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Keeping it real


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#1 mamster

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Posted 28 May 2003 - 09:06 AM

Tom--

How do you keep from falling into the trap of using the same descriptions over and over in your weekly reviews? It's a constant struggle for me (there's some sort of devil on my shoulder urging me, "Just write 'delectable!' "), and I only publish a review once or twice a month.
Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"
Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

#2 Tom Sietsema

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 06:25 AM

Ah, good question! And something I think about on a regular basis.

Most critics I know have words they personally ban from their work (“toothsome” is one of mine, and I try really hard to steer clear of “delicious”) and some of us also have terrific editors who remember that we used such-and-such a phrase three weeks earlier in our copy.

Instead of adjectives, I sometimes use mental pictures: “The phyllo cover was so light it practically floated” or whatever. The image conveys “good” or
“interesting” without resorting to those routine words.

#3 Jim Dixon

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 12:54 PM

Besides banned words (“savory” is one of mine), do you have other guidelines for writing about food? For example, I try to avoid writing that a certain dish “works.”

I want to convey my sense of what I liked or didn’t without sounding too hifalutin. I think my favorite compliment for one of my articles is that it made the reader hungry.

Jim

ps..and I'm happy that I was able to use "hifalutin" in this question
olive oil + salt
Real Good Food

#4 Tom Sietsema

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Posted 29 May 2003 - 01:46 PM

Oh, I agree! There's no higher compliment than to have someone read you, or want to read you, even if he or she doesn't plan to (take your pick) see the film, read the book or visit the restaurant.

Another word I avoid: "affair". And I limit my use of "flavorful."