Last summer, I led two virtual book clubs with students. They were 7th graders moving into 8th grade and one group read My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva. I first learned of Gail and his sweet book through our World Read Aloud Day celebrations. When I started working in my current school district, I introduced the free World Read Aloud Day Skypes to teachers. Now every student visits with an author on World Read Aloud Day in our K-8 district.
I'm really proud of making connections - between kids and creators, between reading and writing, between teachers and books, between teachers and kids. I love it. So I was excited to share this book with a small group of students. We read and discussed but I also stopped here and there to slow down and look at the writing and that's what I'd like to share today.
Years ago, I volunteered with 826CHI and spent two weeks with middle grade writers for their summer camp and the focus was food! I love food. I didn't realize how awesome food would be as a theme though until I was there and living it and experiencing how the amazing people of 826CHI brought it to life for me.
We all have experiences with food. And we all have food that nourishes us or makes us want to throw up. We all have feelings connected to food. Food is such a universal experience. I think of one of my former students who uses a feeding tube. Even she has connections to food. So for this week's mentor text, I picked a snatch of text from My Fate According to the Butterfly that slows down to celebrate the best kare-kare ever.
My thought for using this is to notice how she first tells us what she's describing. And then she shows us. Y'all, we need to show AND tell. It's okay to show and tell in our writing. Sometimes we need one more than the other, sometimes we need them together, sometimes they stand alone. But showing and telling both matter.
So here's the excerpt:
"In moments like these, I'm so glad I'm not allergic to peanuts.
This kare-kare must be life's way of rewarding my hero-ism, bringing me to this carinderia. Because this canteen has the best kare-kare ever.
Swimming among the orange peanut sauce are beef chunks and pieces of ox tripe with melt-in-your-mouth texture. It also has a generous amount of soft eggplants, string beans, and pechay greens. The peanut sauce isn't too thick, nor is it too thin. It's the perfect sauce on a cup of steamed rice. Add a dash of their sweet-and-spicy shrimp paste, and you've got a saucy, savory, and slightly sweet combination that's like heaven on earth." (p. 122)
There's so much to talk about here! First she tells us what she's talking about. She writes, "...the best kare-kare-ever." It made me think of all the best things I know....
And then she tells us the details. Above are some words I wanted to think about for my own writing: swimming, chunks, melt-in-your-mouth, dash of..., and like heaven on earth. We talk a lot about cliches and not using cliches in writing but at the same time, there is definitely vocabulary that goes with writing about food. These stood out to me and I wanted to think about these for my own writing.
But first I had to think of food that I think is THE BEST. What foods do you think are the best? Here's my list!
What stood out to me is that all my food comes from other places! When I decided to go vegan, I started exploring places with vegan food, everywhere I go I look for vegan food! From here I decided to zone in on one and see how I would first tell and then show about that food.
Blind Faith Cafe's Vegan Chocolate Cake
(AKA the best cake ever)
When I went vegan, I went in search of the yummiest vegan options - here, in Chicago, and everywhere I go. And hands down, Blind Faith Cafe in Evanston has the best chocolate cake ever.
Drizzled with raspberry sauce and served with a side of raspberry sorbet is the most divine chocolate cake. Not too dry, not too gooey, the cake is perfect. The vanilla frosting is sweet but subtle. Take a bite with cake and frosting and raspberry sauce and feel the love and joy and bliss that's like heaven on earth.
I love mentor texts like this because they truly help me feel held and free when it comes to writing. That I can try something like this myself, that I have stories to tell, that writing can be fun.
You know you want a piece of this cake now!!! Come to Chicago and I'll take you to experience it. It's awesome. But I also hope you toooootally want to go write about your best food, to show AND tell me all about it. What food do you think is the best?!?