4 Credit Hours
This course will explore food as a cultural metaphor, as a means to connect, create, and sustain family and tradition, as well as a venue to examine history through a culinary lens. We'll first query our assumptions about how food is grown, raised, and prepared and ask what is "organic," what is "junk," what is "gourmet," and who decides? Who has access to "good food" in our country? What and where are "food deserts"? From an intertextual perspective, this course will include a community activism component involving food shelves and community gardens, as well as the screening of at least two films (perhaps THE BIG NIGHT and the film adaptation of Joanne Harris' CHOCOLAT), guest lecturers, an opportunity to write and prepare a "food memory/recipe," and a final collective meal. Possible texts for this course may include Chitra Divakaruni's THE MISTRESS OF SPICES, Laura Esquivel's LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE, Lois-Ann Yamanaka's WILD MEAT AND THE BULLY BURGERS, Ruth Ozeki's MY YEAR OF MEATS, and Monica Ali's IN THE KITCHEN. We'll also likely read nonfiction accounts of food by famous American writers such as Herman Melville on clam chowder and Ralph Ellison on baked yams from the wonderful collection, AMERICAN FOOD WRITING. The texts, along with issues discussed in class, will range from the personal to the political: from essays by Michael Pollan, Meridel Le Sueur, and Vandana Shiva, to accounts of Julia Childs' connection to cuisine and espionage, to famous French chef Auguste Escoffier's connection to food and war, and to contemporary accusations of "food pornography" and "gluttony" leveled at the Food Network. The writing load for this course is a minimum of 15 pages of formal revised writing.