Monday, August 09, 2010

Reading and Teaching Food

I, I will surviiiiive! It's Monday, and how y'all doin'? I'm up, surprisingly perky, and in the middle of an English class at the moment. My students are on break, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to post my Monday goodness.

We had a good weekend. Swimming Saturday evening, visited my mom yesterday, did some cleaning and organizing, and whipped up some fried catfish last night while we watched the Cowboys game. While all of that was going on, Rocketgirl posted about her new books. She got into the ones I had recently packed up at my mom's house, so a big stack of those came home with us.

My "Monday What are You Reading" is slightly uneventful, but I've tried to embellish for your reading pleasure. Last week's academic start-of-term threw me off, so I haven't completed anything since Beatrice and Virgil. However, I do have quite a few books on the go:

In addition to Coop and The Secret Life of Bees, I spent some time digging into foodie books in preparation for my classes this term. I've taken a cue from Andi of AndiLit and decided to theme my freshman writing courses. We'll be discussing food in all its many facets: the familial, political, industrial, economic, environmental, and so on. We'll use this as a jumping-off point for our writing, and I think it'll be much more fun than what we've done in the past. The first paper they have to write is about a memory, so I'll have them write about one of their favorite memories of food. Their first reading will be an excerpt from "The Queen of Mold," Ruth Reichl's essay about her horrible-cook mother (taken from Tender at the Bone and published in part at Read it here.

So far I'm looking through the following books for other essays, pieces of essays, or chapters about all of the foodie topics I mentioned above:

Confections of a Closet Master Baker, by Gesine Bullock-Prado
A Cook's Tour, by Anthony Bourdain
Green, Greener, Greenest, by Lori Bongiorno
Food, Inc., edited by Karl Weber
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver
The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan

...and I might find something tasty-licious in Coop or The Bucolic Plague. Ya never know!

If you have any foodie/farming essays or books to recommend, please do! I'll gladly torture my students with the material!!!

In addition to our reading, I think we might also watch Super Size Me and Food, Inc. There's another documentary I ran across at Blockbuster, The Garden, that looks really good, too. Haven't gotten to watch that one, though.


  1. you're already back at school? scandal!! i still have a few weeks left before i have to report for sentencing. lol.

    i love ruth reichel and even used excerpts from 'garlic and sapphires' in my english class a few years back. thanks for reminding me about 'tender...'--it slipped my mind.

  2. How about Food of a Younger Land edited by Mark Kurlansky? It's an interesting collection of food in America before WWIi. Or any of Jeffrey Steingarten? Sounds like a fun class!

  3. Nat, I teach at a career college that goes to class year-round. On the one hand, it sucks. On the other, I have a through-the-summer paycheck! lol

    I've never read Reichl aside from this essay, but I love it, so I really should dive into more of her stuff.

    Olduvai, thanks for the recs! Food of a Younger Land sounds fantastic, and I've never read Steingarten.

  4. I think I would've loved to have you as a teacher back in my college days, Andi :D Your class sounds so awesome!!! Have fun with it!!

  5. My son's school themed their freshman English classes like that and he chose humor, but I'd sign up for your class!

  6. Andi. You HAVE to get Medium Raw. Seriously. It's a like Kitchen Confidential Part TWO. So, so, sooooooooooooooooooo good. Trust me. When I have I ever led you wrong? And do not bring up Inkheart, okay?? :D

    I'm with Chris. I have long thought I would have loved you as a professor in college. I still wish I could have audited that class you did all the graphic novels in!

  7. Foodie books..... yum! :D I seen Super Size Me.... wow. I really have no words for that movie.

    Have a super week of reading :D

  8. Super Size Me, that was an eye-opener. The Secret Life of Bees has always had a spot in my heart. I have not read Coop, but I have it on my TBR list. Have a fabulous week and good luck with finding essays. My Monday:

  9. Unfortunately, I have no foodie books to recommend off the top of my head, but I did love Tender At The Bone.

    I suppose that you know of Peter Mayle's books regarding the recipes of France, of course? Most particularly I'm thinking of Provence where he goes into hysterical detail over the French arguing how to make the perfect omelette. Which they do.

  10. Thanks, Chris! We're having a blast so far!

    Thanks, Kathy! I bet humor was a really fun theme.

    Heatheroo, I think there are only 3 more people in front of me for Medium Raw. I can't wait to read it! That graphic novels class was really fun! I teach only one now...American Born Chinese...and that's in children's lit online. We have a lot of fun with that one.

    Thanks, Sheila! Super Size Me really was an eye-opener. I think my students will enjoy watching and discussing that one.

    Bellezza, I'm ignorant of Peter Mayle! Say no more! I'll investigate.

  11. Sounds like it is going to be a great course!

  12. Oooh, The Bucolic Plague has been on my TBR pile for awhile, I really really want to get to it! It sounds so interesting!

  13. You really should consider teaching MFK Fisher. She wrote about food long before the explosion and popularity of "foodie" books. And she is very readable, too. You could introduce her as "the mother of food writing" or something like that.

    I'd recommend "The Gastronomical Me" as an introduction to MFK's works.


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