What’s it like to encounter people on the street who recognize you from your “Man in the Kitchen” column in CRR?
“I’ve always been amazed that people actually read it, pay attention to it and use my recipes. One person came up to me and told me he has used my Swiss Steak as a standard offering for his family. I’ve always been taken aback that people read my stuff.
Let’s face it: Recipes are a dime a dozen. What do you think sets your articles in CRR apart from the recipes and information widely available to readers in regular cookbooks or on the Internet?
It’s more personable, because it’s local. Writing for CRR, we actually see our readers and talk to thems. I don’t just randomly pick recipes out of a cookbook. They’re tested, with friends. For example, I made my mushroom soup using three different kinds of mushrooms with my friend, Joe Sauve, and he gave me feedback. So far, my column topics have usually come from my own kitchen repertoire or the recipes discovered or invented for dinner parties I host or attend.
Is it hard to come up with topics? Do you get writer’s block?
My preparation is almost always mental. I’ll be thinking about details, ideas and examples I want to include. I think about it and I work on it. I make decisions often before I even start writing. Starting is the hard part. After that, it kind of flows.The writing is kind of the end game.
Almost all CRR contributors are amateur writers. What do you think draws them to write for a publication like CRR?
“Not that many people get to see their words in print and can send copies to their friends. And, despite the deadline pressure and the challenge of coming up with an original topic, there is satisfaction in completing each column. It’s work, of course. Being there (finished with the column) is a lot more fun than getting there. Working with Sue on editing, refining and tweaking columns is an enjoyable, collaborative process that always seems to yield an improved column.
I was there at the beginning of the Reader and I’m still here at the 100th.
It’s still fun.
Paul Thompson is one of CRR’s charter columnists. In CRR’s first issue, he wrote about digging and cooking clams, then moved on to apple pie and his famous garlic bread. Read this month’s “Man in the Kitchen” on page 18.