The TRE Quiz: Were You Destined to Become a Food Writer? | No category

The TRE Quiz: Were You Destined to Become a Food Writer?

By Friday, August 15, 2014 Permalink

by Elatia Harris

Below you will find a spectrum of behaviors that are food writer markers in early life, as well as some behaviors that do not strongly associate to food writing. Say yes to all that apply. Attach a zero to behaviors that do not resonate with you. Each entry below, a. through e., is is worth points in ascending order — a. is 1, b. is 2, c. is 3, d. is 4, and e. is 5. So, the most you could accumulate for each division — (1,), (2.) and (3.) — is 15 points, for a total score of 45. My research and experience tell me that scoring higher than 40 makes you, hopelessly, a food writer. See that you think!

(1.) In childhood under 10, you

(a.) Ate what you were given, mainly, but thought over the texture pretty hard.

(b.) Wondered about the food in foreign countries. Was it better? Could you cook it just fine without going there?

(c.) Read carefully, rather than skipped over, the bits about food in your usual reading matter.

(d.) Sniffed from spice jars.

(e.) Were asked not to complain about the food, ever, even though you weren’t complaining, exactly. You were trying to help.

(2.) In early adolescence, you

(a.) Read and wrote well ahead of your grade level, regardless of other academic aptitudes.

(b.) Cooked with adults, for lack of interested peers. Cooked to get adults out of the kitchen.

(c.) Started feeling passionate about certain writers: they were writing for YOU.

(d.) Put out at least two issues of a newsletter about the food at school and at hangouts.

(e.) Sniffed wine, tried to taste it, daydreamed a lot, wanted to be older — at least 16.

(3.) Mid-adolescence through age 21, you

(a.) Worked to expand your food vocabulary because there were food sensations you experienced but had no words for.

(b.) Considered “year abroad” programs based on the food that might be involved.

(c.) Used more of your available funds to eat well than other students did, cut back elsewhere to afford it.

(d.) Sniffed fragrances, liked satin, drank wine.

(e.) Made lists of destination restaurants, and other things to experience for the sake of writing about them.

 

Elatia Harris is a writer and consulting editor in Cambridge, Mass. She is most often at work on books and articles about food, wine and travel. Contact her at elatiaharrisATgmailDOTcom or via text at 617-599-7159.

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Food Writing Prompts: Your Own Desk is a Prompt

By Wednesday, August 13, 2014 Permalink

by Elatia Harris

So many great writers need their writing rooms to meet precise specs. E.B. White preferred a rough-hewn, minimalist space, with nothing but a typewriter. Virginia Woolf needed lots of green around her, and took some serious kidding about it from her sister. I have noticed that a writing room is almost never gender-neutral, even when the writer is going for a low-key, orderly space that gives little away. There’s something I need, that I’ll give up things I like to get: a window. Looking at photos like the National Trust photo above, of Vita Sackville-West’s writing table at Sissinghurst, I always notice — does the writing table face a window, or a wall?

Which leads me to wonder — how much of a writing prompt is your desk itself? It has four corners, like the ancient Chinese idea of the Universe. Within that space, you can put anything you have that helps. When you look up from your work, are you still seeing with the mind’s eye? What could you arrange to see, physically, that would give you the most of what you needed to keep writing?

 

Elatia Harris is a writer and consulting editor in Cambridge, Mass. She is most often at work on books and articles about food, wine and travel. Contact her at elatiaharrisATgmailDOTcom or via text at 617-599-7159.

 

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Food Writing Prompts: A Brighter Kitchen

By Saturday, August 2, 2014 Permalink

by Elatia Harris

We value a bright kitchen for many reasons — ventilation, ease of cleaning, the unimpeded visibility of the food we prepare, and not least, the maintenance of the mood of the cook. The cook is almost always the owner of the kitchen, now. In a centuries-old kitchen, however, like this one at Townend in the UK (National Trust Photo), that was not the case. There were paid workers who lacked for light and fresh air, in the kitchen all day and into the night. In these circumstances, even a tiny slice of light makes a big difference. One candle, reflected in a glass bowl full of water. It was called a light enhancer, and it could bring deep joy.

 

Elatia Harris is a writer and consulting editor in Cambridge, Mass. She is most often at work on books and articles about food, wine and travel. Contact her at elatiaharrisATgmailDOTcom or via text at 617-599-7159.

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