Unit VII Material Culture: The Stuff of Life
Lesson 5 Louisiana Regional Foodways
In November, we start grinding canes. I start making syrup as soon as I get the juice. Squeezing the canes is not the problem. The problem is to cook the syrup, you're in trouble from then on. I cook as much as six hours for one pot of syrup.
--Edwin Normand, Avoyelles Parish
English Language Arts, Social Studies
Purpose of Lesson
Students improve research techniques to locating, selecting, and synthesizing information from a variety of texts, media, references, and Internet resources to acquire knowledge of regional foodways traditions throughout Louisiana from the past and present. They learn that geography and regional culture influence foodways and they extend the exploration of context and foodways.
Lesson Objectives/Louisiana Content Standards Benchmarks, and Foundation Skills
1. Students locate, select, and synthesize information from a variety of texts, media, references, and technological sources to acquire knowledge of foodways traditions throughout the state.
2. Students connect geography with foodways.
3. Students learn from family members and others in the community through researching the context in which food traditions are created, communicated, and adapted in their communities and statewide.
2-5 class periods
State and local maps, colored pencils, drawing paper. If your students will be doing fieldwork, you may need digital cameras, audio recorders, or video recorders in addition to notepads and pencils as well as appropriate fieldwork forms. Print out and duplicate any worksheets or rubrics that you will be using.
Background Information for the Teacher
The following is an excerpt from C. Paige Gutierrez's "Introduction to Louisiana Traditional Foodways" in Louisiana Folklife: A Guide to the State, edited by Nicholas R. Spitzer, Louisiana Office of Cultural Development, 1985, p. 151.
Think about what foodways you consider traditional to your region of Louisiana. Review the Louisiana Folklife Articles listed in Technology Connections above. Print out and bookmark those you plan to use. Think about the relationship between local foodways and waterways, agriculture, and land use of your region. Accumulate local and state maps, pictures, postcards, and articles on Louisiana foodways. The online Louisiana Folk Regions Map: Three Major Subregions will be useful. Print out or bookmark The Piney Woods for 8th graders. If students will be doing Internet research, determine whether they need instruction in this skill before beginning the lesson. If using Venn diagrams, Venn Diagram shows how to use them for comparisons.
4th Grade Activities
1. With a map of the state delineating regions and parishes that indicate waterways, swamps, farmland, and so on, have students locate their community or parish on the map. Ask them to identify the rivers, lakes, and other waterways. Identify farmland, grazing land, and parks. By talking with family members and others in the community, students must answer the questions below. To extend the research to a larger portion of the state, divide the class into groups and assign each a region or several parishes. Ask students to look at the Louisiana Folk Regions Map: Three Major Subregions. Print and duplicate the Foodways Internet Search Worksheet for students to record what they find. The worksheet could also be used for non-Internet research by skipping the lines where URLs are recorded. If students have had no experience with search engines, they may need a lesson before beginning this activity. However both search engines listed on the worksheet accept full phrases or sentences or questions, making it simple for beginners.
2. Compile results on a large map or on individual student maps. Students may work individually or in teams to design a map, including a legend and a compass rose, which could involve a graphic relating to Louisiana foodways. Students may also research to publish accompanying essays and drawings.
3. Identify a food producer or distributor to visit the classroom. Brainstorm questions for students to ask so they may learn how the person learned a skill, worst experience, funniest experience, scientific and mathematical concerns, and environmental or geographic issues. They may record the visit on audio or video or take notes. See Unit II Lesson 3 and Unit VIII on occupations.
4. Print and duplicate the Foodways Conclusions Worksheet - Page 1. Ask students to choose a region of the state and fill in the blanks on page 1 with facts that they have learned through the activities in this lesson. For the last line, they must think about the three facts together to come to a conclusion. Have students work in small groups to explain and justify their conclusions. Then ask all students to choose one conclusion presented in their group and write why they do or don't agree on Foodways Conclusions Worksheet - Page 2 of the worksheet.
4th Grade Explorations and Extensions
1. Share pictures, postcards, and articles on foods indigenous to the state. Examples include Creole tomatoes, crawfish, catfish, crab, sugar cane, yams, mirliton, oranges, strawberries, corn, butterbeans, sausages, peaches, pecans, beer, poultry, and so on. Research and label which town, parish, or region each item would be found on your maps.
2. If engaged in a regional culture exchange with students in another part of the state (see Unit IV Mapping the State), compare regional food production results in Venn diagrams, charts, or short essays.
8th Grade Activities
1. Ask students to read the selection by Joy Jackson about foodways of The Piney Woods orally or silently. Use Adaptation Strategies to adapt this adult-oriented resource to your students' reading level, if necessary. The objective is for students to design and construct a visual display to include key concepts and terminology from this reading. Instruct students to design a picture or series of pictures that will explain the main ideas presented in this reading. The goal is not the artwork but a better understanding of the material. After drawing pictures to remember what they read, students should explain the illustrations to the class or in small groups. On a map identify the three Piney Woods parishes described: Tangipahoa, St. Helena, and Washington parishes.
2. Ask students to write a short essay relaying what they have learned about Louisiana regional and family foodways; what they now think the term foodways includes; foods specific to each region of the state: North Louisiana, South Louisiana, New Orleans; and discoveries about their own food traditions. They can learn more about the three major folk regions in Unit IV Lesson 1.
3. Have students download the most recent Market Bulletin Archive from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture webpage by following their directions on the Agricultural Products Worksheet. They will need Acrobat Reader to open it. Read the farm products that are for sale, noting towns where they are sold. They should then find the towns on a Louisiana map and decide which regions they are in. Have them complete the charts for each of the regions, listing several different items for sale and the towns where they are sold. When the charts are complete, students may write statements that generalize about the foods sold in each region by completing this sentence: In the __________________ region, ______. _____, _______, ________, and _________ are being offered for sale. That leads me to believe that __________________________.
4. Adapt online articles about Louisiana food traditions using Adaptation Strategies listed in Technology Connections above, Louisiana Folklife Articles -- Material Culture/Crafts and Foodways.
8th Grade Explorations and Extensions
1. Read more about Louisiana foodways in the Louisiana Folklife Articles listed in the Technology Connections above and in the school and public libraries as well as cookbooks (see Unit VII Resources). Divide into three teams to research each region of the state: North Louisiana, South Louisiana, and New Orleans. Identify these regions on the Louisiana Folk Regions Map: Three Major Subregions. Combine results on a large map of the state illustrated with drawings, pictures, and images from the Creole State Exhibit. See also Making Tamales in Northwestern Louisiana. Teachers, if you want students to use these resources and they are written above their reading level, use Adaptation Strategies to build lessons around them. See also A Common Pot: Creole Cooking on Cane River.
2. Compare Louisiana foodways with food traditions of another state or another part of the world in an essay or portfolio. You may use the Foodways Internet Search Worksheet for searches in other states or countries by using only the Search Engine URLs. Wisconsin Folks features pasties (a meat/potato fried pie), cheesemaking, and using foods indigenous to Wisconsin. To see the African influence on Louisiana foods, compare Louisiana and Maroon foodways throughout the Americas with the Foodways section of Creativity and Resistance: Maroon Cultures in the Americas, a Smithsonian exhibit.