Hey everyone! So this is the first post in a new series on the blog called “One Less Sense.” Last year at the Food and Wine Conference, and at Monica Bhide’s seminar she challenged our writing creativity. How would you describe food if you couldn’t see it? Smell it? Hear it? I’ve been a bit light on the blog the past two months for several reasons. One was battling health issues, while another bigger reason was that I put a lot more energy into my first cookbook this past month. And guess what? Write is a LOT harder than it sounds. I mean, you can write down a bunch of words on paper, but how do you make it interesting? How do you write something enjoyable? Descriptive? Imaginative? Inspirational?
As I’ve been writing recipes and stories for the book, I’ve done some writing exercises when I have writer’s block. One of the challenges exercises I enjoy is describing food without using all my senses, or focusing entirely on one sense. Not quite sure what I mean? Hit the pause button on reading this post for a moment and think of a strawberry. Focusing on strawberries now? Good. Now think of how you would describe a strawberry. Did that description include the color red? Makes perfect sense if you did, that’s a very common sensory association with strawberries. But how would you describe it if you couldn’t see it? If you could only smell it? Feels a little harder, right? (I know it does for me) That’s the fun of Monica’s writing exercise. It challenges you to think outside of the obvious, to paint a picture with all your senses rather than just the guttural response.
So if you aren’t bored already and haven’t jumped away, join me in this fun exercise of “One Less Sense” and how I’d paint a story of a strawberry mint sundae if I couldn’t use my sight to describe it. If you enjoy this new type of post, let me know, and if you’d like to join me in this fun, creative exercise, share your stories with me on social media using the hashtag #OneLessSense! (And find my original post for a Strawberry Mint Sauce here!)
I sit down onto the soft chair and scoot up to the cold hard table. I reach in front and grab a glass. My fingers instantly feel chilled and dampens from the condensed air kissing the glass. In front of me I smell something sweet. I sense a mild sweetness that feels like summertime; the kind of nectar that could only come from one of those tiny hole-in-the-wall creameries that serve fresh homemade ice cream. Once my nose becomes familiar with the sweet smell in the air, another smell comes to mind. The memory of elementary school lunch rushes back to me as I smell one half of the equation to the filling of the only type of sandwich I’d ever eat. I grabbed the textured silver spoon and scooped into the ice cream, slicing through the exposed dessert, and feeling a soft resistance as I work through the middle of a scoop. Upon taking a bite I feel the dessert melt on my tongue as the creamy confection mixes with the jellied fruit. A timid flavor lingers in my mouth, an unexpected rush of freshness. As I eat the strawberry sauce, my nose awakens as the infused mint releases from the sauce. I consume scoop after scoop until the spoon emits a hollow bell like sound as I reach for more ice cream. The cup is empty, but my stomach is filled with satisfaction.