Food Writing in Paris
Office of International Programs
This writing workshop will take place in Paris, France. Drawing on the markets, food shops, restaurants, and food trucks of the city, students will explore the intersection between food and culture. We will consider both the classic culinary traditions of Paris (and provincial France) that have shaped the way Parisians have eaten for centuries, as well as recent influences of diverse immigrant groups making the city their home today. Students will write in a variety of genres from essay and memoir, where they’ll explore the way place shapes their own thoughts about food, to literary journalism, profiling the ingredients, people, and places that are representative of the Paris food scene today.
May 31, 2014 - Program begins in Paris
June 29, 2014 - Program concludes in Paris
In this creative writing seminar where the culture and rituals around food, cooking, and eating will be considered from market to table, students will be asked to immerse themselves in a variety of writing tasks. These will range from food memoir and essay to journalistic profiles and reviews. Drawing on the city of Paris, its deeply rooted culinary traditions, and the diverse groups of immigrants that have made the city their home, students will write daily, bringing their own reflections and experiences with food into their work as they mine the rich culture that surrounds them. The works of noted food writers, both past and present, will be used as models for student writing. These include MFK Fisher, deemed “the poet of the appetites” by John Updike, as well as journalists covering France and its food culture, from the first half of the twentieth century to the present, including Elizabeth David, A.J. Liebling, Waverly Root, and Adam Gopnik. The readings will span a wide time period, beginning with Brillat-Savarin’s classic nineteenth century treatise on the pleasures of eating, The Physiology of Taste, excerpts from Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, and delving into contemporary pieces, including profiles and reviews by noted journalists Mark Bittman, David Lebovitz, even bloggers, such as Clotilde Dusoulier of the award-winning Chocolate and Zucchini and others covering the Middle East, Caribbean, and North African diaspora influencing Parisian cooking today. Over the course of the session, students will write one long essay and several shorter pieces, all of which will be workshopped in class. Students will also meet with me individually to discuss their work. Although I will not grade individual pieces, students will submit a portfolio of polished work to me for a grade at the end of the term.
Housing & Meals
Students will be housed in dormitory-style residence halls during their time in Paris. Some group meals will be included in the cost of the program, but students should budget for most of their own food costs.
Cultural activities provided by the program include visiting both historic food-related venues in the city, as well as contemporary ones. The following site visits are included as part of the program:
Historic Parisian Food-Related Venues:
- Historic food markets of the rues Montorgueil and Mouffetard (featured in writings of Liebling and Child)
- Charcuterie Alsacienne (offshoot of original1876 charcuterie featuring Alsatian specialties)
- La Maison Stohrer (oldest pastry shop in Paris)
- 18th (Montmartre), and 19th (Buttes Chaumont) arrondisement restaurants, cafes, and markets.
- Le Grand Véfour (restaurant opened in 1784)
- Brasserie Procope (brasserie opened in 1688)
- La Cordonnerie, a classic example of “cuisine de marche” (market food establishment) established in 1690, explored in the writings of Fisher, David, and Liebling
- Maille (18th century mustard emporium) *The “increasingly energetic” (M. Bittman) northeast quadrant of the 10th, *The quais along the Seine, a favorite picnic spot amongst Parisians and tourists alike
- Androuet (classic Paris fromagerie opened in 1909) with cheeses from the Auvergne, the Savoie, Lyons, and Bourgogne
- Librairie Rémi Flachard (bookstore focusing on French gastronomic history featuring the oldest menu in existence, a handwritten page from a 1780s Parisian restaurant
- Au Rocher de Cancale (café-restaurant reviewed by Grimod in Almanach des gourmands in 1803)*Les Marches Biologiques (Organic Farmer’s Markets) such as Marche Boulevard de Raspail, Marche Boulevard de Batignolles, or Le Marche Boulogne
- Historic Belle Époque cafés including Café de la Paix, Café Flor, and Les Deux Magots
- Paris supermarchés (a distinctly Paris institution—well-stocked supermarkets in department stores) such as La Grande Epicerie de Paris in Bon Marche and Lafayette Gourmet
Food in Paris in the 21st Century:
- “The New Left Bank” and Paris of the 21st Century: Food establishments of the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th arrondissements including Marché Daligre (food market)
- Belleville section of Paris, a multi-ethnic neighborhood featuring foods of North Africa and home to one of the city’s two Chinatowns
- Walking tour of ethnic neighborhoods surrounding the Gare du Nord: (Passage Brady and Rue Jara, and Faubourg Saint Denis which have been dubbed Little India and Sri Lanka where gastronomic fusion can be experienced at fast-food eateries such as that at 186 fbg, St. Denis, serving Indo-Mexican food.
- Visit to a Berber baker producing traditional Algerian flatbread in the 20th arrondisement
- A walk through the unpretentious yet trendy Oberkampf district with its young chefs shaping the new food scene in the city
- Paris Food Trucks with their California and New York-inspired fare, dubbed “très Brooklyn,” signifying a combination of informality, creativity and quality.
- Musée du Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, and Centre Pompidou to view works featuring food-related themes
Students are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from Paris, as well as making their way from the airport to the orientation location.
Course Title: Food Writing in Paris
Preapproved For: -English major/minor elective
Number of Credits: 3
Program Location: Paris, France
Faculty Leader: Lynne Anderson
The Office of International Programs reserves the right to update, change, or cancel any BC Summer program without notice due to unexpected events abroad, curriculum, or enrollment issues.