We went to hear from a panel of professional food writers. We went to meet and eat. We went to share what we know about the world of food writing. And guess what? Even the experts had never met anyone who writes poems about food. Nor had they heard of my favorite food fiction. I had something to offer! I even called myself a food poet, a little stretch, but with a poetry book titled The Great Hunger, I felt justified. And immediately someone said, "I didn't know there was such a genre." So now I'm a genre unto myself. Try putting that on a resume or CV.
Actually, I don't own the genre. There's Diane Wakoski's The Butcher's Apron and Carolyn Jennings' Hunger Speaks, and a periodical called Alimentum which is full of food poems. As for culinary fiction, I think that even Janet Evanovich could be stirred into this mix, given the amount of food consumed in each of the Stephanie Plum novels. Diane Mott Davidson is Colorado's own best selling food novelist. I could go on and on, but instead in a couple of days I'll post a list of foodie fiction and poetry for you to download.
Meanwhile, how do we get into these sorting and labeling situations? Shorthand, I suppose. It's easier to identify someone by her genre than to get to know her. Then someone else asked me to tell her in thirty words or less what I do. ("Let me count the ways.") Apparently, the correct thirty words came out of my mouth between bites of grilled chicken Caesar salad because she smiled and nodded. Now she can tell her friends that she sat next to a food poet whose interest is in our relationships with food. I've been pared down to a sidebar.