Writing, cooking, and creativity

We started this blog because Anna Leigh and I love to work together. We were looking for an ongoing project, something that would involve things we both enjoy, something that wasn’t huge in terms of time for either of us – so, of course, we ended up with writing and eating.

Persian dessert

Persian dessert – which I never make but buy…

I think that, in some ways, the eating part of the title of our blog is a bit misleading. Yes, we’re both passionate about food which obviously involves eating – but in some ways, for both of us, it’s more about experimenting, about testing ideas, about trying different things with food. It’s creative.

And that’s where the writing and the eating part of this blog collide in a big way.


It’s pretty clear that writing anything – from non-fiction to poetry to novels or short fiction – is a creative endeavour. You’re making something from nothing. And in some ways, cooking is the same thing. In both cases, I start with a feeling. For other writers or cooks, they start with a plan or an idea, an outline of some kind. Like writers, different cooks come at projects in different way.

I can see you e-scratching your e-head and wondering just what the heck I’m talking about. Let me see if I can explain what, for me, is an intuitive thing – and it works that way both in writing and in cooking. So, if I explain to you the food process, you’re probably going to get the writing process, and vice versa.

Food for me is family. It’s friends. It’s an event. It’s all about the company. So, while I love to cook, the menu is always secondary to the feeling I want to create for the meal. If I’m having an Easter dinner, it’s all about spring and that could be where I start – everything might be green, yellow, blue, and pink because spring for me is grass, cherry blossoms, blue sky (finally!) and daffodils . If I’m having a baby shower, I start there and might end up with a meal where everything is baby sized – peas, Cornish game hens, baby potatoes. And I never, ever make a meal that would make anyone uncomfortable. If I’m inviting friends who like plain food, that’s what I make. If I’m inviting friends who like finger food, that’s what I serve. If I’m cooking Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for my family, I make the meal they’ve eaten for years. If I’m busy, or I’m tired, I buy food and put it together. I love Granville Island for that, I can go there and buy beautiful food that allows me to spend time with my friends or family instead of cooking. So for me, it’s about family. It’s about friends. It’s about social!

Writing begins with an emotion, usually couched in a word or a phrase, a title or a sentence. I’ll walk around with those words in my head, sometimes for months, occasionally for years.  I always start there, with that one thing. I often don’t know what that emotion is until I’m halfway through the book or, what is more likely, when someone who has read it tells me what it is.

So there’s the connection for me – the creativity of the process, the way I think about both writing and cooking, the way I imagine an end result and work backwards from there.



One thought on “Writing, cooking, and creativity

  1. And this is why I love working with Kate so much. I DO things, but she always has the perfect explanation for it.
    The creativity is individual, whether cooking or writing. In this our writing and cooking styles shine through. She is a much “fancier” cook than I, in that she would make baby peas and hens for a baby shower… I probably would never think of that. Just as her books are… I try to evoke strong emotion through simplicity of words, and she does it through depth of words. Just like our cooking. She thinks very deeply without trying. I love her for that!

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