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School of Continuing Studies | University of Toronto

Food for Thought: Upcoming Food Courses at the School

January 29, 2015
Arts & Science

Food becomes the star of the show with new spring courses in Creative Writing and Arts and Science.

photo courtesy of Chris Johns

Understanding that food is a lot more than something that fuels our bodies, the School of Continuing Studies is offering two new courses, Food Writing and The Ritual and Celebration of Food.  Both of these courses consider food to be a rich (and tasty) topic that makes up a huge part of our culture and the ways we understand each other.

Chris Johns has written about food and Toronto’s restaurant scene for several years, and teaches the upcoming course, Food Writing, at the School of Continuing Studies.  He says that “food and eating are inexorably linked to so many aspects of our lives. Most everyone likes to eat, but surprisingly few people really take the time to think carefully about what they’re eating, how it tastes, where it came from, who made it, and what techniques were involved.”

The Food Writing course has been designed to help students learn the secrets of restaurant criticism, pinpoint and identify emerging trends in food, develop effective recipes and build a portfolio of compelling articles.  Johns says his course shows students that “there is more to food writing than just strapping on the old feedbag and then banging out 1000 words. I think it sometimes comes as a shock to students when they discover how much work, study and effort goes into writing well about food.”

The Ritual and Celebration of Food takes an approach that provides background information on why food is so important to us.  The course offers learners insight into how social and ethnic identities are revealed in everyday food rituals and symbols. Instructor Sara Maida-Nicol describes herself as a “gourmand” and her diverse background as an opera singer, PhD student in linguistic-anthropology and editor of VIVO, a magazine dedicated to Italian culture, allows her a deep understanding of the topic of food.  She says her course “takes a serious approach to food scholarship beyond the ideals of “the foodie” and explores food culture through history, practice, language and more.”

For aspiring food writers, Johns says that “a wider understanding of food and culture is critical to anyone studying food writing. Good food writing is about much more than ‘this tastes yummy’”.  Maida-Nicol adds that “thinking outside the box is also important as a means of setting yourself apart in a saturated market of food critics and bloggers.  Understanding the psychology of food will give insight and as a result a competitive edge to a writer looking to hone a food-writing style.”

The Ritual and Celebration of Food starts on  March 5, and Food Writing starts April 7th.  Space is limited for both courses.

For more information about our instructors, follow Sara Maida-Nicol on Twitter at @Sariciella and Chris Johns at @Chrisandvinegar. Get more news from the School of Continuing Studies on Twitter at @UofTLearnMore.


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