30pm Matthew Fort

Guildhall, £7.50, 8-9pm FRIDAY 7 MARCH

Claudia Roden

Andy Lynes: How to be a Better Food Writer Holburne Museum £50, 10.15am-4pm

Literary Lunch with

Mr Darcy: Pen Vogler Allium Brasserie, £35, 12.30-3pm

Mark Hix Guildhall, £8, 6.15-7.15pm

SATURDAY 8 MARCH Knackered Mother’s

Mark Hix

Wine Club with Helen McGinn Guildhall, £7.50, 6.15-7.15pm

SUNDAY 9 MARCH Literary Lunch: Cooking People – The writers who

taught the English how to eat, with Sophia Waugh Allium Brasserie, £35, 12.30-3pm

Sophia Waugh 62



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