Writing Exercise: Early Memories of Food

As part of my commitment to focus on my writing this year, I’ve taken a couple of afternoon writing classes sponsored by the Emrys Foundation in Greenville. With my focus on the Biggest Loser contest at the gym early this year, I didn’t have the time or money to take one of the longer workshop series that were devoted to fiction, but even though the two workshops I took focused on a type of writing β€” one about food and the other about nature β€” those aspects definitely could contribute to improving my writing. I learned a lot, and I’m going to have a hard time waiting for the workshops to resume this fall. Of course, I’m hoping to save up some money from freelance to go to the Hub City Writers’ Workshop in Sparkle City (Spartanburg for any of you non-SC folk) in July. It’s about $200 for three days. I’ll take tips/sponsors! πŸ™‚

So this post is mainly to share what I wrote at the workshop on writing about food. I will say this: Never attend one of these workshops when hungry! Between reading the samples our facilitator brought and reliving all these early memories about food I was craving all sorts of stuff! Not good either when trying to eat healthier! Anyhoo, here was my freewriting exercise.

I blame my hips on Aggie’s fried chicken. Before chicken was hailed as good for you then stripped of its skin and pried off the bone, Aggie soaked it overnight in a buttermilk bath. That was the only tip I knew of her fried chicken recipe, and I learned that years after she stopped cooking due to her losing pages from her mind’s cookbook.

My brother and I were never allowed in the kitchen while she cooked. Inquiries as to the lunch menu often went unanswered, and repeated pressing of the issue got us a reprimand to behave or else we would get nothing β€” which we never believed but kept silent anyway.

So we had to rely on our noses and ears. To this day, people are amazed at what I can hear or smell. We would listen for the cast iron skillet clamoring its way out of the cabinet, the flour canister’s thud on the counter, the sizzle and spatter of hot grease consuming the brined bird.

Then there was the smell. That glorious peppery scent of fried meat drifting into the living room, distracting us from Sesame Street and keeping us from seeing Mr. Snuffleupagus because of our excitement that today was Fried Chicken Day.

Finally, the cat clock on the wall over the bar had reached 12:30, and Aggie called us in to “get something to eat,” although we did no “getting.” Our plates sat on the bar β€” mine on the left, my brother’s on the right β€” piled with a crispy, juicy, tender piece of chicken and usually a heaping mound of macaroni and cheese casserole along side a stack of green beans. If we were really lucky, she would whip up rice and gravy, just because she had the time.

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