SPRING SEMESTER 2018:
Writing the World through Food:
Find Your Voice & Place in Culinary Media & Literature
Food tells a story: how hungry human beings feed themselves. Within that large story, food tells many others: of class, family, immigration, nationality; of health, celebration, identity, economics, agriculture, ritual, routine, spirituality and self-preservation; of the nature of home. Food tells personal stories as well as those of communities and nations; it even tells global stories. And — in well-written recipes — food tells the story of its own preparation.
There are almost as many ways to write about food as there are to cook and eat it. Instructional writing and memoir, promotional writing and reviews, writing with a strong personal voice, investigative food journalism… And of course, the surprisingly difficult recipe itself: well-written, well-organized, inviting, able to be followed, inclusive of every detail, anticipating user questions, and set off with that short-short story known as the head-note.
And there are equally numerous venues to place that writing: blog posts, traditional cookbooks, food journalism, promotional, literary works (culinary novels, mysteries, and memoirs) continue to proliferate and grow in popularity.
In this course weʼll delve deep into this vibrant field. We’ll explore the origins and history of food writing and its present-day explosion, reading and discussing varied forms, topics, and voices. Most importantly, we will write, in class and out, bettering our understanding of and ease with writing itself, and learning how to twine the twin crafts of writing and cooking to food writing.
Food writing starts with a passionate interest in and knowledge about food and cooking, but requires the ability to own personal experience and translate it in a way that brings it alive for readers, engaging them through evocative, sensual language. Whether students write about producing, preparing, partaking, sourcing, eating, understanding or experiencing food, in this class they will learn how to make readers hungry – to be informed, educated, persuaded, or to eat.
As we delve into the full spectrum of food writing—recipes, cookbooks of many types, restaurant reviews, blogs, magazine articles, personal essays, commentary, food history, travel pieces—we’ll also write a variety of forms, using hands-on writing practices, group discussion, and analysis. Classes include readings, discussion, writing. Students find their own voices, bringing spontaneity, passion, and originality to their unique food-storytelling.
COURSE OUTCOMES/ OBJECTIVES
At the end of this course, students will:
- Understand the multi-faceted genre of food writing, be familiar with some its major writers, have a clear sense of why some food writing is compelling, some merely serviceable, and some downright unreadable
- Know all parts of a recipe inside and out, and be able to produce a well-written, well-organized, interesting, inviting recipe that can be followed with duplicable results
- Be clear on how translating food experiences into words is part of every culinary career, even if students are “just” writing a menu, promoting their artisanal sausages, or blogging about their bakery
- “Own” their unique material and voice (even if they think they don’t have either) and have learned to write in and about them
Written both preliminary and finished culinary-focused pieces in the following forms: recipe, profile/food journalism, personal essay, review, blog post, magazine article