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Eat Your Words: Bildungsroman and Sweat

Eat Your Words: Bildungsroman and Sweat

Eat your words

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.


Bildungsroman (noun): a form of storytelling in which the plot is based on the growth – mental, physical, emotional, spiritual or in some other capacity – of the central character; frequently this protagonist has dreams and views that clash with the other characters'.

Example: Stories built on a bildungsroman frame are frequently referred to as coming of age stories, which means many of the books you read in high school fall into this character. Everything from Great Expectations to The Catcher in the Rye to the Harry Potter series can be considered bildungsroman, which, by the way is a German term coined in the 17th century.

The Art of Fielding may be considered a bildungsroman novel cut short, as it focuses first on protagonist Henry Skrimshander's unusual and improving abilities as a shortstop. In this story, however, instead of a story of continuing physical and emotional maturation, Henry's gift seems to suddenly deteriorate following a freak accident. This may reflect a trend in bildungsroman novels typified in the 20th century, in which "the bildungsroman more often ends in resignation or death."


Sweat (verb): the act of cooking ingredients, covered, over low heat in a small amount of fat, allowing the food to soften instead of browning.

Example: In his vegetable tofu stir fry recipe, Dave Collins recommends sweating the red bell pepper. In the case of stir fry, this technique is not carried out exactly according to definition, but it achieves the same result: softened vegetable pieces that retain their skins intact with no evidence of browning or singeing.

Vegetable tofu stir fry

Sources: Literary Devices | Atomic Gourmet

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