A Mouthful of Words

September 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Good, even great, writing carries with it the commonality of making you feel like you’re experiencing/seeing/tasting/living along with the person who penned the words. With food writing, a great description can either make you hungry or make you cringe (if it’s a “Bizarre Foods”-type situation). I remember reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books when I was a kid and anytime she described the food that her family made or what they canned for the winter or the latest animal Pa killed for supper, I could see it, all spread out before me if I closed my eyes.

Lately I’ve been reminded of the beginning to M.F.K. Fisher’s The Gastronomical Me. It’s only one sentence, but evokes a whole mood. The words she uses aren’t all that remarkable, but they pile up on each other like an artist’s brushstrokes, to reveal an image that is wholly inviting to me. And, it makes me wish I had such a definite, almost tactile food memory. Maybe one will come to me.

“The first thing I remember tasting and then wanting to taste again is the grayish-pink fuzz my grandmother skimmed from a spitting kettle of strawberry jam.” M.F.K. Fisher

I don’t know if that brings an immediate image to anyone else’s mind, but it does to me. I can almost feel that little girl about to burn her tongue. And, “fuzz” is just the perfect word here. Plus. I really wish I had a spoonful of the same stuff right now.

I’d like to start sharing some of the great food prose I come across, so this will serve as my first step in that direction.


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