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When I first started doing this kind of writing, I thought food description was something I was weak at. I was very good at talking about why you’d be interested in a particular place and at conjuring up childhood memories. I just worked on it, though. Like with basketball players, you find the part of your game you know is weak and you work on it until it’s your strength. In writing, I can get a flavor pretty close. You can’t taste it, but I can get really close.

A lot of that was reading Balzac’s twenty-page descriptions of somebody’s socks. The nineteenth-century guys used tons of physical description because there wasn’t photography yet, much less movies. In Dickens, the wrinkles in somebody’s jodhpurs actually meant something. And they would have to be described exactly. That transfers to food writing.

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Jonathan Gold

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