Inspired by food: Editor's Notes, November 2002
Published: September 19, 2002
|With Thanksgiving rushing toward us, food is on my mind. Food memories, like sounds (cicadas in August) or fragrances (lilacs in May), can transport you to another time or place. So intricately intertwined with life are these associations that they provide a cornucopia of material for writers. Think about past Thanksgivings. Pick a dish you like, or pretend to like, and write all the associations you have with it. You may be surprised at the vivid memories and depth of emotion this exercise releases.|
New Yorker writer Jane Kramer makes a strong connection between cooking and writing in her superb essay "The Reporter's Kitchen" (Aug. 19 and 26, 2002), in which she describes the foods she associates with assignments in far away, sometimes dangerous, places. Some writers take walks or go swimming to get the words flowing. Kramer does her writing while standing over a stove, where she lets her thoughts simmer. The cooking that helps her writing, she says, is "the kind of cooking where you take control of your ingredients so that whatever it is you're making doesn't run away with you, the way words can run away with you in a muddled or unruly sentence. Cooking like that--nudging my disordered thoughts into the stately measure of, say, a good risotto simmering slowly in a homemade broth--gives me confidence and at least the illusion of clarity."
Most of us can relate to the muddle of personal dynamics--whether failures or unexpected pleasures--that are stirred up in the kitchen and at the table.
Nora Ephron's Heartburn and Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate feast on food metaphors. Elizabeth Berg includes scrumptious recipes along with writing instruction in Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing. And it's no fluke that food memoirs, such as Ruth Reichl's Comfort Me With Apples, resonate deeply with readers. (In her reflections on page 74, Reichl admits that for her, cooking is easier than writing.)
From tips on writing about food (page 44) to science-fiction basics (page 36) to ideas on writing about love (page 41), this issue offers you a full menu of articles to nourish your writer's soul.
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