Gastronomy Course Spotlight: Food Writing for the Media

Being able to take a writing course with the food editor of the Boston Globe is surely one of the biggest draws of the Gastronomy program. Obviously, I wasn’t going to leave Boston University without getting to experience it for myself.

sheryl julianThe instructor, Sheryl Julian, is a classy, well-accomplished woman, with lots of experience in the food world. (Julia Child hand-picked her for her first Boston food editing gig, after all.) Her matter-of-fact teaching style and obvious success command respect, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly intimidated. Like most writers, she is a gifted storyteller, keeping our class on the edge of our seats each week. It also doesn’t hurt that she has the best voice. I could listen to her read the phone book!

We turned in all kinds of food writing over the course of the semester, each week with a new theme. Assignments included Q&A pieces, product comparisons, restaurant and cookbook reviews, memoirs, blogs, and more. Sheryl is an excellent editor and her insight made my writing stronger each week. But the best part of the class was that Sheryl connected us with other successful writers and food professionals, so that we could learn from them as well.

Debra Samuels, who writes the “Tasting Table” column for the Boston Globe, held a cream of tomato soup tasting with us to teach the class how to conduct a product comparison and write about it. Beatrice Peltre, the blogger and cookbook author behind La Tartine Gourmande, visited our class to speak about how to build a successful food blog, and what it’s like to write a cookbook. But my favorite class of all had to be when we visited Nina Gallant’s food photography studio, and did a hands-on food styling and food photography lesson.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetRequired reading for this course was also a treat. Rather than textbooks, our reading consisted of photocopied articles from newspapers and food magazines. Food Writing for the Media is taught exclusively in the spring semester, and Sheryl only accepts about 13 students into her class (a writing sample is required first). Many of Sheryl’s former students go on to do freelance work for her after they complete the course, which is all the more reason to do a good job throughout the semester.

– Kelly

image of Sheryl via Boston Globe


Gastronomy Course Spotlight: Food Activism


This class sold me on the name alone. However, many friends and acquaintances I encountered throughout the semester didn’t have the slightest idea what food activism was or what I was studying. For our final paper, we had to come up with our own definition of food activism, so this is what I came up with…

Food activism: engaging in an action or adopting a behavior or set of behaviors that challenges a perceived wrong in the current food system, with the intent to create or be a part of positive structural change.

Readings covered all sorts of alternative food systems, from CSAs and farmers markets, to urban homesteading, food access projects, and cooperatives. While food activism is an area of interest of mine, this was no doubt one of the most time consuming classes I have taken in the gastronomy program thus far. The main assignment was to conduct an ethnographic research project studying food activism, and much to my surprise, the guidelines for the project were even more rigorous than that of  the food anthropology class.grasseni

The class was taught by Cristina Grasseni, a visiting lecturer (from Italy!) for the Gastronomy program. For anyone looking to learn more about food activism, I highly recommend any and all of the books pictured above.

– Kelly

Photo by Tony Rinaldo, image via Radcliffe Institute