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Food Assignment #1: Food in Context

Your task in this assignment is to craft a narrative description of a food-related memory or experience, much in the vein of Bruni, Lahiri, Reichl, and Hamilton. Choose an event from your life that involves eating, preparing, or growing food.

Advice: Don’t just tell the reader what is happening; describe it (instead of saying “Then I ate the donut,” describe the sensory experience of it. What kind? What does it look like?). Your ultimate goal for this essay is to produce something that would fit into The New Yorker’s next food issue (the home of “Killing Dinner,” “Rice,” and “Chicken Smedley”).

For an essay of this length, you should pick one food or event to describe rather than many. For example, you’ll have a much more focused essay if you talk about your aversion to ice cream or how your dad made you breakfast every day when you were growing up, as opposed to an essay about how your grandmother is a good cook.

Audience: Food enthusiasts, Readers of the New Yorker or similar publication

Format: 1000-1500 words (3-5 pages)                       


Type: Present your research within the conventions of a particular genre that is relevant to the course topic

Rationale: The purpose of this assignment is to help students increase their writing fluency and give an opportunity to practice creating a narrative arc, writing with detail, revising, and writing with focus.  They also practice modeling the writing in a genre they have been reading during the first few weeks of the course.

Pre-Draft Activities:

  • Free-write inspired by Jumpha Lahiri’s “Rice”
  • Topic proposal
  • Workshop on description and analysis

Readings: Hamilton, “Killing Dinner”; Earley, “Sweet Corn”; Lahiri, “The Long Way Home” and “Rice”; Singer, “Chicken Smedley”; Bruni, “I was a Baby Bulimic”; and Reichl, “Serafina”

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