hungry hungry hippos

I just finished MFK Fischer’s An Alphabet for Gourmets, which I would read nightly before bed over the past week. I got it some years ago from a pile of giveaway books. Something told me “you should take this” and so it sat on my bookshelf ever since. I’m not sure why I finally picked it up to read last week. I had just finished another book and wanted something to drift myself off to sleep.

The book I’d finished was a page-turner that promised more than it delivered. I won’t name names, but it ended up being a waste of time. I got it at the Dollar Tree, so maybe I should have expected a bad time? I don’t know how books end up there, but I can’t imagine it’s because they’re selling out so fast. I was hoping it would be a McDonalds type read: not good, but enjoyable. Bad writing (yes, I know that’s elitist and rich of lil’ ol’ me!), but a plot that you gobble down nonetheless.

I’m into that type of writing, actually. I have a tendency in my own writing to focus too much on the tone, imagery, all that “I have a creative writing degree” shit instead of an actually enjoyable plot. So, I like to read books that get me turning the page out of anticipation. I want to learn to capture that energy.

Well, Fischer’s book isn’t exactly that. It’s full of food-related essays, and I would be lying if I said the writing wasn’t pretentious at times. And it was written in the 1940s, so a lot of the cultural commentary went over my head. And a lot of the food was confusing to me. I guess I didn’t realize how much has changed, culinarily. Or maybe I would have never been in the same echelon as Fischer. I think she was a rich kid.

Still, I really enjoyed the book. It had exactly what I wasn’t looking for: thoughtful, meandering prose. What I enjoyed, however, was the way food was an entry point for memoir and exploring the joys of being a person. So, with that in mind, I invite you to explore food in your writing this week.

prompt #51:

Start that timer for five minutes and let yourself go off into memories of food. Maybe a favorite meal from childhood, a particularly memorable meal, or an item of food that you regret eating. The beauty of “food” as a jumping off point is that it can take you infinite directions. I don’t want to provide too much structure because I’d love to see how creative you can get (this is also me saying please send me your pieces to share in our next newsletter!).

After five minutes are up, you can review what you’ve written. Maybe the writing process itself unlocked some creativity for you. Or maybe you want to shape what you’ve written into a poem, song, story, essay, or something else. No matter how you’re feeling, I hope you enjoy the process.

ashley’s piece:

Gwendolyn had ordered a cake. It was her birthday, after all, and what do you eat on birthdays but cake? They’d packaged it up behind the counter, all secretive and special, and she’d practically buzzed with anticipation. This was supposed to be the best bakery in three towns. When Angie had asked her what her birthday plans were earlier that day, she’d swooned when Gwen said she’d be stopping by the bakery.

“My sister used them for my nephew’s party last month. You won’t need to eat for a week!” Gwen just smiled.

When she got home, Gwendolyn set herself a pretty little seat at her kitchen countertop: lavender placemat, creamy white china, bright coupe filled with shimmering bubbly, and a hot pink candle ready to be set aflame.

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