Eat Your Words: Fiction and Devein
Devouring books and crafting meals is great–but sounding smart while you do it is even better. That’s why we’re teaching you to eat your words. In this weekly guide, we bring you literary devices and culinary terms everyone should know.
Fiction (noun): a story that is imagined or invented; may be based on history or reality but is not a true story in the sense that it actually happened.
Example: Many of the popular novels we consume regularly are works of fiction. Usually, this means that their plots are entirely made up. Sometimes they take place in real historical settings–such as Nazi Germany, South Africa during Apartheid, or America during the Civil War–but other times such stories are set in completely unexplored or even non-existent locations.
Other times, as in the case of Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, reality and fiction intertwine. For example, famous personalities such as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton make cameos but, unlike the real world, they only play supporting roles in the text. Despite this inclusion of real people, the events and occurrences in Beautiful Ruins plant it firmly in the fiction section.
Devein (verb): to use a knife or special tool to remove the dark vein running along the back of a shrimp.
Example: In her recipe inspired by Beautiful Ruins, Amy Cavanaugh managed to snag some already deveined shrimp, but don’t worry if you’re not so lucky. Deveining shrimp isn’t a particularly fun process but if you want your shrimp to look good, it is an essential one. Running a paring knife down the back of the shrimp to create a slit then using it to pull out the vein is usually a sufficient means of removal.
My sisters and I always joked that the single dark vein down the shrimp’s body was actually a poop chute, and it turns out we weren’t wrong. The “vein” is actually the shrimps digestive tract. So even though what comes out is sticky and unpleasant, I wouldn’t skip this step. Who knows what you’ll be eating otherwise.
For you visual learners, here’s a helpful how to video: