E is for Eating

As some of you already know, I’m back in the freelance world actually getting paid for some of my writing. I’m doing restaurant reviews for the local daily paper. The reviews appear every Friday. I don’t talk about it a lot here because I like to keep my fiction separate from my nonfiction. I want to be remembered as a novelist, not “that fat restaurant critic.”

Everyone assumes that writing about restaurants is the easiest thing in the world. You go eat a meal, somebody else pays for it, and you write a few sentences about whether or not the beef was tough and you’re done.

Not so fast. I have to be fair. It’s not enough to say the mashed potatoes were good, I have to say why they were good. Personally, I like them on the lumpy side, but I have to give a fair shake to the whipped and the riced.

There are a limited numbers of ways you can convey “crispy” without actually using that word. Harder still, how many words can you think of that mean sweet? “Earthy” is another one that’s hard to convey without using the actual word.

Then there’s credibility. I cannot, in every single restaurant, say that something is the best whatever that I’ve ever eaten. People won’t believe me. (On the other hand, the sauerkraut I had earlier this week? Transcendental. Ambrosial. The best I’ve ever eaten.)

Then there’s the writing. My fiction style is not entirely suitable for a daily paper. Not that I’m a total potty mouth in print (although I am in real life), but I tend toward hyperbole. I love to exaggerate. And sentence fragments are my best friends.

Daily papers do not want sentence fragments. Or exclamation points.

Or dialogue! I work hard to develop my skills at writing funny dialogue. There’s little–if any–call for dialogue in a restaurant review, humorous or otherwise.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 were recently on spring break, and the Beloved Spouse took some time off as well. My only thought was how many times we could eat out, allowing me to get ahead on the review schedule before Conference hits.

What? You thought I’d go an entire post without mentioning the Writers Conference?

I made my family eat out so many times that by the end of the week, my husband was begging me to let him stay home and eat a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. “Do we have to eat out again?” is not something I ever expected to hear as a complaint.

In review mode, I tell everyone at the table what they can order. As a power-hungry control-freak, I do enjoy that aspect. And I get to taste everything. Which is nice, except when I get carried away and eat more than the person who ordered the meal.

And desserts. To keep my ass from having its own gravitational pull, I tend to avoid desserts. But now I’m expected to try desserts. Regularly.

Which is why E should be for exercising.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “E is for Eating

  1. Who needs exercise?! Boooo, hisssss. Food is good! Maybe what I need to do is take my family out for every meal until they beg to stay home. Of course, that is probably what happens when I go on a trip or disappear for a conference for days.

    Wanted to pass along the link for Insecure Writer’s Support Group:

    http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html

  2. You, my dear, make me laugh without even trying. I love your column and I love your blog. It’s the best ever.

  3. Donna Ross

    I love your alphabet blog…and look forward to your restaurant reviews. Your voice is very clear in both places. I’m sure I would be just as enchanted with your “out loud” voice as well.

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