Home > 7. How to Eat an Essay > Le Digestif–How to Eat an Essay

Le Digestif–How to Eat an Essay

File:Cheret, Jules - Quinquina Dubonet (pl 29).jpg

Believe it or not, eating is work. This fact of digestive exertion was recently impressed on RT when he ate not one, but two, breakfasts at a local grill. Hunger can build up, and after a hearty meal, one may find oneself engaged in a postprandial walk or other strategy, as seems appropriate.

The French have known this for ages. One of the signs of health and worthiness among its kings, for instance, was the ability to eat extraordinary quantities of food at a sitting: Le Roi Soleil, Louis XIV himself, was known to consume up to five courses, each consisting of two to five items, at a single meal. The menu was diverse, including deep-sea oysters, chestnut soup with truffles, wild duck, rabbit stew, salmon, iced cheese, and fruit.

Lesser mortals, however, will need to avail themselves of help when indulging at the dining table. And the French answer to such problems is the digestif, an after-dinner alcoholic drink such as brandy, eaux de vie, and various bitter or sweet liqueurs meant to help digestion.

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So what does all this mean for the writer of essays? The writer needs to bear in mind that his or her essay should be helping the process of analysis and enjoyment throughout the piece. Some ways of doing this: 1) organize your writing so that your argument and other thoughts are clear; 2) use deliberate contrast in style and tone to help keep your readers alert and on track; 3) withhold some parts of your argument so the reader can make the connections by him or herself; 4) use humor–especially at the beginning–to relax the reader; 5) make the stakes clear–explain why the essay and its subject deserve further consideration and even a second or third reading. This last item is best saved for the essay’s conclusion.

Readers should finish an essay smacking their lips, savoring the bite of good calvados on the tongue…    RT

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PosterQuinquina Dubonnet, Jules Cheret (1895); WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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