This is her first solo kid review.
Ava chose the Biddeford, Maine eatery, Biscuits & Company for the occasion. Biscuits and Co. is part of the downtown revival of this former mill town. Eateries, breweries, and distilleries have popped up all over this heavily Franco-American influenced town, many of which are run by chefs and food makers with experience in America’s most-lauded restaurants.
Biddeford’s location and affordability make it an ideal spot close to Maine’s food mecca of Portland. Its proximity to local farms and fisheries afford its businesses a bounty of fresh ingredients.
Ava is working on her storytelling skills both at home and in school. Part of the process of the “kid food review” is to help her in 1) narration and attention to detail, 2) spelling and sentence structure, 3) grammar and punctuation, and 4) capturing the reader’s interest.
All of these things are a tall order for a 4th grader, let alone a seasoned writer.
I encouraged her to enjoy the food first. The flavor is at the root of the experience, and the rest; grammar, spelling, and punctuation, could be polished later.
I asked her to recount the following:
- 1.) What did it taste like? Did you like it?
- 2.) What was the restaurant like? Describe the colors and the environment.
- 3.) Would you recommend it?
Here’s what she wrote down on the first pass at the review of Biscuits & Co.:
My first bite was very good of the fried chicken. But I got more of the biscuit than chicken. The second bite was delicious. Then Mom asked for some and I said, “Yes.” (Mom takes a lot of big bites!)
Once she had finished her bite I toke it back and had another bite, and after that bite I gobbled it all up.
Then, there was one last bite on the plate.
I wanted to eat it, but I was too full of food.
The food was really good (Exclamation points !! with smiley face underneath.)
I appreciated her enthusiasm and frankly, I liked that she was to-the-point. I explained to her however, that I wanted “a little more of the juicy details.” I explained to her to think about the feelings, the photos and how she enjoyed herself.
I gave her a few tips:
#1: Tell me about the texture of the food. You told me that it was good in two ways: 1) That is was “delicious!” and 2) through the way you described that you, “gobbled it all up.” I want to know about the texture of the food. What did it feel like? Was it soft and fluffy like a pillow? Was the chicken juicy or dry? Adjectives help us to understand the flavors when we can’t actually take a bite for ourselves.
#2: A picture paints a thousand words, so set the scene to take a good picture. Let us see the setting, the plates, the food, and a bit of the atmosphere. Overhead shots are great because they let the viewer feel like they are looking at what you saw. These can be easily done with a smartphone and DSLR camera.
#3: Relax & dig in. Food writing can be overly serious. People get very picky online and they think that the best way to talk about food it to pull it apart and state everything that was wrong with it.
This does not make for good writing.
Instead, a good article comes from telling the story. And good storytelling only happens when the writer is relaxed and open to the sights, sounds, scents and the emotions of eating.
Biscuits and Company, by Ava Simmons
When Mom and I walked into Biscuits and Company, I could immediately smell the biscuits. When we went up to the counter, the woman there was very nice and patient.
We sat down and mom immediately pulled out her camera. When the food came out, I took a big bite of my chicken biscuit sandwich. (But I wish I could have gotten more chicken in that bite, but the second bite was amazing!) The biscuit was fluffy fluffy.
I gobbled it all down.(But I did have to give some to my mom.) When there was one bite left, I wanted to eat it but I did not. I was too full.
We packed up the leftovers and paid. Mom and I said, “we thought it was delicious.”
It WAS delicious. The food was SO GOOD!!!
I liked to hear more of the narrative and the start-to-finish quality of this piece. She included a bit more on the service and experience, along with the tastes of the sandwich.
When kids put on the hat of a food writer, it is a fun way to help them understand their world and tap into to popularity of culinary TV, magazines and reality shows.
For us, it is a great way to have academic play.
Ava loves to write and needs to sharpen her skills as an elementary school writer. The skills she practices (sentence structure, spelling, punctuation etc.) help her to improve the way she thinks about her world and how she can share those thoughts with others.
Have you ever done a a food review with your kids? What skills did they learn?
What do you do with your kids to practice writing skills in a fun and engaging manner?
We would love to have you share you food reviews with us in the comments below or via social media.
Writing and photos by Kristin and Ava