Thursday, 14 August 2014

Writing About Food

Our writing workshop met this morning and I suggested we do a writing exercise before getting on with our critiquing. I chose an exercise from one of my favourite and well-used books, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. She recommends a short session (we did five minutes) of brainstorm/freeflow writing followed by a further session to edit some or all of the material produced and then to share the pieces out loud. 

I had chosen food for our writing exercise, anything to do with food. I guessed that each of us would produce something totally different and I was right. We heard about the bulk cooking of pizzas for a family gathering and the way that food can touch the memory like no other sensation can. We were taken into a French kitchen with its rich atmosphere and pungent aromas. We mused at the way in which a trip to the market to buy cherries turned into memories of an aunt and her hat-purchasing fetish and we had a mouthwatering account of all the foods that we have, over the years, brought along to our monthly lunch gatherings. (Yes, we are ladies who lunch as well as ladies who write!)

Although most of us are fiction writers, every piece of writing was based on true events, most of them long-ago memories. This was also true of the piece I'd written, except it isn't a long ago memory. It happened yesterday. I wrote it in short poetry-style lines. It's not meant to read as a poem. It was just the way it fell from my pen:

I love cheese,
creamy yellow cheese, 
crunchy mature cheese, 
soft runny French cheese, 
the kind that stinks out your fridge,
cheese wrapped in nettle leaves,
even blue-veined cheese,
but yesterday I wanted cheese scones for lunch.

We called at the bakers.
They only had cheese straws.
We popped into the deli
But baclava doesn't do it for me.
We had soup for lunch instead
and I disappeared off to write,
trying to ignore the noises from the kitchen.
Clunk, whir, click.

He brought me a steaming mug of tea 
and a plate of tiny, round,
perfectly formed,
cheese scones.
They dissolved on my tongue.
From a man of few words 
They spoke a million.

Only one left. Proof of the pudding...


  1. Loved that writing exercise. Thank-you so much. It's a good way to get the creative juices flowing and it's amazing how one subject leads to another in your mind and you begin to have the basis of a story.

  2. Oh how lovely! The scones and the man. And a great bit of writing - I might have to make some cheese scones now!

  3. This post and photo made me hungry. Hang on to that man!

  4. yummy and sweet. Mr.A is a keeper. I could use a cheese scone right now. Very good poem and that is the go-to book for writer ideas. Sounded like a fun and productive gathering.

  5. Lovely, Ros. Lyrical writing with a touching ending. Mr A is a gem. I cannot think of any man I've ever known who would do such a caring thing like that.

  6. What is it about cheese? It's yummy, and a delicacy I suppose. Even swiss cheese, which I used to hate, is growing on me.

    Take care, Rosalind.

  7. I love the way writing exercises produce such wonderful, and varied, responses. And food . . . Now there's a thought. Better get up and find breakfast!

  8. Hi Ros - what a delightful concept - ladies who lunch and ladies who write ... and oh - you've put cheese up front now .. difficult as it's middle of the morning time - and there's no man around to make me cheese scones!

    What an eclectic range of ideas from your topic .. lots of ideas to stem from those writerly pieces ...

    Ah - bliss to have a hubby like Mr A ...

    Did you see Nettle Cheese is going to Aaaammmmerica? and your book arrived this morning - so I shall check it out probably on Sunday ...

    Cheers and perhaps a cup of coffee to be made shortly - Hilary

  9. Ooooo I love a cheese scone!

  10. How incredibly sweet!! Gave me a little chill :)
    I'm a cheese fan too!

  11. Ros, I was with my family in England last weekend and I saw your book! I had it sent to my nephew's seven year-old son who is an avid reader and loves history too. He loves it! And I think it's just gorgeous. I may well buy a copy for myself as well. What a delightful and informative book and the illustrations are wonderful! So well done!

  12. This makes me quite want a piece of cheese, and I've just had my supper! must resist, must resist....


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