Newswise - Writer Tenaya Darlington, M.F.A., assistant professor of English at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, loves eating cheese.
loves it so much that she
has rarely met a cheese she
didn't like, and says the stinkier and stronger the cheese, the better.
also loves food writing, which she
did in Madison, Wisc., before moving to Philadelphia, where she
missed writing about food.
missed it so much that last year she
started a popular food blog called "Madame Fromage: The Pillow Book of a Cheese Lover."
"Within the last decade, the food writing genre has become an American obsession, from best-selling memoirs based on food to food blogs and food journalism books," says Darlington
"Since I missed food writing and wanted to try blogging, I thought I'd experiment with a cheese blog."
, things came together when she
proposed a course in food writing at Saint Joseph's
for spring 2010, which, among other assignments, included authoring a food blog.
Her student Dan Westiner started "earth and fork" last spring, a blog that has really taken off, according to Darlington.
"It's an opportunity to look at why there is such interest in food writing and why so many Americans are self-confessed 'foodies,'" says Darlington
"And students put their writing chops to the test by developing food blogs."
To hone their epicurean and descriptive skills, Darlington
devised several ingenious in-class activities to stimulate palates and imaginations.
For a produce auction, students 'bid' on unusual fruits and vegetables that they then eat and about which they write detailed descriptions.
"The exercise requires thinking beyond the obvious - they can't just say that something is 'delicious,'" says Darlington
"They have to think through flavor and texture, and consider writing for an audience."
The syllabus, organized in three sections, is akin to a menu - roughly four weeks each for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
This allows the class to break bread together, starting with a breakfast of local foods prepared by Darlington
A few weeks later, lunch is served at Reading Terminal Market
, where students are introduced to foods they may have never sampled.
"I want students to understand the politics of food production," says Darlington
"When we first met last term, many told me they didn't like cheese, or that they only ate Kraft Singles," says Darlington
"By May, their food consciousness had been raised, and they were eating raw-milk cheddar from a local Amish producer and devouring triple crèmes and blues," says Darlington
Tenaya Darlington, assistant professor of English at Saint Joseph's University services a local foods breakfast to food writing students.