Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Writing and Bouillabaisse Soup

For years I’ve compared writing to making bouillabaisse soup. Both tasks are carried out with great care and attention to detail.

Here’s my vision of how the soup is made, and you will be able to ascertain how it applies to writing.

First, you take a big fishnet and, standing on a rock jutting out into the sea, cast it as wide as you can. After you gather the net and pull it up on the rock, you begin a careful examination of everything caught in it. Ah, here’s a starfish leg, which you toss back into the sea. And here’s a wonderful little fish, not too bony. You continue this process, throwing out the bits of seaweed, empty crab exoskeletons, tough old fish with bulging eyes, etc., keeping the right-sized fish, chunky crabs, and mussels pulled off the rock.

Gathering up your net and a bucket of edible morsels, you trudge home, put on an apron, and start the process of making the soup. Each item worth saving is carefully prepared and put in the pot along with the perfect soup base.

You now add the special items that make bouillabaisse soup unique: saffron, fennel and orange zest.

Since it’s believed that “bouillabaisse” is derived from the French “bouillon abaissé, " meaning to “reduce by evaporation” you let it simmer over a very low fire for a long time.

Before it’s served, Editor (conveniently named) sails into the kitchen with a keen eye and a ladle. After she pulls out a stray fish bone and a tiny clump of seaweed, she advises you to add a pinch more saffron. Grateful for Editor’s extraordinary attention to detail, you follow her advice.

Now, finally, the bouillabaisse soup is ready to serve.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very cute. I love it.