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The process for culinary writing


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#1 Smithy

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 11:38 AM

I'm interested in the way writing about food and cooking changes the writing process, if at all, from writing fiction or essays. It appears that successful writers establish a discipline to get the work done. (Caroline See advises in her fine book, Making a Literary Life, "1000 words a day, or no more than 2 hours editing, plus one charming note, 5 days a week.") Your case is different: you can't just lock yourself in the den with a word processor and research materials. Aside from your field research (oh, happy travels!) you have recipes to test, you have kitchen work (I think of it as lab work) to do. A specific way to ask this question would be to ask, "What's your writing routine? How is it different from your husband's?" However, I'm afraid that question is too personal. I'd be happy with a general answer, if you have one, based on your literary friendships.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown


#2 Wolfert

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 03:23 PM

Well, it's completely different. My husband, Bill Bayer, as you know, writes fiction, which means he starts with a blank page and creates out of thin air.

I start with facts, observations, tastes, stories I've heard, etc., then put it all together. But as important as the writing is, the recipes are primary. I know one cookbook author (whose name I will not reveal) who actually had the nerve to write me once that she was working hard on her commentary and considered her recipes unimportant!

To me the opposite is the case. The commentary serves to shed light on the recipe. The recipe is the heart, the commentary the embellishment.

What happens is that I'll gather and work up a series of recipes garnered from a trip, twenty or so, and then, when I'm satisfied, I'll review my notes and write the introductions.
“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.