Sheltered in the blog sphere, I hadn’t ever considered the idea that reading about food could exist in formats aside from blogs, cook books, and the like, until finding a zine that was the happy medium between the formats I knew. The zine, titled “Rice & Beans,” explored Mexican culture influences on food, provided recipes for different Mexican dishes, and even included a meme of sorts.
The zine read a lot like my blog – how-to’s, some jokes, and tons of photos for visual accompaniment. It made me think of what constitutes the difference between a blog, existing solely on the Internet, and a zine, existing solely on paper. At first glance, not much is different. A lot is the same, aside from the glaringly obvious differences like the cross-outs from mistakes made on a typewriter and the very copy-and-paste (as literal as it gets, like put a photo in a copy machine and use some Elmer’s to attach to the page) style presentation. There’s still the self-intrusion from the authors, giving opinions and making the product personal, and the dissemination of this story that means something to someone and hopefully someone else.
From reading this zine, I learned a lot. I had said in class once that I was interested in learning the cuisine of a culture separate from mine. Included within the pages of the pamphlet were recipes for roasted tomatillo salsa and Mexican cole slaw, both of which continue to make my mouth water every time I revisit the recipe, and inspire me to possibly recreate.
This zine also educated me on the influence culture has on cuisine and the authors’ favorite recipes as people who grew up with Mexican influence, but don’t claim to know everything.
This reminds me a lot about how I write – I’m no ice cream expert, don’t claim to be, but I am an ice cream ally, if I must.
In conjunction with the similarity in approach, the way the content was written is so me. It’s hard to write about food without either lecturing or writing with language too flowery and vague. It was interesting to read someone also with just as much knowledge as me on writing about food try to find that balance as well. The authors and I also share some similar beliefs in burritos.
After reading through the zine, it became clear that content like this could be written in any format. I happen to express my fanaticism with food on a WordPress site, while others choose the route of typewritten and photocopied work. It reminds me a lot of a home ec project I would have created in middle school, but it also has the factor of mild professionalism. This is also sometimes where I feel my blog falls on the spectrum of Proper Journalism.
The best part about zines, much like blogs, is that its purpose, format, and content guidelines are hard to define. Of the four zines I pulled from the shelves to investigate, not one was the same at all. They all covered the topic of food, sure, but they all chose different ways to express this topic – and if they were serialized, it would almost be like individual blog posts, creating a fully functioning blog. One zine I read was poetry from a baker’s perspective working in a bakery. Another, a compilation of “dirty” recipes. This, introspection on an experience with a burrito (sound familiar?) and recipes for others’ consumption (also familiar).
That being said, like one of the authors exclaimed at the end of the aforementioned recipe for Mexican cole slaw, as long as the topic you’re writing about is something you are interested in, all there is left to do is: