Interview with Deborah S. Schapiro, editor of the Vermont publication Edible Green Mountains.
Prompt: Deborah Schapiro actually recommended two Write The Book Prompts for listeners.
1) Your first prompt this week has to do with recipes. Look at recipes and notice how they're written. You can look in cookbooks, magazines, your own index card file. Notice actual differences in recipes' structure and try to understand what the cooks who wrote them were focused on: ease of use, quick communication, tips for success? Did your grandmother guess at average quantities, or did she keep to very specific measurements? Does a certain famous chef suggest where you might find little-known ingredients? Does your favorite cookbook offer variations or keep to a set script? Some recipes are copied down as simple paragraphs, with ingredients embedded in the text. In others, ingredients are offered up front. Some are written in two columns, with ingredients on the left and instructions on the right. Edible Green Mountains delineates each step with a new paragraph indent, in hopes of keeping things simple.
After you study a few recipes, write a scene or a poem that attempts to emulate something about a recipe you've found. Then write it again, using another style of recipe for inspiration. What differs in your final products? Which do you prefer and why?
2) The second prompt suggested by Deborah also has two parts. First, consider a food memory. When Deborah was small, she would occasionally come home from school to find her mother in the kitchen making a Hungarian biscotti-like cookie. She recalls the warming scent of cinnamon, the crunch of cinnamon and sugar on top of the finished cookies. The glass of milk. All of these sensory memories evoke strong emotions for her as she thinks back.
Once you've identified a food memory of your own, consider a food-related poem or scene that moved you in a work of literature. Blueberries, by Robert Frost. Proust's famous madeleines. Just about every chapter in Like Water For Chocolate. Why did the scene or poem affect you as it did? If you were to try and write a food scene or poem of your own, what might you have learned from this work of literature that would help you? Now try to write about your food memory.
Good luck with these exercises and please listen next week for another.
Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)