As librarians and educators, we champion honest stories because they have the capacity to connect readers through shared experiences. With Relish aims to connect participants through the power of food. Prior to putting pen to paper, and as long as it is safe, the workshop begins with snacking on various finger foods. Participants are then presented with a list of writing prompts from which they will choose a few that resonate. They may examine the ways that certain foods evoke certain feelings, they may reflect on how the senses of taste and smell might trigger specific memories, or they might choose to begin writing lists of key ingredients from traditional family meals. Next, students are invited to join small groups or to find partners. Here, they will reflect on what they've just written, and begin discussing details surrounding meals shared with their families growing up. They will be invited to share details about their cultures and traditions, and how these details may have evolved over the years in order to accommodate their lives now. Writers are then encouraged to choose a dish or two that they can remember sharing with family during specific rituals, with regard to the evolution of relationships, or as part of major rites of passage. For example: "Homemade spaghetti was served at my first communion dinner, at my wedding reception...and I remember making it for my children the week after their dad died." From here, writers are reminded of the main story elements (plot, theme, character, setting). They will now begin to jot down bits of memory or a personal story that involves one of those family dishes on which they have decided to focus. Finally, participants who feel comfortable will be invited to read aloud what they have written. Those listening will be encouraged afterwards to share out for the author the details that they remembered and why. The aim is to find connection in what lies underneath those dishes; we will not all be able to identify with the garlicky satisfaction of kimchi, but we can certainly identify with loss. Several texts will be referenced throughout the workshop, including IN MEMORY'S KITCHEN, A LEGACY FROM THE WOMEN OF TEREZIN edited by Cara De Silva, EVERYTHING ON A WAFFLE by Polly Horvath, and my novel ONE HUNDRED SPAGHETTI STRINGS. The centerpiece goals of With Relish include rooting writers more deeply in their memories, celebrating the connections among our varied cultures, and emboldening participants to facilitate similar workshops with students. With Relish is for food-lovers, educators, writers, members of families, and for those who would like to quench a thirst for stories about cultures outside of their own.
Participants will be able to define the purpose of using food as the core of the workshop and to demonstrate the ways in which sense memory inspires writing.
Participants will be able to garner a safe space in order to facilitate open discussion surrounding students’ cultures and traditions, generating ideas for personal narratives.
Participants will be able to illuminate for their students the process necessary for creating a rough draft of a personal narrative and to guide them through each step.