Tonight I happened to think back on a meal I had last fall, at a very nice restaurant. I have remembered this meal fondly many times, and tonight I started analyzing why. Not only because "analyzing why" is one of my favorite pastimes, but also because I suspect there may be some parallels to writing. Maybe the elements that make a meal memorable could also make a book memorable.
What I noticed about the meal,
even at the time, was how perfect every detail was. My companions and I
tasted one another's food, and every element on every plate was
I had a big pile of green beans on my plate. If you've
eaten green beans, you know that often there will be some stringy ones
in the batch, or a few tough ones, or some that get overcooked or
undercooked. But in this batch, every single bean was tender and
delicious. Someone in that kitchen checked every bean, and if they had
any bad ones, those didn't make it onto the plate.
Most of my
food was deceptively simple--fish, green beans--but dessert was more
complicated. It had several ingredients. And those ingredients went together.
I had the feeling that every one of them was carefully chosen. Again,
each individual component was done well, none of them bringing down the
So here are my take-home lessons: Care. Thought.
Attention to detail. Making sure every component is the best it can be,
and works well with everything around it. Not phoning it in, not being