Prosciutto and a Writing tip

It’s nice to get out sometimes, isn’t it?

Yesterday Belén, Susanna and I went to the city and after a quick doctor’s appointment, the day stretched before us with opportunity. We went to an art gallery, wandered around a bookstore ’til our eyes got sore, and talked about going to Chuck E Cheese’s. Susanna kept on calling it Checkered Cheese’s, insisting she didn’t want to go because she didn’t like “checkered cheese” anyway. (The girls had never been there and I thought I somehow owed it to them.) I, of course, was happy to skip out and we ended up substituting a little Italian deli for ol’ Chuck E.


deli packages

When we walked in the doorway, a man with slicked-back hair and a mouthful of rolled rrrr’s welcomed us in. Sausages hung from the ceiling and the rotund lady behind the counter patiently answered all my cheesy questions, cutting slivers of gouda, fresh goat cheese and aged parmesan. When I asked about the prosciutto she held it up like a trophy then lowered it to the table where she cut it so thinly, I thought the strips might evaporate. She laid down each piece of sliced meat with a slow flourish, seeming so appropriate and natural I wondered why I’d never seen interpretive dance with cured pork before.


More deli packages (isn’t brown paper SO photogenic?) and some of Stan’s homemade wine (in a recycled bottle).

While she packaged my goods in brown paper the owner of the store made his rounds between customers: slapping them on the back, making suggestions on what kind of cheese to pair with mortadella, and escorting them out the door. When it was our turn at the till, he slipped two chocolate bars to Belén and Susanna and we all left feeling like we’d hit a jackpot.
Back at home, while eating our meal straight out of the brown wrappers (adding a little olive oil and butter to the spread) I asked my family a favour:

“Remember how Laura Ingalls had to be Mary’s eyes for her after she went blind and Laura described everything so perfectly, Mary felt like she was seeing? Well, I want you all to be Laura and I’ll be Mary. Only instead of being blind, I’m celiac (which I am). Now, tell me everything you can about how that bread tastes.”

Belén tore a piece off one of the artisan loaves and started talking, “This one is as light as a cloud–on the inside; on the outside it’s like soggy cheerios.”

She closed her eyes, reached for the second loaf, and chewed it slowly before deciding on her words. “This crust is about as hard as a rotten log…”

She gets points for understanding simile, I’d say.



Belén, writing in her new diary. It took us NINE stores to finally find one with a lock and key–apparently an absolute must for eight-year-olds.

While searching for just the right diary for Belén, I am tempted by all the beautiful journals available. I finger the leather covers and and funky closures. Some are embossed with whimsical birds, others are filled with heavy paper that seems to promise meaningful and substantial prose. I almost pick one out for myself… but then I don’t. Here’s why:

Most of what I write is incomprehensible. I am consistently amazed by how much garble I cough up when trying to capture a poignant moment or a simple story. And so, if I had a pretty book I might try to fill it with pretty writing–which would be a very time-consuming and painful affair. Instead, I write down bits of conversations and scraps of sentences in an old notebook so I can catch the words before they’re gone, without the pressure of matching the quality of the journal. The tired clichés and overused imagery slide onto the paper right beside the stuff that isn’t so bad; the stuff that makes me sit back and smile. Then, on some clear day when I feel up to the task, I can pick my way through the verbal debris and pull out the parts worth saving. Fine, expensive journals are nice ideas; I just don’t think I could get mine out on them.

If you’ve come this far looking for the writing tip, thank you so much. Unfortunately, that was it; that’s all I got. You should probably leave my blog now and check out Anne Lamott or Natalie Goldberg, my two favourite authors on writing. I am currently re-reading Bird by Bird and it is just as inspiring, funny, comforting, pathetic, and hopeful as ever.

Does anyone else have other great titles on writing to share? Or recipes with goat cheese?



6 thoughts on “Prosciutto and a Writing tip

  1. Love it. I’m tempted to send you one of the 25 cent notebooks with cheesy cheetah covers that I buy at the local grocery store and fill with nearly illegible scrawl, inspired of course by dear Natalie. The two books you mentioned are the ones I read over and over- partly to be inspired and partly in hopes that their style and genius will leach into my writing through pure osmosis. Stephen King’s On Writing is definitely worth reading once if you haven’t, but it doesn’t provide the kind of friend and fanclub that Goldberg and Lamott do. Lovely photos.

    • Kirsten, you know I would loved to read through a cheetah notebook filled with your nearly illegible thoughts!
      I’ve heard of Stephen King’s book, but I haven’t read it yet; I’ll order it from my library today! Thanks.
      And thanks for commenting.

  2. I’m with you on the writing tip! I always look for the blandest journal possible. Quotes or pictures on the page just feel like intrusive eavesdroppers!

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