Taste: The Infographic Book of Food
Accessible and authoritative, it covers everything you need to know about food, from its origins to consumption, weird and wonderful traditions, mealtimes and trends, as well as startling, challenging and unusual foodie facts.
What were the main challenges involved in that process? And how did you overcome them?
Balancing my workload was very difficult – it meant I had no life for a good six months, and had to get up early a lot which doesn’t come naturally for me – but I did it! It was also hard, as a writer, to keep the text short and snappy. I naturally wanted to write a lot, and convey as many of these weird and wonderful facts, and useful tips as I could but obviously I had to keep in mind this was an infographic book and the illustrations were key!
You mention in the intro to the book that the experience has been a ‘crash course’ in a subject you thought you knew pretty well – can you elaborate on how you started researching the book?
The deadlines were pretty strict on the book, too, sadly, as it needed to be translated for all of the other editions (French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, etc) in time for Christmas, and I had to balance it with a full-time job as editor of two food magazines at the time. So I had to be good at sticking to the deadlines or else I’d be in big trouble! I tackled one subject at a time and researched extensively to come up with an angle that would work and be interesting as an infographic. Some came naturally, like the egg flow diagram, others took a bit more work! It takes a surprisingly long time to write that little on such big subjects, and to make it internationally relevant/true made it even more difficult.
One of the things that sticks out in the book is your humour and personality which makes the content very accessible, fun and almost bite-sized – was this the intention from the beginning or did it evolve naturally?
My first ever editor told me that ‘the reader doesn’t care about you’, and I still stick by that today, but I think that food can sometimes get very serious and worthy and by adding my personality to the text I hope I did make it that bit more accessible and fun. And, really, who doesn’t like a giggle?
At what point did you begin the mammoth task of deciding which content was to be included, and working with Vicki to distill it into engaging visuals?
Melissa, the commissioning editor for Taste, was great at keeping Vicki and I on track and helping us with ideas if we were stuck on how to interpret certain pieces of information.
Writing ‘Taste’ has just made me fall in love with food all over again.
Do you have a favourite ‘fact’ or two from the book? What was the most bizarre or interesting fact you discovered during your research?
I got really into reading about the properties of blood – very cool that you can make blood meringues. But there’s always so much more to discover – that’s the brilliant thing about food. We’re currently developing a recipe for chickpea water meringues at olive magazine, for example.
How has there experience shaped your views on food overall? Have you made any changes with how you shop/ source your own food?
I was pretty clued up on food already and have always taken a common sense approach to shopping and sourcing. If I get the chance to go to a farmers’ market or local greengrocer I always will – mostly because they normally have the best produce, you can talk it through with the grower or supplier because they are the experts, and it’s more of an experience. If I’m working till 9pm in the office though, I’ll be in the supermarket grabbing a pizza or something quick and easy! Overall, Taste has just made me fall in love with food and drink even more.