Eat Your Words: Authorial Intrusion and Chiffonade

Devouring books and crafting meals is great–but sounding smart while you do it is even better. That’s why we’re teaching you to eat your words. In this new weekly guide, we introduce one literary device (PAPER) and one culinary term (PLATES) everyone should know.

Authorial intrusion (noun): a literary device whereby the author speaks directly to the reader, establishing a connection between him or her and the audience and making him- or herself a subject of attention.

Example: It could be said that Jon Ronson’s confessions in The Psychopath Test are a type of authorial intrusion, but this device is more frequently used in novels than non-fiction. A more typical example is that of Kurt Vonnegut, who was famous for injecting his perspective into his stories. Here’s an example from Slaughterhouse Five that demonstrates exactly this:

An American near Billy wailed that he had excreted everything but his brains. Moments later he said, ‘There they go, there they go.’ He meant his brains.

That was I. That was me. That was the author of this book.

Chiffonade (noun): the result of tightly rolling herbs or leafy vegetables and then slicing them into fine ribbons.

Example: In her mango pomegranate “murder” salsa recipe, Angie Jaime shreds her cilantro into a chiffonade before finely dicing and tossing the leaves into her mixing bowl (pictured above). The cilantro pieces turn out tiny, allowing them to impart flavor without leaving the eater with greens between his or her teeth.