I wrote the following blog entry for a writing contest during IFBC, The International Food Bloggers Conference, this past weekend. During Sunday’s lunch break, our challenge was to eat from the food trucks that had been brought in for the event and write a 200-word blog post about. But – we had to write using “all 5 senses.” More about the contest below…
Away from the clatter of the crowd and the hum of the food trucks, I found a seat along the the canal on the cool concrete. My meal was swaddled in a banana leaf and wrapped in foil that glistened with the juices of the spicy pork tamale steaming inside.
As I unwrapped the small package, the ducks began to gather and the gulls beckoned from above. Not today friends. I’m not sharing.
Tamales are simple food. Humble. The complex flavors betray their basic ingredients. Corn masa. Pork. Spices.
The masa is earthy and dense and encases a filling of rich, slow-cooked pork that is so spicy it warms me from the inside out, even as the cool breeze chills the back of my neck.
On the first day of the conference there was a seminar called “Writing with All Five Senses” by Kathleen Flinn, author of The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry. It was informative but challenging. I didn’t think I ‘got it.’ So, when we were presented with this challenge I didn’t think I would enter. But then I ordered a tamale.
I took my lunch down to the canal to eat and just sat and soaked in the scenery. I tried to remember everything Kathleen told us the day before and slowly the words started to come to me. I went back to the conference area, ordered a beer and chatted with some people. The words kept coming. I ordered another beer. Finally, with about 30 minutes to go, I sat down with pen and paper and started writing. I only had my iPhone at the conference, so once I had sketched out my blog entry I began furiously tapping away on my phone. One of my seatmates checked the word count for me and I clicked ‘send’ to submit.
As the judges deliberated I obsessively read and re-read my entry. Above is exactly what I submitted. I am not an editor, so some of my punctuation and tenses may be wrong. But then they announced the winners! Three entries, in no particular order, won – White Lotus Cooks, Caveman Wines and ME! The prizes were a selection of cookbooks and cookware (I won a Staub Cocotte), but even better was that the judges were Molly Wizenberg and Kathleen Flinn. That alone was prize enough.