I recently signed up for a food writing class and it’s been a blast! Lately I’ve been trying to spice up my writing and attack the whole process from a different angle which is why I’ve specifically signed up for the class. Here is an excerpt of the class introduction on the QWF (Quebec writer’s federation) site:
“But it isn’t just what’s on our plates that we write about when we write about food. As the famous American food writer M.F.K. Fisher once wrote: “It seems to me 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 it is all one.”
As a first generation immigrant, food is a way for me to carry a bit of my culture’s ADN with me wherever I go and being able to hopefully pass some of it down to my children some day. I am Haitian and the surest way to kill me is to prevent me from eating rice or all sort of grain for that matter. You do that and you’ll have my death on your conscience :). I was raised on grains, healthy grains that is. I have been eating that stuff since I was a baby! In fact, in Haiti, we don’t really have food specifically dedicated to babies, except for the occasional Gerber baby pot which is not used that often. Our version of baby food is usually a mash version of adult food except that it’s packed with a lot more food designed to fortify and nourish like spinach, carrots, bananas, beans, plantains, etc.,. All of this is introduced as soon as the doctor allows solid food.
“Food is not just about fuel and sustenance. It’s about people and places and the history behind those people and places. It’s about a mood, a specific time and place coupled with a specific emotion…”
Throughout the class, one question that keeps coming up time and time again is: What makes for a happy, satisfied and memorable meal? Is it the people we share it with? the emotions and memories it evokes long after the experience is gone? Is it a specific time and place? I am inclined to think it is all of the above. Food can carry so much memories, so much meaning fueled with faces and places and emotions. In class, we are encouraged to use all of our senses when writing a piece of food review.
Our third class was about food photography. For this class, our teacher prepared a tray full of all kinds of sins worthy of a game of throne gathering. Here is a pic below. It is not one of my best because we were pressed for time and my phone was dying:
Mood: “A lazy Friday night in with sex on the menu and possibly a few episodes of Game of thrones…”
Taste: “This bread right here tasted like the first day of Spring after a long harsh winter…” and yes I am on a low-carb diet 🙂
I came to this class to better my writing and instead it’s been like a trip down memory lane and a reminder of my roots. Our exchange in class makes me realize food is one of the few small pleasures we can all enjoy to some degree. A way to make life more full and happy. Since starting the class, I try to be more appreciative of what I eat and enjoy it a bit more more and not rush it. I am also happy to report writing scenes demanding a great deal of description in my novel has gotten a lot better and easier. I now feel like I have the right tools to progress in the right direction.
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