Assignment: Narrative Essay

Narrative Essay—Writing about your Cooking Experience (700-1000 words)

ENG 095/111 Cluster

For this essay, you will be choosing a traditional southern dish[1]. You will briefly research the dish to find out some background information about it, and you will find a recipe because you will be making the dish. Once you have made the dish, you will be writing a narrative essay about the experience.

A narrative essay tells the story about an experience using specific and sensory details to convey the story to the reader. You want the reader to feel as if they are there with you during the experience. Thus, you are not simply listing the events, but instead, you are describing them in a manner that feels realistic.

This essay is connected to final project at the end of the semester where you will do a short presentation (via Prezi) about your dish and cook it to share with the class on the last day of class (Dec. 15). Thus, I encourage you to take pictures or video while you’re cooking so you have something to include in the final project. This will also help you document the experience which will aid in the writing process.

Learning Outcomes

Students will learn to

  • Tell a story about a specific experience.
  • Use descriptive and sensory detail to convey the story.
  • Use properly formatted dialogue when necessary.
  • Convey key points of the story in time order.
  • Use a subjective stance to convey the story.

Characteristics of the Narrative Essay

A successful essay

  • Introduces the dish of choice and gives some background information on the dish in the introduction.
  • Provides a thesis in the introduction that gives an overall impression of the experience.
  • Uses specific and sensory details that make the reader feel as if they are there with you during the experience (i.e. smells, sights, sounds, feelings, tastes).
  • Events for activities in time sequence (Beginning, middle, end, aftermath).
  • Uses first person point of view (I, me).
  • Uses one tense throughout the story (usually past tense).
  • Everything in the essay refers back to the overall impression of the experience as stated in the thesis.
  • Uses transitional phrases to help the reader follow the events.
  • Adheres to MLA format.

One Possible Method of Organization


  • Introduce the dish that you cooked by telling us what’s in it. Also, do some research to give us some brief background information about the dish. What makes it southern? What’s its origin? How did it become a staple of southern cuisne?
  • Lead up to your overall impression of the experience.
  • Present your thesis statement which should include the overall impression. Was it challenging? Exciting?


  • Present your experience in time order.
  • Use transitions to move from moment to moment.
  • Use sensory details to convey the experience to the reader.
  • Be sure that all descriptions of the event relate back to your overall impression.


  • Restate your thesis and overall impressions in slightly different terms.
  • Offer some incite about the experience. Would you do it again? What might you do differently next time?


Possible dishes to choose from (everyone must choose something different):

  1. Buttermilk biscuits
  2. Cornbread
  3. Cornbread dressing
  4. Fried chicken
  5. Fried okra
  6. Jambalaya
  7. Gumbo
  8. Etoufee
  9. Collard greens
  10. Green bean casserole
  11. Banana pudding
  12. Fruit Cobbler
  13. Pecan pie
  14. Sweet potato pie
  15. Sweet potato casserole
  16. Shrimp and grits
  17. Cheesy grits casserole
  18. Southern style pulled pork


A handout of this resource is available here.

  1. Your dish must be made from scratch. No buying the food or choosing a recipe that includes “instant” options (i.e. instant grits or instant pudding).