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"Come! Buy your fresh vegetables here!" - Supplementary Essay for Harvard - Food

Ghfdw17 6 / 21  
Dec 11, 2014   #1
I need help with the length of the essay, I want to cut down 100-150 words. I also still feel like something is missing from the essay. Thank you! :)

Write a topic of my choice, about your background and origins.

"Come! Buy your fresh vegetables here!"

The street vendor calls out short slogans and attractive phrases to advertise his goods to potential buyers. Along with these sounds rushes a breeze of air from the kitchen window, breaking the humid atmosphere generated by the gas stove.

On the kitchen floor, my grandmother, cousins and I sit to prepare a plate of Kushari. As a child that loved making loud noises, to hold my own mortar and hear the sounds of it hammering at the garlic to mince it in the pestle was my source of pleasure, and eating the final results was the most anticipated part of the process. Yet good things never come without hard work, and so in order to enjoy that plate my family and I must spend almost half the day preparing it. Kushari is integral to Eid celebrations, prepared every once in a while for special occasions and consists of: a mixture of rice, black lentils and golden pasta, drenched with appetizing dark red tomato sauce, and topped with garbanzo beans and fried onions.

Culinary memories are determined by the memories and events that take place that determine the value of the food. In my mind preparing food is associated with the collaboration of my family: we all get together to prepare this one plate. As my grandmother fries the onions, someone cooks the pasta, while the rest of us mince the garlic to be later used for the tomato sauce. Amidst all this we start hours long conversations, as if cooking together was our reunion. As my cousins and I huddle in our own corner holding our pestle, we exchange our stories and experiences. I tell them of my life in Saudi Arabia, and in turn they tell to me of their dreams of going to school, of being pulled out of it because girls should not go too far away from home, of the family members who have lost their lives due to the deteriorating healthcare and incapable hospitals.

As I sit with my family preparing Kushari, I learn to appreciate the noises that come from the streets. No longer were they an invasion of privacy, rather a welcomed presence that symbolizes the dynamic life of the simple and struggling Egyptian villager. They served as a reminder that it could've been my family living in these conditions if it weren't for my father who left this home twenty years ago to pursue his education in the more urban area of Upper Egypt, Asyut. With Upper Egypt's educated individuals leaving with no return, without them collaborating together to improve this place, it shall remain hidden, away from the government's supervision, with its people's voices unheard of and dreams unachieved. These street vendors do not just yell to be heard by buyers, they yell to be heard by their government, for their presence to be acknowledged. Soon headed to be one of the world's poorest areas, Upper Egypt is in need of leaders to enhance education and healthcare, but with the Egyptian government ignoring their presence, its individuals are slowly losing hope.

Nestled along the banks of the Nile River, and in the heart of the city of Sohaj, lies the small village of Kom El Arab, the place of my origin and the place I have spent many of my summers in. As I leave behind this place for a better education I will forever carry with me those happy memories of food, of the Eids I have spent there and stories I have heard. I know that even while I am away from Upper Egypt, I will forever be reminded of my duty towards that place and take pride that my values trace back to it. At Harvard I hope to not just introduce Kushari as simply a scrumptious plate, but as a symbol of introducing my peers to my culture and my origin. With the education and experience I receive I want to represent the voices of these people and to make them heard. I know that one day I will return to serve this place and complete a task my father and many others couldn't.
vangiespen - / 4,134 1449  
Dec 11, 2014   #2
Hadeel, I am not sure what is missing from your essay because you forgot to provide us with the essay prompt. The prompt is what will provide us with the instructions about what information your essay should contain and how it should be presented. The essay is interesting as it is and makes for an entertaining read. The throwback angle is something that brings the reader into your world through an imaginative process. At this point, I do not dare to advise you regarding bringing down the word count because I am not sure about how it will affect the overall essay. Give me the prompt so that I can better analyze the editing and content of the essay for you :-)
OP Ghfdw17 6 / 21  
Dec 11, 2014   #3
@vangiespen There is no prompt actually, I chose to write a topic of my choice, about my background and origins.
vangiespen - / 4,134 1449  
Dec 12, 2014   #4
Now that you ask Hadeel, I think that you should explain how Kushari is prepared and why you and your family could consider the act of cooking it to be a reunion of sorts. What movements are involved in the preparation that help to deepen your family bond? It is believed that the kitchen and the act of cooking truly brings families together, this is your chance to prove that the belief is not an old wives tale. Aside from your cousins, what do you learn from the elders of the family about culture? Life? Traditions? I really believe that your story centers around the kitchen and that should be made a highlight in the paper. Of course you may have other ideas that are opposite from my suggestion. Your paper is actually alright in its current form should you decide to use it. Be confident in what you have written. You have truly reflected yourself in the essay :-)
rtan05 5 / 32 3  
Dec 27, 2014   #5
It's a good essay to paint your culture, however, I don't really see a part of YOU as an individual. I suggest you focus on a specific part of your culture that is really special to you.

I think the admission officers would like to know more about YOU and not your culture :)

the content is good though :D

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