Black’s award was for “Snob Appeal. Won’t Someone Knock Heirloom Tomatoes off their Pedestal?” Black writes, “The best tomato I ate last summer was not an heirloom tomato. If those don’t seem like fighting words, then clearly you do not take tomatoes seriously.” She adds, “‘Heirloom’ is not synonymous with ‘good.’ The key to a great tomato is how it is grown.”
T. Susan Chang’s award was for “Gather Ye Squash Blossoms While Ye May,” a feature on National Public Radio’s website, www.npr.org. The article details the handling and cooking of squash blossoms that “on the vine… unfurl like a Kleenex crumpling in reverse.” Chang writes that picking the blossoms is “a highly effective form of zucchini birth control.”
About LDEI’s 2010 M.F.K. Fisher Awards
M.F.K. Fisher, one of America’s finest food writers, was described by the poet W.H. Auden as the best prose writer of her time. She wrote more than 20 books before her death in 1992.
The 2010 contest in her memory drew 78 entries. “This is the best contest I’ve ever judged. Very difficult,” a veteran food editor and judge commented. “All three of the winning stories are right in sync with the spirit of M.F.K.,” noted another judge.
New to this year’s competition was the inclusion of works from Internet websites and blogs. Judges did not know the source of the entries, which included 24 stories from newspapers, 22 articles from magazines, 15 excerpts from books and 14 from the Internet.
Representing seven states, the eight judges are food editors at Better Homes and Gardens Magazine (Iowa), Houston Chronicle, New Orleans Times Picayune, Desert News (Salt Lake City), San Francisco Chronicle, and Indianapolis Star. A writing coach from Charlottesville, Va., and a newspaper columnist also judged. None of the judges was a member of LDEI. The 2010 M.F.K. Fisher Awards chair was CiCi Williamson, of LDEI.
To read more about the winners and the prize-winning articles, go to www.ldei.org
Profile: Jane Black, Second Prize Winner
“As a former judge of LDEI’s M.F.K. Fisher Award (in 2008), I know how stiff the competition is. So it is an honor to be one of the winners,” said Jane Black. “I was also thrilled to win for an essay, a blend of personal experience and real reporting, which I think can be so effective when writing about food.”
Jane is a food writer at The Washington Post where she covers food politics, trends and sustainability issues. Her reporting has taken her from Immokalee, Fla., where she wrote about tomato pickers’ struggle for better working conditions, to Monterey Bay, where she attended a “secret meeting” of the “Sardinistas,” a group of environmentalists who advocate the culinary joys of small, sustainable fish.
Black began her career as a business and political reporter. In 2003, she switched directions and attended culinary school in London. Before moving to Washington, she served as food editor at Boston Magazine. Jane’s writing has received many awards including two James Beard Awards for The Washington Post Food section. Her work has also been featured in the collections of Best Food Writing in 2008 and 2009.
Profile: T. Susan Chang, Third Prize Winner
“I’m more pleased than I can say to be recognized by Les Dames d’Escoffier and the judges for third prize in the M.F.K. Fisher Award,” said T. Susan Chang. “I think that when we write about food, we share something both intimate and exposed. I don’t know if it’s hard for everybody, but it’s certainly hard for me. In my experience the food writer lives, absurdly, by the following set of axioms: ‘We think, therefore we are. We think about what we eat. Therefore, we are what we eat.’
“It’s the easiest thing in the world to fall victim to a jaded palate and start over-intellectualizing the act of eating. What I always love about M.F.K. Fisher is that she knew you could fall for what was right there on the plate before you. You could fall simply and forever, and you could live to tell about it. I never dreamed I would have the chance to share just a bit in her legacy. Thank you so much for giving me that chance.”
Chang has been a food writer since 2000, when she first began writing for the Boston Globe. Prior to that, she had worked in academic publishing as an acquisitions editor specializing in literary studies.
Currently, Chang is a frequent contributor to the Kitchen Window series on NPR, where she also appears twice yearly with a comprehensive list of seasonal cookbook recommendations. She is the regular cookbook reviewer for the Boston Globe, where her reviews appear about once a month. At the cookbook indexing website www.eatyourbooks.com, Susan is the host of the Community page and resident cookbook reviewer. She’s also the cookbook reviewer for AOL’s new website, Kitchen Daily. Links to her newest pieces can be found at www.tsusanchang.com, along with a complete list of publications.
In 2004, Chang was named a Food and Society Policy Fellow by the Kellogg Foundation and began work advocating for food sustainability. During her fellowship, she wrote federally mandated wellness policies for her regional school district and started a teaching garden at her children’s elementary school. She continues to advocate for kids’ nutrition and bringing fresh, local foods to the school lunchroom. Susan lives in western Massachusetts with her husband and her two children. She enjoys gardening and sewing, and is excessively fond of apples.