Since I was a child, I have been deeply interested in odd titles that would lead to odd works. The title of this particular essay, for example, springs from my Portuguese lessons where over and over again Duolingo asks for a translation of “Thirteen recipes with vegetables.” It does not take long to think that this would make an excellent short book. One could easily imagine such a book providing a full set of meals that involved vegetables. For example, there could be a brief section of appetizers that could contain a recipe for a very tasty green salad (with some amazing vinaigrette dressing as well) along with one for some sort of salted chickpeas. This could lead into an opening course of sandwiches done protein style, with lettuce around the meat. After that there could be a soup with chicken and rice and vegetables, perhaps, with a tasty broth. Main courses could provide a chicken pot pie or corn beef with cabbage and potatoes and carrots, for example. Roasted chicken with vegetables and a classic ribeye with roasted potatoes and mixed vegetables would be other obvious choices. One could imagine tasty side dishes like steamed asparagus or brussel sprouts with butter and seasoning. After that, one could inventively seek desserts that included vegetables, like carrot cupcakes, zucchini bread, or pumpkin pie. It would not be hard to create an entire meal including snacks, side dishes, main courses, and desserts that included vegetables in them, and it would be a worthy if quirky short book.
Is it unusual that I think like this? One of the challenges of writing on a daily basis is coming up with creative titles for posts. Even if one takes out book reviews, there are still hundreds of posts on a yearly basis that require their own names, hopefully without a lot of repetition. This involves a great deal of thinking about how to frame something, or a firm interest in other languages that provide odd sayings. But even before writing I had an interest in odd titles. Much of that springs from the reading I did as a child. I remember reading one particularly bad joke book as a child that had such glorious suggested book titles in it like “Fifty Yards To The Outhouse,” by Willie Makeit, illustrated by Betty Wont. Stuff like that stays with someone, especially someone of a particular sort of sense of humor I suppose. It can be difficult to come up with creative titles, but at the same time there are titles which themselves tend to spur on the sort of work that one wants to make. Knowing how to frame something can give one a good road map of how to proceed in one’s exploration of strange and bizarre subjects that come to mind.
And a number of writers, it should be noted, have made an entire career out of turning oddball titles into worthwhile explorations into matters that other people simply would not think to write about. Take the writer G.K. Chesterton, that thoughtful and eccentric writer whose variety of personal essays and other writings has still not been fully cataloged for posterity long after his death. He once famously answered an editorial about what’s wrong with the world by owning up to his own faults as a flawed human being , an example that is sadly not followed by most who think themselves experts on how to the fix the world without fixing themselves first. Additionally, we have this easily lost gentleman to thank for the exploration of what was inside his pocket , which is the sort of personal essay that we could all stand to read a lot more of. Keeping an awareness of odd titles gives one odd subject matter to write about, and that is something to be treasured and appreciated, if you ask me.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: