By Ethan Paul
The Dalton Senior 3 ELA classes each take on a different big topic each semester. Fall 2020, I taught two different ones: Where the World is a Construct: Reading and Writing Fantasy, and Sugar, Spice, Taste, and Write: Food Culture and Writing. Through these classes, the students went in depth into the class topic and developed their own takes on it. By the end of the semester, the students became experts in the domain, writing extensively on a subject within it.
Where the World is a Construct has students reading various fantasy works, discussing, identifying, and analyzing the elements of fantasy, and then writing their own fantasy stories, putting those elements into practice. Through the class, we read multiple novels and dived deep into what makes them fantasy, looking at the characters, the worlds they inhabit, and the elusive X-Factor that defines what makes something fantasy. The students wrote their own short stories and shared them in weekly writing workshops, giving each other feedback and creating a community of creative writers.
Sugar, Spice, Taste, and Write took a wide view at food writing, an emerging branch of journalism focusing on every element of food, from farming and production, to distribution, to preparation, and to consumption. It's an interdisciplinary subject bringing together elements of anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics, etc. Through the semester, the students chose a food issue close to them, and spent their time researching it and writing their own in-depth creative nonfiction essay exploring the issue in a unique way.
Enjoy the taste of Wonton and homesick in this student's work:
Melt in a Bowl of Wonton
by Susan Shi
A BOWL of hot wontons with green scallions is always what I look for on a cold winter day. For as long as I can remember. I've often had bowl of wontons at my desk. Tiny goldfish shaped wontons float on top of the golden chicken soup, and I can swallow a bowl of them in a short time.
When I was a child, I often spent my summer in my hometown, in the sound of peoplehawking wontons on the street. "Bianshi", "Bianshi" ,the shouts of street vendors, represent my hometown in my memory. It was not until I arrived in Beijing that I realized that this kind of food had many names, and each name meant the homesickness of a group of people.
Wonton has a different name over the world. Its common name, wonton, actually comes from Cantonese.
In Beijing, it is called huntun; in Fujian, it is called bianshi; in Sichuan, it is called chaoshou. Different names usually mean different tastes and a separate identity. Beijing-style wontons have a thicker skin and a larger volume. Fujian-style wontons will be smaller. The soup base in Sichuan is usually spicy. Shanghai's wonton fillings will be more varied. Wontons can vary in a myriad of ways over the same bowl and necessary maerials.
The different names then represent the imaginations of people in different places. The Fujianese call it “bianshi” because it gets squashed a bit more during production. Cantonese call it wonton, which means they think the moment they swallow it is like swallowing a cloud. This romantic expression is the literal meaning of wonton.....
For both of these classes, the students spent so much time and put so much work into their writing, that to celebrate it, we brought their work together into printed magazines for posterity. Congratulations！