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Category: Essay #1

Blog 1

I have only read Frankenstein once previously to this and it was done in a very quick, sort of half-hearted fashion. We looked at and interpreted the novel as a sort of Gothic horror on the dangers of the possibilities of science and in this way it was rather a subset of romanticism. We also looked briefly at the implications of philosophy within the novel, in particular we asked questions regarding whether or not one should use science in such a way. This is especially interesting because many of the critiques regarding the philosophical aspects surround Shelley’s biographical life and her relation with her father and thus the relationship between author and world and author and text is prominent in this interpretation. It is difficult to position myself within the critical history as it seems as though there are many lenses with which to look at such a text, however, I found that looking at the gender roles and how male and female interactions are depicted within the novel provides an interesting way to critique such literature. Most of this, given the Critical History, was not looked at until the later part of the 1980’s. However, given that the story has been around for much longer, I think that some of the previous interpretations are also important to look at; including the concerns about Frankenstein’s moral effects in which there is some controversy regarding sympathy with the monster. One thing which surprised me in the history, was that there were continuous arguments for the novel’s high culture status which, given how the author is a woman and the time in which it was written, makes me wonder if this would be even a question had Shelley been a man.

You Eat What You Are


When people first meet me they often immediately notice that I am Irish. Besides my traditional Irish name with a spelling very different from the pronunciation, I have pale skin that flushes as easily as it burns and light-brown freckles that are splattered across my nose. Perhaps, the only feature I have which lacks the traditional Irish look is my dark brown hair. But even then, if one looks close enough, he or she can see that there are hidden strands of red as if my freckles and ivory skin weren’t enough of a reminder of where my family is from. Like my father and I, my grandmother also has the too-white-for-the-sun skin and a map of freckles across her face. They, however, have flaming red hair that screams “I’m Irish.” It’s no surprise then, that one of my families most prized recipes originated in the bitter air of the Ireland countryside. Soda bread itself is not particularly flavorful nor is it an easily acquired taste as it is not sugary, but to my family, it has more meaning than simply a type of bread. It tastes like our history. It tastes like the stories of war and famine, of poverty and struggle that plagued my grandparents and many more generations before that. When we bake the bread with my grandmother it is more than just simply cooking. It becomes a story time of my family’s history. When we finally eat the bread it’s not just the pleasant underlying tart flavor, with hints of salty and sweet that is so satisfying, but the flavor of my heritage that seems to be buried within the warm bannock.

Soda bread is a soft, textured, cake-like bread that rises because of a reaction between the buttermilk and baking soda. My very Irish grandmother, Betty, claims that the buttermilk is one of the most important parts. Making it requires specific ingredients and amounts, all of which she has stored in a drawer in her head that is only opened a few times a year now. She is a petite woman, light in stature, but quite colossal in temperament. Her personality is just as fiery as her red hair thus obscuring her lack of physical height. Once, when making the bread with her and my cousins we had run out of buttermilk and someone naively suggested making our own. Betty replied shrewdly with, “that’s bullshit” and proceeded to walk to the store to get the real thing. We quickly learned that her recipe had long been perfected, passed down generation to generation. The amount of flour to buttermilk to baking soda is as precise as a chemistry experiment; add too much of one of the few ingredients and it will lose its crumbly texture.

Often when making the bread I become so entranced with the stories of the protestant Catholic war, the stories of how Betty met my grandfather even within a country torn apart by religious beliefs, and the images of the threatening cliffs overlooking the fervent gray sea, that I forget I am supposed to remember what is being taught. Though many of the stories are grim and conjure images of car bombs lighting the streets, there are some that are less violent and of the serenity of the landscape. It is hard to pay attention to the measurements when tales from both her and my papa’s childhood are so much more captivating. The measurements are either different every time they bread is made, or I have a problem following them. My mother and I have tried to recreate the recipe, but the end result is always very different from Betty’s, as she seems to know what to add by the feeling of the dough. She always uses her hands to mix the ingredients, lightly letting the flour and baking soda coalesce between her palms, so as to ensure there is plenty of air around the flour. Although I never asked why this was necessary, it seems to be rather vital to the process of creating the bread. One which Betty knows well since she has been making the bread since she was a young girl growing up in an impoverished Ireland.

It is always important to eat the bread the day that it is made, as it tends to harden and grow stale, which is another reason as to why it was so common when my grandmother was growing up. The bread was easily made and ready to be eaten that same day. My great-grandparents, along with nearly every poor Irishman, survived primary off of potatoes, some meat and soda bread. Thus, I wouldn’t say that Irish Soda bread is my family’s favorite meal in terms of extravagance and comfort, and it is certainly not Betty’s, as she made clear by exclaiming, “gosh it’s not my favorite meal, it’s a side.” That is one of the reasons why, if you travel to Ireland you will not find Irish soda bread in any of the bakeries. The bread is made at home by families who have had it passed down by word of mouth, generation to generation. That being said, Irish Soda Bread complements everything from salty-yellow butter to beef stew or tangy homemade jam. This is partly why it is so delicious, the cake-like bread seems to harmonize with any flavor.

The very first time I can recall Betty making the bread for my siblings and me, we enthusiastically consumed it in a rather embarrassingly short amount of time. Knowing then that we loved it she proposed teaching us how to make it ourselves, an offer to which we excitingly agreed. She says that “I made it, you loved it and wanted to learn” and that is why she decided to pass the recipe, which had been in her family for generations, down to us, her grandchildren. We first learned in her kitchen on a wet and snowy day close to the holidays. The wind had been blowing the snow around her yard, whistling through the trees, forbidding us to play outside. We gathered the wheat flour, egg, buttermilk, baking soda and baking powder. Betty preheated the oven and we began to stir the ingredients together as she began to tell us why the bread is so important to her. Her grandmother made the bread when they lived in Ireland as it was “economic, nourishing and easy to prepare.” Ireland was stricken with poverty, and many families including my grandmother’s, relied on soda bread as a major food because it was simple to make, requiring only a few affordable ingredients. Even while she can now afford to buy other bread there is something special about making the bread that she grew up eating. It connects us with her past and the journey from Ireland to England to Canada and eventually, for my dad, the US.

When I left for school I realized how important Irish Soda Bread is to my family and especially to the overall aesthetic of certain meals. Sitting in the dining hall, where the food is bland and lacks the piquancy of a homemade meal, I long for the taste of soda bread. The bread that sits on the cart with the desserts always has the faint dull flavor of what I imagine is the taste of paper. A reoccurring pattern in most bleached white bread made for the number of loaves and definitely not perfected through years and years of making it by hand, with an essence of family history.

While trying to teach me about how to make the bread and the ingredients and measurements which are required to do so, Betty inadvertently taught me how food can taste so much better when made by hand and with the knowledge of some history. The use of her hands to integrate air into the mixture of dry ingredients creates a bread with a very distinct texture, one which is difficult to recreate. Irish soda bread is not only a warm, buttery side to meals, but it is a food which brings together my family as a symbol of our heritage. A symbol of the hardships which my grandparents endured in a country which was so important to them.

 

Recipe
4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 Tbsp butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups buttermilk

Favorite Meal Essay draft #2

Sinead Scott

Professor Jesse Miller

English 110 H4

22 February 2017

You Eat What You Are

When people first meet me they often immediately notice that I am Irish. Besides my traditional Irish name with a spelling very different from the pronunciation, I have pale skin that flushes as easily as it burns and light-brown freckles that are splattered across my nose. Perhaps, the only feature I have which lacks the traditional Irish look is my dark brown hair. But even then, if one looks close enough, he or she can see that there are hidden strands of red as if my freckles and ivory skin weren’t enough of a reminder of where my family is from. Like my father and I, my grandmother also has the too-white-for-the-sun skin and a map of freckles across her face. They, however, have flaming red hair that screams “I’m Irish.” It’s no surprise then, that one of my families most prized recipes originated in the bitter air of the Ireland countryside. Soda bread itself is not particularly flavorful nor is it an easily acquired taste as it is not sugary, but to my family, it has more meaning than simply a type of bread. It tastes like our history. It tastes like the stories of war and famine, of poverty and struggle that plagued my grandparents and many more generations before that. When we bake the bread with my grandmother it is more than just simply cooking. It becomes a story time of my family’s history. When we finally eat the bread it’s not just the pleasant underlying tart flavor, with hints of salty and sweet that is so satisfying, but the flavor of my heritage that seems to be buried within the warm bannock.

Soda bread is a soft, textured, cake-like bread that rises because of a reaction between the buttermilk and baking soda. My very Irish grandmother, Betty, claims that the buttermilk is one of the most important parts. Making it requires specific ingredients and amounts, all of which she has stored in a drawer in her head that is only opened a few times a year now. She is a petite woman, light in stature, but quite colossal in temperament. Her personality is just as fiery as her red hair thus obscuring her lack of physical height. Once, when making the bread with her and my cousins we had run out of buttermilk and someone naively suggested making our own. Betty replied shrewdly with, “that’s bullshit” and proceeded to walk to the store to get the real thing. We quickly learned that her recipe had long been perfected, passed down generation to generation. The amount of flour to buttermilk to baking soda is as precise as a chemistry experiment; add too much of one of the few ingredients and it will lose its crumbly texture.

Often when making the bread I become so entranced with the stories of the protestant Catholic war, the stories of how Betty met my grandfather even within a country torn apart by religious beliefs, and the images of the threatening cliffs overlooking the fervent gray sea, that I forget I am supposed to remember what is being taught. Though many of the stories are grim and conjure images of car bombs lighting the streets, there are some that are less violent and of the serenity of the landscape. It is hard to pay attention to the measurements when tales from both her and my papa’s childhood are so much more captivating. The measurements are either different every time they bread is made, or I have a problem following them. My mother and I have tried to recreate the recipe, but the end result is always very different from Betty’s, as she seems to know what to add by the feeling of the dough. She always uses her hands to mix the ingredients, lightly letting the flour and baking soda coalesce between her palms, so as to ensure there is plenty of air around the flour. Although I never asked why this was necessary, it seems to be rather vital to the process of creating the bread. One which Betty knows well since she has been making the bread since she was a young girl growing up in an impoverished Ireland.

It is always important to eat the bread the day that it is made, as it tends to harden and grow stale, which is another reason as to why it was so common when my grandmother was growing up. The bread was easily made and ready to be eaten that same day. My great-grandparents, along with nearly every poor Irishman, survived primary off of potatoes, some meat and soda bread. Thus, I wouldn’t say that Irish Soda bread is my family’s favorite meal in terms of extravagance and comfort, and it is certainly not Betty’s, as she made clear by exclaiming, “gosh it’s not my favorite meal, it’s a side.” That is one of the reasons why, if you travel to Ireland you will not find Irish soda bread in any of the bakeries. The bread is made at home by families who have had it passed down by word of mouth, generation to generation. That being said, Irish Soda Bread complements everything from salty-yellow butter to beef stew or tangy homemade jam. This is partly why it is so delicious, the cake-like bread seems to harmonize with any flavor.

The very first time I can recall Betty making the bread for my siblings and me, we enthusiastically consumed it in a rather embarrassingly short amount of time. Knowing then that we loved it she proposed teaching us how to make it ourselves, an offer to which we excitingly agreed. She says that “I made it, you loved it and wanted to learn” and that is why she decided to pass the recipe, which had been in her family for generations, down to us, her grandchildren. We first learned in her kitchen on a wet and snowy day close to the holidays. The Wwind had been blowing the snow around her yard, whistling through the trees, forbidding us to play outside. We gathered the wheat flour, egg, buttermilk, baking soda and baking powder. Betty preheated the oven and we began to stir the ingredients together as she began to tell us why the bread is so important to her. Her grandmother made the bread when they lived in Ireland as it was “economic, nourishing and easy to prepare.” Ireland was stricken with poverty, and many families including my grandmother’s, relied on soda bread as a major food because it was simple to make, requiring only a few affordable ingredients. Even while she can now afford to buy other bread there is something special about making the bread that she grew up eating. It connects us with her past and the journey from Ireland to England to Canada and eventually, for my dad, the US.

When I left for school I realized how important Irish Soda Bread is to my family and especially to the overall aesthetic of certain meals. Sitting in the dining hall, where the food is bland and lacks the piquancy of a homemade meal, I long for the taste of soda bread. The bread that sits on the cart with the desserts always has the faint dull flavor of what I imagine is the taste of paper. A reoccurring pattern in most bleached white bread made for the number of loaves and definitely not perfected through years and years of making it by hand, with an essence of family history.

While trying to teach me about how to make the bread and the ingredients and measurements which are required to do so, Betty inadvertently taught me how food can taste so much better when made by hand and with the knowledge of some history. The use of her hands to integrate air into the mixture of dry ingredients creates a bread with a very distinct texture, one which is difficult to recreate. Irish soda bread is not only a warm, buttery side to meals, but it is a food which brings together my family as a symbol of our heritage. A symbol of the hardships which my grandparents endured in a country which was so important to them.

Hunter’s food essay

Favorite Dish Essay

 

When I was little, I was always a picky eater and only wanted to eat what my favorite cartoon characters would eat on TV, or what my favorite characters would eat in books. That includes things from Krabby Patties, to Green Eggs and Ham. My favorite food happens to be my mom’s brown sugar glazed spiral ham. My attitude towards food was something I bonded with my mother over for a long age. Her commitment to preparing a common meal that I enjoyed paved the way to the type of person I would be today.

The intro starts to connect your favorite food with something more than just food and to your childhood, but it feels a little like it could use more details instead of jumping from being a picky eater straight to ham.

As a child, I used to fixate on my favorite books and memorize them so I could still read without having to look at them. My love for ham started with a well-known Dr. Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham. I used to bother my parents and ask for green eggs and ham, knowing full well that the possibility of having a colored ham was preposterous. I was 6 turning 7 and demanded ham for my birthday dinner; my parents happily obliged and that week they went grocery shopping specially for my birthday request. I couldn’t contain my excitement all week about having ham for dinner, it was the most important thing in my life at the time. August 25th, 2004 rolls around and my parents are cooking dinner while .my brothers and I play with my new toys. My two older brothers and I were so involved in our romp that I hadn’t even thought of checking on how dinner was coming, but when we were all called in for dinner something unforgettable happened. Initially I saw everything as one might perceive a cooked ham, a browned glaze, layer enveloping a warm pink center, the mass of meat shining on our dining room tablet. Accompanying this glorious feast, was what appeared to be green mashed potatoes. That was when I realized not only was there a mysterious bowl of a green entity, I realized everything was green. The cogs in my young developing mind began to turn. I realized that my fantasy meal had come to life, relatively speaking since there was a cooked hunk of pig meat dyed green sitting on my tablet before me. I squealed much like our dinner would have out of excitement, but I digress. I garbled the words verbatim from Green Eggs and Ham as I shoveled food into my mouth and to this day, I cannot say another birthday even rivals that one.

I like the descriptions of the food and the details here, especially the last couple of sentences. I might suggest that you find a way to relate this to your thesis/bond with your mother in a way that is more obvious to your reader.

This memory serves as a point in my life that resonated with me and put me on a path that would make me the person I am today. My mother’s tireless effort to give her 110% effort was something I had always thought to be normal. Now being a young adult I look back at times like these and understand why I feel driven to go to great lengths to accommodate others. Cooking ham was an intermediary between my mom and I instilling values of caring, compassion and love. It was just one of the ways she showed me to be an individual that genuinely cared for the likes of others. These meals were occasions where she would ask about our days. Not in a prying manner, but rather a being open and building a genuine relationship with the little boys she loved so much. As I’ve stated before, I was a fussy eater as a child and as a result of this, my family learned to love ham the same way I do. This weekend I called my mom asking why she always made this specific meal and she said, “ I always loved this meal because I used to tell you the secret ingredient was ‘love’ and you said you could taste it every time I made it.” I’m pretty sure I was confusing the brown sugar with love. Regardless, her statement is true and her making this dish specially for me made it taste just a little bit better.

This is good because you start to talk about the connection with your mother and how the food affects your relationship. I think, however, there might be a way to make this paragraph feel more like it connects to the rest of the paper as it lacks some transition. The quote is a good addition and helps to show your bond with your mom, but it does need some more intro/conclusion to it.

In addition to my mother’s secret ingredient, the taste of my mom’s famous brown sugar glazed spiral ham has many different moving parts, as well as side dishes that have evolved from the green eggs from my birthday so many years ago. When you slice yourself a layer of meat from the whole, the first decision is which end you will attack it from. On one side, you have the crispy glazed layer of skin supplemented with sweet but smoky caramelized brown sugar; on the other end you have moist, warm pink meat that smells as I can only describe as juicy, and tender. Personally, I always eat the “crust” because there’s no better taste to me than taking a bite of warm salty meat that’s complimented by a sweet that doesn’t overwhelm the meat, but amplifies the flavor. Served with this household delicacy are usually two of the following: garlic mashed potatoes, boiled white asparagus, fresh baked bakery bread that has been heated to a crunchy crust, candied yams, baked green bean casserole, or corn. Each one of these adds a different spin on this classic dish and each one can be eaten altogether in one towering bite. My favorite combination of all the available side dishes are the mashed potato and bread combo. When everything is all cooked and served the best way to eat this dish is to spread some mashed potatoes on the crispy bread and lay a thick, juicy slab of meat on top and chow down on your ¾ sandwich creation. The culmination of garlic spinning the texture of the salt and meat, plus the sweet glaze all resting on top of warm crunchy bread makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

I love the showing of the tastes/smells here, the details really help to give an image of the food. I would say that it feels a little distant from when you began to talk about your mom, so you might want to find a way to combine the details of the food with the bond with your mom or still include that somehow.

As much as I love ham and it’s accompanying dishes, what really makes me love this meal is the feeling of unity as family when we sit down to eat. There’s always factors of taste, memories and other influences that give you a feeling of love for something but in this case without my family to indulge with, there’s really no meal. There’s just food. Food is life sustaining nutrients and has no standing on whether it should be taste good or not since it’s for survival. But a meal is to share, it’s to laugh over and share the fun stories of the day, or week. It’s a time to decompress and spend family time and remember why we’re thankful. So, in a sense this dish itself isn’t an integral part of my favorite meal, my favorite meal is any time I get to spend with my brothers who are loud and obnoxious. The time we all make inappropriate jokes with our dad while our mom scoffs and tells the four of us to grow up. It’s one of our three dogs jumping onto our laps trying to nip a little slice of ham for themselves. It’s the genuine love that binds a family coming out and reminding us we all go together like Sandra Marcoux’s signature brown sugar spiral glazed ham, and the dishes that come with it.

This conclusion is good, I like how you talk about the meal being different from food. It feels slightly forced to have a conclusion after the previous paragraph, almost like you need to elaborate more on the “meal not just food” part that you discuss in your conclusion.

Overall you have great details of the food/meal. I like the green ham connection to childhood books and memories. I think you could work on making sure you have a thesis which you can then organize your paper off of, as it seems a little like a paragraphs are too separate from one another. While it’s important that you keep the mother-son bond part of the paper, you may also want to elaborate on that and talk more about the meal’s connection to her and you. Since you also mention your dad and brother you could also talk about how the meal relates to them in another paragraph in order to show its bonding connection with your entire family, or only pick your mother to focus on.I would then make sure that the intro connects with the rest of your paper in a way that will help you organize the following paragraphs.  However, besides watching grammatical errors, I would say that this is a good start to the paper and you have some great details which you can build off.

Alex’s food essay

Alec Walker

1/30/17

English 110 Section H4

Food

 

Everyone has one dish that seems to be more than just a food.  No matter what the occasion is this dish is just irresistible to the individual.  It doesn’t have to be a fancy meal it could be as simple as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  This dish just has a special meaning that derives from different experiences with the dish.  These experiences can vary from family traditions to cultural reason to personal success following the enjoyment of the meal.  Personally speaking, the dish that is more than just a food for me is my mother’s chicken parmesan with linguini due to family and personal experiences.

Ever since I was a little kid my mother’s chicken parmesan was always my favorite dish.  Something about the steamy, savory chicken smothered in tomato sauce was so irresistible.  The dish combined all of my favorite things: Pasta, chicken, and green beans.  I had always just assumed that it was just a freelance recipe; like the kinds my mother usually cooks with.  Apparently, this was not the case at all.  The recipe was passed down to my mother from my grandmother.  It wasn’t an age old tradition that went back generations; my grandmother was the creator and first to use the recipe which she then passed down to my mother.  The dish hasn’t been a family tradition forever, but nevertheless is still an important part of my family.

These two paragraphs work well as an introduction, which you may be able to combine the two in a longer, more detailed intro paragraph. I also think you could maybe refine your thesis to be slightly clearer could help the reader. Other than that it is a good intro.

I am not the first one in my family who had a love for chicken parmesan growing up.  My mother, the one who makes the dish for me, had a special meal that was chicken parmesan.  When I interviewed her she said “When you were a baby, everyone always said you looked way more like me than your father.  I had always had a feeling you would grow up liking the same things I did.”  She had grown up learning how to cook from my grandmother and their favorite dish to make together was chicken parmesan.  It helped them create a special bond between mother and daughter.  Once she said, “Your grandmother and I used to cook together almost everyday after my brother went off to school.  It was just the two of us alone in the kitchen and we just had so much fun together.”  This was the only time in my mother’s life where she was able to spend quality time with my grandmother one on one.  She is the second of five children so during this time period she was the youngest child and was the only one in the house after her brother left.  “Even after Terri, Mike, and Chuck were born your grandmother and I would still cook together sometimes.  It just happened a lot less often.  Even when we did it just didn’t seem the same.  There was always seemed to be other distractions.”  After her other siblings were born the special ritual of cooking with my grandmother simmered a little, but her love for chicken parmesan did not.  

Good focus on history and family to meal-make sure it is clear why this relationship between your mom and grandmother is important to you and not just your mom.

As I grew older, not much had changed, chicken parm was always my favorite dish because it was delicious and it was kind of a family tradition.  I didn’t know it but soon there was going to be another reason for me to love the dish so much.  It was my junior year of high school and I had just gotten really into running.  I was on the cross country team and had placed second in three straight races.

Why is it so delicious…what flavors are so good?

The day before my next race had come and as I’m doing homework in my room I hear my mother yell “Alec do you want chicken parm for dinner?”

“Of course I do!” I yell back.  A few hours later I run downstairs to the sweet aroma of pasta and green beans.  I hear the crackling and sizzling of the chicken as it comes off the stovetop.  I grab a plate a load it up with chicken, beans, and pasta.  Carbs and protein, the perfect mix of nutrients for the night before a big race.  The next day I wake up and I’m antsy all day at school; this is nothing new and always happens on race day.  Finally, the day ended and it’s time to race.  I toe the line and go out hard.  I didn’t even realize what was happening until about two thirds into the race when I look up from the rocky tree covered terrain to notice that there is no one in sight ahead of me.  “Am I really in first right now?” I think to myself.  I turn a corner and take an unprecedented peek behind me to see that there is nobody even close to me.  I sprint the last half mile in a strange state of excitement and fear of being caught.  After almost collapsing at the finish line I turned around and saw that nobody else was within a hundred yards of finishing.  My coach ran over smiling and showing me the timer that read “17:13,” the fastest time I would end up running that season.  From that moment on, chicken parmesan was my go to meal the night before every race.  Whenever the night before race day rolled around; I would always ask my mom if she could make me that special dish because it worked so well the last time.  Now, still running cross country in college, the night before races just aren’t the same without my mom’s chicken parmesan.  I still have the same routine in every other way, but something always seems like it’s missing.  Maybe it’s the traditions like eating the dish with my parents overnight before a race that I miss rather than the physical meal.  

I love the connection the meal has to running-it shows why it is important to you. I think this is a good focus as well, maybe just make sure this related to thesis and previous paragraphs to some degree, but other than that this is a great paragraph.

Looking back on it, the dish has become more than simply chicken and pasta me.  It isn’t the protein, carbs, and other nutrients combined in a delicious way that make the dish special.  Chicken parmesan to me is like a little piece of home.  Some people can associate different smells to many different things whether it be important memories or simple events.  For me, the only smell that I can relate back to memories in  my mother’s chicken parmesan.  When I smell the dish the memory of winning that first race floods through my brain.  I remember my childhood and how I always loved that dish so much.  Family memories come back with the thoughts of my mother as a child cooking with my grandmother.  Through the combination of family tradition and personal success the dish has become a part of me.  I don’t think just family tradition or just personal success would have made chicken parmesan a part of me.  The dish would still be special to me, but with the combination of the two it just make it all the more meaningful.  

Food is so much more to us than merely nutrients to fuel our body.  Human beings are unique in the sense that they can associate something as simple as food back to something more.  Most people can smell a single scent and their mind takes them right back to some important aspect of their life.  In a way food is a way to remember to cherish the important things in life; it can be a reminder of of something important to someone.  Food can be important to help people stay in touch with each other and their memories. I like how you bring up something slightly new from the rest of the paper, as long as you add more to this conclusion to wrap up the paper then this is a great start to the conclusion.

 

Overall, this is a good start to the paper. I think it works well when you add how the meal connects to running which is obviously also very important to you, and how it is connected to family and memories,  all of which are important and show how the meal is more than just chicken and pasta. You could definitely add more details about how it connects you with your mom and how her connection with your grandmother affected you. I would make sure that your introduction is set up in a way in which you can easily organize your paper off of, as right now it could use some smoother transitions between ideas/paragraphs. This will probably be easily solved with a more obvious/organized thesis since right now I could not really tell where it was exactly. Besides that there are just some basic grammatical errors, but it’s a great first draft!

Favorite Meal Essay Draft 1

When people first meet me they often immediately notice that I am Irish. Besides my traditional Irish name with a spelling very different from the pronunciation, I have pale skin that flushes as easily as it burns and light brown freckles that are splattered across my nose. Perhaps, the only feature I have which lacks the traditional Irish look is my dark brown hair. But even then, if one looks close enough, he or she can see that there are hidden strands of red as if my freckles and ivory skin weren’t enough of a reminder of where my family is from. Like my father and I, my grandmother also has the too-white-for-the-sun skin and a map of freckles across her face. They, however, have flaming red hair that screams “I’m Irish.” It’s no surprise then that one of my families most prized recipes originated in the bitter air of the Ireland countryside. Soda bread itself is not particularly flavorful nor is it an easily acquired taste as it is not sugary, but to my family it has more meaning than simply a type of bread. It tastes like our history. It tastes like the stories of war and famine, of poverty and struggle that plagued my grandparents and many more generations before that. When we bake the bread with my grandmother it is more than just simply cooking, it becomes a story time of my family’s history. When we finally eat the bread it’s not just the pleasantly sour flavor, with hints of salty and sweet that is so satisfying, but the flavor of my heritage that seems to be buried within the warm bannock.  

Soda bread is a soft, textured, cake-like bread that rises because of a reaction between the buttermilk and baking soda. Betty, claims that the buttermilk is one of the most important parts. Making it requires specific ingredients and amounts, all of which she has stored in a drawer in her head that is only opened a few times a year now. She is a petite woman, light in stature, but quite colossal in temperament. Her personality is just as fiery as her red hair thus obscuring her lack of physical height. Once, when making the bread with her and my cousins we had run out of buttermilk and someone naively suggested making our own. Betty replied shrewdly with, “that’s bullshit” and proceeded to walk to the store to get the real thing. We quickly learned that her recipe had long been perfected, passed down generation to generation. The amount of flour to buttermilk to baking soda is as precise as a chemistry experiment; add too much of one of the few ingredients and it will lose its crumbly texture.  

Often when making the bread I become so entranced with the stories of the protestant Catholic war, the stories of how Betty met my grandfather even within a country torn apart by religious beliefs, and the images of the threatening cliffs overlooking the fervent gray sea, that I forget I am supposed to remember what is being taught. It is hard to pay attention to the measurements when tales from both her and my papa’s childhood are so much more captivating. The measurements are either different every time they bread is made, or I have a problem following them. My mother and I have tried to recreate the recipe, but the end result is always very different from Betty’s, as she seems to know what to add by the feeling of the dough. She always uses her hands to mix the ingredients, lightly letting the flour and baking soda coalesce between her palms, so as to ensure there is plenty of air around the flour. Although, I never asked why this was necessary, it seems to be rather vital to the process of creating the bread. One which Betty knows well, since she has been making the bread since she was a young girl growing up in a rural and impoverished Ireland.

It is always important to eat the bread the day that it is made, as it tends to harden and grow stale, which is probably why it was so common when my grandmother was growing up. My great-grandparents, along with nearly every poor Irishman survived primary off of potatoes, some meat and soda bread. Thus, I wouldn’t say that Irish Soda bread is my family’s favorite meal, and it is certainly not Betty’s, as she made clear by exclaiming, “gosh it’s not my favorite meal, it’s a side.” Which is one of the reasons why, if you travel to Ireland you will not find Irish soda bread in any of the bakeries. The bread is made at home by families who have had it passed down generation to generation. That being said, Irish Soda Bread complements everything from salty-yellow butter to beef stew or tangy homemade jam. This is partly why it is so delicious, the cake-like bread seems to harmonize with any flavor.

The very first time I can recall Betty making the bread for my siblings and I, we enthusiastically consumed it in a rather embarrassingly short amount of time. Knowing then that we loved it she proposed teaching us how to make it ourselves, an offer to which we excitingly agreed. She says that “I made it, you loved it and wanted to learn” and that is why she decided to pass the recipe, which had been in her family for generations, down to us, her grandchildren. We first learned in her kitchen on wet and snowy day close to the holidays. Wind had been blowing the snow around her yard, whistling through the trees, forbidding us to play outside. We gathered the wheat flour, egg, buttermilk, baking soda and baking powder. Betty preheated the oven and we began to stir the ingredients together as she began to tell us why the bread is so important to her. Her grandmother made the bread when they lived in Ireland as it was “economic, nourishing and easy to prepare.” Ireland was stricken with poverty, and many families including my grandmothers relied on soda bread as a major food because it was simple to make, requiring only a few affordable ingredients. Even while she can now afford to buy other bread there is something special about making the bread that she grew up eating. It connects us with her past and the journey from Ireland to England to Canada and eventually, for my dad, the US.

When I left for school I realized how important Irish Soda Bread is to my family and especially to the overall flavor of certain meals. Sitting in the dining hall, where the food is bland and lacks the piquancy of a homemade meal, I long for the taste of soda bread. The bread that sits on the cart with the desserts always has the faint dull taste of what I imagine is the taste of paper. A reoccurring pattern in most bleached white breads made for the number of loaves and definitely not because of the essence of family history or perfected through years and years of making it by hand.

While trying to teach me about how to make the bread and the ingredients and measurements which are required to do so, Betty inadvertently taught me how food can taste so much better when made by hand and with some history attached. The use of her hands to integrate air into the mixture of dry ingredients creates a bread with a very distinct texture, one which is difficult to recreate.

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