It’s September and the windows are open and the air coming in is just cool enough to make me contemplate a sweater or fuzzy socks. Fall is creeping in and that seems like a perfect time to write about my essay in the Little Fiction/Big Truths Nomfiction Anthology, “How to Preserve Food for the Winter.”
First draft written: August 2013
Number of drafts written: 4-5
Number of rejections: 3
From submission to publication: 4 months
Well, not suprisingly, I was cutting up eggplant rounds to roast and freeze. One of them rolled under the oven. I thought about the incredible satisfaction I feel when I can or freeze or in any other way take food I’ve grown and store it away. Smug, is how I would describe it.
The first draft of this essay was much shorter; it was just the eggplant. I submitted it to CARVE for their poefictiontry category and got a personal rejection, which was pretty exciting. I sent it two other places and then kind of forgot about it.
Then I saw the call for the food anthology at Big Truths and I knew I wanted to write something for that. I tried an essay about poor man’s soup, one of the first things I ever learned to cook–my comfort food. I kept working and working at it, and the deadline kept getting closer and closer. I was about to give up when I looked at the tiny little eggplant essay. I think it was probably 2-3 days before the deadline when I got the idea to add a few other vegetables and make it a segmented essay. A kind of list.
I picked the three vegetables I feel most strongly about (does that sound weird to feel strongly about vegetables?)–tomatoes, beets and corn. I wrote the draft, edited it a couple of times and then sent it in.
I really do call my mom every time I can tomatoes to ask how long it takes. Partly this is because I really can’t remember and partly this is because I want to talk to my mother. I feel certain there’s no one else on the planet who truly understands the satisfaction that comes from sound of a quart jar sealing. My mom taught me how to can and someday perhaps I’ll teach my own daughter. When I get to the end of this essay, I tear up a little every time.
The essays in the Nomfiction Anthology are amazing and delicious. Really. Every single one. You can order a print version of the anthology here, so go do that, now. The only thing better than eating food is reading about it.