Eating their words: The Literature of Food
I am part of a group of women, all of a certain age, who meet regularly to discuss, read and learn from each other. We don’t do this is in isolation, we are part of the WEA network.
What is WEA?
Established in NSW in 1913, and originally working in partnership with the University of Sydney, the WEA was a movement founded to promote the higher education of working men and women. The WEA has since grown to become one of the largest and most prestigious adult and community education organisations in Australia and every year attracts thousands of students from all walks of life.
We are part of the Discussion Group setup
The DGP has been part of WEA Sydney’s wider educational program for over 20 years, providing an exciting alternative to our regular classroom courses…through the distribution of study materials to groups of students based throughout New South Wales, and in some cases beyond.
The WEA Discussion Group Program is based on the formation of small, friendly home-based groups (minimum 6 people, maximum 15) – wishing to meet regularly to discuss and learn, and enjoy the active exchange of ideas and with a wide variety of topics on from history and literature to philosophy and social sciences, and thus dovetails exactly with WEA Sydney’s over-arching Mission, the provision of opportunities for students to study widely and objectively in the arts, humanities and sciences
What do we do?
I have been involved in this group since I retired and most of the members in our group are close personal friends, so it’s a great way for all of us to maintain contact with each other.
We decide on a course that we’d like to do and work out how many meetings we’ll take to do it. We enrol, pay our fee (approx $60) to our group organiser and receive a set of notes, readings and discussion points. One member is in charge of producing a report which is sent to the tutor soon after each meeting. We take it in turns to do the report writing. This report sums up our discussion, any relevant points, responses to the questions and anything else worth noting. The report is emailed to the tutor who responds each time with comments and we discuss this report at the next meeting. We don’t get marked on our assignments!
It sounds quite formal but it’s not at all. In reality it’s a relaxed few hours of fun discussion, similar to a book club meeting. We have notes and activities to read before each meeting and as we discuss these points we eat our pre-packed lunch. We meet in the home of one of our group and the hostess usually provides refreshments. We simply eat and talk – but on a set topic.
Eating their words: The Literature of Food
Our latest discussion program is Eating Their Words: The Literature of Food and our tutor is Dr Jeannette Delamoir who sounds very accomplished.
The fundamental question she asks is: What sort of language is being used here to communicate about food?
As an example Dr Delamoir posed the question, what words do you use to communicate the flavour of an orange to someone who has never tasted one?
Try it and let me know what you came up with!!
As Dr Delamoir stated she was a blogger, it was left to me to enlighten the other ladies as to what a blogger actually does. Obviously I am the only blogger in the group! They questioned me about the topics I blog about and asked if ever talk about food in my posts. The answer was a resounding NO, and I tell you why further on.
Chapter 1: Introduction and Writing about food and science.
So far we have had one discussion meeting and we discussed the reasons why people write about food; we thought about the words used on food labels such as wine or a tin of tomatoes and the science of food, focusing on how things taste and the sound of food.
We had a selection of 5 interesting readings included in chapter 1, plus an online quiz we could take to see what sort of ‘taster’ we are. According to the results I’m in the middle of the bell curve, as a Taster – accepting of a broad range of food, I can learn to like new foods that I hate and I’m quite game. The other results were a tolerant taster and a hypertaster, either side of taster.
I was particularly interested in the reading which discussed the textures of food. Can you think of any foods that demonstrate the following textures:
- cohesiveness, density, dryness, fracturability, graininess, gumminess, hardness, heaviness, viscosity…..
We talked about the crispness, crunchiness and crackliness of food and the differences between these types of food. It was quite fun!
You might be interested to know the subjects which will be covered in the rest of the course:
Chapter 4: Historical food
Chapter 6: Food in the future
One major question asked was: Do you eat to live or live to eat? I’d love to hear your answer to this question in the comments below.
Now, I have a confession to make – I’m not really that into food! I like food, I cook food and I eat food but I’ve never been one to get too involved in it. I don’t take many photos of food and I definitely don’t post recipes or advice on the subject of food on my blog!
The group challenged me to write a post about food, and this course, complete with photos so they can read all about it! I accepted their challenge and will try to write an update after each of our next 5 discussion groups.
I took this photo of my breakfast this morning and posted it to Instagram. As I said before it’s not my usual type of post but it’s always good to try something new!
These are delicious and healthy Breakfast Banana Pancakes which I cooked following a recipe from a healthy food challenge I’m currently undertaking. It is the second time I’ve made them and I must admit they’re particularly tasty, made of oats, banana, eggs, milk and served with strawberries, low fat yoghurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon. A great way to start the day!
So do you have any thoughts on the literature of food, textures, tastes, sounds….please share any thoughts below and I’ll add your insights into our next discussion group.
Happy eating – think about what words you’d use to describe what you’re currently eating 🙂
Sources: Please note many of the quotes used in my post came from the WEA Discussion Group Programme Eating their words: The Literature of Food, D224 by Dr Jeanette Delamoir.
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