How to Cook a Book with Kate Lebo
Begins March 7
1. A Quote from In-Class Reading
by Ruth Stone
Then the butter we put on our white bread
was colored with butter yellow, a cancerous dye,
and all the fourth grades were taken by streetcar
to the Dunky Company to see milk processed; milk bottles
riding on narrow metal cogs through little doors that flapped.
The sour damp smell of milky-wet cement floors:
we looked through great glass windows at the milk.
Before we were herded back to the streetcar line,
we were each given a half pint of milk
in tiny milk bottles with straws to suck it up. In this way
we gradually learned about our country.”
“Food is never just about food.”
-Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life
2. Writing Prompt
Find a favorite family recipe, have it in front of you. Bonus if it’s a page in an old cookbook, not a printout from the internet. Double bonus if it’s handwritten by a family member.
Use the ingredient list as a structure for your story. Begin each paragraph with a new ingredient, telling us how to make the dish while telling us about who made it, how it was made in your family, why this was the dish.
What does the language of the recipe suggest you need help remembering, and what does it suggest you already, or intuitively, know? What (and who) is missing?
3. Writing Advice
There’s a difference between food journalism, food memoir, and literary writing. They overlap constantly, of course, but keeping these genres clear and understanding their characteristics can help writers figure out what the hell they’re writing, what it can be, and who might want to read it.
For starters, literary writing about food always uses food to talk about something else. It’s never just about the food.
4. What to Expect from Class
Recipes get even more interesting when you read them like they’re literature. This class is all about seeing what happens when we pull a comparative lit move on Mark Bittman and Christpher Kimball, The Joy of Cooking and Charles Simic, Molly Wizenberg and Seamus Heaney. We’ll write recipes and stories, and stories about recipes.