Thanks to the glorious Maria Yagoda for her story “8 Things Someone with Anxiety Wants You to Know” on People.com
Like millions of Americans, writer and Extra Crispy editor Kat Kinsman suffers from anxiety. In the first chapter of her new book, Hi Anxiety: Life with a Bad Case of the Nerves, Kinsman recounts the moments in kindergarten when she first realized she was … “nervous.” When asked to read a passage in front of the class, she froze, biting her lips and losing control of her hands, which trembled against her will. For the rest of her life, Kinsman would be grappled with panic attacks, self-doubt, depression and the not-so-basic facets of being a human: Leaving the house. Maintaining relationships. Getting through crowds. Surviving the holidays.
Kinsman spoke with PEOPLE about what she wants people to know about anxiety, and the reality of living with it.
1. You can’t always ‘see’ it.
“You won’t necessarily see it in somebody. It’s not just like somebody sitting there acting nervous and biting their fingernails. If you’ve suffered from this your whole life, you know how to mask it. You can have somebody standing in front of you having a panic attack, and you might not know it. People wouldn’t necessarily ever think I was an anxious person until I told them. I was like, ‘No, I actually had a panic attack that lasted several hours yesterday.’”
Kat Kinsman is the Editor of Tasting Table and the author of the upcoming book – Hi, Anxiety – that’s coming out in April. She shares her own history with overcoming anxiety as a New York food writer, and hosts Jacqueline and Ben chime in with how anxiety has affected their dating and dining lives on this episode of Love Bites.
Take a look through Kat Kinsman’s writings, food-related or not, and you’ll quickly see that when it comes to voice, she’s engaging, interesting and makes you want to keep reading. As a writer (her first book, Hi, Anxiety, comes out in 2016) and editor (she’s the editor-at-large and former editor-in-chief of Tasting Table), she can offer you expert insight into how to hone your own unique voice.
Whether you’re new to the food blogging world or looking to sharpen your writing skills, there’s plenty to learn from Kat at #BlogHerFood15, where she’s speaking on the panel Capturing Your Own Voice.
Here, she gave us a glimpse of what to expect from her, with advice on writing, blogging, failing and “embracing your inner chumpitude.” Plus, you’ll learn the really crucial things, like her favorite dessert (spoiler: it’s a cocktail), how she pairs kale with cheese grits and biscuits, and the best dinner she’s ever eaten. Because when you’re a food blogger, those things matter, too.
My pal and former colleague Lizzie O’Leary was kind enough to have me on her show, Weekend Marketplace, to chat about the rise in food adventure tourism. Then we ate dried sardines together. (My bit starts around 17:55.)
As the editor-in-chief of Tasting Table, Kat Kinsman — like most fortunate food journalists — has a job that entails eating a lot of excellent meals. (Before TT, she worked as the managing editor of CNN’s Eatocracy.) And so this week, Kinsman treated a hard-working colleague to lunch at Babbo, hosted a dinner with Hugh Acheson, and traveled to Chicago for the James Beard Awards, where she stopped by Avec, Big Star, and a whole lot of other restaurants, all within a span of two days. Even when a server called her order “aggressive,” she didn’t slow down.
YOU HAVE AN MFA IN METALSMITHING. FIRST OF ALL, THAT’S AWESOME. BUT SECOND, HOW DID YOU END UP IN A CAREER AS A FOOD WRITER?
Thank you! When the apocalypse comes, I can forge weapons and tools for people. I’ve had a really strange career path that somehow all led up to this. I moved to New York City thinking I was going to be a seeeerious arrrrrtiste, and worked for a billion different established artists for a while before realizing that I’d stopped making any work of my own. Then I was the office manager for a psychiatrist and a graphic design firm because I was scared to make any work of my own. Then I got mugged on my doorstep by seven guys and thought, “Screw fear.” I worked as an art director for a few publications (CitySearch, Maxim Online, FHM Online) and skulked around the edges making sure that writing was part of the gig. I took a multi-year detour to the product and advertising side and when I had a chance to take on a summer grilling editor job at AOL, I grabbed it and never looked back.
More from an interview I did with the smashing folks at Lux & Concord
FBNY: What advice would you give people who want to go into food writing or food media in general?
Kinsman: Ask yourself what’s the story only you can tell, and really figure out what your point of view is going to be and bring that to as many pieces as you possibly can. Don’t be afraid to let you shine through. All the food writers I read are people who, I can start reading a piece, not even see the byline and know whose it is and that’s because they let a little bit of themselves into their writing without making the story about themselves necessarily. And that only comes from working really, really, really hard and trusting what you have to say.
And be a utility player. Be as flexible as humanly possibly. You need me to go profile this chef? Yes, of course I’ll go do that. You need me to call around to all of these different restaurants and see if they have a kale salad on the menu? Yes, go ahead and do that. Nobody can be above doing anything. So long as you can kind of do both of those parts, be a generalist and be specific, they’re going to find a place for you, somewhere.
More from my interview with the dandy Corinne Grinapol at AdWeek
Can bar food stand up to large plates? Do restaurants make inferior cocktails? Find out on a brand new episode of PUNCH Radio! Hosts Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau are joined by Tasting Table Editor-in-Chief Kat Kinsman and PUNCH contributor Regan Hofmann. Tune in for an insightful conversation on the current state of bar food and restaurant cocktails.
Melissa Clark: Why has food become so important to people in the media? What are they looking for?
Kat Kinsman: It’s the only subject that you can cover that absolutely every single person has something to do with. Everybody eats. Not everybody is fetish-y about it, and that’s OK.
I do a little game with myself if I’m traveling. I try to talk to three different people who I’ve never met before. The inroad is always food. Somebody has eaten today. Somebody is thinking about where they’re going to eat. Everybody has a stake in the game.