Eat Your Words: Scene and Brown
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.
Scene (noun): the location where some action occurs; also, a portion of a play or act of a play that usually represents what passes between two characters.
Example: In her review of The Dinner, Katie Halpern explains the particular strangeness of the story – the fact that it takes place entirely over the course of a single dinner. "The book is structured like a menu; we move from drinks to appetizer to main course to dessert. It’s set in a chi chi restaurant, wildly expensive and serving anything but comfort food. In fact, nothing about this meal is comfortable," she writes. In this case, the dinner at that restaurant is the scene.
In plays, sections are often referred to by their Act or Scene number. This makes it easy for readers and others to quickly find the right place in the play , while also dividing the work better than would, say, chapters.
Brown (verb): to heat each side of a cut of meat in a skillet with a little oil before transferring to the oven for full cooking.
Example: Though Katie's eggplant lasagna is noodle-free, it still offers a hearty portion of ground beef. Before adding it to her baking dish and finishing the whole thing off in the oven, she browns the meat in a pot with onions, salt and pepper to create the base of her tomato meat sauce.
For thicker cuts of meat – chicken breasts, say – Bon Appetit recommends using a heavy, non-stick skillet heated over medium-high heat for three minutes before adding a small amount of oil. Then, pat the meat dry and place the pieces far enough apart to avoid crowding. Once the meat hits the pan, let it stay there until the bottom gets a good brown on it. Finally, remember: For this kind of meat, tongs are the best tool.
See past installments by visiting our Eat Your Words archive!