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388th Friday Blog Roundup

Okay, last thoughts on food.  I am seriously fascinated by the various ways we think about the things we put in our mouths.

That just sounded dirty.

Lori raised a good point: what is the definitely of a foodie?  Is it only the food consumer, or is it also the food preparer?  Can you be a foodie if you like to prepare food, but you don’t like to eat it?  Obviously, you could be a foodie if you consumed food but never prepared it.  But could you call a chef who doesn’t take great pleasure in consuming food a “foodie?”

I guess I’ve always seen the word as solely a term for the consumer of food and not the preparer.  My view point is obviously skewed because I make a lot of food I don’t consume.  First and foremost, I cook meat and I’ve never tasted it.  I judge its doneness based on temperature and look.  So far, unless everyone is lying to me and just enduring my cooking, it’s working well.  I guess how things taste based on smell, and I create new recipes for meat accordingly by pairing together ingredients that just smell “right” with one another.  Or I follow another person’s recipe.  Ina Garten hasn’t steered me wrong.

I also love baking and candy-making; both activities bring me great pleasure.  But I often don’t eat what I make.  I gave up sugar a few months ago so I didn’t, for instance, consume anything that I made for Purim.  They seemed to bring other people great oral pleasure (unless, of course, they’re lying to me), but I had no desire to taste any of it.  I see the act of preparation as very separate from the act of consumption, though I know this isn’t the case for other people.  I enjoy cooking, I enjoy baking, I enjoy making up new recipes and I enjoy giving food to other people; but I don’t always enjoy consuming the products that I just enjoyed preparing.  I make them because their preparation makes me happy and giving them away seems to make other people happy.  And I totally get that it brings someone else happiness, but consuming these things would not make me happy.

I would never describe myself as a foodie, because I see a foodie as a willing, open-minded receiver.  And while I’m a willing, open-minded giver, I am absolutely not a willing, open-minded receiver of even my own preparations.

What do you think?  Is foodie only the consumer or does it also apply to the preparer when the two are mutually exclusive?


A few years ago, I wrote an eleven-part series on getting a book published. (You need to unfortunately read it from the bottom up since the top post is the eleventh or final post.)  A bunch of people told me that it was helpful, and I’m obviously still open to answering any questions as you try to get a book published.  But book publishing is a pretty small part of getting an MFA.  The much larger focus is on becoming a better writer, and part of that is trying your hand at various exercises.  I think there is a lot of common, usable good that can come from an MFA program especially in regards to blog writing and building a blog, but it’s a pretty inaccessible degree.  Unless you get a fellowship, it’s an expensive degree in the sense that it isn’t easy to make back the money spent.  And not many writers have the time to commit to finishing a writing degree.

So I’m offering it for free.  The contents of my brain and seven straight years of workshop.  Oh, and the experience I’ve had as an editor of two literary magazines, writing professor, two books, and a handful of published poems.  I’m not the only one for the job — there are far better writers on the Internet and I’ll be yanking them in here from time to time — but I am the one who is offering up all this content and all my connections for free.  And hey, free is good.

I’m calling it MFA Sunday School because I’ll post on most Sunday mornings.  If you don’t want to follow along, skip that first post on Sundays (since I have a tendency to also write my own thoughts about life on Sundays as a warm up for other writing).   If you do want to follow along from home, you can either read the post on Sundays or read the post at your leisure.  Collect them up in your Google Reader and do the exercises in your spare time.  The comment section of the posts will be for people to post a link to their own work (due to length, I’m going to ask people to post on their own blogs and then just leave a link that people can follow back to your space.  Unless you don’t have a space on the Web, and then feel free to post the whole piece of writing) and they will be open indefinitely.

MFA Sunday School will cover the basics of poetry — free form and fixed form.  The basics of short story writing.  How to dissect fiction and then use what you learn to enhance your own work.  How to develop a novel.  How to write creative non-fiction.  How to look at your own work with a critical eye.  How to submit to literary magazines.  How to pitch to editors.  How to form a relationship with a writing partner and look at each other’s work with a critical eye.  Critique of query letters.  And any other topics you’d like to know about that are usually covered in an MFA program.

This Sunday, I can post a formal opening to the project and take votes on topics.  That post would be the one where I’d ask everyone who plans to participate to introduce themselves so people could find writing partners via the comment section.

BUT I would like to know now if this sounds interesting to you, if you think you’d want to drop in and out depending on whether or not the topic of the week resonates with you (see, another good part about a free online MFA course — you don’t have any required credits to complete).  If this idea doesn’t resonate with you, there is no need to write these posts.  I already have the information in my brain.  But I like connecting with people who like to write, who want to write better, who want to understanding the process of writing, who like words and want to play with them.  So if you’re game, let me know and we can get started this Sunday.


And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week as well as the week before.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

Hobbit-ish Thoughts and Ramblings has a fun post that made me think about how feelings towards characters change over time (and while all of you are not characters, I think the same can apply for bloggers themselves).  She admits that while she didn’t like Ginny Weasley that much at first, the character grew on her over the course of the Harry Potter series and later became her favourite.  I tried to think of places where this has happened.  Can you think of any?  Go over and let her know — it’s fun to consider.

The latest post in the Faces of ALI series on Too Many Fish to Fry is a moving portrayal of one of my favourite bloggers.  It is exactly the type of story we wish the media would cover.  I love how Loribeth isn’t presented as solely an infertile woman — she is so much more than her uterus.  She is a historian, a memory keeper, a family member.  I cried when Loribeth called her mother after Katie’s death as well as the realizations she had holding her daughter.  It’s a gorgeous post — well-written and important to read if you want to understand how infertility affects a life.

My Life in a Nut Shell has a post about not feeling like herself.  She is currently pregnant again and holding her breath after prior losses.  She writes, “I just wish that I could find myself again and have this pregnancy be something I’m experiencing rather than it being who I am.”  It’s a moving post about losing who you are and hoping you can find yourself again.

Nuts in May has a great post about different ways of handling emotions, utilizing the term sidler to great success.  It is a look into the marriage of a compartmentalizer and a dealer (one who likes to deal directly with the issue), and what happens when the two attempt to communicate.  She sums it up perfectly here: “It’s all very well saying I can vent on the internet and get all those lovely supportive comments to make me feel better. You, Gentle Readers, do make me feel better. But you’re not very cuddly, and your neck doesn’t smell faintly of sandalwood and citrus, and you don’t make me tea.  And anyway, I like the feeling that the inside of my head is of some interest to my spouse. It’s not a feeling I’ve had for a good while. And I like the feeling that care and consideration of the spouse’s state of mind is reciprocal, not a one-way street.”  Go read the whole thing.

Lastly, Destined to be an Old Woman with No Regrets has lessons learned from an argument with her toddler, with ideas that apply to so many interactions in life.  I’m going to make you go over to read the whole situation, but I love the point she makes at the end: “At first my reaction was, ‘Ha! I won’. But that really wasn’t it at all. In the end, we both won, simply because we listened to each other. She got to make a choice and I got to set the parameters that would ensure not only that she was safe, but that I made it home in one piece physically and emotionally.”  Great lesson.

The roundup to the Roundup: What is the definition of a foodie?  Want to participate in MFA Sunday School?  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between April 6th and April 13th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.


1 Chickenpig { 04.13.12 at 8:29 am }

I think a foodie is someone who just enjoys food as an art form not just nourishment, whether they are the preparer or the consumer. I think a foodie is someone who CARES about food, both the food they put in their mouths, and the food that they prepare for others.

2 Elizabeth { 04.13.12 at 8:39 am }

For next week’s Second Helpings:
This is Part IV of Kym’s brilliant analysis of emotional infertility, and finding support in the ALI community/ies. Powerful stuff.

(And thank you, St. Elsewhere, for the linky love!)

3 Elizabeth { 04.13.12 at 8:42 am }

And did you know that the Anthropology of Food is an entire sub-discipline of its own? (of course it is)

4 JW Moxie { 04.13.12 at 8:52 am }

I think being a foodie simply means that you are passionate about exploring food, whether as one who prepares it or consumes it. I’ll stick to the consuming end.

I’m interested in MFA Sunday School, but due to other writing/editing responsibilities I have, I’ll have to be one of the ones who drops in and out depending on what the prompt or task is for the week.

5 Kathy { 04.13.12 at 9:05 am }

I am late to this whole food discussion, but appreciate all that you have discussed. I am a picky eater who has gotten slightly more adventurous in my 30’s. I don’t love to bake and cook, but enjoy it when I do. I eat most of what I make and am impressed that you could make all those goodies and not sample them.

I am in for (and very excited about) your MFA Sunday School, though like JWM I might take weeks off now and then. Hopefully it will be another kick in my behind to motivate me to spend more time on developing my book proposal.

As for second helpings:

Though I realize you already mentioned this post in your round up, I was very moved and inspired by Jjraffe’s profile of Loribeth for her awesome Faces of ALI series and would like to add it in for the second helpings: http://jjiraffe.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/faces-of-adoptionlossinfertility-the-memory-keeper/

I also really appreciated your wonderful response to that controversial post on Baby Center about the differences between experiencing miscarriages and neonatal death: https://www.stirrup-queens.com/2012/04/baby-loss-and-the-pain-olympics/

6 Tiara { 04.13.12 at 9:33 am }

MFA Sunday School sounds very interesting…I think I’ll be one to drop in and out depending on whether or not the topic resonates with me…

7 a { 04.13.12 at 10:08 am }

I am amazed that you can make delicious items without tasting them to see how they turned out. Smell is so much different than taste, which is what makes it so amazing to me. I think of a foodie as someone for whom food is solely art and never fuel.

It wasn’t nice of you and Elizabeth to steal all my posts to add this week. So I guess I’ll just go with this because it’s fun.


8 Liana { 04.13.12 at 11:08 am }

Even though I’m not looking to become a published author, the MFA Sunday School sounds great and I’m quite interested in reading and even participating. I’m also going to pass this on to several non-ALI bloggers i Know who I think would be VERY interested in it. Very cool idea and very generous of your time and experience.

9 Kimberly { 04.13.12 at 11:22 am }

I’ve always categorized a foodie as a broad topic that covers everyone from the person that eats and appreciates food to the person who loves to prepare food or the person who takes joy from experimenting.

As for my second helpings, I loved the post by Emily @ A Blanket To Keep about the bins of baby clothes a family member gave her in her attic and her transition from dreading taking them down for yet another pregnant family member and making the transition into coming to terms with the wait and letting herself be hopeful again.


10 loribeth { 04.13.12 at 11:36 am }

Thanks for highlighting Jjiraffe’s post about me & my story, Mel, & your very kind words. For me, one of the most positive things that came out of the recent Healing Salons was a greater awareness the childless/free corner of the community, and Jjiraffe’s decision to feature one of us as her next “Faces of ALI” profile builds on that momentum.

In that vein, for second helpings this week, I’d like to spotlight another great post from Mali at No Kidding in NZ , about how we define success in the ALI community and among ourselves as childless/free-not-by-first-choi e women. It has the ring of a manifesto about it.


11 Pale { 04.13.12 at 11:39 am }

I say foodies can be one or the other or both. I think Cooking Channel has a tagline to that effect … that those who love to eat ~and~ those who love to cook are all part of the happy foodie fam. My family culture (part Italian) equates preparing food with nurturing — not just the caloric kind. I absorbed that. I watch a hellofva lotta foodie tv … somehow, much to the annoyance of my family, I don’t get tired of watching it. I started out definitely more in the Loves To Prepare camp more than the Loves To Eat camp. Cooking was not that far removed from an art project for me (I have a BFA in art) — I don’t eat my artwork, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t made with a passion. And of course, art needs an audience just like a chef needs a hungry customer.

In my middle age, just when I can ill afford it, I’m starting to have more appreciation for the actual eating … for flavors and how they work together (or not). But I can’t really afford to indulge that. So I am still in the Loves-To-Prepare camp. If I lived alone, if I was a hermit, I think cooking would almost seem useless to me. Just like ? … makeup? Who is it for? Not as much for me as for those around me? For me, cooking is as much about the WHO for as much as the WHAT I am making.

Am I a foodie? I have an interest in learning how to make lovely food for friends and family. The label? I dunno. Yes, I think people would say I have foodie leanings.

I will say this … now that I am more into tasting the food … my cooking has improved tremendously. You know what they say about never trusting a skinny cook. And I must confess … the artistic /visual approach to seasoning has given many an unsuspecting guest at my table heartburn. It took my husband a few years of gentle lecturing to convince me it’s not about … uh … symmetry of application and modification of color … when it comes to … say … applying hot pepper flakes to a pot of chili. 😉

Very excited about your MFA project. !!! “I like connecting with people who like to write, who want to write better, who want to understanding the process of writing, who like words and want to play with them.” Me, too. !! Time constraints may cause me to drop in and out … can’t say for sure.

I don’t have a blog link for you, but along the lines of the foodie conversation … I ran across this product this week … probably on a foodie blog … haven’t ordered it yet, but it’s on my wishlist:


12 loribeth { 04.13.12 at 11:42 am }

(And thanks to Kathy too!)

13 marwil { 04.13.12 at 11:47 am }

A foodie is in my mind the one who enjoy eating and trying new food. We have been twice to the event ‘Taste of London’ and it’s amazing to see how this is so important to some and also see the food creations made. We were there just for fun, I’m not a picky eater and see most food as fuel. My husband is way more picky when it comes to choose restaurant or dinner made at home.

On the writing Sunday School – I’m game, might need to skip a few but it would be very interesting. I have been thinking of doing the NaBloPoMo during May but haven’t decided yet.

Lasly, here’s a sweet post about lost dreams and hope for new ones: http://newyearmum.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/happy-easter-and-visit-with-gabrielle.html

14 Pale { 04.13.12 at 11:54 am }

ooooooo … Wait … I do have a link for you … this one was one of 35 (true story) tabs open on my laptop and I just read it:


“Normal” from Sarah at Littleman Big: A Micropremie Adventure. I’m sure many will relate.

15 k { 04.13.12 at 1:19 pm }

Is it awful to submit your own post for the roundup?

I’m currently struggling with the decision whether to IVF or not to IVF for the last time, and came across the Sestina project on BlogHer and came up with this as a description of how it all feels.


16 Mina { 04.13.12 at 1:20 pm }

Where I grew up, food was and still is very important. For many, motherly love means great cooking. Erm, and loads of food. My grandmother equates love with feeding someone, be it human, animal or plant. I am learning to tone down the volume of this love, a never ending process. 🙂
So I guess foodie for me would be first someone who enjoys food and then someone who enjoys preparing food. And there is love for food in both components of the definition.

I would love to take part in your MFA project, it sounds really interesting and I haven’t done such a work since uni days. But I doubt I will have the time to do more than reading (and that if I am lucky), at least for the near future. I realised yesterday that I am in my third trimester (crazy! I feel cheated! When did it go by so darned fast?!) and my time is getting more stretched every day (with nothing to show for it, just less and less time in the day…). So, I would vote for MFA, if just reading still counts. And that is very, VERY generous of you to offer, it blew my mind when I read that.

17 loribeth { 04.13.12 at 1:21 pm }

Oh yes — as for Sunday MFA School I will definitely be reading along. I may or may not do the exercises as time & inspiration permit.

18 JustHeather { 04.13.12 at 1:36 pm }

Katie wrote about the lessons she’s learned from IF. Great insight and things she’s learned.

19 Casey { 04.13.12 at 5:19 pm }

Would love being involved in any writing class you’d be providing. Count me in. 🙂

20 Daryl { 04.13.12 at 10:11 pm }

I love the MFA Sunday School idea! Count me in!

21 Justine { 04.13.12 at 10:39 pm }

Oh, WOW! Sign me up for MFA Sunday School! That might be just the kick in the pants I need. 🙂

22 Rachel { 04.14.12 at 3:48 am }

I am very interested in joining the MFA sunday school!

As for a great post this week, I found your post on everything you know about blogging to be very helpful:


As I read your post, I realized that the way to be successful in blogging overlaps with the way to be successful in all other ways in life: be consistent; take the hurdles in stride; practice . . . practice . . . practice; have integrity; produce quality work; recognize the value of a loyal friend, a favor and a referral, and above all else, never give up!

Great advice not just for blogging — but for life!

23 Stinky Weaselteats { 04.14.12 at 10:13 pm }

MFA sounds FAB!! Will maybe dip in and out depending on topics and real-life stuff, I know I can be a bit flaky, but have always wanted to improve my writing, love playing with words, and do see a lot of my bloggystuff as being very lacking. Not sure what timezone you’re in, but I think your Sunday morning will be my Sunday night-time, so this might mean its something I pick up later in the week . . . Would be VERY interested in this, so much so I could even sort out that effective subscription to here . . .

24 Mali { 04.14.12 at 11:28 pm }

I love love LOVE the idea of your MFA; your generosity to others never ceases to amaze me. I’ll definitely be reading, and trying the exercises, but timezone difficulties (I think your Sunday morning is my wee-small-hours of Monday morning) might mean my responses will come in late.

As to your question – I think a foodie is someone who loves food, or even the idea of food. I don’t think it’s restrictive, but open – and so you’d qualify in my book.

Thanks to the lovely Loribeth for the shout out for my post. I’ve been overwhelmed with the response to it.

25 Steadfast Warrior { 04.15.12 at 6:26 am }

Foodies to me can be both the consumers and the preparers I’m both :P).

I am so in on the MFA Sunday School! Sounds like a wonderful thing to me. 🙂 And thanks for the nod to my post.

26 jjiraffe { 04.16.12 at 6:04 pm }

Thank you so much for featuring Faces of ALI and Loribeth’s story. I absolutely loved what you said about it and her. She’s such a lovely person and wonderful writer 🙂

I have really enjoyed Kathy’s series about the Titanic, a life-affirming and fascinating look at the most famous maritime disaster ever. This one post, with actual newspaper clippings, photos, trivia and the menu from the night the ship went down is all the more remarkable for being from her 8th grade report! Seriously interesting stuff, with the message that she takes at the end: this is why I love reading blogs.


27 Cherish { 04.17.12 at 11:22 pm }

I totally think you can be a foodie even if you aren’t eating it. For awhile I was avoiding sugar and gluten but still baking/cooking for others with those ingredients. It was so hard. I think the hardest part was not sampling to decide if it tasted right. I don’t really cook from recipes. Everything’s an experiment. I had to work from smell alone.

28 Bea { 04.18.12 at 8:21 am }

What chicken pig said, at the top. It’s all about caring.


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