Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tastes Like Chicken!

You have heard the phrase, I am sure; Whenever someone is trying to explain the flavor of a non-beef dish, it's almost certain that it will be compared to Chicken.

Duck? Octopus? Frog's Legs? It doesn't matter. It's always Chicken, Chicken, Chicken...


Because people lack either imagination or a diverse enough knowledge base to give a more informed answer, that's why.

If someone had more imagination, they would look for aspects of the experience to convey that are better at expressing the uniqueness of it. Duck, for example, is permeated with a type of fat that gives it the distinctive flavor it has... that fat also has a tendency to stick to the roof of your mouth.

Not very "chicken-esque."

If a person had a greater base of knowledge, they would draw from that greater pallet and allude to the nuances of something rather than a grosser generality. Quail, for example, has all the flavor of a child's rubber ball unless it seasoned correctly, while Phesant has an almost woodsmoked flavor to it's darkmeat that holds up well to strong sauces.

What does all this have to do with anything?

I have found that, as a writer, it's very easy to fall into the "Tastes Like Chicken" trap. There are old standby ways of putting a story together, and obvious dialogue for obvious situations... But that approach is neither imaginative nor consistant with doing proper research. It's very tempting to short hand everything, and fall back on things that always seem to work. Easy, but unsatisfying and ultimately wrong.

Pushing oneself to that next level isn't easy, but the outcome is worth the struggle. At least, it has been for me so far... which is good, because I am not very big into Chicken.


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