Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reading Response 1

Reading Response to “The Reporter’s Kitchen,” by Jane Kramer
                The best part about Jane Kramer’s story is her ability to correlate food and writing at different levels. There is first the literal level: of her stopping the piece of work she’s currently writing, in order to walk into the kitchen to cook something. However, beyond the literal level, she connects for the reader how the time she spends in the kitchen (in whatever country she inhabits at the time) clarifies her writing while she metaphorically “brews” her thoughts together in a melting pot. I think it is most clearly put when she says: “The cooking that helps my writing is slow cooking, the kind of cooking where you take control of your ingredients so that whatever it is you’re making doesn’t run away with you, the way that words can run away with you in a muddled or unruly sentence,” (164). This description illustrates how one is inextricably mixed with the other, and it appears that for Kramer to be a good writer, she has learned that she must also strive to be a good cook: even though she admits that good cooking is far easier to achieve than good writing (166).
For Kramer cooking and memories are not, cannot be, mutually exclusive which is something I haven’t considered in my life before, however seems to have a universal truth to it. Food takes you places, and also creates innately individual responses in the people who make and consume it. Kramer sees memory as a “soup that never tastes the same as it did before, and feeds a voice that, for better or worse, is me writing,” (159). And I like this analogy because for even someone who may not be the best cook, like me, food is always associated with some memory from before; when someone tries a dish for the first time, a memory pops in of when they tried a different thing for the first time and hated it, or loved it etc.,. I’ve never looked at food as such a gateway to memory before, which is funny because we spend so much of our lives eating!  It opens a whole new possibility for writing because it gives people a whole new angle to look at their lives. What would it look like if we narrated our lives from a food perspective only? If we took only memories that came with food and stacked them up in order, would the outcome be a close summation of how we would narrate our lives otherwise? It’s definitely something I would like to explore now. I would also like to consider how cooking affects writing and memory as well—are memories of time laboring over a meal more substantial than memories of merely eating? I think they are. The way in which Kramer talks about cooking makes me interested not only to try cooking myself, but to also try it while in the process of writing something. Maybe I should have cooked something while writing this: I wonder if the outcome would have been different.


  1. I also have never seen food as a gateway to memories before reading Kramer's piece, but have come to realize that almost all of my memories have food associated with them. I really enjoyed how you looked more into Kramer's idea of memories as soup, never being the same. As we go through life, the exactness of each memories fades, allowing us to "taste" something new each time!

  2. I'm so glad you highlighted Kramer's assertion that learning to cook well is far easier than learning to write well. I've been thinking about and evaluating my own writing recently and I think it's so interesting that Kramer, a clearly very skilled writer, believes good cooking was easier for her than good writing.

    It's true that we spend so much time eating. Eating is such a social event! Like you, I think it makes sense for memories to be tied to food.

  3. "What would it look like if we narrated our lives from a food perspective only?" I really enjoy the posing of this question, and how food is a sort of thread that binds not only each other together but the sequence of our own lives. Not only does it make me hungry, but it makes me think. What's also interesting if we thought about the absence of food in some situations, or the presence of hunger and what that does to our own sequence. We should experiment and cook while we write our papers!

  4. Kate, I would just like to say that your question is an excellent one. Also, the idea that food plays a role in the "sequence" of our lives is interesting, especially thinking about things that we would give up food for, like how I sometimes skip meals when I'm developing a really important section of plot or character development.

  5. "Food takes you places . . . "--I love this!

    And yes, please: do as Kate suggests and experiment and cook while you write your papers. I want to hear all about it. In fact, I encourage all of us to share what we're eating on our blogs in whatever textual and/or photographic way we like.

    I think spending time pondering how we narrate our lives is time well spent. What are the things that tell our story and how can we use them to deliberately shape our lives?

  6. Also, I'm feeling a little left out. Could you add my blog to your blogroll at the top of your page? Thank you!

  7. Sorry, I thought of it yesterday and forgot to fix it!
    All fixed :)