Digital Story Critique #9: Family Food Traditions
*I am currently working my way through my fourth semester of the Information and Learning Technologies master’s program at University of Colorado, Denver. This is the ninth post within a series of critiques on digital stories that I’ve been assigned to write for a course titled Digital Storytelling.
This week’s critique is on a radio interview titled, Why Do Our Family Food Traditions Matter? The interview was conducted by Brian Lehrer and produced by WNYC for the Brian Lehrer Show (airs weekdays at 10AM on 93.9 FM and AM 820). WNYC 93.9 FM and AM 820 are New York’s flagship public radio stations, broadcasting the finest programs from NPR, American Public Media, Public Radio International and the BBC World Service, as well as a wide range of award-winning local programming.
This specific interview was conducted with Caroline Grant and Lisa Catherine Harper, editors of The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat, In 2008, they both started a blog about writing and feeding their families called Learning to Eat. For their book, they collected essays that address the question, “Why does family food matter?”
I chose to critique this specific piece because it very much pertains to my theme for this course, a self-reflection on life, through food. As I’ve been critiquing other pieces throughout this semester, I’ve come to realize the importance of family and tradition as they pertain to food. I want to create valuable memories for, and with, my daughter. I want her to understand the importance of family and our time together. And I want her to understand what makes food good and what makes it healthy. I want her to want to make her own meals from scratch and enjoy growing her own ingredients. There are just so many ideas swimming around in my head that I am looking forward to in teaching my daughter how to love food, love her family, and love herself. This interview has some great insights on how to make these things happen. I imagine then, the book has even more. (It’s already on my Amazon wishlist!)
As a requirement of this course, I am supposed to critique every digital story that I select using traits from Jason Ohler’s “Assessing digital stories, new media narrative“. Due to the professional nature of this selected piece (it’s a live radio show), it felt awkward using student assessment traits like project planning, writing, presentation, etc.. I’ve decided instead to critique the piece in a way that feels more natural to me…using my good old-fashioned opinions! Here goes…
I very much enjoyed Lehrer’s interview! I felt there were a few bumps in the road, but I think that must be common for live radio shows where you can’t follow scripts down to the letter or prerecord your interviewees and control or edit what they say. I think what I enjoyed, aside from the actual topics and content, was the format with which the interview was executed. Lehrer introduced the subject of the session, as well as the interviewees, and launched right into the topic at hand. Lehrer, Grant, and Harper then began to talk about the different sections of the book – Food, Family, and Learning to Eat – and interjected phone calls from listeners throughout the segment.
The three of them discussed how kids remember foods from when they grew up and how kids learn to talk around the table. Grant and Harper talked about what families teach their children – how it’s partially about the food, but very much about the relationships formed around the table and how those relationships and habits form people as they grow up (how they value their time, whether they learned to serve food, whether they learned to help clean up, etc.). Two of my favorite topics were 1.) how it’s not just moms who influence food traditions and memories, but male figures as well – fathers and grandfathers and great-uncles and then 2.) how food crosses cultural divides and brings people together.
Lehrer took four phone calls from people throughout the Brooklyn area while discussing these topics with Grant and Harper. I enjoyed hearing other people’s brief stories but was immensely disappointed at just how very brief they were. I know it was a short 15 minute radio segment, but the callers felt like they had been prepped and told to speak as fast as they could. The last call was so short that Lehrer cut it off before it felt like she was finished speaking. But the show had come to an end and Lehrer had a time frame to stick to. So as much as I liked the format of interjecting calls throughout the segment, I wish this radio show had been much longer to accommodate longer or even more stories from callers. But the segment was effective in its main goal…I will for sure be purchasing Grant and Harper’s book, just not until this semester lets out in May! And so even though I understand that this segment was mainly a plug for a book, I feel it is a digital story in it’s own right. It’s a story that emphasizes the importance of family food traditions, as well as how and who we share those traditions with.
For more information on Grant and Harper’s book, click the links at the beginning of this post, or check out their blog HERE.