While at the mall with my daughters last spring, we grabbed lunch at Chipotle in the food court. As the girls dug into their soft tacos, the print on the brown paper bag caught my eye. Tears blurred the words as I read “Two Minutes About Sardines” by Fue Xiong. The author describes the last meal his family ate on their final day in a refugee camp in Thailand. My heart broke for the mother who couldn’t provide much for her nine children after the death of her husband–a mother who was left with the meatless head of a sardine after ensuring her children had eaten their share of the meager portions. When I learned why the sardine tasted so salty to the young author, I remembered where I was and had to clear my throat. I shared the essay with my children, and the story created good dialogue as we tried not to feel guilty for the generous portions of food on our table.
Time passed, and I had forgotten about this story until the day my sixth grader came home from school and told me her Language Arts teacher had shared Xiong’s essay with the class. The students were given an assignment modeled after the Chipotle “Cultivating Thought” contest, and the sixth graders were asked to write a narrative story about a time when food created a lasting memory.
- Title must start with “Two Minutes About…”
- One full page and must use “special elite” font, size 12
- Told from first person point of view
- Present tense and events should be in chronological order
- Show the reader the story and its purpose with descriptive language (use all five senses: hear, smell, see, taste, touch)
- Use dialogue
- Include an “exploding moment” (time slows down and this is explained in great detail)
- Include a pullout quote (choose a quote and retype it in bold within the text)
- Must vary sentence structure and use correct spelling, punctuation, and capitalization
My daughter knew she wanted to write about the meal we shared with our sponsor child when we met her in November.
Tomorrow their essays will be published on brown paper bags and shared with the entire sixth grade class as they enjoy a snack donated by Chipotle. I loved this assignment and thought I’d share it with readers here. This could be fun to do with immediate or extended family, friends, neighbors, church and Scout groups. If you give it a try, I’d enjoy hearing your story.