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Food Essays

The SAVEUR Blog Awards are here, and from a pool of tens of thousands of reader nominations we’ve selected 78 finalists in 13 categories. Now it’s your turn to vote for a winner. Cast your ballot here early and often; you can vote as many times as you like by August 31st. Today: meet the finalists for our Food and Culture award.

When writing about food, it can be hard to do justice to the culture surrounding a certain dish. But our 6 Food and Culture finalists are not afraid to tackle the challenges in our society, using food as a way to interrogate a certain facet of culture and present another perspective on a powerful issue. From taking down major businesses to addressing diversity in food writing, these stories are turning our attention to the real issues.

Chocolate + Marrow: Hot Tamales | Journey to the Mississippi Delta

The Blog: Brooke’s blog Chocolate + Marrow features recipes that are inspired by her fried-foods upbringing in New Orleans, her vegetable-laden current life in Portland, Oregon, and the many other places she’s traveled and lived, making for bold yet playful seasonal ingredient combinations. As a longtime writer, Brooke values the art of the written word, but more than anything, she just enjoys entertaining people with good stories—from the journey towards finding heritage to her topsy-turvy relationship with whiskey; from the persistent pain of loss to her peculiar childhood collection of alligator heads—all the while, tying them to the recipes she shares.

The Blogger: In an earlier life, blogger Brooke Bass was an academic and sociologist. As much fun as it was to research and teach college students about gender, relationships, and the social construction of sexuality, Brooke yearned for a creative outlet to share the food she cooked, the stories she lived, and the photos she snapped along the way. Today she's a full-time food and travel writer, photographer, and recipe developer based in Portland, Oregon, where she spends most of her leisure time throwing balls for her chocolate lab, chugging water on airplanes, and trying not to kill her tomato plants.

Southern Soufflé: Comfort in Buttermilk Cake

The Blog: Erika Council was born and raised in the south, in North Carolina to be exact. She spent a few years in Louisiana and made the trek to Georgia, like so many others, after Katrina. Growing up, she learned to wash collards in the bath tub, saw moonshine distilled in old radiators, and experienced the art of biscuit-making at the ripe old age of four. Southern soul food is her specialty with fried chicken being her best, cornbread a close second, and lima beans her mortal enemy, so you won’t see those here. You will find plenty of cooking with cane syrup, marinading with bourbon and worshiping in the House of Cast Iron Skillets. And, of course, lots of biscuits.

The Blogger: In college, blogger Erika Council was hell on a hot plate and used to serve meals out of her dorm room, which earned her the nickname "Southern Soufflé." She currently resides in Atlanta, GA, and is a computer software nerd by day and an imaginary top chef on nights and weekends. Her grandmother is a southern cooking icon and owns a restaurant in North Carolina that has been open for 30 years. Everything about her, from her story to the food, is amazing. Erika is an avid hip hop fan, lover of cornbread, sweet tea and Bourbon.

Afroculinaria: Dear Sean, We Need to Talk

The Blog: Blogger Michael W. Twitty started Afroculinaria.com to document, honor, and recreate historic African, African Diaspora and African American foodways and explore with his readers their influence and legacy. He wanted to move the discussion about food, ethnicity, and identity beyond stereotypes and racial tropes into a conversation about healing, reconciliation, and cultural pride and empowerment. He didn’t want a food porn blog or a directory of how to’s; rather, he wanted a site that asked “Why is our food culture important?” and “What does this mean for all people?” Afroculinaria is here to understand our cooking as both a universal and intellectual experience.

The Blogger: Michael W. Twitty is a culinary historian and food writer from the Washington D.C. area. He blogs at Afroculinaria.com. He has appeared on Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern, Many Rivers to Cross with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, and has lectured to over 300 groups. He has served as a judge for the James Beard Awards and is a fellow with the Southern Foodways Alliance and TED. Southern Living named Twitty one of "Fifty People Changing the South.” HarperCollins will release Twitty’s The Cooking Gene, in 2017, tracing his ancestry through from Africa to America and from slavery to freedom.

Lottie + Doof: You're Boring

The Blog: Lottie + Doof was started in 2008 as a space to share recipes, cultural writing, and the wonders of the Midwest. Revolutions begin in the kitchen and we have a lot of work to do.

The Blogger: Tim Mazurek is a home cook, writer, feminist, and uncle. He lives and eats in Chicago.

Bottom of the Pot: Clinging to Freddy Mercury and a Pot of Rice

The Blog: Bottom of the Pot began as a simple journal where blogger Naz Deravian could share her Persian inspired recipes, comfort foods of her childhood that had been passed down for generations, in order to translate and adapt them to our modern American table. But she quickly discovered that if she listened closely there were many stories, sizzling and simmering at the “bottom of the pot,” yearning to be shared. The scents and spices informed the stories, and the stories informed the recipes in turn. Amazing experiences can unfold at the kitchen table. One dish and one story at a time.

The Blogger: Naz Deravian was born in Iran and grew up in Rome and Vancouver. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and 2 children. She loves to feed people and gather family and friends, old and new, around their crammed kitchen table. Her blog Bottom of the Pot was awarded the 2015 IACP Best Culinary Blog award. Her work has also been featured in The New York Times, and Condé Nast Traveler, among others. She is currently working on her debut cookbook (Flatiron Books, 2018). Occasionally, she steps away from her cutting board and rice pot and works as an actress.

Dallas Food: Mast Brothers, What Lies Behind the Beards

The Blog: This Dallas-based blog is well-known for its takedowns of chocolate companies, most recently Mast Brothers, but also Noka, a chocolate company that went out of business in 2011. The reporting is extensive (to say the least), and it often brings up some pretty interesting findings.

The Blogger: Scott Craig is the blogger behind Dallas Food blog. When asked how he got into chocolate, he responded, "Dark chocolate started worming its way into my life about a decade ago--not really as a conscious decision ('Hey, I think I'll eat a lot of expensive chocolate!'), but just through gradual upgrades as I became aware of or gained access to better chocolate than I'd previously eaten."

See all the finalists for the Blog Awards »

50 Amazing Articles and Essays about Food and Nutrition

The best essays about food and articles about food -- Great essays on food and articles on food


The Carnivore’s Dilemma by Robert Kunzig

Unhealthy. Nutritious. Cruel. Delicious. Unsustainable. All-American. In the beef debate there are so many sides

By Meat Alone by Calvin Trillin

A barbecue restaurant can only get better over time: many Texas barbecue fanatics have a strong belief in the beneficial properties of accumulated grease.

Carnal Knowledge by Bill Buford

How I became a Tuscan butcher.

The Modern Hunter-Gatherer by Michael Pollan

Walking with a loaded rifle in an unfamiliar forest bristling with the signs of your prey is thrilling. It’s embarrassing, but it is true.

What's the Most Delicious Thing You've Eaten?
by Bill Buford

On drinking blood, still warm after the slaughter


The Piscivore's Dilemma by Tim Zimmermann

Should I eat wild fish, farmed fish, or no fish at all?

Consider the Lobster By David Foster Wallace

A trip to the Maine Lobster Festival raises some unnerving questions about the relationship between people and animals.

If You Knew Sushi by Nick Tosches

A true connoisseur goes in search of the world’s best Sushi.

Dear Leader Dreams of Sushi by Adam Johnson

The humble sushi chef who became the Dear Leader's cook, confidant, and court jester.

To Die For by Adam Platt

The world’s most dangerous meal.


Twelve Easy Pieces by Jon Mooallem

Next to a banana or a grape, the apple is a daunting strongbox of a fruit, and even if you can break in, there’s no guarantee a given apple will eat as sweet as it looks

Why Your Supermarket Sells Only 5 Kinds of Apples by Rowan Jacobsen

One man's quest to bring back rare apples

The Call of the Wild Apple by Michael Pollan

At the back of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station's orchard stand several jumbled rows of the oddest apple trees you've ever seen...

Fruit of the Future by Dan Koeppel

Is the world headed for a banana revolution?

The Unfortunate Sex Life of the Banana by Matt Castle

The banana is a freakish and fragile genetic mutant.

The Fruit Detective by John Seabrook

Searching the Globe for the next Must-Eat Treat.


The Ketchup Conundrum by Malcolm Gladwell

Salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami; Heinz ketchup pushes all five of these primal buttons. How many things in the supermarket run the sensory spectrum the same way?

The Guiltless Pleasure by Rick Bragg

There are two kinds of people in this world. The people who will tell you with a straight face that sometimes they just forget to eat, and then, there are the rest of us

Anything to Make You Happy by Ottessa Moshfegh

My mother raised me to believe that mayonnaise was for idiots


The Notorious MSG by John Mahoney

The “umami” craze has turned a much-maligned and misunderstood food additive into an object of obsession for the world’s most innovative chefs

Stone Soup By Elizabeth Kolbert

How the Paleolithic life style got trendy

The Last Meal by Michael Paterniti

"A two-ounce songbird. A lemon-sized tumor. An imperial appetite for death, flesh, and the immortal gesture. It was time for dinner"

Local Bounty by Calvin Trillin

The best takeout in New York and San Francisco

Speaking of Soup by Calvin Trillin

The culinary approach to Spanish


Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

An economic and social history of the mineral we can't live without.

Oranges by John McPhee

A beautiful narrative report from Florida's orange groves.

See also...

30 Great Articles about Health and Medicine

The best writing about staying healthy, medicine and disease


Unhappy Meals by Michael Pollan

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be healthy

The Vitamin Myth by Paul Offit

Why we think we need supplements


What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie? by Gary Taubes

The American medical establishment spent 30 years ridiculing Robert Atkins, accusing him of quackery and fraud, only to discover that the unrepentant Atkins was right all along

How Junk Food Can End Obesity by David H. Freedman

Demonizing processed food may be dooming many to obesity and disease. Could embracing the drive-thru make us all healthier?

Fat Factors by Robin Marantz Henig

In the 30-plus years that Richard Atkinson has been studying obesity, he has always maintained that overeating doesn’t really explain it all...

Why Are We So Fat? by Elizabeth Kolbert

Men are now on average seventeen pounds heavier than they were in the late seventies, and for women that figure is even higher.Why?

The Pima Paradox by Malcolm Gladwell

Can we learn how to lose weight from the world's fatest people?

The Obesity Era by David Berreby

Is weight gain a personal issue or a global phenomenon?


Is Sugar Toxic? by Gary Taubes

Is our excessive consumption of sugar is the primary reason that the numbers of obese and diabetic Americans have skyrocketed in the past 30 years?

Being Happy With Sugar by James Hamblin

Popular media are full of claims that sugar is toxic. And there’s intense disagreement about recommendations to replace table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup with “natural” sweeteners like agave nectar or fruit juice. What to make of it all?

The Sugar Conspiracy by Ian Leslie

In 1972, a British scientist sounded the alarm that sugar – and not fat – was the greatest danger to our health. But his findings were ridiculed and his reputation ruined. How did the world’s top nutrition scientists get it so wrong for so long?


The Peanut Puzzle by Jerome Groopman

Could the conventional wisdom on children and allergies be wrong?

Against the Grain by Michael Specter

Should we go gluten free?

The Future of Food

The End of Food by Lizzie Widdicombe

Has a tech entrepreneur come up with a product to replace our meals?

Test-Tube Burgers by Michael Specter

How long before you can eat meat that was made in a lab?

Will Frankenfood Save the Planet?
by Jonathan Rauch

Over the next half century genetic engineering could feed humanity and solve a raft of environmental ills...

The Vegan Carnivore? by Julian Baggini

It's made in a lab, no factory farms and no killing, but it's still meat. Looks like we'll need a whole new food ethics

The Food Industry

The Taste Makers by Raffi Khatchadourian

This trip to the heart of the flavour industry is essential reading for anyone who wants to know how modern food gets its taste

Bakeoff by Malcolm Gladwell

How to create the perfect cookie

The Trouble with Fries by Malcolm Gladwell

Fast food is killing us. Can it be fixed?

The Conching Rooms by John McPhee

Chocolate, far as the eye can see. Viscous, undulating, lukewarm chocolate, viscidized, undulated by the slurping friction of granite rollers rolling through the chocolate over crenellated granite beds at the bottoms of the pools

The Perfect Milk Machine by Alexis Madrigal

How Big Data Transformed the Dairy Industry

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