A few weeks ago, I received an enthusiastic voicemail from a close friend who is a second-grade teacher for Chicago Public Schools. She told me she was starting a unit about persuasive writing and reviews, and had been scrolling through this little blog for inspiration, but then had a better idea: for me to come in person and talk about how to write about food. I agreed to do it, and thus my very first public appearance as a food blogger!
For the first part of my visit, my blog was projected onto the screen in front of three classes of second-graders. As I scrolled through the posts and photos, they asked questions. Lots of questions. “Do you take notes about what you eat?” “How do you decide where to go?” “How can you afford to go to all those places?” “What’s your favorite pizza?” “How do you get the pictures onto the website?” I tried to field them as honestly as possible, which turned out to be a great exercise to reflecting on my process and breaking down what I do into a simpler explanation.
Back in my friend’s classroom, all the students got to taste each of four different kinds of cupcakes from Molly’s Cupcakes, and then had to describe each one on their worksheet. I had a blast going around to each group of desks and hearing about their reactions to the different cupcakes. Their palates were amazingly sophisticated: some students picked up on subtle coffee flavors in the cookies ‘n’ cream cupcake, while others objected that the filling in the cake batter cupcake was too runny and the flavor was off. In our group discussion at the end, one main trend emerged: the ones who liked the chocolate decadence cupcake best liked the cake batter cupcake least, and vice versa. I guess you can chalk it up to the age-old vanilla/chocolate divide. (Side note: try explaining what decadence means in second-grade terms…my first attempt was to use the word “lavish,” but that didn’t really help.)
While I don’t think a full-time career of shaping young minds is in my future, it was rewarding to see the students thoughtfully engage with the activity and get excited about what I was there to share with them. The morning concluded with the whole class swarming around me for a huge group hug, and one student asked if their class would get to be on my blog. I’ll make sure their teacher passes this along!
Thanks to Ms. Ardam for taking all the photos!