I love the way Mina talks about food in MY NAME IS MINA! Food, for Mina, doesn’t seem to be just about filling her stomach when hungry, but also about thoroughly enjoying the act of eating. Take, for instance, when she talks about fig rolls:
“FIG ROLLS! WOW! I like to nibble the top of the biscuit off first, then chew away the lovely figgy stuff (it’s lovely slooched around inside the mouth with chocolate milk), then eat the bottom bit.” (p. 23)
Or, when she recalls eating spaghetti pomodoro:
“Spaghetti pomodoro! I curled it around my fork and plunged it into my mouth. I slurped the dangling threads of pasta. I liked the sauce that dribbled down my chin. I chewed and rolled it all around my mouth. Delicious! So delicious! One of the most delicious things in the known universe!” (p. 191)
Her engaging descriptions and celebration of even simple dishes definitely made my mouth water in places and left me wanting to try some of the foods she talked about, too. And, there is a lot of food to choose from in this book: french toast with cinnamon, toast with bananas and marmalade, iced buns, pomegranate juice, pizza Margherita with anchovies and olives, pistachio ice cream, and don’t forget the Jammy Dodgers!
In the U.K. (where the author of this book lives), Jammy (or Jammie) Dodgers are a common store-bought cookie (AKA biscuit!). While we can get fig rolls here in the U.S. (think Fig Newtons), Jammie Dodgers can only be found in specialty import shops. Luckily, though, if you can’t get them where you live, you can make Jammie Dodgers using a great copycat recipe (see picture above). Then, host your own fig rolls vs. Jammie Dodgers taste test at your house or book club. And, maybe serve some chocolate milk alongside it, in case anyone wants to try “slooching” it around with a fig roll for themselves!
One More Idea—Writing about Your Experiences with Food
Mina seems to love describing her food experiences. Try writing some descriptions of the food you, your students or your family loves! Why do you love it? What parts of the experience bring you the most joy?
Try asking these questions to help develop a deeper sense of the experience of eating the food from each of the five senses:
- Sight: Do you love how the food looks? Does it remind you of anything else? How would you describe the color?
- Smell: What do you think of when you smell this food? Does the smell bring up other fond memories that you associate with this food, too?
- Sound: Does the food make a noise when you are making it or eating it that you enjoy or that adds to the overall experience? Do you like foods that make a crunch?
- Touch: What does the food feel like in your mouth? Is it slippery, crunchy, melty? Is it fun to pick up with your fork or chew up in your mouth?
- Taste: Finally, really think about the way the food tastes. What do you specifically like about it? Does it taste the same from the time you put it in your mouth through when you swallow, or does it change? Is there anything specific you like to drink with it that makes it taste even better?
You could even try the exercise in the form of a simple MadLibs-type exercise, so that each person fills in the blanks with their own thoughts about a particular food then shares them with the group!