Sunday, August 16, 2015

Food Writing 101 - Day 2 (August 15, 2015)

For yesterday's session, the second one, we had to bring our assignment: an essay expounding on our chosen herb/spice/fruit from the Taste-Memory exercise. We were asked to read our essays out loud and have our fellow participants criticize our work so we could know our areas of improvement. 

I picked sweet basil because it's the one out of the thirteen I was most familiar with. My essay included the history and etymology of pesto, the dishes I make with it, and the fact that I find it as the perfect alternative for mayonnaise. One of the participants said that my essay "made me want to eat pesto". The other one said that she liked the last part because "it was a call to action". Some said that my work was informative and sounded like a magazine article, which was what I was after. For the negative comments, some of them said that it "lacked personality" and could be improved by having more details on the dishes that I make with pesto. But the most striking comment I've heard was that the voice of my essay was a bit confusing because it was informative at first but then became personal in the middle part. I agree with that comment to be honest. I know very well that I'm finding it a bit hard to find my writing voice, stick with it, and continuously improve it. SIGHS.

But I'm glad and relieved because a good solution to that problem was tackled yesterday! A fellow participant and Ms. Ginny said that in order to make a food writing essay both personal and informative in an effective manner, I could begin the essay by telling the story of a scene (better if based on my real life) with complete details. An example is (since my essay was about making pesto):
"When I went to the kitchen, I saw my mom, back facing towards me, grinding the basil leaves using a mortar and pestle. After that, she then started to add the other ingredients like garlic, salt, and pepper. And continued to grind them all even more. It didn't take long for the room to be filled with this medicinal and minty fragrance, which is all thanks to the herb being ground." 
After describing that scene, that's where I could put the informative paragraph about the history and etymology of pesto and relate it to the scene above.
"Just like what my mom did with the sweet basil leaves, Italians in the olden times used a mortar and pestle as well in order to grind the herb and turn it into pesto. This is how the word 'pesto' came about; it's derived from 'pestare' which is Italian for 'to crush' or 'to pound'."
After that, I could discuss the different dishes that I make with pesto and how I recommend it as the perfect substitute for mayonnaise:
"Since the day my mom first tried making pesto and had me and my siblings taste it, I was a fan. And now I always make my own from scratch. I often serve it with almost anything because it effortlessly turns any simple dish into something more special, both in taste and in presentation. I mix it with eggs to make a Pesto omelet. I serve it with Tuna to make a healthier sandwich or taco filling. I spread it onto Cream Dory to add flavor. And of course, it's the best when it’s served with what it was originally made for: pasta. But besides those things, what I really love about Pesto is that it’s a healthy alternative for Mayonnaise. It gives any dish that extra flavor without the guilt unhealthy ingredients bring."
There it goes! Though that's not the whole essay, I think it's way better than the one I presented yesterday! 

For our next assignment, we have to write our experience after cooking something or dining at a restaurant. I don't really have time to cook so I decided to have dinner this coming week at Little Tokyo, a small food district dedicated to Japanese cuisine lovers. I'll write more about it and my experience with it next week! 

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