Bringing Fiction to Life (in the kitchen)
It’s no secret that I focus on the natural world here at What I Saw, bringing to life the outdoors through photography, and relating my nature observances to writing and reading. My photos of the Sonoran desert obviously rely on the sense of sight:
But today I focus on a different sense: taste. As it relates to fiction, of course. Maybe this will whet your appetite (or simply confound you):
Every good novel employs the senses, does it not? And while my WIP (work in progress) isn’t food-themed, a few “culinary” scenes have emerged that will hopefully tickle readers’ taste buds.
In one, a character waits for a burger concoction that came straight from my head: the Poco-burger, made at a fictional mom n’ pop burger joint in the Poconos.
… Today was no different as he waited for his Poco-burger, a mouth-watering combination of a quarter-pound patty, cheese, onions, a fried egg, and two slices of infamous New Jersey pork roll, Taylor Ham, sandwiched between a Kaiser roll.
So – you guessed it. I took to the kitchen last weekend, working to bring this made-up dish to life.
Wait. That’s a lie; I wasn’t the one in the kitchen. My husband spearheaded this endeavor. Why him? Well, it’s a New Jersey-inspired meal. And he’s a Jersey boy. (I admit to being fascinated – and a little scared – by the main ingredient).
So back to the Pac-Man discs. Yep, that’s Jersey Pork Roll, known to locals as Taylor Ham. The slits in the side help this mystery meat cook evenly. It’s a roll of ‘breakfast meat’ that many compare in taste and texture to SPAM, mild salami, or US-style Canadian bacon. I disagree. It tastes like none of those things, boasting its own unique flavor, with a very unique history, including battlefields and lawsuits. Most importantly, it’s yummy (I’d never heard of it until my first trip to New Jersey after meeting my husband).
In true Jersey fashion, my husband decided the Poco-burger should be a “smash burger,” like the ones made in New Jersey’s White Manna diner.
I think I’m on to something here: the recreation/reenactment of fictional elements in my work (because, let me tell you … the Poco-burger was phenomenal). And there just so happens to be another fictional dish in my WIP, a dessert called the Gob Sundae, that I’d love to tackle, myself … Stay tuned.
For Readers & Writers: As writers, our job is to bring the imaginary worlds of our novels to life, allowing readers to touch, taste, smell, see and hear. What senses do you most savor in your fiction? How do you bring them to life?
The Poco-burger was inspired by regional food preferences. How important is it to ground readers in geographic tastes, sounds, experiences? Which are hardest to write?
P.S. You, too, can have Taylor Ham delivered to your doorstep by The Taylor Ham Man.