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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Journalism plays an increasing part in determining our ways of eating. Once the written word began to supplement the spoken, and printed text that written out by hand, so communication broadened to take in books and newspapers. As printing technology improved, so did the reach of the daily and periodical press. For all the competition from broadcasting and electronic delivery, it has remained central to the dissemination of information.

Food, however, was a johnny-come-lately topic in most periodicals, although there were two sectors where it might have always appeared of central importance: women’s magazines and those devoted to the catering trade and associated professional groups. With regard to the first, it seemed at the outset that food was the least, not the most important subject. In England, the Ladies Mercury of 1693, or Eliza Haywood’s Female Spectator of 1744–6, were preoccupied with morals and manners, education and fashion, rather than cookery. This was not to change, with notable exceptions, until the efflorescence of periodicals in the 1850s.