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1. Fiction: Chocolat by Joanne Harris (2000)

Favorite Sentence: "A warm wind for February, laden with the hot greasy scents of frying pancakes and sausages and powdery-sweet waffles cooked on the hot plate right there by the roadside, with the confetti sleeting down collars and cuffs and rolling in the gutters like an idiot antidote to winter."

—Picked by Victoria Bell (previously a waitress at Dessous, Class of 2022) 

2. Essay: Cooking Your Way Through the Pandemic by Stanley Tucci (2020)

Favorite Sentence: "If there is no Kerrygold butter left in the United Kingdom, it’s because it’s either in our freezer or we ate it."

—Picked by Alexi Ehrlich (previously a cook at The Lunch Room, Class of 2021) 

3. Poetry: 
cutting greens by Lucille Clifton (1974)

Favorite Line: "and just for a minute
                       the greens roll black under the knife

—Picked by McKenzie Southworth (previously a waitress at Aventura, Class of 2020)
Michigan Sentences: Here is an article by Professor James Hathaway about food deprivation and its relationship with refugee status. Syllabus Sentences: Here is a short piece I give students when it is time to open them up to more sophisticated writing moves. (It's the introduction to the "Notes on Nuance" collection we feature below each month.)
Book Recommendations
  • For good sentences by a French chef
  • For good sentences by an American chef
  • For good sentences by a Swedish-Ethiopian Chef
Nuance: "Bordering On"
Note how the phrase "bordering on" lets you dance up against a more extreme adjective without fully committing to it.

"Yardbird was an instant hit in 2011, stayed popular, moved to a larger space last year, and has proved surprisingly influential. 'Yardbird has really changed the way front-of-house works in Hong Kong,' said Mr. Yu, the chef, who is originally from Taiwan. Before, he said, service here was stuck in an old-fashioned mode: either too deferential and formal (at expensive restaurants) or indifferent bordering on neglectful (at cheap ones)."

—Julia Moskin, "Where the World's Chefs Want to Eat" (2019)

"One bite of the bread salad and your tongue picks up the undercurrents: salty curls of prosciutto, air-dried in a nearby barn, and layers of bordering-on-stinky Southeast Asian-style fish sauce made with clumps of fresh squid."

—Jeff Gordinier, "Fermentation: A Love Story" (2016)

Correction: The "Notes on Nuance" section last month contained an error. We used the plural word "ellipses" to describe when you stylistically omit one or more words from a construction. We should have used the singular "ellipsis." Thank you to the perceptive readers who helped us realize our mistake.
Additional Resources
Online Course

Good with Words: Writing and Editing

Good with Words: Writing and Editing  
Notes on Nuance                                                    
The Syntax of Sports: Class 1 
The Syntax of Sports: Class 2
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