food

flavor

The idea for this post came about after an experience I had playing the game Skyrim. In case you aren’t familiar, it’s an immense fantasy game from the Elder Scrolls series. 

In the game, I was visiting a small tavern when a serving maid walks up and asks if I’d like her to play some music. I reply yes and pay her 5 gold to do so. She plays some soothing music for a time on what I believe was a lute and then she’s done and walks away. Nothing else happens.

Her family isn’t troubled by dragons. She didn’t lose her brother’s favorite sword. None of that. She just walks away.

In Skyrim, as in many games, just about every interaction you have with anything bears some sort of significance to the overall story of the game. It seems like nearly every person you talk with has some quest they want you to go on, usually with the reward of some advancement such as a new item, skill, gold, more quests, etc.

But, in this case, all you got was the opportunity to hear some nice music for a few coins. Nothing more. 

I was a little disappointed at first. But, when I stopped to think more on it, I felt admiration.

This bit of flavor without function made the world feel more real, more vibrant. 

It got me thinking how flavor serves no immediate purpose yet without it our worlds (both real and imagined) would be quite dull.

You could survive just fine on flavorless food as long as it had adequate nutritional value. In fact, they often seem at odds with one another—flavor and nutrition. But to live such a way seems almost unbearable to me. 

I heard they invented a loaf for prisoners that had all the necessary nutrients to sustain life while being utterly flavorless. In the end, it was considered cruel and unusual punishment.

I remember a point in my life where the only part of the day I really looked forward to was when I got to eat. Draw what conclusions you wish about my mindset here, but I couldn’t imagine having that pleasure taken away.

Taste aside, even the way food is presented adds a whole 'nother level of flavor. The value of going out to a nice restaurant comes from the fact that you aren't just paying for good food, you're paying for an entire eating experience.

Personally, I'm a sucker for plates where the food is arranged to look like a face. I love it when my wife lays out my sandwich and accompanying sides to look like a happy person with a mustache. And I love doing the same for her or my daughter just as much. I would even argue it does make the food taste that much better.

A life without flavor is as dull and gray as a day without the sun.

Flavor pumps lifeblood into an otherwise ordinary story.

Flavor is the extra bling in your attire that gives you style.

The flavor text you may read about a product provides a description to entice you to learn more. It’s exciting.

Flavor is that little bit of detail you add to your art, which, while unnecessary for the work as a whole, is the spark that sets it on fire—especially if you’re really into pyrotechnics. 

Sure, flavor alone may not be enough to fill your belly, warm your body, or engage you in the story. 

Still, I hope the next time you have the opportunity, whether you’re building a bicycle or baking butternut squash biscuits, you don’t forget to add a bit of flavor—just for fun.

question

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And now, the third installment of my series The Creative Approach. As a reminder, the three parts of the creative approach are: observe, question, and respond. We arrive at the second part: question.

During observation mode, you took a good look at your surroundings, a practice I encourage you to continue for the rest of your life. Now it's time to ask some questions, even the silliest, most ridiculous ones; there is no bad place to start.

As I've mentioned in other places on this site, "what if" is one of the most important questions you can ask to get your creative brain in gear. Asking, "what if" can lead to some very big ideas, but it starts out small.

What if the mailman really wanted to be a psychiatrist? What if the birds outside my window started singing Elvis? What if my commute took me through a secret tunnel to a magical world made of creamed corn?

All fine questions. But let them lead you somewhere more practical. What if I took time to say hi to the mailman (or woman, or mailperson) and find out what their interests are? What if I took a little time every morning to pause and listen to the birds chirping before getting caught up in the usual routine? What if I shifted my schedule or carpooled to shorten my commute?

“What if” is a great place to start, but don’t stop there. There is an endless list of questions you could ask about an endless number of things. The point is to get your mind working in a certain way, to open it up for possibility and potential and then to hone in on a purpose. If I can wonder about the possible existence of some magic city built upon creamed corn (instead of rock and roll), then finding a way to get my life a little more organized isn’t such a stretch.

Let your questions take on more focus. Write down a few problem areas in your life (start with small ones) and begin to ask questions about those. For example, if your problem is: I don’t get to sleep early enough, you might ask yourself the following: why do I want to get to bed earlier? What keeps me up so late? Do I know other people with this problem and what have they done? What will happen over time if I don’t fix this?

Questions lead to new thoughts which lead to change. However, it isn’t instantaneous. Just as it takes an entire novel for a character to complete their arc (sometimes a whole series), it will take time for you to change, for you to become a change-bringer. However, questions are an important and necessary step on the yellow creamed corn-brick road to change (yeah, it’s more than super corny, it’s kinda gross).

Once you’ve spent enough time asking questions which lead to other questions, like any good detective, you will eventually want some answers. Stay tuned for the next and final gripping post in the series: THE RESPONSE! (I’ll leave your mind to play that dramatic horn sound)

 

Creatively yours,

A.P. Lambert

 

Hey Creatives, when has a question led your mind down unexplored avenues? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Links to the rest of the series:

The Creative Approach

Observe

Question (current)

Respond