Response to “Discomfort Food” by Maggie Downs

On the website,, I decided to look into a collection they had called, “Nonfiction: a nonfiction anthology about food and life,” as in my last exercise, I want to create a theme of emotionally connecting to music, but I don’t think I was particularly successful. Food like music, elicits of variety of response, and come to a person randomly or by choice. I was hoping to find something that figured out how to do this in a better way than I did. I choose the story “Discomfort Food,” by Maggie Downs, for its intriguing title playing on a common expression. In this story, the narrator’s mother, who is terrible, but well-meaning cook, dies, and his house is stuffed to the brim with delicious food, that lasts for weeks, from relatives and neighbors showing condolence. The strange irony in this is never addressed. As a result of his mother’s death, the narrator finds himself in situation of which was always deprived of before. I don’t know how significant it would’ve been for the author to say something like, “I’d rather eat dry chicken the rest of my life than have lost my mother,” but it’s weirder to set up it up in the exposition, where he complains about his mother’s cooking and then not coming back to it.
An incredible list of food items is given, replete with details about how each was carefully made. The narrator doesn’t describe eating any of these pieces. They sound very good, but no character in the story is there to enjoy it and I found that disappointing.

The piece was mostly about losing his mother the parts about food were very extraneous. I felt like the piece was written to be submitted for this category. The title and was only address were he talks about not feeling hungry, feeling that the food won’t be comforting. It would have been much more poignant to talk about trying to eat and not being able to. The piece takes place over several weeks, so we know he didn’t completely not eat. In the end this piece was more eulogy than anything else, though I wanted to see more details about his relationship to his mom, but rather we are given a lot of detach biographical information. It’s a sad and touching piece, but more needs to be developed, and maybe the food could be taken out completely. I didn’t get what I was looking for and felt mislead. This is a problem for creating a category and asking for submissions. People might distort their writing unnaturally. It’s harder to fit a specific category like this and have it be non-fiction. I feel like it’s not unrealistic to ask someone to talk about their love and connection to food, or to ask someone to tell a story that involves food on the ways, but to ask one to tell a story that is heavily based around food, and reveals a truth about another facet of life, is a little too ambitious. This category might have done well to open up to fiction as well as non-fiction.


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