I tell my students to close their eyes. I dim the lights, I place a piece of dried fruit in front of one, and I tell them, "Now open your eyes and spend five minutes experiencing the object in front of you." When the five minutes are up, I turn the lights back up and say, "Now write about it."
I learned this exercise from Eilish Nagle in a writing workshop where she presented us each with a golden raisin. You can use any dried fruit. I've found dried figs to be particularly evocative. And sometimes I do it with Sea Salt and Vinegar potato chips.
You can write a poem, a prose piece, a rant, a story, a description. These pieces, because they're so based in the sensory, are usually wonderful to hear.
Here's the one I did in Eilish's workshop....
On Eating a Golden Raisin
I approach this raisin with fear. I don't like this sweetness with a bitter bite behind, desiccated corpse of a globed, yellow grape. Once my heart dried and shriveled like this, a golden ruin. Years of fresh water to heal and plump it out again.
Do not force this sweetness on me. It carries the scent of the man who plucked this cluster from the vine. I taste him on its skin -- sweat under hot sun, dusty weather.
Felled by a raisin. The taste still rolling back, echoing to my ears. The man who plucked this grape, still on its skin. The man who shriveled my heart, still in my heart.