From the perspective of writing instruction, we often ask students to recreate and present very special memories. Naturally even with a deft hand, these written recreations will lack some of the magic of the original...
J. McKay / This week the driving theme of my language class was comfort foods. At the end of the week of instruction, we had a food fair; the students were charged with preparing and executing a three minute presentation where they introduced one of their personal comfort foods. They were to explain and describe what the food is, why it comforts them and then show part of the process of how it is prepared. We left time at the end of the hour for them to share with their classmates the dish they prepared.
Not surprisingly nearly all of the foods that were selected for our food fair were foods from the student’s country of origin. The foods were also ones that they had many memories of their mothers preparing. Foods that take us home are inherently comforting and likely even more so comforting when you are far from it. Perhaps your personal experience ratifies this, I know mine does.
Actually though what I found the most intriguing was that many of these students were cooking these foods for the first time. While the students’ ages range between 18-37, many of them are living away from home for the first time. Even those that had lived on their own hadn’t had need nor motivation to prepare these particular ‘comfort’ foods before now. They relied on their own memories supplemented by Skype calls home and search engines to learn the how-to’s necessary to complete the assignment.
Many of the students introduced the foods with mixed emotions. They were warm as they shared the memories behind the foods they had brought, but then almost apologetic when their attempt fell far from their mothers’ kitchens. I tried to comfort them by saying that it was the best [insert ethnic food] I had ever had and empathized with them the difficulty of living up to such a tall chef’s hat.
From the perspective of writing instruction, we often ask students to recreate and present very special memories. Naturally even with a deft hand, these written recreations will lack some of the magic of the original. We should be sympathetic with how this can make a writer feel. However we should help show them that the deficit won’t be as apparent to those without the same experiences and we are often sharing with others something that without us they’d have never had the chance to experience; not to mention, part of what makes writing special is that even if someone in the world could do it better part of its beauty is that it has passed through our hands and taken with it part of ourselves.
I think this metaphor of writing to cooking will definitely be explored later on as I think there is a lot to be learned from relating these two processes that I love; any thoughts to add to the initiation of this discussion?