The Intersection of Food and Writing

People ask me: Why do you write about food, and eating, and drinking? Why don't you write about the struggle for power and security and about love, the way others do?

They ask it accusingly, as if I were somehow gross, unfaithful to the honor of my craft.

The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it...and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied...and it is all one.

M.F.K. Fisher, The Gastronomical Me

It's hard for me to write my blog when I'm not in my space. I guess I like the ritual of my normal morning, me sitting at my desk a cup of coffee in my hand, surrounded by the stuff/husband/dog that I love.

In a workshop this morning we wrote lists. The directions weren't clearly defined...just write a list of things. My mind immediately went to my desk/office/writing space...the monogrammed hard green vintage suitcase that holds my photographs, photographs that will most likely never be placed in an album, the silver sugar holder filled with brightly colored paper clips, the tiny elf with a striped shirt whose outreached hand holds three cards, bought in the Jewish ghetto of Paris, my ceramic collection of pumpkins and the miniature porcelain pumpkin with the golden hinge that holds nothing but a word at the bottom of its shiny inside. And then of course my list transformed to a story about food.. The lunch at Chez Hanna. I bought the elf figurine right before we found the falafel restaurant. Our pilgrimage to Paris didn't start with the Eiffel Tower or The Louvre but to eat at the best falafel place in Paris. It was the same in Italy, we would find the best gelato in Florence. Sometimes this preoccupation with food, meals, restaurants can be frustrating. Surely I can write about something else, but inevitably my thoughts turn to food. What will we or I eat next? This semester my critical essay will be around the subject of food in poetry and literature. I hesitated to do this at first, maybe I should broaden my horizons but as M.F.K. Fisher says "I am really writing about love."

Today, taking the writing prompt from this morning's workshop write a list. I think the prompt is purposely vague. Set the timer for 10 minutes and write a list. Then take one item from your list and add a place, using descriptive language and engaging all of your senses. See how far this one item from the list can take you. If there is no connection add another item from your list. Can you completely focus on detail? Pay close attention to the items on your list. What are the commonalities and the differences? Now get back to work!

Lovingly,

The Writing Nag