Scrumptious Details

Published July 8, 2012 by Elsa Pla

Descriptive Writing: Sensory Details

Describing a favorite dish is a sure way to practice how to use sensory details.

Here’s an exercise commonly used by writing teachers:

1- Choose a favorite dish.


2- Make a chart (or word map or any other graphic organizer) of the five senses (hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching [sensations, textures, etc.]).

3- Brainstorm descriptive words/phrases that appeal to each sense.

4- Write an awesome, mouth-watering description of your favorite dish. Use as many sensory details as possible.

Here’s my attempt:

My mother’s favorite family dish has become my own. I am now the mother preparing arroz con pollo for her family every time her children – now grown – come to visit. Arroz con pollo is a Spanish dish that includes rice, chicken, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, pimentos, sweet peas, olives, and an assortment of seasonings and spices.  The colorful appearance of the dish is delightful: the pearly-yellow chicken and rice and the gleaming reds and greens of the vegetables make it a feast for the eyes. And the aroma! All the yummy-smelling ingredients in the sizzling sofrito – a sautéed mixture of onions, garlic, and sweet peppers – make the whole family — not just the cats — purr in contentment.  While the rice is cooking, the whole house smells scrumptious, and we all walk around with mouths watering and a silly grin on our faces. When we finally sit down to savor the dish – ahhh! – we are transported to heaven. The soft-chewy texture of the rice and chicken combined with the explosion of savory flavors on our tongue, makes us run for seconds. My mother always added a special ingredient at the end: a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. And so do I; we all love the salty taste the cheese imparts to the rice. I’ve added my own special ingredient: a dollop of ketchup. But please, don’t tell anyone. It would spoil the experience for any arroz con pollo purists having dinner at my house.

My sister-in-law and her Spanish husband came to visit one day and insisted on cooking the dish themselves. Their gourmet version included asparagus and, in truth, tasted delicious. I tried not to laugh, however, when I saw my son getting up to fetch the Parmesan cheese, my younger daughter (the one who owns a red T-shirt with the words “I Put Ketchup on My Ketchup”) sneak to the kitchen to spurt ketchup all over her serving, and my older daughter slide the asparagus to one side of her plate. Aren’t family dishes the best?


2 comments on “Scrumptious Details

  • Elsa, I am really happy to hook up with your blog! I like the practical aspect of it (try this), and your personal sample. Well done!

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