Posts Tagged ‘food

30
Apr
17

Road Trippin’ Down Under: Life in the Slow Lane

Despite having been up half the night, I was unable to stay in bed much past sunrise. Although I was physically tired enough to go back to sleep, mentally I was wide awake. Between the sunlight dancing on my eyelids, the sounds of the city waking up outside, and the knowledge that mere miles separated us from the beaches, the kangaroos, and all the other things we hoped to encounter in the coming days, I just couldn’t get my mind to shut back down.

The Jarhead, too, had woken up by then—as I discovered only after trying to get out of bed without disturbing him. Evidently he had been awake for a while, too, and had been killing time checking his email and playing solitaire on his phone while waiting for me to wake up. Little had he known that I was lying there with my eyes closed desperately hoping I would fall back to sleep while trying my damnedest not to move a muscle and—for a change—not wake him.

It was all pretty ridiculous, but not exactly out of character for either of us.

At any rate, once we each realized that the other was awake, we got up, got some coffee, and got moving. Although we had nothing specific to do that day and no prescribed time frame in which to do it, we both wanted to see as much of Australia as we could over the seven days we would be there, and that required some thought.

I know, I know. Most people would have decided how to spend a week in Australia before they actually get to Australia. And most of them would have arrived there knowing not only what they’re going to do, but also when, and what it was going to cost. And thanks to websites like yelp and tripadvisor.com, they also might have had a pretty good idea of how much they would enjoy it.

But all of that takes effort, and we don’t like to work that hard—at least not in advance. Plus, we change our minds—a lot. So we like to keep our options open. And if some of the options no longer exist by the time we become aware of them, or if they happen to disappear while we’re locked in debate or gripped by indecision, well then we figure it just wasn’t meant to be.

So instead of heading out of our hotel armed with train schedules, museum hours, and tour tickets, we left with only our keys, our wallets, our sunglasses, and a thirst for adventure. By that I mean a middle-aged, moderately-active, Midwesterner thirst for adventure, just to be clear.

The first order of business involved a walk around the immediate area to see what fun there was to be had locally. We soon had a set of options to include the familiar and the not so familiar.

The familiar included several retail establishments, like those seen in the photos below. The first shows the exterior of a place called Hungry Jacks, which sounded to our American ears like a pancake or mashed potato shop, but is actually an Aussie version of Burger King. Like it’s US incarnation, it offers burgers, fries, shakes and chicken tenders in ketchup and mustard colored wrappers, only without the funky paper crowns and the creepy plastic faced mascot.

Aussie Burger King

Target

The second is an image of the front door of the local Target which bears little resemblance to the Target stores in the US (as we learned a few days later after the Jarhead realized he’d forgotten to pack undershirts.) Sure, they both sell clothing, shoes, and household goods, but the Target in downtown Fremantle differs from Target stores in the US in several ways.

For example, the layout is nothing like any US Target I had ever seen. It looked much more like an K-Mart circa 1976 than a Target circa 2016, with racks and racks of merchandise arranged in departments, but with no real theme or color scheme, and none of the gi-normous posters of happy, photogenic children, trend-setting teens, whole-grain hipsters and hot-moms hanging from the rafters like you’d find in its US counterparts.

It’s like the land that marketing forgot, I remember thinking as I followed the Jarhead to the men’s department that day. And yet I couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, it didn’t have that Target feel—you know the one that makes you want to buy their stuff so you, too, can be a happy, photogenic, trend-setter, hipster and/or hot-mom. On the other hand, it didn’t have that Target feel—in other words, I didn’t feel I had to buy their stuff or be a photogenic, trend-setter, hipster or hot-mom, and that made me happy. (Chew on that for a while. Or not. Your choice. After all, it’s a free country—for now.)

In case you missed it, the signage on the Aussie store is also different from the signage on US stores. Whereas the word ‘target’ is spelled out in red capital letters in the US, the word appears in black and only the first letter capitalized in Fremantle. There is also a period after the word ‘target’ on the Fremantle store that doesn’t appear after the word ‘target’ on US stores. I wondered about these differences but not enough to bother looking into it. If you happen to know the explanation for either (or both) of these idiosyncrasies, feel free to share it as a comment on this post.

Meanwhile, other familiar sites were to be seen on or near the main drag of Fremantle. One of these was a 7-11, which stood across the street from Target and was exactly the same as any 7-11 I’d seen on the outside, but as a Wawa and Kwik Trip devotee, I didn’t bother to check the inside.

Another familiar site was the Cold Rock Ice Creamery, which looked identical to a Cold Stone Creamery in the US but—as we discovered a few days later, did not measure up in terms of flavor or consistency. In fact, it was exactly what I imagine ice cream would have been like in Soviet-era Russia or Poland. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad. But it was darn close.

What downtown Fremantle lacked in terms of marketing and ice cream, it more than made up for in it other ways—including but not limited to the variety, authenticity, style, and even value of its cuisine. There were so many restaurants, it was hard to choose which ones to sample, but every single one we tried was awesome. And two of them were awesome enough to warrant an encore.

The first of these was the Monk Craft Brewery & Kitchen, where we had an early dinner after wandering around for hours trying to decide how to decide where to have dinner. We eventually settled on Monk for no other reason than it was a beautiful day and we could eat there alfresco.

There were several other places that offered an alfresco option, but their tables were all crammed close together under awnings, whereas the Monk had several tables with big wide seats that would allow us to sit right out under the sun, which is where we wanted to be right then. So Monk it was.

It was a dinner like we’d never had before, and probably never will again. The Jarhead had what they called a Tackle Box—which included fried squid and fried white bait with crispy onion and chilli-lime aioli. I had the lamb ribettes with rosemary and garlic grilled lemon and a Greek salad. Fizzy water (for me) and a beer sampler (for him) completed our meal.

From there, we headed to a nearby liquor store where we bought enough beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages to induce me to wonder if the Jarhead planned to ever leave the room again. That question was answered when he asked the liquor store clerk for some ideas on what there was to see and do while we were in the area.

What follows is a song I wrote about this experience, and some of what happened the next day. I don’t have a title for this little ditty, but please enjoy it to the tune of the theme song (or thong, if you’ve been drinking, like me) from The Beverly Hillbillies.

Now this is a story ‘bout a bloke named Ted

A liquor store clerk with a curly brown head

He said Margaret River was the place ya wanna be

So we paid for our booze and planned to head southerly (south, that is)

Well the next day we spoke to the head valet

The sheila said, no—dontcha go that-away.

She said Margaret River is infested with crocs

And all the nearby beaches are filled with shocks (great whites, that is)

Now, I don’t know if that dude had a grudge against us or tourists in general, but I for one was not amused. Considering how nice had been to him—and now much money we had spent at his shop that day, we did not deserve to be sent on an excursion that had a better than average chance of leading to our demise.

Of course, we had no idea that his advice had a better than average chance of leading to our demise when we got back to our hotel that afternoon. We hadn’t spoken to the valet yet, and since we were too tired/lazy to pop open the laptop and do some research our own, we would remain blissfully unaware of our brush with death for several more hours.

So instead of learning more about Margaret River—or prospective alternatives to going to Margaret River—we popped by the front desk to ask for an extension cord (which they promised to deliver post haste) and headed up to our room.

I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but we were tucked in (with the CPAP securely attached to an industrial size extension cord that run under the headboard and over to WIGCBAPTTRTB my side of the bed) and asleep by 6pm, thereby securing the title of the Most Boring Couple to Visit the Continent of Australia in the History of International Travel.

#wellrested

#nodeath

#noregrets

28
Mar
17

Road Trippin’ Down Under: Sleepy Seconds

By the time the Jarhead had awoken from his nap, I had showered and fixed (literally) my hair, and was ready to take on the day. Since it was nearly 6pm by that point, there wasn’t much of the day left to take on, so we decided to head over to the waterfront in search of sustenance.

Fremantle Waterfront

That’s kind of our modus operandi. When we can’t think of anything else to do, we eat.

Unless we can’t decide what or where to eat, that is. Then we don’t eat. For hours.

If you think I’m joking, ask my kids. Or our friend Nancy. She once sat imprisoned in our car as the Jarhead and I tried to decide where to go for dinner one Saturday in 1993. She had the same reaction to that experience that she did after witnessing the birth of the Princess six months earlier: Never doing that again.

I can’t say I blame her. After discussing, debating, and eventually discounting nearly every casual dining establishment in south Minneapolis area only to settle for carryout pizza, I, too, was disgusted with us and questioning my reasons for staying in this relationship.

But we’re older now. And presumably wiser. Plus, it was getting late, and if we didn’t choose something we would eventually run out of time and either have settle for overpriced junk from our snack bar (shown below) or go to bed hungry.

Room Snacks

Under those conditions, I was sure we could find an acceptable place to have dinner, and make it back to our room before sunrise.

We crossed the Esplanade Park and Preserve and headed up Mews Road, vowing to stop and eat at the first place we both found acceptable. It went against everything we believed in, of course, and had a high probability of failure. The greatest threat to its success lay in the what ifs. What if we eat here and later find out we could have had something better/cheaper just a few blocks away?  What if we DON’T eat here, and then find out there’s nothing better/cheaper elsewhere? We had been burned by this strategy in the past, obviously, and were loath to try it again. But the clock was ticking, so we decided to give it a shot.

Our trip started, like any worthy quest, at a brewery. The Little Creatures Brewery, to be exact. Since the place was deserted and looked an awful lot like an actual brewery, we naturally mistook it for a brewery and gave it a miss.

Continuing up the street, we came to Cicerello’s. Offering a “unique eating experience in the heart of Fremantle’s Fishing Boat Harbour” and providing not only “the best fish and chips” but also “freshly caught seafood, including oysters, mussels, crabs, and crayfish,” the place would have had me at hello. But for the fact that, even on a good day, the Jarhead is barely lukewarm when it comes to seafood, we might have stopped there. But instead we moved on.

Next up was Kailis’ Fish Market Café Waterfront.  This place had everything going for it that Cicerello’s had, plus cafeteria style seating and piles of freshly caught seafood on display and available for purchase.

In case you missed it, that was irony. The combination fish market and café may have been an attractive novelty for some but it was a definite deal-breaker for us since, one sure way to ruin the Jarhead’s already limited appetite for seafood is for him to see it before it becomes food.

The last option—or at least the last one that we could see due to the road blocks and other evidence of construction further up the road—was the Char Char Bull   Unfortunately, its décor and menu gave the place an air of hip elegance that posed a major threat to my self-esteem.

So back down the street we went, hoping to discover options that we had missed along the way but coming up with nothing new. Turning around again, we walked back up the street and wound up—again—at the Char Char Bull.

“At least we can get something besides seafood here,” the Jarhead observed as we read the menu on the door for the second time. Nodding, I took note of our reflections in the window and compared our hair and clothing to that of the patrons I could see inside. Noting that we looked less hip than the hippest people we could see but definitely more hip than the rest, I agreed to go inside.

And with that, our choice was finally made.

We had taken less time deciding to have a baby. And what to name him.

Nevertheless, we had come to a decision, and soon were being shown to a lovely table for two, which happened to be last open table by a window. Sa-weet, I thought as we took our seats. Then I wondered if maybe window-side tables were not considered prime real estate in Australian restaurants. Especially waterfront Australian restaurants. Maybe we should ask to be moved…

Fortunately, the arrival of our server halted that train of thought and put it squarely on the menu where it belonged. It was a much better journey, I concluded, as I took in words like:

  • mac and three cheese croquettes with spiced sea salt, Dijon and truffle mayonnaise
  • ciabatta loaf with whipped brown butter and sea salt
  • crispy tempura with wasabi tartare sauce
  • pork belly with sherry shallots, charred nectarine, almond skordalia, & vincotto
  • butternut pumpkin gnocchi

And the list went on and on.

We started with the mac and three cheese croquettes and some crispy calamari with watercress salad, white bean hummus and pomegranate dressing. I remember drinking wine as well, but since I drank much of it before any food came, I don’t remember what kind of wine it was or how it tasted. Given how well it went down, however, we can probably assume it was pretty damn good.

For my meal, I had an eye filet with smoky bourbon green peppercorn sauce and brown butter potato puree. I remember enjoying it very much, and wishing I could have tried everything on the menu while we were at it.

Meanwhile, since we were in Australia, the Jarhead decided to take the plunge and try the kangaroo loin. It was also served with brown butter potato puree, plus salt-baked beetroots, pearl onions, poached pear, and caraway jus.

To our surprise, the kangaroo loin was virtually indistinguishable from other high quality red meat. I don’t know what we were expecting, to be honest, but we were well and truly surprised. It looked and tasted delicious, but it was no better or worse than a venison loin or a good old-fashioned American T-bone or porterhouse steak.

By the time we had finished our meal—and our bottle of wine—we were both fit for nothing but our bed. And yet, our bed was about a half-mile walk through a chilly seaside park from our table in the nice warm, fireplace lit restaurant. So rather than get up and leave, we decided to delay our departure by ordering dessert.

That proved a mistake, as the Jarhead was soon snoozing lightly with his chin precariously perched in his hand, and his elbow precariously perched on the edge of the table. Oh my god, I thought, as I saw him through the sliver of an opening at the bottom of my own closed eyelids. Realizing that I, too, had fallen asleep, I shook my head a couple of times and took a good long drink of ice water.

“Hey you,” I whispered to my comatose companion as I looked around to see may have heard me snoring.  “Wake up.”

The Jarhead blinked a few times, then looked around guiltily and apologized. “They haven’t brought our dessert yet?” he wondered aloud.

“No,” I replied, although I wasn’t sure. They could have brought it over, found us asleep, and taken it away again for all I knew. But I wasn’t going to tell him that since doing so would have clued him into the fact that I had fallen asleep, too. “I was going to say something, but I don’t know how long ago we ordered it.”

“It’s been at least fifteen minutes,” he announced after looking at his watch. “I wonder what the holdup is.”

Looking around, it became clear that at some point between the arrival of the wine and end of our nap, the restaurant had gotten slammed. Not one table was empty, and the servers and other employees were racing around like bees in a hive.

It took us ten more minutes to get someone to stop at our table, and she did not have our dessert.

“We’re looking for our server,” the Jarhead told her.

“Do you need your bill?’

“No. We’re waiting for our dessert.”

Not sure how or why, but apparently our dessert had not arrived because our dessert had not been made. We learned this a few minutes later when our server came back to apologize and to assure us it would be out momentarily.

A few minutes later, the Jarhead was sleeping again, and I was fighting the urge to close my eyes as well. Knowing how hard it would be to get him on his feet and back to the hotel once he was down for the count, I scrambled toward the kitchen, and stopped the first person who looked me in the eye.

“Do you need your bill?” she asked.

Boy, these people sure wanted to get rid of us.

“No. I mean, yes. I mean, that depends,” I stammered. “We want to go, but we ordered dessert but it didn’t come, and now they’re making it and we really need to leave.”

At that point, she offered to pack the dessert to go and bring it to the table with the check. “I’ll do you one better,” I countered. “I’ll give you my credit card now and you can bring over the dessert and the slip for me to sign as soon as possible.”

Moments later, we were sleepwalking down Mews Road toward the park. Or sleepstumbling, to be more accurate.

By then the air had grown cold and the wind had picked up. I shivered and tried to use the Jarhead as a windbreak, but could barely keep my eyes open wide enough to see him as we made our way through the park and to the hotel entrance. Fortunately, it was enormous and well lit, or we might not have found the place, and would have ended dying of exposure in the park (assuming the spiders didn’t get us first.) Not exactly how I’d like to go, if it’s all the same to you.

Back in our room, the Jarhead quickly stripped down, got into bed, rolled up in the covers, and fell back asleep. Rejuvenated by the cold wind and the promise of chocolate cake, ice cream, and caramel sauce, I traded my clothes for pajamas, flopped down in a chair, propped my feet up, ripped into my dessert.

It definitely was not a pretty sight. The ice cream had melted and all that jostling had left it looking like something a child had created in the yard after a rain. But it was still cake, ice cream, and caramel sauce, and—thanks to jet lag and one lost order ticket—it was ALL mine!

11
Feb
17

Road Trippin’ Down Under: To Board and Not Be Too Bored

If you were hoping that this post will be the one where you finally get to read about Australia, I have bad news for you. We’re not even halfway there yet.

But don’t despair. As a wise if somewhat aimless individual once put it: Life is supposed to be a journey, not a detonation.

If you are chuckling to yourself, I thank you. I am deeply grateful to you for embracing the whimsy. If you’re irked rather than amused by the reference to explosive devices, please accept my condolences on your flagging sense of humor. If you have no idea what this section of the post is about, you should probably take a nap and read it again when you’ve had some rest.

Interestingly enough, I wasn’t the least bit worried about detonations before, during, or after this trip. Despite the 96% chance that Homeland Security had failed to detect a bomb or gun on the person of one of our fellow travelers (as discussed in Travelers’ Advisory on March 4 of 2016) I was less concerned about someone hijacking and/or blowing up the plane than literally any other travel hazard you could name. Same goes for mechanical failure and operator error. None of that even entered my mind either before or after we’d made it through security.

No. Boredom was going to be my real enemy that day, I knew. Followed closely by discomfort. Which is why I arrived armed to the teeth with reading material—six magazines, one paperback and a Kindle loaded with multiple novels and an electronic Scrabble game—and pain reliever, eye drops, facial wipes and chewing gum. If I was going to survive this trip, I was going to need plenty to do, and I would need to do it without a throbbing head, dry eyes, oily skin, and furry teeth.

The Jarhead had suggested that I lie lay down and try to sleep. According to him, I would handle the heat, the crowds, and the lack of a shower during our 11-hour layover in Abu Dhabi better if I were well rested. Of course, we both knew that what he meant was that I would be a much better travel companion if I was well rested. But we both also knew that sleep for me was not an option. I find it hard enough to sleep at my usual time in my own bed and in an empty room, so there was zero chance I was going to fall asleep in a cabin room full of strangers at five o’clock in the evening.

And so, I kept to my own game plan and spent just over 12 hours reading, eating, drinking, playing Scrabble, and trying not to watch the clock. Aside from trying not to obsess about the time part, it reminded me a lot of my babysitting days when I would stay up all night doing whatever I wanted—only better, because it involved champagne, French Cheese and fine chocolates instead of soda, Cheez Whiz, and frosting, and because these things they were delivered to me personally by well-dressed people with great hair and exotic accents. I felt like an extra on the set of a Bond movie, or a passenger on the Orient Express. It was fabulous.

And the fun continued for several hours AFTER we landed in Abu Dhabi. For those who are unfamiliar with the city—as I was until I looked it up on Wikipedia—it is one of seven emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates. It is the largest of the seven emirates, and sits on an island in the Persian Gulf.  According to Lonely Planet (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/united-arab-emirates/abu-dhabi) it boasts “The world’s largest hand-loomed carpet, the fastest roller coaster, the highest high tea, the tower with the greatest lean, the largest cluster of cultural buildings of the 21st century” and “isn’t afraid to challenge world records.”

Now I don’t know about any of that, since we never left the terminal. Although it might have been cool to take a tour of the city, we would have had to find a driver to take us around since, as I understand it, the traffic there is about as bad as it is in Naples. On top of that, we would have had worry about getting back to the terminal and through security in time to make our connection to Australia. So it just made sense to enjoy it from within the confines of the business class lounge.

I know. Poor us.

Seriously, though. Walking into that place was like stepping into the most elegant hotel room on the universe’s most elegant space station, or wandering into the most elegant secret lair of the world’s most elegant evil overlord. Decked out from top to bottom in ultramodern architecture, furnishings and artwork it felt more like we had landed on another planet instead of another country, or walked onto the set of some futuristic film instead of an airport, and I kept expecting the cast of Gattaca or Oblivion to come walking in and sit down to at one of the extravagantly appointed dining areas.

But no luck. In fact, besides the impressively neat and efficient staff (who kept whisking away our used dishes, napkins and tableware almost the second we set them down) the only other folks we saw, were other tourists (although, for all I knew, they were famous tourists but just not famous in America.) Which was probably a good thing since I was wearing rumpled traveling clothes, no makeup, and nearly two-day old hair by that point. Not exactly how one imagines oneself when running into famous actors—from any country.

So instead of chatting with celebs and becoming the next Hollywood It couple, the Jarhead and I lounged around and sampled the food and drink on offer at each of the three—yes, three—international dinner buffets. Avid fans of ethnic cuisine of all descriptions, we happily devoured all the familiar Greek, Indian, Middle Eastern, European and Asian food we could find, and eagerly—if gingerly—sampled several of the unfamiliar ones—and found not one bad bite in the bunch.

The only down side to enjoying a lavish meal in a lavish setting with lavish seating, is that it puts the Jarhead in a state of lavish sleepiness. Consequently, it wasn’t long before he was struggling to hold his eyes open and I was struggling to hold his attention and maintain my sanity.

And so, with a headful of flat hair and nothing else to do but use the ladies’ room (which turned out NOT to be the relaxing experience one would expect to have in such an gloriously outfitted facility, owing to the presence of an irritatingly fastidious attendant, who kept walking up and down the room and furiously sweeping, wiping, and scrubbing the stalls almost the second they were vacated, making it very difficult for some folks—not saying whom—to do their business) I approached the salon and spa, to see what fun there might be to have there.

The options included manicures, pedicures, facials, massages, and hair care. Since I needed my hair washed more than I needed my nails painted, my skin resurfaced, or my body manipulated by someone who hadn’t at least bought me dinner, I decided to go for a wash and blow out.

I almost didn’t go through with it, to tell the truth. Even though it was only going to cost me about $35, the thought of waltzing into a salon and paying someone to shampoo and style my hair sounded downright decadent to me. So, hoping he would talk me out of it, I walked back over to the semi-conscious Jarhead (semi-conscious only because the news was on and he was half-listening for the weather before allowing himself to drift off to sleep) and laid out my plan. To my dismay, he said that sounded like a good idea if it would make me more comfortable.

Damn him, I remember thinking. I had hoped he would have forgotten how much I hate the feeling of flat hair. Now I had no reason not to take the plunge. Oh well, I said with a shrug as I headed back to the salon. At least I would look lovely and refreshed when we landed in Perth.

I’m not sure what went wrong during the conversation between me and the gorgeous Syrian man who stood behind me at the stylist’s station, but SOMETHING sure did because I definitely did NOT look lovely and refreshed when he finished doing my hair. In fact, although I hadn’t thought it was possible, my hair looked even flatter than it had when I first entered the salon. I literally looked like Janice from the Muppet Show: all face, no hair.

I kid you not. All I would have needed were a pair of false eyelashes, some lipstick, and a couple of wires to attach to my wrists, and people would have been clamoring for my puppet autograph. It was that bad. So bad, in fact, that I almost went to the bathroom to wash my hair. And I probably would have it I hadn’t been worried that the stylist would walk through the lounge later and have his feelings hurt upon seeing my freshly washed and wavy hair.

So, instead I walked back over to where the Jarhead was dozing and waited for him to open his eyes and start laughing.

If I didn’t die of boredom waiting for him to wake up, that is. Which was a distinct possibility. But his reaction will be totally worth it, I told myself as the minutes ticked by. Just hang in there.

An hour later I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I bumped his foot with my purse and pretended it was an accident. He opened his eyes and I said I’m sorry. And when his fog cleared, he opened his eyes even wider. “Have you already had your hair done?” he asked, looking at his watch and then back at me.

Although I didn’t get the shock and horror I was hoping for, at least he was awake.

“Yep,” I admitted with laugh. “It’s awful, isn’t it?”

“I wouldn’t say it’s awful. It’s just…not…you.”

Aww. He was so sweet and considerate, I almost felt bad for disturbing him.

Almost.

07
May
15

Truth and Confer-ences

Let me first apologize for the title of this post. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a bad pun. That’s the first truth in this story. The second truth is that I LOVE a bad pun. The badder the better, as far as I’m concerned.

But the real star of this post is neither the pun nor the truth, but the confer-ences. Specifically writers’ confer-ences.

If you’re not a writer yourself, you may experience an irrepressible urge to flee or fall asleep at the mention of the such an event. Even some of us who ARE writers may bristle at the idea. For although most writers enjoy writing, not all of us enjoy talking about writing.

Now when I say I may not enjoy talking about writing, I don’t mean talking about what I write. In truth–there it is again–that’s the easy part for me. The characters in my books and short stories–not only those I’ve published but also those still fluttering around in my head–are all so real to me, that I can carry on about them for hours and hours provided I have the time, space, and access to a willing audience. And sometimes even the willing isn’t a requirement.

So what gives me trouble is not talking about WHAT I write, but talking about the HOW. I know it’s sometimes necessary to talk about things like character development and plot pacing; but for me, talking about the elements of a story is like talking about the ingredients of a gourmet meal or a decadent dessert: I know they’re important, but I’d rather talk about the dish or the dessert itself–what it tastes like or what kind of wine to pair with it–rather than the taste, smell, color or consistency of all the stuff that went into it.

It’s not that I don’t care about the elements of a good story. Combine the wrong ingredients–to use the cooking metaphor, again–and you may not get what you set out to make. To paraphrase Rita Rudner, you can mix flour and water to make glue, but if you add sugar and eggs (and baking soda) you’ll get cake.

So the components ARE important when it comes to food–and the same is true for a story–be it a novel or a bit of flash fiction. If you don’t have the right elements, you may not get the product you’re aiming for. But for me, I’d rather talk about the story itself–the characters, what they do, and where, when, how and why.

Which is why this weekend you will find me at the Lakefly Writers Conference at the Waterfront Hotel and Convention Center in Oshkosh. I won’t be presenting on any of the elements of writing. Nor will I be attending any of the workshops discussing any of the elements of writing.

Instead you’ll find me at a table at the Author’s Showcase. I’ll be there, behind a stack of my books and bookmarks, talking about my stories–but not necessarily how I wrote them or why.




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