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Food Writing Exercises: Limiting Adjectives

I continue to work through ‘Will Write for Food’ as a way to improve my food writing, although progress has been halted slightly due to work (got to pay the bills!), travel (for work) and Magic of Christmas commitments (oh crikey Christmas is coming, fast!). Returning to where I had gotten to, I found that I had left myself halfway through writing two paragraphs about a favourite dish without using any adjectives. (Note: I will probably never say “my favourite dish”, instead using “a favourite”. I like too many things for too many different reasons to ever label one such dish as an all time favourite.)

What was the favourite dish of choice for this exercise? Chicago deep dish pizza! A thing of legend in my mind until I realised a few years ago that I was heading to Chicago and there was a whole intriguing history behind it. The exercise itself, from Chapter 2 of the book, tasked me with writing two paragraphs about it, using no adjectives. The aim was not just to describe it, but to discuss where I had eaten it, and how I’ve made it myself. After finishing the two paragraphs, you go back through and add at most three adjectives.

So here we go, two paragraphs about Chicago deep dish pizza:

Chicago Pizza

It isn’t proper pizza, I thought, waiting in a Chicago pizzeria with a group of friends. All of us were apprehensive about what was on its way to the table. But it didn’t matter. It had all the right elements, and the reverse ordering of cheese and sauce did work rather well. The crust, while nothing like the Neapolitan variety I tend to make, provoked my curiosity and I have sought to replicate it ever since. I’ve experimented in my kitchen using a dough laminated with butter like pastry, folded and chilled and then pushed into a cake pan ready to receive its fillings – lashings of mozzarella and a scattering of spicy sausage. It worked. It worked really quite well.

But nothing will quite replicate the experience of that first time in Chicago. My dough was similar, the chunky sauce a good imitation. But it wasn’t my first time in America anymore. There had been no queuing for a table. There was no feeling that this was the most iconic dish of the city I was in. Each bite evoked those memories, but could not replicate the original event. Removing all of that left the pizza itself. Thankfully, it is a spectacle by itself, an imposing tower of crust, sauce and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese.


Chris Phethean is a writer and blogger. He is working on a range of sci-fi, fantasy and adventure stories, and dreams of writing interactive narratives for video games. Find him on and Twitter.


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