Welcome Back Conversation and Culture! Have a Hot Dog

By April 22, 2013Writing about Writing


Hey Conversation & Culture friends! How was spring break? Did you go to Disney World? Miami? I know a couple people wanted to go partying in Miami. ^__^ It was great to see so many familiar and new faces around the table last Friday. For the first time back, I think we started off strong with our conversation about severed goat heads (and the Cubs’ infamous Billy Goat Curse).  Nothing like decapitation to get the mind rolling. headless

We took note of all your advice from last quarter and have decided to do more conversation in small groups. That way everyone has more of a chance to ask questions, share their opinion, and participate in the conversation. Also, now people get to sit in the comfy chairs by the office entrance, which is always good news.

How about some more good news? This past week we talked a lot about food – yeah that’s right, get your tummies rumbling – and what is, exactly, the quintessential[1] American cuisine. It’s admittedly a tough question to answer; America is a country composed of many cultures; we’ve been called a melting pot, a mixed salad, a light quiche[2]. How are we supposed to pick one food when we can walk around Chicago, have German schnitzel for brunch, jerk chicken in the afternoon, grab a hot dog around 5, and end with Thai green curry for dinner? The general idea seems to be that that doesn’t count; we need to pick a dish that is for us by us: made in the USA. With that requirement in mind, we came out with the delicious dirty secret everyone was thinking: McDonalds.

Drive anywhere in America and you will find those golden arches welcoming you into their greasy, familiar caress. Come to me America, I will nourish your pimply confidence with meaty goo and secret sauce. How can we resist? Although it’s true America has some less hazardous staple dishes – apple pie for instance – our instincts point to fast food: McDonald’s is matriarch of the masses. ronald

No one is really proud of this, and yet the sign out front says “Over 1 Billion Served” (to date there are about 247 billion served). We’re not proud because it’s definitively bad for our health, employee living conditions, and the environment. To be fair, many people in poverty eat there out of sheer affordability; it’s cheaper and more filling to eat combo meals than to buy organic fruits and vegetables from Whole Foods. But what about me and the millions of other Americans (and let’s be honest, Earthlings[3]) who eat there voluntarily? What excuse do I have other than a shrug and a “well the fries are delicious”? We don’t really, not in the long term.

These are some of the questions we like to ask at Conversation and Culture. Well, these and also how many ways we could prepare hot dogs for the President of China. For those who came last Friday you might have noticed – even though it should be impossible – Laura’s cookies got even more delicious! And if that weren’t enough, one C&C member brought some great treats from his native Kurdistan. I think I speak for everyone when I say we wouldn’t mind our cultural exchange turning into an international smorgasbord[4]. Oh, guess what, WE’RE HAVING A POTLUCK! That’s right ladies and gentlemen: on June 7th from 1:00 to 2:30, in the Lewis Center Room 1411, we’re going to have a potluck[5]. So start brainstorming what you want to cook and try to represent your hometown! Or, if you’re feeling at home here in Chicago, why not try to make one of your favorite local dishes? As the CMWR’s representative southerner I will be proudly bringing boiled peanuts.

In the next couple of days you’ll get an email with the readings and topic for this coming Friday, so be sure to be on the lookout for those. To all those who are new to Conversation & Culture, I’d like to say Welcome on behalf of everyone at the CMWR. And to our returners: Welcome back!



Didn’t catch the article for this week? Check it out here!



[1] Quintessential – adjective – representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class

[2] Remember when we played truth-truth-lie? This is one of those times.

[3] Earthling – noun –any human living on the planet Earth.

[4] Smorgasbord – noun – a buffet offering hot and cold meats, salads, hors d’oeuvres, etc; A wide range of something; a variety: “a smorgasbord of different musical styles.”

[5] Potluck – noun – a meal or party to which each of the guests contributes a dish.