Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Workshop lineup

Sunday deadline (Tuesday workshop)

Tuesday deadline (Thursday workshop)
Due: no later than Wednesday, Nov. 21, 12 p.m. on your blog

Final revision of Perfect Meal essay
Optional: revision of restaurant review or memoir
Part Three of your restaurant review
Process Writing (see description below)

What is a portfolio?

Most simply, a portfolio is a way of containing your work for presentation and assessment. It represents you as a writer in this particular class—your current interests, your development as you reworked and revised your work, and your range as a budding food and travel writer. It’s like an artist’s portfolio or a portfolio a photographer might take to a job interview. But in your case, it contains pieces of writing instead of watercolors or photographs, and it’s online in the form of your blog.

What is process writing?

Process writing describes the process you went through when drafting and revising your pieces, and the thinking about yourself as a writer that you engaged in when preparing the portfolio. The jargon for this kind of writing is “metacognition”—thinking about thinking. That makes it sound heavy, but it’s actually relaxing and enjoyable, writing that celebrates the completion of your work for the course.

“What works best is simply to record what actually happened [as you reported, wrote and revised your work], with as much honesty and detail as possible—and with a spirit of calm, benign acceptance of yourself. That is, you aren’t trying to judge yourself or prove anything or reach big conclusions—just to find our what actually goes on when you write” (Elbow and Belanoff, A Community of Writers 12-13).

You don’t have to answer all these questions, but here are some points to think about as you do your process writing:

How did you discover a process for writing each piece?
When were you frustrated?
What were your breakthroughs?
What are the important changes you made throughout the quarter with each draft and workshop?
How did you decide what to write about and what was your writing and research process like?
When were readers’ comments useful?
When did you find your own way to solve a problem rather than following the suggestion of your readers? Why did this seem to work better?
When did you disagree with readers? Why?
What did writing for this course teach you about yourself?

Be as personal and colloquial as you wish—it’s essentially writing you’re doing for yourself, though the class and I will be reading it, too. Like part three of your final assignment, word count is up to you.

Important: I will not give you a final grade for the class unless you’ve included process writing—it’s not optional!

Note: if you feel uncomfortable publishing your process writing on the blog or you prefer that I be the sole reader of your piece, you may simply email it to me as a WORD file and with the text of the document embedded in the email by noon on Nov. 21.

Final Assignment

Restated, from the syllabus:

Personal essay/Advocacy Journalism, 1000 words. Due Week 10
Cook your idea of a perfect meal for others and write about the entire experience. 

That's it. Lots of decisions to make and room to move.
Workshops will take place Tuesday and Thursday of next week, and we'll decide who goes when in class today.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Reading Assignment for 6th week Thursday

A review from today's New York Times by Pete Wells, the paper's current restaurant critic.

Even though his stint was short as the food critic for the New York Times, we're going to take a look at some of Sam Sifton's work:

Because the Fat Lady has to Eat
Osteria Morini
Il Matto
Kenmare, which gets zero stars
Sifton on how to eat for a living and stay healthy doing it
Sifton's My Life in Food
Round One Q&A
Round Two
Round Three
Round Four
and just for fun, To Catch a Critic

And a little from the West Coast, Los Angeles, to be exact:

Jonathan Gold takes on a food court
Jonathan Gold swoons for this joint
A different kind of review from the L.A. Times

How about from a European food critic?

Advice to a 10-year-old aspiring food critic

And just for kicks, let's let Twitter (and HuffPo) show us who's important in the world of restaurant criticism

Meander through the pieces, play around, and discover what piques your interest. Make sure to read for craft--pick apart what each critic is up to in his/her reviews and how they go about achieving their effects for better or for worse. Learn from them. We'll discuss what makes a review a review and what separates a bad review from a mediocre review from a fantastic review.

Above all, enjoy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Your next assignment in three parts

Your restaurant review assignment has three parts.

1. The expectation and anticipation: 500 words

Choose a restaurant to review. Choose a restaurant that serves food that represents a “vivid entryway into another culture” for you (Long 1), and that may be a kind of travel or border crossing for you personally. Write a blog post of 500 words or more evaluating your expectations of and assumptions about the experience. What personal experiences or baggage from the past influence what you think will happen in terms of the dining experience? What are your worries or concerns, hopes and desires for the meal? Reference any pertinent readings (including CYOA, classmates’ blog posts, more formal readings for the course, etc.) and conversations (in class or online via blogs) in this informal, conversational essay. Post to your blog BEFORE you go to the restaurant. The audience for this piece is, indeed, this class. (Also, rather than post a list of restaurants in the area, I'm going to let you do a little reporting on that, and we can brainstorm in class as well.)

2. The review: 1000 words

Using the restaurant reviews we're reading for Tuesday as a model, write a well-reasoned and –argued, structurally sound, utterly readable if not downright entertaining review of the restaurant you chose.

In terms of PROCESS, do background research on the restaurant and the cuisine, take notes (and maybe photos) during the meal, think long and hard about what you have to say about the experience (both the food and the place/ambiance), find a place (aka “The But”) on the pan-to-rave continuum where you stand, start to develop the thesis, the main points you’ll argue to support “The But.”

With regard to ORGANIZING/WRITING, make sure your piece has clear elements: thesis, point of view, an effective lead, evidence to support your claims, a conclusion that leaves a lasting impression, etc.). Also, provide perspective/context/background/research and analysis. Build your case and do it as artfully and appropriately for your intended audience as you can. (We'll talk more about the elements of a good review in class next week.)

Choose an intended publication and state it before the lead of your piece.

3. The evaluation

I will give you this part of the assignment after workshop. Don’t worry about it. It will be pleasant and informal and written for the class on your blog, much as the first part of the assignment.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Saturday Night Treat

A seriously wonderful character from The Omnivore's Dilemma, a book we'll read later in the term, will be speaking at Chenery Auditorium in Kalamazoo Saturday night. You may not be acquainted with Joel Salatin yet, but he's passionate about farming and what he thinks our food system should look like. I strongly urge you to go hear him while you can.

Read more about his visit here.

Find out more details and register here for the event.

I most certainly will be there!

Fifth Week Reading Assignments

Next week our discussion will revolve around pieces from Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink and our CYOA presentations.

For Tuesday, please read the Dining Out section of Secret Ingredients, pages 3-98, and take a look at what Katherine posts on her blog for us to consider.

For Thursday, read 103-157 and the Local Delicacies secion, pages 277-335, in Secret Ingredients, and check out whatever Colin asks us to.

There are many various shorter pieces that aren't necessarily connected, and we very likely won't get a chance to talk about everything you read in class. But make sure to read carefully as writers, noting what speaks deeply to you and why. Write responses accordingly, and no, you don't have to say something about every single piece in your response for that day.