"It seems to me,” M.F.K. Fisher wrote, “that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others.” The joy of cooking, sharing, and savoring food is an essential part of being human. But food writing is hard: how can we avoid the pedantic, the cheesy, and the superficial? How can we say something new, useful, or captivating about a ripe tomato? How can we use food as a lens to explore big topics, like love, or loss, or injustice?
In this four-week class, we’ll explore food writing in some of its most popular forms: personal essay, reviews, social and cultural commentary, and recipe-centered stories. We’ll read work from Anthony Bourdain, Gabrielle Hamilton, M.F.K. Fisher, and Samin Nosrat, and examine specific techniques for making food writing more than just delicious. I’ll share some of my hard-earned wisdom on what I learned during a decade working in the food industry, as well as what food writing captures the attention of editors and readers. We’ll each work in-depth on one story, which we will brainstorm, write, workshop, and revise. Together, we will identify the key factors that separate a nostalgic recollection about dinner from a juicy story that needs to be told.
Students can expect assigned readings from important food writers, weekly workshops, an in-class critique of your essay, discussions about the path to publication, and a one-on-one meeting with the instructor to discuss works-in-progress and future writing goals. This class is best suited for new and intermediate food writers, whether you’re an experienced writer who wants to branch into food writing, or a foodie who is ready to take to the page.
*No class May 31st
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the Zoom desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- A deeper understanding of the landscape and possibilities of food writing
- Thoughtful, intensive peer and instructor feedback on one food-related essay submission
- Feedback from the instructor on one other food-related writing submission
- One productive, personal conference with the instructor to discuss your writing style, goals, and areas for improvement
- Access to a nurturing community of writers and readers
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
- Read and engage with weekly reading assignments
- Provide feedback on your classmates' stories--both line edits and written comments
- Write, submit, and edit two food-related stories in different formats
Week 1: Our Food, Ourselves
Introductions; Icebreaker: food fantasy; Reading and discussion of essays—food as a lens into the personal; Writing assignments for the workshop
Week 2: Recipes & Reviews
Why do we read reviews & recipes? - Reading and discussion of essays; In-class assignment: food memory; Workshop
Week 3: Food as a Window to…Anything
Using the senses; Specificity and detail; Creativity and weirdness - Reading and discussion of essays; In-class assignment: food as a way to something difficult; Workshop
Week 4: Your Food Writing in the World
A look at some of the ways food writing shows up in the world: cookbooks, blogs, memoir, journalism, service journalism; Pitching and finding the right home for your work; Workshop; What’s next?
Hannah Howard is the author of the memoir Feast: True Love in and Out of the Kitchen and the forthcoming book Plenty: A Memoir of Food and Family. She is a graduate of Columbia University and the Bennington Writing Seminars. Hannah writes for SELF, New York Magazine, and Salon.com, and lives in New York City.
"Hannah is both a brilliant writer and a brilliant editor. Her own prose is stunningly beautiful, and she's also able to give perceptive feedback on others' work. She hones in on issues big and small and comes up with creative solutions help guide a writer's progress. Anyone would be lucky to have Hannah as a reader and editor!"
"First off, Hannah is a lovely writer, winning, warm, honest—youthful, too, full of energy and passion, which, given her versatility and prowess (along with her urban education), makes her all the more suitable a candidate to instruct and inspire writers with a range of skills, from a range of backgrounds. Hannah has proved herself to be an insightful and generous reader, quick to put her finger on what is and isn’t working and how to fulfill the promise of a piece of writing with the writer’s original intentions always in mind."
“Hannah Howard tells her story with honesty, insight, humor and deliciously descriptive prose. Feast is a gripping, moving memoir, a book that lives up its name.”
“Feast is a beautifully rendered account not only of coming of age as a woman in the fraught, fascinating world of food, but of coming of age as a woman in her own skin, and body, and mind. Hannah Howard writes with exceptional candor, insight, and intelligence.”