ENG196H1F - L0101

First Year Seminar: Cook the Books


Tuesday, 2 pm - 5 pm

Instructor Information

Professor Andrea Most, Chef Joshna Mahara.

E-mail: andrea.most@utoronto.ca

Course Description

 If, as a famous French philosopher once said, “You are what you eat”, then what are we? What do our food choices reveal about who we are and what we value? What story does the food we eat tell about our relationship to the world around us? In this class, we examine all kinds of stories about growing, preparing, and eating food in order to understand how culture shapes the choices we make about the food we eat. But we don’t stop there: through cooking and eating together, we begin to tell new stories about our food and our relationship to the planet that provides it. Co-taught with a professional chef, this course combines literary analysis with hands-on cooking classes, multi-sensory presentations, and food-oriented field trips.

Required Readings

  • Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma
  • Leah Penniman, Farming While Black
  • Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • MFK Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf
  • Wendell Berry, selected essays and poems
  • Isak Dinesen, Babette’s Feast
  • Joshna Maharaj, Take Back the Tray
  • Ratatouille

 Plus a smorgasbord of additional recipes, short videos, podcasts, and essays.

First Three Authors/Texts:

  • Food Inc. [2008 Film, Robert Kenner, dir]
  • Michael Pollan, “The Sickness in Our Food Supply,” New York Review of Books, 11 June 2020
  • Robin Wall Kimmerer, “The Serviceberry: An Economy of Abundance,” Emergence Magazine, 10 Dec 2020; [subject to change]

Methods of Evaluation

  • Reading Responses (25%)
  • Cooking Activities (20%)
  • Potluck and Essay (30%)
  • Class Participation (25%)