Food Writing

Note: As of 1/18, classes are planned for the first three weeks of the semester. And more details are coming soon! -DM


Week One
Mon, 1/16
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Wed, 1/18
What's Where
Google Folders
Nineties Setups

Week Two
Mon, 1/23 | Standpoints and Food Questions
🧀🌶️ Pimento Cheese
Food Experiences, Expertise, and Phatic Communication
Wed, 1/25 | Food-told Story
Projects Kick-off
Read: Project descriptions
Read: "Storytelling," 1-17, Jonathan Safran Foer, from Eating Animals, PDF in Canvas [40]
P1 Planning


Week Three
Mon, 1/30 | Semistructured Interviews
Read: "Introduction," by Shola El-Waylly, The Best American Food Writing 2022, pp. xv-xvi [30]
Read: "Chapter 5. Working with People," 89-107, from Try This: Research Methods for Writers [30]
Developing Interview Questions

Wed, 2/1 | Workshop I
Writing workshop: Ledes, setups, and storytold shapes 🪢
In-class: Applying the 5Ws, micro-conferences, and selections from Chef's Table, Temple Food/Jeong Kwan

Week Four
Mon, 2/6
Read: "The Limits of the Lunch Box Moment," by Jaya Saxena, The Best American Food Writing 2022, pp. 5-13 [30]

Wed, 2/8
No class (Mueller out of town)
Read (optional): "A Year of Cooking with My Mother," by Eric Kim, The Best American Food Writing 2022, pp. 165-168 [30]

Week Five
Mon, 2/13
View: Edible Rhetoric: Making Memorable Meals, by Jody Shipka, YouTube
Peer Review - Project 1
Wed, 2/15
No class (Mueller out of town)
Project 1 Due

Week Six
Mon, 2/20
Palimpsest Placemats (Anecdoted Topography of Chance) 🍽
Read: Project Two Description
Read: About Daniel Spoerri, from (online)
Wed, 2/22
Meet at PKs, 432 N. Main Street (appetizers)
Bring placemats and a pen


Week Seven

Mon, 2/27
Yogurt featuring lactobacillus 🍶
Read: "Yogurt" in The Nutrition Source (online)
Read: Sharon Marcus, Heather Love, & Stephen Best, "Building a Better Description," from Representations (PDF in Canvas)

Wed, 3/1
Mapping Anecdotes (as Annotations)🗺️
Read: "The Three Sisters," (online) from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer [50]
Bring placemats

Week Eight

Virginia Tech Spring Break - No Classes

Week Nine
Mon, 3/13
Pizza from The Bést of Blacksburg 🍕
Read: "Revolt of the Delivery Workers" by Josh Dzieza, The Best American Food Writing 2022, pp. 109-127 [45]
Wed, 3/15
P2 Peer Review

Week Ten
Mon, 3/20
Read: "The Gatekeepers Who Get to Decide What Food Is 'Disgusting,'" by Jiayang Fan, The Best American Food Writing 2022, pp. 39-54 [45]
Read: "Chronicles of a Bubble-Tea Addict,'" by Jiayang Fan, The Best American Food Writing 2022, pp. 63-70 [30]
Project Three Kick-off
Wed, 3/22
The Fermented Cabbages: Sauerkraut and Kimchi
P2 due

Week Eleven
Mon, 3/27
Read: "Let Them Eat Fakes," by Ligaya Mishan, The Best American Food Writing 2022, pp. 71-77 [30]
Project Three Workshop
Wed, 3/29
Read: "Ghost Acres: Tulare Lake and the Past Future of Food" by Tom Finger, The Best American Food Writing 2022, pp. 95-108 [45]
Read: "Other People's Kitchens,'" by Bryan Washington, The Best American Food Writing 2022, pp. 169-173 [30]


Week Twelve
Mon, 4/3
Visit to Shanks 315 - Tea & Cookies (bring tea cup/mug)
Informal 20-30 minute consultations re: Project Three
Wed, 4/5
P3 Workabout & drafting

Week Thirteen

Mon, 4/10
Mindful eating/apple+orange meditation
Read: Excerpt from Savor by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung (online) [15]
In-class: "Present Moment, Wonderful Moment," from A Pebble for Your Pocket by Thich Nhat Hanh
In-class: "Eating an Orange," from A Pebble for Your Pocket by Thich Nhat Hanh

Wed, 4/12
P3 Peer review
P3 Due NLT Friday, 4/14

Week Fourteen
Mon, 4/17
Revision Workshop
Wed, 4/19
Revision Workshop

Week Fifteen
Mon, 4/24
Revision Due; Showcase preparation

Wed, 4/26
Food Writing Showcase, Part I
Nana’s Aunt Alice
Nailed It! REMIX
Soup-er Dumplings
It's G-g-great! How Frosted Flakes Shaped a Family
The Inventor of the Charcuterie Board
The Dining of Others
The Pickle Project
College Budget Sandwich


Week Sixteen
Mon, 5/1
Food Writing Showcase, Part 2
MXOS: The Only Company
Pizza with No Sauce?
Food Up and Down the East Coast
What's a Nord Without His Mead?
[Title Pending]
Controversial Foods: Love Them or Hate Them
[Title Pending]
My Work of Art
Wed, 5/3
Reflection Due
Option: Crepes at Turner Place

Wed. 5/3 Last day for total withdrawal from term (with W grades) - No refund.

Other official dates

Fri. 5/5-Wed. 5/10 Final Exams

Contact Information

Derek N. Mueller
Professor of Rhetoric and Writing
Director of the University Writing Program
Department of English
Virginia Tech
Office: 315 Shanks Hall
Spring 2023 Office Hours: W, 10-12, and by appointment
Phone: +1-734-985-0485 (Google Voice)