Very excited about taste. Tasting. Tasty.
This weekend I have the great privilege of being on the faculty at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. And one of my workshops is called Eating Your Words: Make Them Tasty! It’s all about using the sense of taste in your writing to impact your readers’ connection to your characters.
I’m equal parts thrilled and terrified to give this workshop. I fear I’ll either blurt everything out in under ten minutes, or I’ll never be able to get through all the material in my outline.
People, I made a PowerPoint. It is certainly not the finest example of a PowerPoint presentation, but it will work.
It features two different photos of chocolate cake. But only one of my dog.
Um…now I feel like I need to state clearly, for the record, that the chocolate cake photos speak to using how things taste, while the photo of the dog is one of several photos used to emphasize that eating or consuming is a universal concept, and everything alive must consume something. I would never presume to speak about how dog food tastes, even though I accidentally ate a Milk Bone once.
One of the things I love about tasting new dishes is trying to figure out what’s in them. It’s a very palatable puzzle for me. Does this chili have cinnamon in it? Did the cook put some tarragon in the spaghetti sauce?
In my opinion, the former is a wonderful idea, as long as one uses a light hand with the cinnamon. The latter is not a good idea, but that’s because I’m not fond of tarragon. Too much like licorice, a flavor I have never enjoyed.
Really, though, there are very few flavors I have a strong aversion for. It’s more about texture, which is luckily another “T” word. I was subjected to liver and onions, periodically, when growing up. All that iron was supposed to be good for growing bodies. And I could just about tolerate being in the same room with, until that fateful day it was my turn to cook dinner and liver was on the menu. After I stuck a fork into a piece of raw liver, I never put another piece of liver in my mouth.
Addendum: this applies to beef liver. I’m nuts about chicken livers. Go figure.
Tapioca. Can’t get around the texture. Canned asparagus, to me, takes on a texture no vegetable should be forced to endure, limp and slimy and yet somehow still chewy. Oysters. I want to like them, and will eat them fried, but slurping a raw one out of the shell? No, thank you.
What are the tastes and textures that drive you wild, either in a good way or a bad way?