Memoir Prompt #121: 

Do you have a favorite restaurant or cafe? Perhaps you remember one from a vacation or road trip that stood out from all the rest. Restaurants and cafes are great places to write about because there are so many sensory details to dig into and enjoy. So today I want you to write about the last time you were at your favorite restaurant or cafe. Get ready, set your timer for at least 20 minutes and remember to bring all your senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. 

What brought you to this place? Was it a special event, a random stop along a journey to somewhere else or a planned outing to try something new? Who was with you? What were you talking about as you drove up to the place? I want you take in the place starting outside when you first drove up and exited the vehicle. What does it look like? Is it in an urban, suburban, or rural setting? What are your initial thoughts, feelings and reactions? Can you smell the food? How does the smell effect your body? As you walk in, describe the place. What do you see, hear, and smell? Does someone greet you? What do they look like? How do you feel entering the place? Are you seated right away or do you have to wait? Can you smell the food as you wait? What are you thinking about and talking about as you wait? When you are taken to your seat what do you think of the surroundings? Describe them in detail. How is the staff? Do they treat you well? Do you have long wait times before you order or waiting for you food? What do you and the person/people you’re with order? What do you talk about as you wait for your meal? Do they bring bread, chips or anything to nibble on as you wait for your food? Did you order salads or appetizers? Now your food has arrived. What does it taste like? Describe it. How do you react to the first bites? Do you savor it with your eyes rolling back in your head? Do you shovel another bite in quickly? Perhaps you spit it out because you didn’t like it. Describe each item you ordered and tasted, including anything you tasted from the plates of others. Is there conversation as the meal is eaten? Take us through the meal including paying the bill and walking out. What was the overall experience like? What did you love and what did you hate? What was special about this place? How did the experience end? Did you drive off to your final destination, head back home, or do something else? Write through to a natural ending.

As you can see restaurants and cafes are an opportunity to engage every sense in a single place. It is a great exercise if you want to practice using all of your senses. But when you really think and write about a special restaurant or cafe you may find a bigger story hidding behind a place. Try writing about other places that include food and people. What is it about that place, the food and the people that really make it stand out?  What can you learn about yourself from these writings? Are there lessons there to share?

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