Food Writing Contest 2014!


[Updated with new prizes!]

I haven’t done this in a few years, but as I was hunting for something the other day, I came across the 2011 food writing contest winners. It’s time we did this again!

This year the theme is Food Memories. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about Portland, but it must be a food-centric experience. Let’s keep the entries to 500 words or so.

I will keep the contest open until about February 10th. The final winner will be determined by visitors to this site.

As an incentive, a few great prizes have been generously donated by local businesses:

Perhaps we’ll get a few more incentive prizes as the contest picks up steam!

Here are a few links to previous contests. Each one has samples and past entries:

What are your memories?  Email your entries to me (Please let me know what name you want used when I post them), or put them in the comments section below.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. Frieda Lighthouse says

    Why not cupcakes? It was my turn to bring in a treat to my 5th grade class. As I mixed the batter, I thought the color was kind of dull, and thought of our little bottles of food coloring in their stained box way on the top shelf. I threw in some red, and that was pretty, and then some blue, and the resulting color filled me with glee. I baked them in their little paper cups, and frosted them, and brought them to school the next day. When liberated from their cups, the cupcakes were nicely brown on the outside–but oh, so purple inside. Azalea purple. Easter Parade purple. Barney purple. My classmates found them frightening, and I ended up bringing them all home with me. They were good, though, and we got to eat them all at home, and somewhere in there I found out about colors prejudices in food–and how to make sure you get all the cupcakes.

  2. says

    We were glutinous and loved “Kraft dinner,” mac ‘n’ cheese from a box. We’d never heard of quinoa. But we recycled, milked our own goats, and raised what would now be considered free-range, grass-fed beef. My dad BBQ’d it to insane, rare perfection. His was barely seared at all, and my mom would send hers back, saying, “TED! It’s RAW!!”

    Welcome to Oregon.

    It was the late 1970s and ’80s, a time when I grew from “Yay! I’m out in the woods popping oak-balls and watching deer! Mama, here are some flowers I picked for you” to “Oh my GAWD, why can’t we live in a REAL city? Or at least in town? I hate you!” Little did I know that my dad’s homemade goat’s milk ice cream (heaven!), mom’s comfort foods (most of which did not come from a box), and the peas I planted, picked, and shelled would set me up for the foodie Portland of my twenties and onward.

    What I did figure out early: the power of my meaty past to fascinate and terrify. I moved to Berkeley for college in the late ’80s—and to get out of rural Lane County and the Eugene scene. I was drawn, as usual, to a mix of political activists, ageing Beatniks, coffeehouse rats, street punks, and arty postpunk “new wave” alterna-kids, the nerdy hipsters of the day. And among these groups, meat was murder. To me, meat was… love.

    Vegetarians were au courant, chic, and depêche mode. Meat was for parents, yuppies, and the bourgeoisie. And, apparently, for me. “You eat meat?” someone might ask. I’d go all nonchalant, shrugging. “I grew up raising cattle,” and bite into my juicy burger. It startled people, intrigued them, especially as I grew more and more urban and urbane, a city person, not a country gal. Best of all, I discovered how to weed out the weak among the boys I met: take the conversation one step further:

    “I castrated a young bull.”

    Now Portland’s cool kids roast their own pigs on spits they craft themselves in blacksmith shops. We eat the raw livers of anything that runs or flies; we have put the flank steak through its paces over the last 10-15 years. As for me? My carpal tunnel syndrome is too intense for milking goats. My childhood taught me that chickens are incredibly annoying, too pea-brained to make up for the delicious fresh eggs. Raccoons have taken over my raised beds for their latrine. So I’m not much of an urban PDX farmer. But whenever I visit my parents out in the country, my dad BBQ’s up gorgeous slabs of steak from cattle raised by folks nearby. I eat mine pretty darned rare. My mom sends hers back, saying, “TED! It’s RAW!” And last time, some neighbors I’d reconnected with on Facebook gave me half a lamb as a gift.

    Welcome to Oregon.

  3. says

    Everyone unlucky enough to find themselves at the end of a bad marriage, should be lucky enough to have a friend with a house in France. I was both, unlucky and lucky, heartbroken and hopeful. All I knew when I boarded that plane at PDX was that at least there would be wine.

    The ancient house had thick fortress like walls and large windows with heavy
    wooden shutters. Flanked by cypress, it sat up on a hill surrounded by carefully tended vineyards. Almost cliché to be a woman searching for a new start in an exotic foreign locale: but I did not find myself, or a new man. I did find butter.

    It was a short walk into the tiny village. One cafe, six churches, two bakeries, and a small market— it’s narrow isles crammed with local cheese and wine, winter vegetables and butter: cultured butter, richer than it’s American cousins, with a soft tang and grassy undertones. My favorite was flecked with fleur de sel; tiny briny bursts of sea salt suspended in velvety cream.

    My meals were simple. For breakfast, fresh baguette smeared with a bit of butter and honey from the comb of the bees that had built their hive against the glass of one of the upstairs windows. The bees were long gone, whisked away by a bee whisperer who had seduced their queen, but their nectar remained.

    Lunch, I’ll confess, was usually wine or coffee.

    And the dinner I remember, the one that makes me miss those golden hours most, was potato leek soup. A reminder of how the simplest things done well and with attention are often the things we carry with us for comfort in darker hours. That soup, balanced, earthy, stippled with Herbs de Provence, and decadently garnished with a thick pat of the butter I sent rapturous texts home about, seemed then, and now, to be perfect. I can still close my eyes and taste each bite, see the slow curl of steam rising off my spoon and outside the valley and village aglow with the setting winter sun, I hear the slow ticking of the kitchen clock, and feel the warmth of a meal prepared by me and for me spreading from my mouth, to my chest, to my fingers. That memory sustains me still.

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