literary food blog, for readers with good taste.

Eat Your Words: Hemiola and Caramelize

Eat Your Words: Hemiola and Caramelize

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 introduce one literary device (PAPER) and one culinary term (PLATES) everyone should know.

Hemiola (noun): in music, an alteration of rhythm in which six notes are heard in two groups of three or three groups of two.

Example: Katie Halpern describes the disjointed nature of Zadie Smith's storytelling in NW as "hemolic" and "percussive." Her use of musical terms allows us to understand that the prose is not simply portrayed; rather it takes on a creative, lyrical quality. This much is understood from her use of hemiolic, but to get a better understanding of what this term means, here's a great explanation from AllExperts:

"Say you're in 3/4 time, with three quarter-notes in a measure:


For two measures, you have six quarter-notes:


Those six quarter-notes can be grouped in 3s or in 2s.

If it's in 3s, as in 3/4 time, it's called triple meter.  If it's in 2s, then it's duple.

Ok.  You're sailing along in 3/4 time with BOOM chick chick BOOM chick chick and suddenly there's a temporary regrouping to 2s.  That's the hemiola: BOOM chick BOOM chick BOOM chick. Six counts in each; the difference is the grouping."

Caramelize (verb): to cook vegetables or meat over heat in order to break down sugars into their simplest forms, causing the food's moisture to evaporate and compromise its shape.

Example: We have already covered caramel as a cooking term, but caramelize has a slightly different meaning. In her caramelized onion, Gruyere and bacon dip, Katie sautes her chopped onions to give them a sweet flavor and soft, jam-like consistency. SAVEUR insists that the right way to caramelize onions is in butter, although we opted for cooking spray in pursuit of relative healthiness. "The goal is to caramelize gradually, at a low enough heat and stirring often," the magazine says, "so that the sugars don't brown too much, which would result in a toasty, roasted, or grilled onion flavor rather than a concentrated sweetness."

See past installments by visiting our Eat Your Words archive!

Sources: Merriam-Webster | SAVEUR

Valentine's Day the PAPER/PLATES Way

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NW & Caramelized Onion, Gruyere and Bacon Dip

NW & Caramelized Onion, Gruyere and Bacon Dip