I used to think my words were destined to carry heavy burdens, but time has swept along and I find them dancing around in the kitchen, tasting and experiencing and then telling the small part of the world that gets all the way to page 18 in the newspaper all about it.
The pay isn’t much (free newspapers to clip my column out of and send to Grandma down in Connecticut) but I’m going to write anyway, right? Why not write for somebody? Anybody? The people who get past police reports, campaign news and high school sports and still want a little bit more- let me write for them.
This evening found me feverishly wandering over to the grocery store in order to pick up some ingredients to make a last minute dish for a last minute column that was due in 45 minutes. I had already wasted 45 minutes pounding my empty head against a blank white screen, staring at the blinking black line – blinking, blinking, blinking – nothing.
Nothing. I had nothing and about 45 minutes to change it into a real Something.
Dressed in my best ‘don’t-you-dare-leave-the-house-in-that’ jeans and t-shirt, I stumbled across the street and parking lots, running through first lines and meal ideas – I had a general direction to move in, but all the roads seemed blocked. Nothing still. Nothing.
I entered the grocery store and headed for produce and as I took the first step in that direction, inspiration HIT me- and Hard. I stopped in my tracks, rummaged around in my oversized bag and found the only paper in there – an old bookmark. I tore it out of the book it was stuck in and started to scribble right there. I was utterly oblivious to the people coming in after me and having to now walk around the place where I stood fast, mumbling loudly about long underwear and strawberries and writing frantically.
The afternoon produce clerk walked over and said, “Are you ok? You look funny…”
Funny indeed, hunched over and talking to myself while scratching on a paper three inches wide – crazy is more like it.
Welcome to my glorious world of food writing. Sometimes it looks like a well-prepared meal with witty commentary, sometimes it looks like raging insanity.
“Yes, I’m fine – I’m trying to write this column and it’s due in a little bit and what do you think about strawberry vinaigrette? Strawberry vinaigrette and spring greens… does that sound good to you? What if I said burgers, added burgers… or chicken” I pressed. The poor woman seemed intrigued, and terrified all at once…
“Oh yeah it does…” she said. Good enough.
I grabbed the ingredients, rushed home and whipped up my strawberry vinaigrette idea then ate it while I pounded out the column. That really is the best way to write about food, you know, while you’re either cooking or eating it. I hit SEND fifteen minutes before the deadline. Success.
Now I’m going to go do something mindless…