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Thursday, 18 March 2010

So it's finally happening after weeks of effort and worry. My chilli story is being published in the April issue of Good Fruit & Vegetables.

There were many questions to answer before sending it off. Will the story work? Did I do enough interviews? Am I going too far in my summation?

The answer to the first question is not up to me, it's up to my readers. The second question can probably be answered with a brief 'yes'. It's about 1700 words long and there are seven interviews. That's not bad.

The third question has to do with intent but more with the interview subjects themselves. In terms of what I wanted to achieve - the intent - the story took shape fairly quickly at least in its first section, which is mainly concerned with how chillies were quickly adopted in Asia when they had been ignored in Europe after being brought back from the Caribbean by Christopher Columbus.

I quickly adopted the Asian angle as the primary force that would determine what questions I asked interviewees. Once I had this anchoring the article's trajectory, it was easy to move into the second, more problematic phase.

After discussing why chillies were so quickly adopted in Asia, I talk to two chilli growers to get their side of the story. Then I transition to ethnic cuisine in Australia.

The main anchor in the final section of the story is Tammi Jonas, a PhD student at Melbourne University who was very helpful in making me understand about ethnic food and the ways people use it in their lives.

Tammi's discussion of her specialty - ethnic 'foodways' - enabled me to talk about chillies in a specific way. I could take a position vis a vis chillies by saying that the way they are used in ethnic food has helped Australia become a better country. The word Tammi gave me in this context is 'cosmopolitan'.

I'd like to thank all of the people I talked to for this story, for enabling me to create something interesting and factual that my readers can - hopefully - enjoy.

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