A Cook’s Guide to Writing – Don’t Start with the Gadgets

Cooking concept. Basic baking ingredients and kitchen tools closJust to clarify, I have nothing against technology – in fact I embrace technology with every fiber of my being. I don’t want to live, or cook, without it. My meals might taste as good, but heck, it’s not as much fun when you don’t use a garlic press. I squeeze with all my might and the pungent aroma assaults me a fraction of a second before pure garlic oozes out of the pin-tipped holes. I love that the stubborn skin is left inside the press and I was spared the job of peeling the electrostatic paper-thin layers off myself.

But let’s get real. Technology isn’t always the best place to start. I first learned to cook by chopping small cloves of garlic with a knife before discovering that it was easier to smash the thing with the flat edge of it. If I had used the garlic press from the beginning, I wouldn’t have learned to appreciate the clove’s swirls of lime and pearl-white inner layers and how perfectly smooth, yet sticky, the clove felt between my fingers.

Sitting down in front of a computer won’t put words on the screen any more than staring at a food processor will get you the best homemade salsa in the world. A freshly sharpened pencil with a virgin eraser or sparkly pen wrestled from an impenetrable cellophane package won’t do the trick either.

We need to live before we can write about it. The good news is, if you breathe air and have a few working brain cells, you’re qualified. It helps if you have language and a means to translate it into words. Write what you hate, suffer, love passionately, like lots – in other words, feel, think or wonder about. It just might be better than therapy. Nothing’s more satisfying than sobbing, laughing hysterically or nibbling a hole the size of Texas into your lip over a keyboard. Well, other than clutching a first draft in your hand or serving the perfect, glistening brown turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

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