Kim Foster
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Food & Writing

I’m having a hungry day, so I’m thinking about food. In particular, about food that goes beautifully with writing. To be clear: I don’t mean writing about food. I mean writing while eating food.

Anything that a coffee shop sells generally works for me, since I tend to do a lot of my writing in cafes (primarily because at home there are children of mine running about. At cafes, in contrast, there may be kids around…but they’re not mine). Muffins, breakfast sandwiches, a multigrain bagel toasted with butter…all of these are wonderful accompaniments to a steaming cup of coffee. But I must say, it does test your skills, some, in terms of avoiding crumbs landing in your keyboard.

So what else works? Stuff you can eat with your hand is best, stuff you can nibble while you scribble (or type) away. Or, stuff that you can easily balance on your lap. Also? Stuff that’s not too flaky. Likewise, stuff that’s not too juicy or squirty.

Here are some specific thoughts:

Grapes are good. They’re a perfect finger food, and it’s highly unlikely you’re going to squirt grape juice anywhere as you pop those grapes in your mouth. And they’re healthy, to boot.

Cheese. Specifically, hard cheese. In cubes, ideally. Nice little high-energy bites of protein. I just tried cheese curds for the first time recently and are they ever delish–and already in handy bite-sized portions. Sadly, you’ll probably need to forgo crackers with your cheese…due to the crumb factor. The other danger with cheese, of course, is way overdoing it, thus contributing to the spreading middle that tends to afflict sedentary types like, say, writers.

Apple slices on the other hand, are a good alternative to crackers, and go beautifully with that nibbly cheese.

Cold pizza is easy, yummy, hand-held, and if your household is anything like mine, there’s a good chance there’s some leftover pizza in your fridge right now.

Olives. And here, I reveal my predilection for a Mediterranean diet. I love olives as a snack.

Sandwiches. I relish a good sandwich…but I must admit this one doesn’t often find its way to my writing desk. For one thing, a perfect writing sandwich can’t be too big (thus requiring a two-hand-hold) and it can’t fall apart when you rest it down (highly annoying and distracting). Another drawback: a really good sandwich takes some time to construct. Which is my problem with overly elaborate food in general–it’s easy to spend too much time prepping food, not enough time writing!

Dried fruit. Again, advantages: finger food, not messy in either the crummy category or the juicy category. Also, loads of choice. Go raisins, dried apricots or my current fave: dried cranberries.

Chocolate is the ultimate choice (on any food list, in my opinion). Good quality chocolate is a given, here. My preference: Lindt dark with sea salt. The complexity and the blending of sweet, bitter, and salty will, I daresay, add a nice depth to your writing too.

And now, for the bonus food, that goes against everything I’ve just said: (and this is only for those of you who have achieved fifth-level snacking-while-writing)…you could always attempt this: a big dish of spaghetti and meatballs balanced on your knees.

This idea comes to me from the wonderful writer Elizabeth Berg who mentioned food a lot in her book for writers (Escaping Into The Open), dedicating an entire chapter to it, in fact. “There’s something pretty fine about holding a big bowl of spaghetti on your lap while scrolling down the computer screen”, she wrote.

4 Responses to “Food & Writing”

  1. Kat says:

    These are very practical tips which you’ve clearly given much thought, and practise, to.

  2. […] while ago I wrote a post about the perfect food pairings for a writing life. But I’d like to expand on that and talk about something near and dear to my little heart: […]

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Kim Foster writes YA and adult books about thieves, spies, and assassins. (Read More)

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