Join the Writing Pad community!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Writing Prompt: 11/19/09

Want to sharpen your writing craft and get some stellar writing done? Take one of these one-day classes with Aaron Henne in December:

There are only a couple of spots left in both classes. Sign up by calling 323-333-2954 or emailing marilyn@writingpad.com before they are full!

Writing Prompt:
Make a list of 5 food products (can be breakfast foods) that you associate with your childhood. Pick one food product off of your list and add a sensory description to it (e.g. smell, taste, touch, sound, sight). Write whatever comes to mind about that one item for 10 minutes. Include the sensory description in your writing.

For example, the mere mention of the Eggo waffle shortage on the news yesterday brought me back to childhood. I flashed back to those "Leg go my Eggo" commercials and the nutty, yeasty smell of Eggo waffles when they snap out of the toaster.

Another product that I associate with childhood is Mrs. Butterworths. My sensory detail would be: sticky ropes of syrup gluing my fingers together. About a year ago, I discovered that Mrs. Butterworths didn't come in a thick, glass bottle anymore (she is now in a cheap, plastic bottle). I felt sad and outraged. It was like a childhood friend had passed. Clearly, I watched too much TV as a kid!

Anyway, my ten minute write will be about Eggo waffles or Mrs. Butterworths. What are the food products that you associate with childhood?

20 comments:

H.M.R. said...

My parents were natural food Nazi's when I was growing up. Thus I spent years of my life pining away for skittles and potato chips. My grandmother thought this was a tragedy and every time I stayed with her she would fill me with grilled cheese sandwiches (made with American cheese!!), Planters cheese balls (from the big can), and tons of cookies made by Keebler (oh how the trans fat melted in my mouth!). To this day I think of her every time I order a grilled cheese and if anyone knows where I can find those cheese balls, please let me know! I've been craving them since 1987!

Writing Pad said...

Oh my gosh, I love it! I remember those cheese balls, and I love grilled cheese with American cheese. That reminds me of childhood too.

cricketwang said...

No other ingestible has played a bigger leading role in my childhood experience than a sliver of white wedding cake that encountered my six-year old lips in 1981. My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Weitgert, hands us each a small paper plate and we're told (allegedly, according to my world-famous porous memory) that it was sliced from Prince Charles and Princess Diana's actual five-tiered wedding cake. It's sweet, spongy, moist despite having just traveled across from the old world. In fact, it tastes and looks not unlike the cakes you'd find in the display cases at HEB, with their airbrushed scenery of unicorns and teddy bears and their inches and inches of crested icing. In my memory though, this cake made its way to Eanes Elementary School by horse and carriage sitting regally atop a velvet cushion. I actually don't ever think I doubted the authenticity of this story until now. Thanks, Marilyn ;)

Writing Pad said...

This story is hilarious and has beautiful details! Ya know, wedding cakes usually look pretty but taste like sawdust because of the fondant. I shudder to think what a cake that traveled from Great Britain to an American classroom would really taste like! But it sounds like both your narrator and your narrator's teacher had a great imagination. :)

wendysland said...

For my 6th birthday, all I wanted in the world was to go a restaurant called The Vineyard for lunch. It was decorated with tacky vines and plastic bunches of grapes hanging from the ceiling and it had red and white checkered table cloths, which may have influenced my impressionable 6 year old brain. But the reason I died to go to The Vineyard was because of their salad bar - which held the dreamiest of food items... Roquefort cheese. From France. It was tangy and crumbly and salty and stinky. And I ate mounds of it. After that meal, every time I asked for bleu cheese dressing on my salad, I asked if it was made with "real Roquefort bleu cheese. From France."

The Nonprofiteer said...

Frozen hot dogs. At first, I'd wedge them onto a fork and "cook" them over the open flame of our gas range. Eventually, I graduated to eating them straight out of the freezer. Like popsicles. Nasty, hot doggy popsicles. Sometimes I had frozen peas as a side dish. I am not making this up.

adelie44 said...

My grandpa is from the Philippines, so as a child I ate a lot of Spam. Spam made appearances in my fried rice, omelets, sandwiches, and a bastardized fried quesadilla made with american cheese that my mom still serves up as a late-night snack. Who could resist a crunchy, greasy corn tortilla, frizzled and oozy cheese, and a generous slab of mystery meat?

Writing Pad said...

I LOVE these stories! Michael, your narrator's childhood food sounds deliciously dangerous. ;) Wendy--your narrator is so high brow and sophisticated for a little kid. Adel--yum, yum, yummy! I want to go home with your narrator and try that late night snack. I just went to a Korean restaurant that uses Spam in this really tasty, spicy soup. I was surprised that Spam tasted so good!

etc @ www.fierceandnerdy.com said...

Oh, I love this prompt. I immediately thought of peanut butter, which I hate but my mother loved to eat by the spoonful. I also thought of Sprite and baking soda, which my grandma gave me whenever I had a poor tummy. But most of all I think about all the foods that I won't eat anymore, b/c I overdosed on them as a kid or in my 20s, including Hamburger Helper, Ramen, and Tacos made from dinner kits.

Kristina said...

My grandparents were Lebanese immigrants living in Mississippi, far from my home in New Jersey. On one particular trip, my mom boasted that I wasn't a picky eater. I was so proud that I was determined to not turn down anything. My grandpa asked if I liked kibbeh, I had no idea what it was, but told him I loved kibbeh.

Kibbeh is raw hamburger meat covered in lemon, pine nuts and spices. I told him that the revolting mixture was great and that as predicted, I sure did love kibbeh. Sadly this meant that for the entire duration of our week long visit, he made me fresh kibbeh every day and used me like a puppet to eat kibbeh whenever relatives came over. The subtext was very, "My Yankee granddaugher is more Lebanese than your granddaughter raised in the culture."

I over came my fear and tried kibbeh a few years ago at Sunnin on Westwood, it was baked and delicious.

Writing Pad said...

Ernessa and Kristina--your stories are fabulous! Ernessa, I love your detailed list--Hamburger Helper, Ramen and Taco smade from kits. Now that reminds me that I loved Creamette's Macaroni (my mother used to boil it and then fry it in butter). And it also reminds me that I used to make spicy tacos with lots of chili powder in them when I was a kid (learned in home ec) that I used as a weapon on one of my Russian aunts who wasn't used to spicy foods (cruel--eh?). And Kristina, I love the yummy description of Kibbeh and your story of the narrator being her grandpa's puppet. Wonderful! I think I've had Kibbeh at Marouch http://www.marouchrestaurant.com/client/marouch/index.html but now I want to try Sunnin. It sounds delish! The writing that is coming out of this discussion is wonderful--and it's giving me more ideas for my own writing. Thanks, guys! Keep 'em coming.

Marilyn

Tim Grierson said...

This isn't a food, but Budweiser beer always makes me think of childhood. Specifically, it reminds me of being a kid and going to baseball games with my parents at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

The vendors would walk up and down the aisles selling beer, and somebody nearby us would always order one. So we'd have to pass the beer down the row to that person. Over time, without my realizing it, I guess the smell of all those beers got stuck in my olfactory system. (My parents didn't drink, so it wasn't a smell I normally had around me.)

None of this occurred to me until I went to college and started going to parties where the alcohol flowed freely -- one whiff of beer was all it would take to make me flash back to those days at baseball games with my parents.

Writing Pad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Writing Pad said...

Tim,
I love that your story is about beer! ;) Your description of the beer being passed from person to person was so vivid, I could see that scene with the narrator's parents as if I was there.

Great stuff, guys! Everyone has a such a different, interesting mini-story.

Marilyn

ILIR said...

The sizzling scent of Sal’s slice.

Sal's is a pizza parlor on Kennedy Blvd between 82nd and 85th street. It has a stainless steel oven the size of a Camaro and two pinball machines in the back: one Elvis and one NASCAR. Most kids from PS#9 go there for lunch. You get two slices and a coke for two bucks. Sal is a bald-headed Greek who wears the same grimy t-shirt and faded blue jeans, the same shade of blue as the walls. He also has a scraggily mustache that falls over his lip. None of this matters because he makes a means slice - as big a newspaper page. Garlic, basil, and crushed pepper are free - any other topping costs a quarter extra. It's not worth it because if you ask for pepperoni (which I'm not allowed to eat because I'm Muslim, but do anyway) he only sprinkles on three of them.

One afternoon, it was raining outside and about twenty kids were crammed in front of the counter, two dollar bills clenched in our fists, like gamblers betting on a race horse. From below the busted Coca-Cola clock on the wall, I saw a large cockroach crawling toward the ceiling. As I pivoted from my spot, kids pushed and shoved to get closer to the counter. I wanted to scream to everyone, “Hey! There's a roach on the wall." But I didn't think anyone would care. Most of us had roaches in our homes so I guess this was normal. It’s like we lived by the Cockroach Code of Silence.

The Pleasure Principle said...

When is a trifle not a trifle? A trifle not to be trifled with? When it is the constantly evolving glorious juicy concoction served to me by my Mum throughout my childhood, reaching its crescendo in the late 70's. This baroque multi-layered masterpiece involved rum, swiss roll soaked in fresh orange juice not plain sponge, bananas, apricots and often black cherries along with Birds custard and whipped cream. No 100's and 1000's, no sherry, no quivering jelly here, this was a dish fit to serve at Versailles in portions to delight even Falstaff...

Aaron Henne said...

Baked apples with cinnamon and raisins. When I was 4 years old my grandparents lived in the basement apartment of our home. I would walk down the stairs in the early evening, head still wet from a shower, goose bumps forming on my little neck and enter into their warm space. They would come out of their mini cause it's on the bottom floor kitchen, steam rising from a ceramic dish. I would bite into the slippery, crisp, soft, hard skin and then fall asleep in my poppy's lap. I bet my lips were sticky and stayed that way all night.

kenny benjamin, m.a. said...

the foods of my childhood...

1. the lobster bisque from Hamburger Hamlet...

2. the cheeseburger and fries from Tail O' the Pup.....

3. the chicken dinner delivered from Chicken Delight....

4. the creamed spinach from Lawry's The Prime Rib....

5. the chili from the old drive in restaurant on La Cienga and Wilshire, Delores's.....


it was the hamburger hamlet on Beverly drive just south of Wilshire Blvd in the sleepy little hamlet know as the slums of beverly hills, where I consumed the majority of my childhood meals....as 6 o'clock in the evening would roll around, my dad, my brother, and I would have the ritualized daily conversation about where we should dine and what we should eat...it would go something like this....

Dad: So, uh, where should we go?
David: I don't know.
Me: What do you guys feel like eating?
David: I don't know.
Dad: What do feel like tiger?
Me: I don't know (beat) you want to go to the Hamlet?
David: Ok.
Dad: Ok.
Me: Should we try something new tonight instead?
David: Like what?
Dad: You're the connoisseur (he would say to me)
Me: Ok, well....(beat).....I
don't know, let's just go to the Hamlet.

15 minutes late at the Hamlet as the waitress is taking our orders:

David: I'll have the Oak Plank Steak with a baked potato with everything and lots of it.

Dad: I'll have the chicken wings with the apricot sauce and could you bring some extra napkins please.

Kenny: I don't know, should I try something different?
David: Just order already...Jesus!
Kenny: I'll have the lobster bisque please.

Waitress: Would you like the Marmite or the Bowl young man.
Me: Bowl please.
Waitress: Cornbread or Garlic Toast?
Me: Garlic toast please.
Waitress: Very good.

and that's the way it went for 8 years, 4 nights a week and some lunches too....

it was our family commissary, as my dad didn't really ever cook...

except for the 3 times in the 8 years that I lived with him when he made Barbecued Shake n' Bake chicken...ah....the 70's...a time of innocence and divorce and the comfort and the solace of restaurant food glorious glorious restaurant food......

Kenny.

Writing Pad said...

Oh my goodness! These stories are fabulous! They are making me hungry and I just had breakfast.

Ilir--I love the description of the pizza (yummmeeee), the forbidden pepperoni slices, and the Cockroach Code of Silence! Great story!

Wendy--I want that trifle, right now. Your description of it is amazing--I especially love the words "Baroque" and "Swiss Roll."

Aaron--You have such beautiful sensory descriptions in your piece--like the child falling asleep with sticky lips. It's like a lovely, poignant poem. And like your narrator, I am a fan of the baked apple! They are soooo good.

Kenny--What a great scene! I feel like I'm there at the Hamburger Hamlet with the narrator. Love the funny banter and the ritual of ordering the Lobster Bisque.

Guys, thank you so much for posting! I hope you will post on the next writing prompt I put up. Your stories are fantastic. And everyone has a beautiful, different story!

Benny Blanch said...

Like most middle class American children growing up in the 90's I had the privledge of eating the best 'worst food for you' food. This included Pop Tarts, Surge (remember that sugary green bile?), fruit roll-ups, and anything else that contained high fructose corn syrup. As much as I loved these delicious snacks created by conglomerate MNCs, none of those are the foods I remember when I think of my favorite food growing up.

Whenever my mother let me pick a meal of my choice, out of anything in the store, I would always, without doubt, without hesitation, choose her famous "White Spaghetti". What the hell is white spaghetti? Well for a five-year-old ignorant of italian food culture, it's basically an American rendition of Fettucini Alfredo (Isn't Alfredo just a dude's name?). It was a very simple dish: Noodles, Parmesean, Sour Cream and Butter. A cocktail of diary made to melt the mouth and clog the heart. There's really nothing visually appealing about the dish, just a pile of plain white noodles drenched in a creamy, cheesy sauce. My favorite part was to let the meal congeal for a few minutes to harden the sauces with the noodles. My mouth is dripping with saliva just thinking about it...oh how pleasant nostalgia can be. I found out that this meal wasn't only a meal to my heart, but also to my father's. It was the meal my mother cooked for him on their first date. I'm not sure if it was her inability to cook anything else or an assured confidence in quality of the dish, but she cooked her famous white spaghetti to please and impress.

Even to this day, as I live in California and she in Vermont, I cook her famous white Spaghetti to fill my stomach when I'm missing her company. I cooked it for my girlfriend and have now taken credit for it as my famous dish. And I'm sure when my kids are old enough to scarf down cheesy pasta I will be hooking them onto it as well. However, no matter how many times I cook the white spaghetti, I can never replicate the way my mom made it. I must be missing a key ingredient....

Even