Culture / Traditions
In this essay, you will be writing a short, four-paragraph essay. Each paragraph should have no
fewer than 5 sentences, but no more than 10.
The goal for this paper is to incorporate a review of writing skills that we have practiced and
learnt so far this year—structural and stylistic. Beyond this, the paper symbolizes the ideas of
cultural diversity and unity that are explored in social studies.
This paper is about you and your family, your culture and traditions, and specifically a traditional
family dish (food) that is shared amongst your family.
Suggestions for structure:
Intro paragraph should introduce you, your family, and/or your cultural/ethnicity, or nationality.
You may focus in on a family tradition—perhaps elaborating on a certain event of the year that
your family gathers together, or a lead-in to a memory you will give a more detailed account of
in the body paragraphs. You MUST include a thesis statement at the end of the intro paragraph.
The thesis may focus on your family, a tradition of your family, a certain event your family
celebrates, or any statement that will tie your paper together as a unified project.
Body paragraphs should elaborate on traditions, events, culture, etc. You may wish to use one
or two paragraphs to reflect on the person or event that ties into the food. Another paragraph
(or two) should reflect on a traditional food that you have memories of. This could be a food
that you have helped make/bake, or a food that you recall fondly from childhood. Elaborate
on the making of it, serving of it, eating of it, etc., whatever you recall that is special to you.
(Remember sensory details—taste, touch, sight, sound, and smell)
The conclusion paragraph should restate your thesis and leave the reader with a few final
impressions of your family’s traditions, culture, nationality, etc. You may reflect on how you feel
about this traditional food and the events or people that are involved in it.
Finally, at the bottom of the page, attempt to squeeze in the recipe for the food you have
described in your paper. Don’t forget the baking instructions along with the ingredients. Try to
make the paper only one page long if possible.
This paper is due on Friday, November 19, 2002.
We will celebrate this food festivity on November 22, 2002.
Monday: Brainstorming and instruction. Pre-write.
Tuesday: Begin writing.
Thursday: Peer conferencing (revising draft 1) [whole team].
Friday: Paper due (draft 2). Research and construct info flags.
Optional: Include recipe (you may reduce font size to fit).
Extra credit: Design a cover for the class’s essay collection. Include the school year,
team teachers, and project title. Aim for neat, classy and/or fun. Submit by Monday,
November 24. Winner’s artwork will appear on website with photos of the party.
You will be assessed on basic structure (4-5 paragraphs, well-written intro & conclusion), content
(tradition/culture with elaboration), and good overall revising & editing.
A Taste from Childhood
My family isn’t one that is rich with cultural traditions from distant countries. Although
several of my great-grandparents, and even one grandparent, came over from Europe, it seems
they blended quietly into American society. Our few traditions were forged during my own
lifetime, one of which is shared between my brother, our six cousins, and me. Even though many
of us have grown apart and moved away as the years have worn on, one woman—our
grandma—has kept us united through memories and experiences we all shared in common
during our childhood.
Every kid gets excited over seeing their grandparents. They are the people who spoil you
and love you unconditionally. They are the ones who allow you to bend the rules occasionally
when mom or dad says, “rules are not to be broken, but followed.” Having grown up with only
two grandmas, they were all the more special to me and my family. One grandma in particular
was known for her cooking, and my cousins and I—no matter how old we were, or where we
were living—looked forward to her visits with great anticipation.
While our moms were often throwing TV Dinners into the oven, our grandma (Nana, as
we called her), would always arrive with magical “tools” to cook with. Strange utensils we rarely,
if ever, saw our moms use. An aluminum cylinder with a handle that, when turned, flipped a
metal arm across thin, wire mesh; a piece of wood that we could roll around to smash cookies
with; and metallic prisms with sharp little holes that could shred food into stringy bits. Using these
tools was simple, fantastic, fun. It was an opportunity to work closely with an adult in the kitchen
to accomplish amazing feats with food.
All of us would agree that our favorite dessert was simple to make, and a delightful
hands-on experience. These chocolate fruit cookies had a marvelous spritz of orange and
lemon that flavored the cookie and the kitchen. Aside from that tangy aroma, there was the
smell of crushed vanilla cookie, as the recipe called for several boxes to be crushed into dust
with the rolling pin. After mixing that “wafer dust” with other special ingredients, we always
enjoyed getting our hands into the mix to roll the cookies into small spheres, and then dip them
into sweet, granulated sugar. The recipe made an entire tin’s worth of these cookies, but many
never made it past the mixing bowl!
Each Christmas and Thanksgiving, one of my cousins—or myself—volunteer to make our
grandma’s recipe for the family gathering. Holidays are a great time to recall stories from the
past and to celebrate family traditions, regardless of how far back they go or where they come
from. Although it is not spoken, I know that not one of us takes a bite of our grandma’s cookies
without pausing to think of this special person who touched our lives and left us, not only stories
and memories to share, but a fun dessert to pass along to our own children someday.
Chocolate Fruit Cookies
3 cups of Vanilla Wafers (crumbs)—rolling pin used to crush them
1 TBSP grated orange peel
2 TBSP cocoa
1 cup of sifted confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup of lemon juice
¼ cup of orange juice
Mix and shape into tiny balls and roll in granulated sugar. Refrigerate as desired.
Possible Paper structure 1: ¶1, introduce family’s culture/tradition, writing generally. ¶2, the
person or people involved. ¶3, the tradition and food. ¶4, conclude with final thoughts, feelings,
present-day reflections—relate back to ideas from intro.
- or -
Possible Paper structure 2: ¶1, introduce family’s culture/tradition, writing generally. ¶2, holiday
or event (cultural?) activities. ¶3, the tradition and food. ¶4, conclude with final thoughts,
feelings, present-day reflections—relate back to ideas from intro.