A Writer in the Kitchen

163507_10151180595749896_824377939_nSince reading Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen (and it’s companion More Home Cooking) I’ve been thinking about that question, the business of inviting writers to your dinner table, any writer, dead or alive, the meal served, the drinks consumed, the table setting, who might sit across from whom.

For a writer, I’m pretty terrible at oral storytelling. I forget details and timelines, oh wait, I’ll revert, and then, no, but, yeah, okay. I don’t know how to give the headlines. I bury leads. To be honest, I wouldn’t blame anyone for walking away from a conversation with me. I’d rather listen to all of your stories and write out my own as neatly as I can on the page. But there is one thing I can talk about for hours and I’m not even sure I’ve ever mentioned here:


I’ve done it. There’s proof. Two cousins have sat through home-cooked meals in which all we discussed were other meals. Village cafes, to tasting menus, to the illegality of durian on a plane. I have friends who have sat with me to strategize all-you-can-eat options and first and last stops at food markets and festivals. I have a husband who will recount in excruciating detail everything we’ve ever ordered, where we ordered it, and whether we’ll order it again. I even sent a cookie recipe to a friend the other day and, in a string of follow-up texts, I mentioned how it might feel to whisk the dry ingredients with wet, where you’ll probably think you’re about to fail and then discover you haven’t, the moments that are humbling and frustrating and then surprisingly benign. Poor girl didn’t know she’d request a recipe and find her phone chiming with emoji-less emotions about a simple cookie.

All this to say, when it comes to writers at the hypothetical table, I don’t yet have it all filled. I don’t know what we’re eating (but, trust me, I’m working on it.) All I know is that I’d probably need one of them to be Laurie Colwin. I’d need someone to talk as much about life as the food that’s served.

One of the delights of life is eating with friends; second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends.
– Laurie Colwin, Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen



11 thoughts on “A Writer in the Kitchen

  1. I think I’ll have to read that! Food and words are two of my favorite things. 🙂
    Every time I read Madeleine L’Engle’s nonfiction, I really wish I could sit down to a home-cooked meal with her and chat about life and art.


  2. Have to admit I’ve never read Laurie Colwin (but of course, have heard great things about her). All of the writers I know love to eat. 🙂 And with my non-writer friends, our favorite times together are always centered around meals out. My husband and I love to eat out. I prefer it to cooking.

    Loved your description of your oral storytelling. I think I’d be way too intimidated to invite real authors to my kitchen. Not because of my second-rate cooking (as I grow older I’m more sure of myself with the few really great recipes I know and if they don’t turn out quite how I expected, so what?) but because conversationally I have a tendency to go off on tangents and even babble. But that’s why I write. I can rewrite and make it better.


    1. I feel like you do, Joanne. I like to write so I can rewrite, edit, and revise, which is something I WISH I could do in real conversation. And I love to go out to eat with friends. It’s my favorite thing to do. We still do it with Little O in tow but it’s getting harder as he gets older and more restless and opinionated!


  3. I am not good at oral storytelling…at all. I have to think too hard 🙂 and I honestly really dislike doing it and have often wondered why – if I like to write so much?

    Food? I like that too. A big dream is to write a smoothie cookbook and take all the photos myself! p.s. the picture – did you take? It’s beautiful…but what exactly is it? Whipped cream with a peanut butter ball?


    1. I would love an Amy smoothie cookbook. PLEASE make this happen. You are my go-to smoothie gal. The photo is a dessert I had in Spain. It is a take on “xaxu” which is a cream cake made with eggs, yolk, almonds and sugar. And the whipped cream looking stuff is coconut mousse.


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