To Storify or Not Storify

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When “recipe” is suggested, what comes to mind is Julia Child.  I like to cook, and I have Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I confess I’ve only made a few things from it because in general it’s just a really intimidating cookbook, even though I consider myself a fairly advanced, adventurous cook.  The recipes go on for pages and pages and the format seems to “hide” important elements—I’ll be going along, cooking happily and then get to a part of a recipe that says something like “now braise for four hours” or something similar.  I read through the whole recipe!  How did I miss this vital point?  It’s already 7pm?  We can’t eat dinner at midnight! It’s as if the recipe is hidden in all the text that is there for the purpose of trying to actually help you—although it doesn’t help this cook.

This could work in that the material is definitely there to work with and there is a discrete end point—hopefully a delicious dish.  What goes against it is in a way it’s been done as in the blog, book and movie “Julie and Julia”.  See a brief YouTube clip here.

Of course, Julia Child doesn’t own the market for complicated, scary recipes.  Thomas Keller’s French Laundry Cookbook is notorious for making the most confident home cooks question their cooking skills.  So there’s potential there.  I just don’t know if a recipe tells a “story” in a way that is emotionally gripping.

I’m trying to think of topics in the news that have never succeeded in capturing my attention…tort reform, for instance.  Or the keystone oil pipeline.  I live in Atlanta, GA, who gets almost all of its water from Lake Lanier, a man-made lake and reservoir that pulls water from the Tennessee River.   Every few years, fights and lawsuits flare up among Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida regarding Georgia’s water use and its fairness to neighboring states.  Surely an important issue, one I just never really understood why it became an issue in the first place.  One does not simply manufacture a huge lake under dark of night—surely our surrounding states knew about this, right?

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2 thoughts on “To Storify or Not Storify

  1. You are onto some good potential here. A recipe does not seem like a story at first, but of course there is a beginning, middle, and end, and one might think of ingredients as characters. That is literal. Then there are stories behind the recipe- maybe who it came from, or the memories it conjures up.

    I tend to skip recipes that have a lot of ingredients or steps. What might draw me into one? Is it exotic ingredients? The photos? Would a recipe be better if it were framed within a larger story?

    I am happy to see you using hyperlinks to add reference- what I will be looking for next week is that you learn how to embed that Julia Julia video right into your blog, so I do not have to go elsewhere to watch it.

    The thing about a news story is that it an often be told from too neutral and angle (maybe?) The focus on the facts, leaves out the whys, the who it affects? The Snowfall story worked for its good writing, and the telling of something via the connected stories of individuals.

  2. As someone that does not really cook and hates any receipes that go on for more than a paragraph I can relate and would love a story around a receipe. You could even make it part of an event night that you are prepping for and thus the table settings, the food, and shoping etc all become part of the larger story. So making them about a themed night could help you get more of a story and the receipe in there as well. I for sure like this more than the news idea but that is just me. Also loved the links to youtube and other items. One thing I would add are a little more images or something to break up the text and draw my eye. Otherwise great jobs!

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