For our final project, share a recipe for a food that is important to you, and tell us why it is important. You should consider foods that you associate with home, foods you miss most, foods you crave when you are sad or stressed out, foods you associate with holidays or festivals, foods for a cold winter’s day, or a hot summer’s night; foods that you associate with a cultural identity, whether that is national, religious, ethnic, etc.
Besides the recipe, you should include at least one color photograph. If the photo is not yours, you need to cite it on a Works Cited or References page. You may opt to include several photos to demonstrate the process. You should also discuss the personal significance of the food for you and the cultural/social significance of the food. We will compile our recipes into a digital cookbook that we can all share.
Your contribution to our cookbook should have two parts, the recipe and the essay.
The recipe should include a list of all ingredients, and quantities, needed and step-by-step guidelines for making the dish. You also want to tell us how long it takes to prepare and cook. If your recipe should be labeled to help people find it, what key words would you use? Consider religious food labels such as halal and kosher as well as nutritional ones such as vegan/vegetarian and gluten-free. You might also want to tag your food by which part of the meal it goes with (appetizers, entrees, desserts, salads, soups, etc.) If your recipe features ingredients we may be unfamiliar with, you need to explain them to us and tell us where we can get them. If ingredients may be unavailable in some places, tell us what we might substitute (this is where cuisine gets interesting! Some people complain that American Chinese food isn’t real Chinese food, and it is certainly different, but it started from a loving approximation out of missing one’s home food).
The essay should, minimally, include personal and cultural analysis and reflection. Why did this food come to mind when you thought of comfort food? Is it something warm that you eat on cold days? Is it food you only eat when you are sharing a meal, or only at holidays? Is it rare or expensive? Is it complicated to make? Is it loaded with carbs or fats or sugar or caffeine that make you happy or alert or energetic? Do you only make it once a year, right after a certain crop is harvested?
This is a good chance to do some investigating and documenting of family/cultural history. Why do you make dumplings (or pierogi or mashed potatoes) on the Lunar New Year (or Christmas or Thanksgiving)? When did your family start making/eating this food? How has the recipe changed over the generations, or is your mom’s identical to your grandma’s and hers to her grandma’s? Is it tied to one gender of the family? Ethnicity? Religion? Familial food preferences and availability (what they could afford, as well as what existed)? If you can, you should cook your recipe at least once during the process of writing this essay. If you can cook it with/for someone else, even better.
Speaking of cooking for others, why is it so important to share food? We say things such as “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” and “food is love” which indicate the importance of food. Of course, this relationship can also become disordered, if people “love” us too much or if we do not eat enough or eat the wrong things. Our early cultural training includes what, when, why, how, and mow much we eat. Do family gatherings always have food?
You can also consider more general cultural analysis. Would most people around the world eat this food? Does it have any unusual ingredients that might put some people off, whether that be plant, animals, or even fungus? Will some people find it too spicy? Does it require a complicated cooking process (not all people have ovens, or microwaves, for example) or cooking skills (not all of us can chiffonade or julienne)? Could most people afford to eat it? How often should we eat it? Is it healthy? Is it environmentally-friendly/sustainable? Do we eat it with a fork and knife, chopsticks, our hands, or with bread? Do we each get our own portion on a dish, or do we share? Do people ever feed each other?
If the photograph(s) is/are your own and the recipe comes from you or your family, you may not need to cite outside sources. However, you may want to research the history of your recipe or what others say about your selected food. If so, you must also cite those sources.
Do we want to invite any other ASU community members to contribute to our cookbook?
Student editors will help compile and format our cookbook, as well as write an introduction to it. We could use some form of cover art, too.