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EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Rachel Prokupek MANAGING EDITOR Xander Gottfried EDITORIAL STAFF Ana Chisholm, Kelsey Warren, Libby Constan, Nina Selipsky, Sarah Finkelstein, Shae Chambers, Zihan Kabir CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alan Jinich, Devon Inman, Jennifer Higa, Kate Kassin, Rachel Wechsler CREATIVE DIRECTOR Alaina Chou DESIGN STAFF Amy Yang, Grace Wan, Lizzy Machielse, Malia Kealaluhi, Mira Potter-Schwartz, Ryan McLaughlin, Valencia Fu PHOTO DIRECTOR Justine de Jesus PHOTO STAFF Alaina Chou, Alan Jinich, Ashley Leoni, Emily Yao, Erica W. Xin, Jean Chapiro, Maria Murad, Minna Zheng, Minsuh Park, Peter Ribeiro, Selina Zou, Shirley Yang, Yun Wun DIGITAL CONTENT DIRECTOR Grace Leahy BLOG TEAM Brandon Nguyen, Brittany Levy, Cameron Watkins, Emma Moore, Jordan Liu, Justin Iannacone, Mimi Deddens, Nicole Wojnowski, Paulpiwat Na Songkhla, Shaila Lothe CULINARY DIRECTOR Katherine Ku CULINARY TEAM Alaina Chou, Deniz Enfiyeci, Emma Bollinger, Jean Chapiro, Juliana Sandford, Maggie Tang, Olivia Lee, Sophia Kim MARKETING DIRECTOR Chris Muracca MARKETING TEAM Amy Sun, Ana Baco, Diya Sethi, Elle Cagnoli, Kaliah Spencer, Kristine Lai FINANCE DIRECTOR Eli Adler FINANCE TEAM Ciana Curran, Shivin Uppal WEB WIZARD Edward Kim ASSISTANT WEBMISTRESS Eva Killenberg COMMUNICATIONS Allie Shapiro SOCIAL IMPACT CHAIR Katie Simms SOCIAL IMPACT STAFF Ellie Chi, Emily Guo, Grace McKenney, Nadine Wain, Richa Mehra, EVENTS CHAIR Maggie Tang EVENTS STAFF Angel Ho, Emma Schultz, Precious Inofomoh, Pria Pant, Shaila Lothe


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Letter from the Editor I


n Family Style, we tried to illustrate how the concept of family influences how we eat. Here’s a sneak peak into my family before you read about everyone else’s. First, there’s my sourdough starter, Steerpike. He weighs about half a pound, but depending on how hungry he is he can grow and shrink inside his glass home. His is a bubbly, cheerful nature with a fluctuating attitude: he can be sweet in the morning before breakfast but extremely sour when he’s hungry late night. (What else is late night? Wawa! pg. 9.). Steerpike can be so demanding with regard to his meals that I precisely measure them out for him. (Know someone else as demanding as Steerpike? Read our guide to eating on a diet, pg. 56.). And does he eat a lot! ( Just like us humans: read about how we like to stuff our faces in The Origin of the Potluck, pg. 50.). Every day, he

eats eight times his weight in flour and water combined. His flour is freshly milled in Bucks County, PA. In return, Steerpike produces for me. Wondrous loaves with dark crusts and tender crumbs emerge from the oven after he has given a portion of his lifeforce to them. (For more on baking, see pg. 15.). Over time, the bread has gotten better and better—I have mostly him to thank for that. Perhaps he loved it when I fed him so much that he weighed six pounds. The fat ol’ bugger certainly fed a crowd, and his bread has been amazing since. (What else feeds a crowd? Lots of shared 28.). Newer to the family is Fuchsia. She is an amorphous, gelatinous mass, currently colored a muted burgundy thanks to her recent diet of pomegranates. Less temperamental than Steerpike, I only feed her once every few weeks. Fuchsia the scoby has made great kombucha, tangy and

funky and perfect for nauseating my roommate. Unlike Steerpike, Fuchsia does have a bit of a smell problem, but we’re working on that. (Much like some soft French cheeses—for our French section, see pgs. 44 and 46.). Lastly, there’s the big crock of miso sitting at home, very much alive and teeming with Aspergillus oryzae spores (learn all about them on pg. 22.). It’s currently unnamed, just hanging tight for another eight months. See ya, miso. This is my little fermentation family. In the following pages, read about the family moments and family styles— mostly human!—that we’ve shared with you. Hopefully you’ll be able to see tidbits of your own family amongst these pages. Or maybe you’ll learn to understand yours a little bit better. Happy reading!

— Xander Gottfried

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Masthead 2 Letter from the Editor 3 What We're Reading Now 7 Tips from a Pro: How to Salt Your Pasta 8 Water Wawa: It’s More than Late Night 9 The Anatomy of a Burger 10 What is Belgium Without Belgian Waffles? 12 Tapas 14

28 Suraya: A Middle East Like You’ve Never Tasted Before 32 Thank You, Dad 34 Father, I Am Your Daughter 36 Mother Knows Best 40 Lumpia from the Heart 42 The Extra Mile 44 A Parisian Thanksgiving 46 A Love Letter to Lunchtime in Lyon

Sugar and Flour 15

48 We Like Spicy

Curating Cuisine 18

50 The Origin of the Potluck

A Miscellaneous Guide to Cooking by the 20 Numbers Japan's Rich Tradition of Umami 22 FAMILY STYLE 24 How We Eat, Family Style 26

52 Emma 55 Meat: It's a Family Affair 56 A Beginner’s Guide to Not Being a Jerk About Your Diet 58 The Modern Family 60 A Cultural Haven

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Missed a semester? Didn’t go to Penn?

All our past issues are online!


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Salt Fat Acid Heat Netflix’s Salt Fat Acid Heat stars Samin Nosrat, chef and author of the cookbook by the same name. Each episode features one of these fundamentals, mastery of which, claims Nosrat, is the key to great cooking. She ventures the world to the places that hold each of these elements so dear, always sharing meals with friends she’s met along the way. Nosrat’s infectious laughter, paired with cinematic shots of the most simple and beautiful culinary delights, makes for an inspiring documentary on not only the basics of cooking, but the shared human experience of enjoying good food with good people. Noma Guide to Fermentation This new cookbook, if you can call it that, is the first in a series of encyclopedia-like tomes dedicated to the food behind former #1 Restaurant in the World, Noma in Copenhagen. Head Chef Rene Redzepi and his head of fermentation David Zilber provide recipes for ferments such as lactofermented asparagus, black garlic vinegar, and grasshopper garum, explaining much of the science behind how these (safe!) microbial work. PHOTO BY processes SELNIA ZOU

The Bon Appétit Foodcast The Bon Appétit Foodcast, hosted by Adam Rapoport along with other senior editors at Bon Appétit, features guests to discuss restaurants, recipes, foodie secrets, and everything in between. The podcast is a mix of expertise, personal experience, and comic relief— the perfect track to accompany cooking, eating, or walking on the treadmill. The Final Table Most cooking competition shows are overly dramatic, often hosted and judged by people with no place in the food industry. But the Final Table takes a more food-centric approach. Each week, the competition focuses on a different country, and is judged by a collection of food writers and chefs born there. Former Bon Appétit restaurant writer Andrew Knowlton hosts, and the competitors are awarded chefs from around the world. Expect technically perfect, beautifully plated, three Michelin starcaliber food.

Alison Roman’s New York Times Food Column Since July of 2018, Alison Roman’s biweekly column and recipe has reinvigorated the New York Times Food section with a millennial attitude informed by years spent as a baker at Momofuku Milk Bar and then a stint as a Bon Appétit senior food editor. Her recipes have gone viral, including her salted shortbread chocolate chip cookies (#thecookies) and chickpea stew (#thestew). She brings her reliable yet delicious cooking philosophy to the table, thinking about what it really means to dine with others. penn appétit


Tips From a Pro:


Pasta water—it’s one of those things restaurants do right and you, probably, do wrong. But don’t worry, it’s easy to be an expert. Afraid of overly salty pasta and climbing blood pressure? Chances are you won’t be adding nearly enough for it to be aggressively salty. And scientific evidence for sodium leading to high blood pressure is still tenuous at best. But afraid of bland, boring pasta, even when paired with the tastiest and most scrumptious of sauces? Well, if your pasta cooking water isn’t as salty as the pasta you want to eat, you should be. That’s right, taste your pasta water. It sounds strange, but tasting the water is really the only surefire way to make sure your pasta will be properly seasoned. Bring your water up to a boil, add salt, taste, adjust. Keep this number in mind, and you’ll be golden: for every drop of water in the pot, you PHOTO BY SELNIA ZOU 8

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should add 2% of its weight in salt. More practically, that means for every liter of water, or every four-ish cups, there should be two tablespoons of salt. Despite this general rule of thumb, there are a few points to keep in mind. The type of salt you use is extremely important. For pasta water, kosher salt is your best bet. But even different brands vary in saltiness: Diamond Crystal is about half as salty as Morton’s. So, use two tablespoons Diamond Crystal but only half that of Morton’s. Consider the final dish: is the pasta being added to something already very salty, like lots of parm or strong sausage? If so, perhaps reducing the salt in the water would make for a more balanced dish. And just remember, most of the salt is all going down the drain. There’s a common misconception that your water should be as salty as the sea. Please don’t. It’s just too salty.

Spotlight in Philly:


Everyone on Penn’s campus knows this scene: 1:30 am, everyone is craving, lines for crispy chicken fingers and quesadillas are starting to fill up the room, people walking around carrying 44 oz. waters just because they are free [Editor’s note: Wawa water is no longer free], and every time you take a step you see someone that you know. By now, you’ve probably gathered that Wawa is the ideal spot for all your late night needs, but the benefits of Wawa don’t just start when the

clock strikes midnight. That’s right, for a quick bite to eat on the way to class in the morning or a lunchtime meal which won’t break the bank, Wawa should be your go-to. And little did you know, the milk in the dining halls on campus comes right from Wawa’s dairy farms located in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Since 1902, Wawa has churned out milks, chocolate milk, and ice cream for families in the Philadelphia region and for wholesale across the east coast. When the morning is getting

you down, pour a touch of Wawa milk into one of their freshly brewed array of seven different coffees. There’s no other place where you can get a 24 ounce boost of caffeine for just $1.65. When lunchtime rolls around and you’re grabbing food with a group of friends, you never need to worry about compromising; Wawa has something to satisfy everyone’s taste. From ready-togo salads and wraps, to spicy, customizable burrito bowls, to comforting and creamy mashed potatoes, Wawa truly does it all. penn appétit



“Stop overthinking this, we are in Prague—why do you always have to let your emotions overtake our adventures?” So said my best friend as we pushed open the heavy wooden door of an average-looking restaurant called Sad Man’s Tongue. For the last ten years, she has always been the practical and clear-headed one of our duo. Fifteen minutes later, she shed a tear. The calm, cool, and collected friend I had grown up with had finally displayed an unparalleled sense of emotion, and it was all because of one meal, one bite, and one burger. I drank in the sounds and smells of this dimly lit tavern, slowly absorbing the warm air and heavily-accented waiters. Maroon tables, abstract paintings, and a long bar adorned the environment with a trendy undertone. Everything about the mason-jar glasses acting as cups, the heavy wooden slabs acting as plates, and the deep colors felt uniquely moody, as if the restaurant was cultivating the next Kafka. Before we could say “děkuji” (thank you), out came the meal whose near sight evoked a mouthwatering reflex. Glimmering red caramelized onions, a juicy marmalade chutney, and a mountain of feta cheese all toppled onto an innocent burger. The sizzling meat melted the tart 10

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cheese, and the chutney oozed out from under the lightly toasted buns. Between me and my friend sat a meal that had revolutionized the concept of a cheeseburger. Gone was the neon yellow cheese, the grimy tomatoes, and the pasty lettuce associated with In-n-Out and Burger King. I was staring at a creative culinary masterpiece, and I wanted to immediately jump out from under my cloak of curiosity. I was never excited about burgers, but this brilliant expression of fast food shattered my view of this cuisine. The menu also included a Grilled Mushroom Cheese Burger with sharp cheddar cheese, chipotle habañero sauce, and marinated portobello mushrooms. This tiny restaurant was filled with these spectacular takes on the classic cheeseburger, by transforming a staple American meal into an upscale special. This was not just some feel-good burger from a food truck on the corner of 40th and Walnut, this was a burger that was pushing boundaries, daring the nature of fast food to slow down and reform. And yet we were not in some lavish restaurant—the exterior felt like just another Czechoslovakian pub. The anatomy of this burger had been revolutionized from the inside-out, and my sensory system applauded from the outside-in. As I chewed on the sweet onions, the warm tender meat complimented my sips of cool beer. The merging of the soft feta with the chunky chutney rolled down my throat with ease, and my tongue screamed with delight at the sensation of these textures. Each ingredient flattered the next, and each flavor magnified the entire

taste. And that was only the first bite. We left this dimly lit tavern, deep in an inescapable food coma, too full to express our feelings, waddling down a wide cobblestoned alleyway in the heart of Prague’s Old City. Food had become our religion, and this physiological experience was akin to spiritual enlightenment. We left “Sad Man’s Tongue,” and with it, the understanding of the restaurant’s quirky title. “Sad Man’s Tongue,” while it might not have been a religious experience for many of its other guests, represents the larger emerging food scene developing in Prague. The Czechoslovakian take on gingerbread and cookies draws a large crowd at restaurant Perníčkův sen, where the pastry chefs use the traditional recipe of honey, butter, and nuts and combine it with baking delicacies, specifically their infamous poppyseed gingerbread kolache. The new restaurant Sisters is also combining elements of traditional Czech food with modern twists, by selling chlebíčky—open faced sandwiches with toppings that vary from ham and potato salad to smoked mackerel. In using traditional Czech ingredients, they market the combinations as art pieces, and reconstruct the ingredient to make for both a pleasant sight and taste. While the Czech Republic is most famous for their beer and strudel, it is not hard to find culinary creativity lurking beneath the tourist surface. The food scene in Prague is taking off, and unless you buy a ticket to this exquisitely fascinating country soon, you will have one sad tongue.

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What is Belgium Without



here is something about food that solidifies an experience in a person’s mind. Even if the food is not the main purpose of an event, a good dish can manage to steal the show, enhancing the moment and sticking it in my memory when I think back on it much later. Moments like these characterized my experience studying abroad in Europe last semester. I remember strolling the streets surrounding the Grand Place—or central square—in Brussels one weekend, with a hot Belgian waffle in my hand. The waffle connoisseur had taken the doughy creation fresh from the iron, drizzled chocolate sauce on it with the care of putting paint to canvas, and arranged sliced strawberries on top in a beautiful mosaic. But the best part of this meal was that it was a portable feast. As I walked by the gilded buildings in the main square, through the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert (an ensemble of glazed shopfronts with pink walls and an arched glass ceiling), and past the Manneken Pis (a statue of a little boy relieving himself into a fountain), I laughed with my friends between bites of Belgian waffle. Slightly clichéd, I know, but I didn’t even mind getting the chocolate all over on my face. I was in Brussels for a weekend getaway to explore the culture the city


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had to offer, not just for the waffles (well, maybe a little bit for the waffles). But despite the world-class Magritte exhibit at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, the stately architecture of the Royal Palace and its gardens, and the charming cartoon murals painted on unsuspecting walls around the city, the waffle is what sticks in my mind like extra batter on the skillet. The food is what has given these moments true feeling, fueling both my stomach and my heart. When I think of our promenades past the fine chocolate shops and souvenir stands, I still smell the hot pastry and the rich cocoa. A few weekends later, I was in Montreux, Switzerland just in time for the famous Swiss Christmas markets. Montreux is about 50 minutes outside of Geneva and sits right at the base of the Alps. Being the holiday romantic that I am, I absolutely had to take the tram up the mountain to Rochers-deNaye, which was serving as the “Maison du Père Noel” for the season—a makeshift North Pole. From where the tram lets off, there is a short hike to the summit of Rochers-de-Naye with panoramic views of all of the Swiss Alps. I didn’t want to pass up the once in a lifetime moment, so I decided to hike the snowy hill, despite not having brought proper snow boots to Europe at all. As one could predict, I slipped down

the hill several times, probably looking ridiculous to all the serious hikers with adequate outdoor equipment. After my embarrassing performance, I had to reward myself with fondue in the lodge. I hadn’t expected so many variations, but finally settled on a tomato fondue and a traditional cheese one, both accompanied by bread, potatoes, and meats to dip. The tomato fondue was a delicious blend of tomato bisque and melted cheese, and provided the type of comfort that dipping a grilled cheese into tomato

soup on a cold day offers. After having my pants filled with snow, the fondue made me warm and content again. Of course, I remember the gorgeous views of the mountains that could have been postcard photos, the ferris wheel on the waterfront of Lake Geneva, and the tram ride looking down on the chateau that inspired the castle in The Little Mermaid. But it is still the fondue that I devoured while snow fell around me and the mulled citrus wine that I sipped while walking around the Christmas markets that warm me

from the inside and let me relive those moments. There is a reason that my “things to do” list whenever I visit a new place is more than half comprised of restaurants. Food has that certain “something”—humanity’s affection for it is a part of our nature, written in our DNA. Every now and then I have a craving for fondue or waffles, and smile as the memories flood back in. In my opinion, every memory with a waffle in hand is a positive one.

“The waffle is what sticks in my mind like extra batter on the skillet.”

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Tapas RECIPE BY JEAN CHAPIRO AND SOPHIA KIM These tapas recipes are an easy and fun way to bring a European flare into your cuisine. They are perfect for a glamorous party or a chill night of wine and relaxation. The base for all the tapas is the same, but what makes each one unique is the topping.

Base For the base of the tapas you can choose any type of bread, or even crackers. These tapas work particularly well on a baguette base, which is what is used in the recipe below. 1 large baguette 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese 2 tablespoons chopped parsley 1 tablespoon olive oil Salt and pepper Preheat the oven to 350°F. Slice the the baguette into small slices about 1 inch thick. Place the sliced bread on a baking tray, and drizzle with the olive oil. Lightly toss on the cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix the bread slices so that they are coated evenly. Place the tray in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until bread is nicely browned and crisp.

Spinach-Feta topping A deconstructed version of a Greek spanakopita, this spinach and feta topping is sure to fill all your cheesy needs. 1 bag of spinach, chopped ½ cup diced yellow onion 1 clove garlic, grated 4 oz crumbled feta cheese ¼ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon chopped parsley Olive oil

Reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally so that the eggplant does not burn. Set aside and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Add diced onion and cook until translucent; add chopped spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from heat and fold in the feta.

Portion and serve out on top of baguette slices.

In a bowl, combine spinach mixture with the garlic, salt, and parsley. Portion and serve on top of baguette slices. Spiced Eggplant-Tomato topping A turkish inspired tapa that highlights one of the country’s favorite vegetables alongside some spices. 1 large eggplant 2 medium tomatoes, diced 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped Salt and pepper Cayenne pepper 1 teaspoons of olive oil A few hours before you start cooking, cut the eggplant in half and sprinkle the top with salt. This will reduce any bitterness in the eggplant. Once the eggplant has been salting in water for a few hours or overnight, pat it dry and chop it into small cubes.

Heat olive oil over a large skillet over medium.

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Once the tomatoes have released some juice and the eggplant has almost fully cooked, add the chopped garlic, salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium.

Cut the tomatoes into cubes about the same size as the eggplant cubes.


Add the eggplant and the tomatoes to the pan and cook for a few minutes.

Caramelized OnionsBalsamic-Mushroom topping A French inspired tapa that is easy to make, yet decadent and sophisticated. ½ white onion, diced 1 teaspoon olive oil Brown sugar 2 oz diced button mushrooms Salt, pepper 1 ½ tablespoons of balsamic vinegar In a non-stick pan, cook onions, olive oil, brown sugar, and salt to taste over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until golden and caramelized. If onions look like they are burning, add more oil or a small splash of water. Add the mushrooms to the pan, stirring occasionally until they have cooked and incorporated with the onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove skillet from the heat and add the balsamic vinegar. Mix all the ingredients so that everything is evenly incorporated. Portion and serve on top of baguette slices.




If you’re an aspiring amateur baker like I am, you know that more complicated recipes call for more complicated ingredients. As you try making new dishes, you begin to realize that sugar and flour aren’t always synonymous with generic white flour and granulated sugar. There are a whole host of different flours and sugars that can be used to elevate your baked goods. Getting to know each of the different options will help you expand your culinary repertoire. Want to go from making Toll House cookies to elegant macarons? Follow this guide and you’re on the right track. penn appétit


Let’s start with sugar. Most sugars are made from juice extracted out of sugarcane, treated and processed so that crystals form. The processing of sugarcane is different in each of these cases to produce sugars for different purposes. Granulated Sugar

Brown Sugar

Turbinado Sugar

Powdered Sugar

Also called white or table sugar, granulated sugar is probably the image that first comes to mind when you think “sugar.” Cane sugar is bleached and has most of the natural molasses taken out of it, which gives it a distinctly white color and a less full-bodied flavor than some of the other options. However, the small crystals and fine texture make granulated sugar essential for your classic bakes like the timeless chocolate chip cookie.

Brown sugars are created by mixing white cane sugars with varying amounts of molasses. The molasses gives brown sugar notes of nuttiness and caramel which can add a deeper, more intense flavor to your baked goods. Brown sugar is also a lot softer and holds moisture better than table sugar, so it is great for keeping your cookies moist and chewy. However, a tight seal is important when you store your brown sugar or else you will have a rock hard chunk if and when the moisture evaporates.

Turbinado is a less processed variety of sugarcane which gives it coarser chunks and a light brown color. This blond color is due to the natural molasses retained in the processing of turbinado, or demerara, sugar. The hints of molasses give this variety a subtle caramel flavor which is highlighted in all types of recipes. More often than not, rustic style cookies and pies will call for demerara to give their bakes a crunchy sprinkle on top and an authentic flavor of unprocessed sugar.

Also referred to as confectioner’s or icing sugar, powdered sugar is white sugar blended into a fine powder and then sent through a sieve with cornstarch to prevent clumps. The fineness of powdered sugar makes it the easiest to dissolve, perfect for glazes and icings. Powdered sugar is also great for dusting cookies, cakes, and pastries to give them a more professional look.

Now onto flour—the backbone to your baking pantry. Flour is made from the separation of wheat into its three separate parts: bran, germ, and endosperm. The flours discussed here are made from processing the endosperm to varying degrees, changing the protein contents and bleaching or leaving them unbleached (bleaching is a process by which chlorine or benzoyl peroxide are used to cure the flour...I promise it’s less scary than it sounds). All-Purpose Flour

Cake Flour

Bread Flour

Self-Rising Flour

All-Purpose flour is like the granulated sugar of the flour world: if you are thinking, “flour,” you’re thinking AP. All purpose flour is your baking (and cooking) staple— great for pie crusts, cookies, biscuits, and other classics. It is important to take a look at whether your flour is bleached or unbleached. Bleached flours absorb more liquid so they can create a better rise and a wetter dough. The final thing to remember with good ole’ AP flour is to sift always! Sifting aerates the flour which creates a lighter texture for your bakes. I promise, the extra three minutes will make your bakes three times as delicious.

If the name didn’t give it away, cake flour is used most often in cakes. Because of its relatively low protein content, cake flour is great for baked goods with a tender and light texture. The fact that it is most often bleached allows for the moist and lofty characteristic of most cakes. The one big “no no” with cake flour is bread; cake flour can’t be used to make a structurally sound and delicious bread.

This variety, on the other hand, is perfect for all of your bread baking needs. It has one of the highest protein contents, giving it the structural support and glutenous texture characteristic to bread. The protein content is also important for yeasted breads, where a strong network of gluten is necessary for trapping CO₂ gas and creating air pockets.

Self-rising flour, though it sounds like you need to be a master baker to use it, is really just flour, baking soda, and salt sifted together. This blend is great for pancakes, biscuits, and muffins since it already includes baking soda. It is important when using selfrising flour that you store it in an airtight container for no more than six months at a time. If you leave it for much longer than that, the baking soda starts to lose its “oomph” and your bakes will not maintain as good of a rise.

Now you can finally become a master of the kitchen instead of looking at a recipe wondering whether or not it is worth it to take the risk and substitute granulated sugar for one with a name you’d never heard before. Get out of your comfort zone and give these new ingredients a try!


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BURNT HONEY RECIPE BY KATHERINE KU ILUSTRATION BY ALAINA CHOU Making cream puffs can seem intimidating at first, but this is a tasty and easy recipe that uses four types of sugar—granulated sugar, coconut sugar, honey, and powdered sugar. The choux itself is mild and puffy, the whipped cream is light and just slightly sweet, the burnt honey gives the whole dessert a rich and slightly chewy topping, and the powdered sugar is just an extra little touch. Who couldn’t use a little extra sugar in their lives? Makes approximately 16 choux puffs Choux Pastry: ½ cup butter ½ cup water 1 cup all-purpose flour ½ tablespoon granulated sugar 4 eggs A pinch of salt Whipped Cream Filling: 1½ cup heavy cream ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut sugar 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract Burnt Honey Topping: ¾ cup honey ½ cup sweetened condensed milk ¾ tsp sea salt Powdered sugar for topping

Choux Pastry:

your puffs are ready to be filled.

Preheat oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Burnt Honey Topping:

In a small saucepan on medium heat, combine water, butter, sugar, and a pinch of salt, stirring with a rubber spatula or spoon until everything is evenly combined. Add flour, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth and without lumps. The mixture will seem chunky at first, but keep on stirring and everything will incorporate. Transfer batter into a medium bowl and let it cool for a few minutes. While stirring vigorously, add in eggs one at a time, making sure that each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next. Scoop batter into a piping bag with a round tip (or just a plain Ziploc bag) and pipe batter onto prepared baking sheet into mounds with a 1.5-inch diameter, trying to avoid making a pointed tip. If there are points, use your finger to smooth the tops. Put baking sheet in oven for 10 minutes then lower temperature to 350°F and bake for around 20 more minutes, or until the choux is puffed and golden brown. Do not open the oven until at least the 25-minute mark or else the pastry will not puff!

In a small saucepan combine honey, salt, and condensed milk over low heat. Let the mixture begin to bubble and make sure to stir it to prevent it from burning. Keep on heat for around 5-7 minutes. The mixture should be creamy and sticky like caramel and darken slightly in color. Remove from heat and transfer to bowl. Assembly: Remove choux puffs from oven and remove from pan, ideally letting them cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack. To fill the puffs, either cut them in half horizontally and pipe in the whipped cream or make a small hole in the bottom and pipe the filling into the puff. While the burnt honey is still warm and liquidy, dip the top of the cream puffs into the mixture to coat the top half. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar and serve.

Whipped Cream Filling: In the meantime, combine heavy cream, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Whip cream at medium speed with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer for about 3 minutes until cream grows in volume and reaches stiff peaks. Transfer whipped cream to a piping bag and set aside in the fridge until

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Curating Cuisine

It’s almost inevitable that on any trip to a South Asian restaurant, at least one of my friends will ask me, “Is this authentic?” It’s a hard question to answer. My response is not going to be the same as another’s, and ultimately, a lot of it comes down to what we grew up with. Although we tend to get clumped together in the U.S., there are thousands of ethnic groups in the Indian Subcontinent, each 18

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with distinct histories and traditions. And since recipes are hardly written down, they differ greatly from family to family. These circumstances alone would make it difficult to assign static definitions to culture, but because of restaurants, the idea of authenticity is even more complicated. There’s a certain standard concept of South Asian food that’s been established over the years, one that


we all know pretty well, regardless of where we’re from. You’ll find evidence of it in nearly every South Asian restaurant, and it consists mostly of a set of North Indian dishes, including chicken tikka masala, garlic naan, and samosas. A little variation here and there, but nothing drastically different. Those foods, carefully curated over the years, have built an image of South Asian cuisine that is by now widely

accepted. What is sometimes forgotten is how much is excluded in this process. It’s common to see restaurant owners from other parts of the subcontinent ditch their family recipes to match that standard menu. Most Bengali families like mine eat fish and dal (lentils) instead of butter chicken and mango lassi, and it’s an odd feeling when others tend to equate what they’ve seen in restaurants with my culture. The reality is restaurants serve a purpose that goes past selling food— they forge our perceptions of foreign cuisine and culture as a whole. They are tasked with presenting the best of what

“The reality is restaurants serve a purpose that goes past selling food—they forge our perceptions of foreign cuisine and culture as a whole.” we have to offer, and in so doing, they shape the image that the outside world has of us. Restaurants may choose to include or disregard dishes simply based on what sells the best, but to the community they represent, those decisions also have an undeniable subconscious effect on our relationship with our culture. Especially for the children of immigrants, learning all of our parents’ recipes isn’t always possible. We’re busy trying to establish a place for ourselves in a new society, and that sometimes comes at the cost of neglecting our traditions. As a result, restaurants are also an important way for us to stay connected. When I’m older, I’d like to be able to walk into a restaurant and order the shrimp curry my mother routinely cooked, but chances are it won’t be available and I’ll have to settle for tandoori chicken instead. Logically, there is a fear that

restaurants will not be able to preserve culture on their own, especially if only the dishes accepted by those outside of the community make it to the menus. We can’t expect restaurants to be perfect experiences because ultimately, true authenticity is unattainable. How can one possibly encapsulate something so abstract and constantly evolving as culture? That doesn’t mean restaurants are always misrepresentative and useless, but rather that we should remain cognizant of how their limits can affect our collective understanding of those around us. Try not to simply accept what you’re given as a comprehensive representation—next time you’re sitting in an ethnic restaurant, know that no matter how “authentic” it seems, there is a lot more out there— you’re only getting a taste.

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A Miscellaneous Guide to Cooking by the Numbers WRITTEN BY XANDER GOTTFRIED ILLUSTRATION BY MINA YOO Cooking can be a complicated subject matter. As someone who cooks often, I tend to think that I can make anything by following a recipe. But no matter the instructions, things almost always go awry or unexpected, and having a good intuition is key. Much like how a thermometer provides the information for making an informed clothing choice, the following thermometer of sorts should provide a selection of intuitions to call upon when needed.

1 Flip Only

The best number of times to flip foods, whatever the food, is just once. Whether you’re searing fish to maximize crispy skin, browning Brussels sprouts, or cooking chicken thighs, the fewer flips, the better. This rule applies wherever you want browning to occur. That’s the Maillard reaction occurring, breaking down complex proteins into constituent amino acids, which register as flavor in our mouths. But it takes time for that reaction to occur, and foods need to sit at higher temperatures for extended periods for it to take place. The more food is flipped, the less direct contact it has with the hot pan and the less flavor happens. So the next time you’re hunting for a flavorful, browned crust on a food, just remember: One. Flip. Only.

"Having a good intutition is key."

Use Just

2 Oils

Fat is one of the most important components of every dish, and liquid fat is essential for a majority of foods. Not all oil is created equal, however. Some just burns at too low a temperature to cook with unless you want to set off the fire alarm every time you turn on the stove. Some oil just doesn’t have a pleasant enough flavor to stand on its own as an ingredient. To seriously simplify things, just use two oils: one for cooked, one for raw. Foods where the oil will be cooked along with the food, such as anything crisped in a pan, fried, or roasted, should get canola oil or some sort of vegetable oil with neutral taste and high smoke point. Anything where the oil isn’t getting excessively cooked, like whisked into a vinaigrette or tossed with cooked spaghetti, can benefit from flavorful extra virgin olive oil. Easy enough, right?




Chinese five spice is a useful ingredient, but what it really represents is so much more than the cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns that make up the recipe. Chinese five spice, like many spice blends, can become an all purpose seasoning for your pantry, allowing you to add multiple flavors in one step without the hassle of finding each spice buried in the cupboard and then individually measuring. Spice mixes can be bought in many grocery stores and online, but also consider making your own. Simply choose a handful of spices that you enjoy with similar flavor profiles, and mix them together. Rub large hunks of meat in it plus salt, toss it in amongst your roasted vegetables, or add it to rice while cooking for a more flavorful starch. And no, they don’t all need to have five.


Eggs are a seriously underrated food; from emulsifying mayo and Caesar dressing, to giving vegetarian dinners more heft, to the (debatably) best-ever sandwich, eggs are an all-purpose tool. They fit into so many cuisines, from ramen to shakshuka to a decadent bacon-and-egg pizza. Making a stash of hard-boiled eggs at the start of the week is a surefire way to be prepared for lunch or that 4pm snack. Just don’t overcook eggs. In elementary school everyone came to school with eggs whose yolks were cracked and nearly blue from over-boiling. But an eightminute egg is something special. The yolks are jammy and ever so slightly runny in the center. Water, brought to a boil. Eggs, added to the pot. After eight minutes, ice bath. Boom. Perfect eggs.

Give It

10 Minutes

For the baking inclined, you may find that dough is often stubborn. You go to roll it out, and it bounces back. What dough really needs is time. The gluten, a molecule which gives many doughs their strength and stretch, needs time to relax. Gluten is just like a stressed college student. It gets worked and worked when the dough is mixed or kneaded, and must relax before being handled even more. Just give it ten minutes. Let it sit on the counter, covered, and do something else. Let it chill out. Then roll away.

Just Remember


Ever wonder what temperature to bake cookies? Or roast chicken? Or cook literally anything ever? Turns out, 350°F is a pretty reliable number for setting the oven. This is the temperature where that Maillard reaction occurs best. That means most foods cook at a reasonable rate at this temperature—slow enough to cook through before burning, but fast enough that the outside doesn’t thoroughly dry out. Just remember 350, and basically everything you put in the oven will be perfect. Just don’t forget to watch the time...


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Japan’s Rich Tradition of



y family welcomes the new year with an aka-miso (redmiso) soup traditional to the kanto-region of Japan, which is home to the city of Tokyo. The aka-miso’s flavor is sharp, deep, and slightly nutty. My mother’s recipe uses kombu kelp stock to dilute the aka-miso paste. My mom then adds pieces of red carrot, daikon radish, and Japanese taro, and garnishes with a sprig of mitsuba parsley. Every year, when I wake up on January 1st from a long night of celebrations, I crave chewy, sticky, toasted rice cake, called mochi, in a bowl of her aka-miso broth. Meanwhile, my grandparents, born in Kobe in the Kansai-region, are also enjoying their first miso soup of the year, but made with shiro-miso (white miso). Shiro-miso has a completely different flavor profile: it is milder and much sweeter, with the slightest caramel undertone, making it ideal for baked goods and sweets. The list of miso varieties doesn’t end there. “Miso” is a label that umbrellas products which all have similar ingredients and go through the same process but can result in very different flavors—similar to cheese. Same ingredients, different funk. In Japan, there exist hundreds of distinct recipes with slightly different ratios of salt to bean to koji mold. Each region in Japan has its own variety using locally grown ingredients. More importantly, it is the flavor of the maker’s hands and the flavor of the environment that can affect the miso’s complex taste drastically. The microscopic particles provide an unreplicable touch that multiplies into the depth of umami after months of hibernation. Although only recently miso has gained worldwide recognition being used in vegan cheese alternatives or glazed on eggplant, it has been a part of Japan’s rich cuisine for centuries. Miso is believed to have originated in China in the Asuka period (538-710 AD) as a serendipitous byproduct of soy sauce.BY It SELNIA was theZOU delicious paste PHOTO leftover from fermenting soy with

koji mold that became one of Japan’s most precious ingredients, nourishing only royalty, monks, and bureaucrats during the Heian period (794-1185 AD). It was unavailable to the common people. Only in the Muromachi (13361573 AD) period did miso penetrate the mass culture, causing a flourishing of its extensive culinary uses. Then, during the Sengoku (1467-1600 AD) period, also known as the warring states period, miso became a military essential, carried along with rice as a “weapon.” It is an unmatched source of umami. The secret? Koji. Aspergillus oryzae, a strain of mold otherwise known as koji, is often grown on rice, soybeans, or barley, and added to freshly boiled soybeans— mashed and still warm—with some salt and the leftover aquafaba. Prized as an all-purpose seasoning, koji produces enzymes that break down the sugars, proteins, and fats into simpler starches, amino acids, and lipids. A Maillard reaction occurs, causing the browning of the miso and deepening of the flavor, mellowing out the sharpness of the salt. The longer the miso ages, the deeper the color becomes. To achieve this browning, the raw koji and soybean mixture is rolled into tight balls and thrown into a ceramic pot, or in my case, a flimsy plastic tupperware. This process ensures that there are no air pockets to invite other mold spores floating in the air. The mashed beans and koji is then leveled off, disinfected with Japanese sake and sprinkled with more salt to prevent bad bacteria from contaminating the miso. The lid is closed and the miso is stored in a cool, dry place to sleep (and ferment!). That’s it. The hard part is waiting; that’s when all the magic happens. Some misos sleep for six weeks and some sleep for three years or more, depending on the type of miso being produced and the amount of koji and salt added. And when you finally wake up the sleeping beauty, take a lick and make miso soup.

Miso-Kinako Pound Cake RECIPE BY JENNIFER HIGA Although miso is traditionally used to season vegetables and fish, I found that its savory quality works extremely well in sweets, giving your favorite cheesecake or ice cream an extra dimension of complexity. Give your favorite vanilla cake recipe a makeover with a dollop of sweet shiro-miso and you won’t turn back. ½ cup coconut oil, melted ¾ cup raw brown sugar ¼ cup plain yogurt or soy yogurt ¼ cup white miso ¾ cup milk or almond milk 2 teaspoons vanilla oil 1 ⅔ cup cake flour ⅓ cup kinako (roasted soybean flour purchasable on Amazon. com, can substitute regular flour) 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease loaf pan and set aside. Combine all the wet ingredients and mix until smooth. Add in sifted flour, baking powder, and kinako. Bake the pound cake for 45 minutes to an hour. It should come out golden brown around the edges but still relatively pale in the center. The cake should spring back when touched. Let cool, slice, and enjoy with some tea. Or if you want to get really fancy you can serve with whipped cream, buckwheat praline, and a drizzle of white miso caramel.

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Nothing screams family style more than a large pot filled with miscellaneous meats and vegetables floating in a colorful sauce. In my house, the contents of the pot is a Thai chicken curry. The coconut milk based Thai red curry sauce is the host to chunks of carrots, potatoes, and chicken. This golden yellow masterpiece is a staple in my house. In a family of six, it is hard to find a dish we all love equally. However, for chicken curry, we all take a break from our busy lives to sit and enjoy, savoring the moment and the flavor simultaneously.

In Filipino cuisine, pancit is a common noodle dish, which is a crowd favorite at family gatherings. Through incorporation of different noodle and vegetable types, many variations on this dish are possible. My mom typically makes pancit using thin, clear, cellophane noodles alongside thicker, brown, lo mein noodles. She also adds in grated carrots, garlic, onion, bean sprouts, cabbage, and stripped chicken, and seasons the mixture with soy sauce. Aside from the prep work, this dish is relatively simple to cook. Since most of it is composed of noodles, it’s easy to make in large quantities—thus the perfect food for large get-togethers.

RUTH’S STUFFED CELERY My family makes a peculiar little dish only brought out on special occasions. This recipe has been a tradition on my dad’s side for decades. However, it’s highly contentious amongst non-family members and family members alike. My dad loves it, but Aunt Beth would rather not. For me, it’s one of those dishes that’s so bad it’s good. It’s just three ingredients: ketchup, cream cheese, and celery—mix the ketchup with the cream cheese and stuff celery sticks. Like ants on a log, but make it Wes Anderson. I know it sounds horrifying, but I promise neither my family nor I are sociopaths.

BERRY TRIFLE It certainly wasn’t a trifle, but it was trifle. Every December, we make the classic British dessert involving layers of miscellaneous sweet things. In years past, my brother and I would divvy up the handmade ingredients and layer them into a glass bowl. If we did it right, you’d be able to see colorful, distinct layers through the sides: the red of strawberries, the blue of blueberries, the white of whipped cream, and the yellow of almond cookies and custard. After dinner, we’d all dig in, scooping heaping portions. I was never one for dessert, but with this dessert I never skimped.

LEFTOVER PASTA School, work, and sports practice until 7:30. Finally, everyone is home and HUNGRY. Us kids can’t even wait 30 minutes, so Dad volunteers to make his special leftovermelange. Mom’s tomato sauce from when we watched the Jets get destroyed on Sunday, rotisserie chicken from Monday, and grilled vegetables from Tuesday all come together harmoniously with pasta made fresh for Wednesday’s dinner. Within 20 minutes, all of us are settled in our usual chairs scarfing down the surprisingly delicious concoction Dad is able to create every week out of whatever is in our fridge. And with mouths full, we give “happy head-nods” and laugh.

VALENTINE’S DAY HEARTSHAPED PIZZAS While some crave a quaint, romantic dinner on Valentine’s Day, ever since I can remember my family has made homemade heart-shaped pizzas together on February 14th. With a six-person family, to say it’s a slow process is an understatement: only one pizza can be made at a time in our pizza maker—its best description being that it

resembles a waffle iron. The nature of the activity doesn’t allow us all to eat at the same time, but the point is that we’re partaking in the process together. We spend our night running around the kitchen, getting pizza sauce everywhere, and enjoying each other’s company.

BIRYANI No Bangladeshi celebration is ever complete without biryani. The recipe differs depending on whom you ask, but all versions share a few common ingredients— rice, potatoes, meat, and lots of spices—all baked together in the oven. My mother usually uses goat, but occasionally beef or chicken are substituted. At its core, biryani is a dish of contrasts. The bitter cloves, spicy peppers, sweet dates, and aromatic cinnamon all coexist, and as a result, every mouthful is unlike the last. Biryani is often accompanied by raita, a flavorful blend of yogurt, spices, cucumber, and tomato, which provides a cooling effect to counter the heat of the dish.

PIEROGIES AND POTATO PANCAKES My mom is Catholic and my dad is Jewish, but I’m usually away at school during Hanukkah. Our tradition of pierogies and latkes was born when my mom had the idea to combine our Polish heritage with a taste of Hanukkah a few Christmas Eves ago. I love that potato pancakes are a part of both cultures and bring my family together in the best way. My relatives all cram into my grandpa’s kitchen and break into teams to grate potatoes, mix up eggs and flour, form the mixture into rounds, and fry the pierogies and latkes. We laugh together uncontrollably, our hands dripping with the potato mixture.

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ver since I moved to Philadelphia in August, one name has permeated my conversations about restaurants in the city: Suraya. Deciding to try this place out for myself, I rally a group of my friends to make the trek from University City to Fishtown to experience it for ourselves. Entering Suraya feels like we are stepping into another world. One minute we are navigating the mosaic of half-completed apartments and brownstones in Fishtown, an up-andcoming neighborhood in northern Philadelphia, and the next we are stepping into a colorful, patternfilled oasis, bustling with waiters, the aroma of Middle Eastern spices, and murmurings of satisfaction. The five of us make our way through the café area to the hostess stand that marks the beginning of the formal dining area on the right and the kitchen on the left. We look at each other, taking out our phones to capture


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the experience that unfolds before our eyes. While Suraya has only been open for about a year, its roots go back much further. Sibling duo Nathalie Richan and Roland Kassis, who opened and currently own Suraya, brought their family’s story all the way from Lebanon to Philadelphia. The restaurant is named after their grandmother, who raised the siblings in Beirut. Mod, their mother, has also been an inspiration for the restaurant. She was at the restaurant with head chef Nick Kennedy during recipe development, instructing him on the “proper way” to cook her Lebanese cuisine. “She had her hands on the food,” says Suraya’s General Manager, Michael Jreidini. He recalls how powerful it was to see her instruct these French-educated chefs with the traditions she brought from her years of cooking in the Middle East. This is Suraya: mixing the family style home-cooking of the Middle East

with the modern techniques of Philly’s finest chefs. This familial tie to the Middle East and its cuisine lays the foundation for the masterpiece of this restaurant. The idea of family runs throughout the space as a portrait of Suraya, Nathalie and Roland’s grandmother, hangs above the hostess stand, and another of Mod, their mother, hangs in the foyer in the back of the restaurant. In addition, their shared plates philosophy allows the restaurant to truly encapsulate “family style.” In fact, Jreidini says he wants diners to “eat like a family.” This idea is reflected in the menu, as the shared plates—ranging from mezze plates to spiced french fries— encourage people to share everything, taste as many things as possible, and mix and match the combinations of cuisine. This shared plates style also allows guests to experience the different cultures Suraya’s menu draws upon. In

one of the most poetic lines during our phone interview the previous week, Michael Jreidini explained how most people know the Middle East as a place of clashing cultures. Suraya contradicts these perceptions by allowing these cultures to mesh in a beautiful way. “This is the only place where all these cultures work together; it’s quite amazing,” says Jreidini. Our drinks arrive first: Lebanese turmeric chai lattes and tehina hot chocolate with marshmallow on top. We are captivated by the bright yellow color of the chai—along with its sweet taste. We decide it’s the best chai we’ve all ever had. The food arrives as it’s ready. With each new plate comes an explanation about the origins, ingredients, and preparations of the food: Lebanese flatbread called man’oushe, baba ganoush from Syria, a mezze plate from Jordan, a cashew dukkah egg from Egypt, and Turkish delights. It’s a group effort to pull apart the man’oushe. It didn’t come pre-cut, so we work together to split it up equitably. As we eat, we find ourselves sharing our own experiences with the Middle


East through family, gap years, and classes in school. New conversations emerge with the arrival of each dish— everything from someone’s favorite tabouli recipe or experiences with gravlax in Israel. I find myself reaching over my friends, at times adjusting my chair to have a better angle to reach the two plates I’m combining. As we bump into each other, eager to get food from the plate to our mouths as quickly as possible, we laugh and muse about how thankful we are to share this meal together. I’d never met one of the boys who joined us for the meal; but, as we bump elbows, reaching over each other to get the hummus or the chicken kebab or have a sip of someone’s chai latte, I feel comfortable. This active dining experience reminded me of my family dinners at home in Los Angeles. Around my dinner table, all six of us talk about our days and reach for different items— often at the same time. We do this not for lack of manners, but because everyone feels comfortable in the space with the spread of food and their loved ones around them.

I remember how Jreidini had said Suraya’s goal is to “crush you with food so you lose yourself in what is going on.” This sums up my brunch at Suraya: I was surrounded by new and old friends, a diversity of food, and a warm atmosphere, entirely immersed in the experience. By the end of the meal, we had stopped taking pictures with our phones—we were too engaged in the food and each other. In my conversation with Jreidini, he had emphasized that Suraya was built to always be a thought in people’s minds. He communicated that he never wanted customers to feel like they had gotten all that Suraya had to give. Offering coffee, pastries, brunch, lunch, drinks, dinner, and dessert, it seems there is no end to what Suraya can provide diners. The all-day café aspect reminds me of the accessibility of food at home; there is always food to be cooked, eaten, and enjoyed. By the end of the meal, I was satisfied, satiated, and sappy, and you bet I’ll be going back soon—with family and friends—to experience it again.

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For 13 years, my dad packed the lunches for school. The daily lineup included lunches for all three of us: one for me (the oldest), one for my sister (a year younger than me), and one for my little brother (5 years younger than me). The lunch always included a main dish—usually a sandwich—and two or three sides—usually a piece of fruit, a vegetable or dairy item, and something sweet. Our lunches weren’t just collections of food, but included notes, special touches, and only when our insulated lunch bags were M.I.A., brown paper bags with smiley faces on them. Was I ever embarrassed? Sure, sometimes. But was I relieved to unpack whatever indulgence and food pairings lay inside my black and neon orange floral lunch bag? Always. The staple sandwich was turkey with muenster cheese, lettuce, and spicy mustard on wheat, white, or a kaiser roll, whatever we had in the pantry but either way, it was absolutely delicious. The creamy muenster and the zingy vinegariness of the mustard complimented the cold cut turkey so perfectly, awakening me from a hunger induced daze halfway through the day. Less frequently than the turkey, we’d 32

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have chicken breast or ham. We went through a phase of bologna, a cold cut I haven’t had since living at home but that, in my opinion, is good if you don’t think too hard about it. I will still never forget the feeling of the white bread flattened and stuck on the roof of my mouth that only a quick finger poke could dislodge. Sometimes we’d get cold pizza wrapped in tin foil and sometimes a salad with dressing packed on the side. There were the days we’d have soup or chili, both leftovers, or instant ramen packed in a thermos—my favorite. I’d start to eat the sides well before my lunch period. The fruit varied with the season: we’d have apples, oranges (my dad would start the peel for us), clementines, plums, peaches, and berries. We rarely had bananas because those would easily brown and bruise in our well-traveled lunch bags. We’d have carrots, celery, and hummus, or cheese and crackers, separated into different bags so that the cheese wouldn’t make the crackers soggy. My favorite was the sweet item which I would always save for last because that was only natural in the progression of my multiple course meal. We’d have store-bought cookies, but were also packed brownies and

homemade cookies if my mom had made them that week. Sometimes my dad would pack us a Reese’s cup—score! I would never dare trade lunch items with the other kids at school: mine were the crème de la crème, incomparable with the rest on the market. Growing up on Long Island, some of the students bought lunch, some were given money to buy food outside of campus, and some, like me, brought in packed lunches. Of the packed lunch people, some packed it themselves and some had their parents pack it for them. However, I was of the rarer sort—my dad had full agency to pack whatever he wanted for us, without the constraints of the picky eaters. This lead to lunches that were, admittedly, weird. I will never forget the fateful afternoon in middle school when I was packed a meatloaf sandwich. We had a garlic, onion, and ketchup packed meatloaf the night before for dinner and my dad, flexing his creative muscles, decided it was a lovely idea to repurpose said meatloaf into a sandwich. His technique? Sandwiching a thick slice of the meatloaf between two slices of white bread and then cleaving it in half. Approaching my locker that day, I looked around. Who forgot to put on deodorant? Who hasn’t realized the demands of their pubescent body? As I unlocked and opened my locker, I slowly realized that the stench was coming from my lunch. Horrified, I grabbed my lunch bag and unzipped it quickly to investigate. There it was. Peering through the clear zip lock bag at my dad’s passion project, I laughed. Curious and fueled by perverse interests, I tried a few bites and decided it wasn’t half bad. I did feel bad about subjecting the people around me to the smell, so I tossed the second half. Coming home from school that day, my siblings and I

de-briefed. Will, my youngest brother, who was in elementary school at the time, simply said, “oh—my—god” with his jaw dropped. Upon olfactory encounter with their sandwiches, my sister and brother had immediately rejected them. My younger sister, also in middle school at the time, told my dad she was “so embarrassed.” Despite having eaten half of it, I also joined in on the critique. My dad, instead of scolding us for throwing out our food or taking our concerns seriously like some parents might do, just belly-laughed until his eyes started to water. My dad packed lunches for us not because we demanded it or even wanted it, but because it made him happy to send us to school everyday

I would never dare trade lunch items with the other kids at school: mine were the crème de la crème, incomparable with the rest on the market.

with his meals. Every single day after school he’d ask with a beaming smile on his face, “Did you like your sandwich?” Sometimes he’d preface the question, expecting our reviews to be critical. “They ran out of Boars Head at the deli,” or, “we had no mustard left.” My siblings and I would reassure him, saying how the pickles were a nice touch or that we appreciated the apple slices and peanut butter. We were spoiled for sure, and probably could have gotten along just fine without our packed lunches. Although he’s never said it, I know through an unspoken intimation, packing our lunches made my dad so happy. Through making our lunches, my dad positively impacted our days, reminded us of home, and left little traces of his personality here and there, making us laugh, smile, or freeze in horror. It was a quotidian yet constant way he showed us his love. We weren’t given money or gifts when we did well in school, and we rarely go on grand vacations or eat out, but my parents always spoiled us with the best homemade food. Even when it came in the form of a school lunch, it was something that bonded my family together, and reassured my parents that they were giving us the best. My dad still gets up extra early every day while the rest of the family sleeps to pack my brother, now a senior in high school, his lunch. Over winter break, my dad and I were reminiscing on his lunch packing. “It’s my last year—I’m sad!” he said, only half joking. I told him that was only conditional; if I worked in New York City next year, he could pack my lunches. He smiled. “Now who’s hungry for meatloaf?” penn appétit



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“Are you sure you want to give her that?” asks a concerned waitress. “She’s got this,” my dad proudly states. More of the staff gather around to watch the six-year-old girl and her dad try “The Spiciest Pasta in the State.” Although their accomplishment was most likely self-proclaimed, the gathering of chefs around our table allowed me to believe the title had some merit. We each took a piece of penne covered in flakes of various peppers lightly coated in olive oil as the waiters (and my mother) winced. The pasta was delicious, yet highly underwhelming. My mouth was not on fire, but slightly warmed in a comforting way. It was not nearly as spicy as the home cooked dishes my dad would spike with ghost pepper hot sauces. We looked at each other and shrugged. The staff of the restaurant walked away defeated and surprisingly disappointed by the small child’s lack of physical pain. They had not known that they had highly advanced eaters in front of them (who gladly finished the entire dish together). I grew up surrounded by people who had an intense and consistent love of food. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents all taught me to love cooking and eating. But the most important culinary influence in my life is my dad. My dad is a passionate amateur chef who ZOU enjoys cooking PHOTO BY SELNIA just as much as sharing his love of

food with the people around him. Every night of my childhood there would be an extravagant and delicious meal from cuisines all over the globe. Through close observation of my dad’s cooking and enthusiastic participation in eating everything he ate, my dad showed me how to love eating, cooking, and sharing food with the people around me. I pride myself on being an extremely adventurous eater, which I obviously attribute to my dad. Whether it was a home cooked meal or a night out, my dad would always strive to broaden my and my sibling’s horizons. Instead of cooking classic American dinners, my dad makes traditional feasts from countries all over the world. Unlike my classmates whose favorite foods in elementary school were mac and cheese and chicken nuggets, I grew up craving tikka masala and tamales. When we were out at restaurants, my dad would always order us a family style meal so we could sample the best that each restaurant had to offer. Although I love to go out for dinner as a family, I am still partial to the experience of cooking and eating at home. I was always fascinated by my dad’s cooking, valuing the enchanting nuances of the preparation and the exquisite results equally. As a young child I would stand next to my dad as he cooked, barely at eye level with our kitchen counter, straining my

neck to watch the fruits of his talents unfold. I would become entranced by his graceful precision when wielding a knife and his calculated improvisations to recipes. I watched him closely so that I could one day hold a knife with the same confidence and skill that I had always admired and be able to share my cooking with people I love. If there is anything that my dad loves more than cooking, it is sharing the food he makes with his friends and family. He even started his own instagram to share all of his creations. When I lived at home I used to laugh at his excitement over posting a picture to his whopping ninety followers. But now there is nothing that makes me more homesick than seeing a new post from @aconstancook. Through watching my dad’s excitement when someone enjoys his food, he instilled in me a great a love of cooking for other people. To this day I enjoy cooking a dish for someone else much more than eating it myself. I have learned to cherish sharing the recipes he taught me with my friends and cook alongside him when I come home. When we cook together we move through the kitchen seamlessly, in our own sort of fatherdaughter dance. Although I can enjoy cooking for anyone, and I love going out to eat with my friends, I still miss my dad whenever I see the “Spicy” warning on a menu. penn appétit




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was thirteen when I ventured into the kitchen for the first time. I was going to replicate the monkey bread my class had made in home economics, and I wasn’t going to mess it up. After creation of the dough, I rolled each of the smaller balls of dough in butter, before coating them each with sugar. Cluelessly, instead of brushing butter lightly on the dough, I had dunked the dough in a glorious excess of melted butter, letting it soak to full saturation. The real kicker is I had plopped it all down on a rimless cookie sheet. I then lowered the mess into the oven, largely pleased with myself. But little did I know, the butter was dripping off the pan, accumulating at the bottom of the oven and burning. When I opened up the oven some time later to peer inside at my creation, I was met with a rush of black smoke which 38

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instantaneously set off the fire alarm. I burst into tears as my mom came into the kitchen to assess the situation, console me, and most importantly, tell me where I went awry. “It’s not the end of the world, Ana,” she said to remedy my devastation. This less than glamorous moment, to be followed by many more of similar results, was the beginning of how I learned how to cook. My mom taught me how to cook. Years of watching her confidently follow her instincts and float around the kitchen in an orchestra of harmonious moves had motivated me to learn her ways. As a child, I watched her make homemade chicken noodle soup, roast chickens, grill steaks, stir fry vegetables, create pastries, sear fish, shape burgers, flip omelettes, assemble salads—any and all of the culinary

maneuvers she knows how to do. She’s a jack-of-all-trades, teaching herself through her expansive collection of cookbooks which includes all sorts from Joy of Cooking to crinkled up print outs of Emeril Lagasse recipes. Sampling the food as she goes, she cooks with an informed taste, built through years of working at her family’s farmers market cheese stand. Her style is practical and efficient, but never without care and always with a special detail or two. Learning to cook with my mother was like an apprenticeship. During my pre-teen years, I first came into the role of observing helper: grocery shopping with her, assisting her as a mixer, and standing behind the counter as she narrated her work. She never forced me to assist her with dinner, but I always volunteered to do so, seizing every opportunity I had to be by her side. I

slowly grew into a more skilled assistant around early high school, slicing the round, more precarious vegetables or handling raw chicken. Then, around junior year of high school, I really began to cook with her. I learned to chop, peel, slice, and julienne. I learned what the terms soft peak, mirepoix, al dente, and medium rare meant. She taught me all through demonstration, explanation, then letting me try on my own. My mom has a certain confidence in me to pull off whatever task, a confidence that I, at times, don’t have in myself. My mom gave me the responsibility of cooking the Thanksgiving turkey this year at a mere 21 years of age. Cue my over preparation, obsessed drying of the bird, and semiemotional breakdown when there were too many cooks in the kitchen. I PHOTO BY SELNIA ZOU know that I still haven’t made the final

evolution to the effortless cook my mom is. Four years ago, after watching Julie & Julia for about the third time, my mom and I decided to try out cooking Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon, the infamous, holy grail of the stew world. It was an ordeal that took all day. I realized my mom, in her practical, efficient style, kept trying to streamline the process while I viewed it as cutting essential corners. I, the unrealistic perfectionist cook who is afraid of any miscalculation, was screaming about the lardons the entire time. We had taken them out too early or too late in the beginning sautéeing stages. My mom didn’t see the problem, but for me Julia Child was turning in her grave. In the end, after the ridiculous 8 hours or so passed, we cradled the dutch oven like it was priceless, staring down into its contents like we were examining fine jewelry. Despite my doubts, it came out heavenly. My mom has always been extremely cool when she cooks, as she is in her life in general. She mellows out my maniacal tendencies when we cook together, and I like to think I keep her on her toes. She still mentors me as a chef, texting me recipes and answering my random questions about what spices I should put in my chili. Always calm and efficient, yet passionate, my mom will always be, for me, the gold standard, the master. I tend to hover over my meals as they cook. I never leave anything unattended if even for a second, perhaps a little scar tissue from the monkey bread incident. My mom once caught me staring at a pot filled with water on our stove. “You know, a watched pot never boils.” “Yes,” I said, “but a watched pot never burns.” “Touché.”

Glossary Soft peak: Whipped cream or egg whites which form a loose peak when lifted with the beater or whisk. To be considered soft, they should immediately flop over at the tip. Mirepoix: A mix of chopped vegetables common in French cuisine that are sautéed before using as the base of stock. Usually consists of onion, carrot, and celery.

Al dente: Literally meaning “to the tooth” in Italian, refers to pasta or other foods that can be cooked until very soft but are stopped from cooking while still slightly chewy or toothsome. Medium rare: Meat cooked in between rare and medium, where the outside is well browned but the inside still has shades of bright pink.

Barbara Chisholm’s Rolled Lemon Chicken This chicken, inspired by Dom Deluise’s but done with my mother’s attention to detail, is fresh, simple, delicious, and fun to eat. It speaks to the style of her cooking in it’s timelessness and feeling of care it communicates. The roll somehow makes the chicken better, emulating the curvature of the sliced onions and creating a satisfying cohesion. Coming home after sports practices, I remember being so hungry as my mother served me up a chicken roll alongside roasted asparagus, and rice or potatoes. So good! A few tablespoons of olive oil 6 boneless chicken breasts (thinly sliced works best, but you can also pound the breasts thin) ½ cup fresh lemon juice ½ cup Panko or regular bread crumbs ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley ¼ cup grated parmesan 1 medium sized red onion, thinly sliced Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly coat a casserole dish with the oil. Coat chicken with lemon juice and zest on both sides, and salt and pepper to taste. Let soak for a few minutes. Mix the crumbs, parsley, and parmesan in a dish then dredge the chicken in the mixture. Roll chicken up lightly in a jelly roll and place in casserole dish. Place onions on top, and drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for about 1 hour then serve with roasted asparagus, rice, or potatoes. And as my mother would say, “soup’s up!”

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My mom is the type of mom who picks you up from the first day of fourth grade with an M&M McFlurry waiting for you in the cup holder of the front seat. She’s the type of mom who wakes up at five am to drive you to school so you can nap during the forty-five minute car ride. She’s the type of mom who buys a million types of chips, dip, and ice cream when you let her know that a few friends are coming over for a movie night. The type that cooks dinner for everyone, but continues to hover 40

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around and serve people, making sure that everyone has a healthy serving of food on their plate before she sits down and makes a plate for herself. My mom never fails to go above and beyond to make sure everyone feels comfortable and welcome in our home—and as with the tradition of Filipino culture, this tendency inevitably revolves around food. During my childhood, my mom cooked a number of Filipino dishes such as pancit (thin noodles with chicken and vegetables) and bolinao

(small, dried fish fried in a pan), which she made in massive quantities whenever we had people over for large family get-togethers or post-soccer game potlucks. However, her signature recipe, capable of impressing even the pickiest of eaters and often times finished off before any of the other dishes, is her lumpia. Lumpia are savory Filipino spring rolls made of a thin crepe pastry skin referred to as a “lumpia wrapper” (which according to my mom, is

the secret to good lumpia). Though unsuspecting, lumpia wrappers are one of the most important components of the recipe, since they have to be thin enough to fully crisp upon being fried, but sturdy enough to hold in the filling while bobbing up and down in the frier. In contrast, typical Chinese egg rolls use a thicker, wider wrapper, which makes for a heartier roll. The lumpia wrappers my mom uses are a very specific brand which PHOTO BY SELNIA ZOU she buys in downtown Honolulu’s Chinatown.

They are pale white in color, and thin enough so that the colorful filling is barely visible as the wrapper is pulled taut during the lumpia assembly. Upon frying, the lumpia wrapper turns a dark golden brown, and hardens to the perfect amount of crunchiness. Though sweet lumpia might be filled with banana and served as dessert, the more common savory lumpia are typically filled with a mixture of chopped vegetables and minced meat. Though the concept might seem simple, lumpia actually take a great deal of time and patience to make. Especially when large quantities are being made (which they are in the case of my mom’s lumpia, since a person might eat four to six upon realizing how irresistibly mouthwatering they are), multiple days might be necessary to chop the various vegetables, strip the chicken, and let the mixture simmer in chicken broth before cooling—and after all the extensive prep work, the filling must be carefully wrapped in delicate, paper thin lumpia wrappers, sealed off with a light brush of egg wash, and fried in a vat of canola oil. Despite the fact that the making of lumpia takes a great deal of effort, my mom never fails to supply it for hungry guests and friends, especially if those in question have never tasted the delicacy before. Watching her mechanically chop up the various vegetables, combining them with the meat in a large pot over the stovetop, and perfectly spicing them in the simmering broth never fails to amaze me—she makes each step seem so simple, though I know that if I were to attempt making lumpia myself, I would flounder without her help. My mom’s lumpia epitomize her willingness to go the extra mile to bring joy to everyone around her, regardless of the time and effort it might require on her part. When I find myself having family gatherings in my own home, I can only hope to emanate the same kindness, generosity, and warmth as my mom, the ultimate host. Though I might have a ways to go, the first step might be to try my best to master her lumpia recipe.

Chicken & Vegetable Lumpia RECIPE BY MILA CHAMBERS 2 lbs chicken breast, boiled and stripped (save the stock) 2 medium sized carrots, grated 1 bag of bean sprouts 1 bag of green beans, chopped 1 head of napa cabbage, chopped 1 onion, chopped 4 cloves of garlic, chopped Dash seasoning Lumpia wrappers 1 egg, lightly beaten Canola oil, for deep frying In a pan of hot oil, saute the chopped up garlic and onions. Add the green beans and the carrots and stir. Add the chicken stock and the stripped chicken to the mixture and stir until boiling. Add soy sauce to taste and a dash of Dash seasoning. Add diced cabbage and bean sprouts and cook until tender. Drain pot into a strainer and let mixture cool. Bring a large pot of canola oil up to 350°F for frying. Wrap the lumpia in the lumpia wrappers, using egg wash to seal. Drop into the fryer (about three or four at a time), and fry until golden brown. Enjoying with Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce is highly suggested.

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A t restaurant Abe Fisher, the leg is served confit, the breast Peking style with skin so sharp it might slice itself. The leg reminds me of the pulled pork sandwich I scarfed down every weekend at my favorite farmers market back in Chicago, before moving to Philly; its fattiness may dupe some eaters into doubting that it’s poultry. The breast is rare as sunrise, with a raw iron flavor that reminds me of kitchen accidents like sucking the blood from a sliced finger. Service is nearly over and there’s carnage dripping down my front. I’ve just prepped a dozen ducks by submerging them in aggressively boiling water, my arm scalded by the steam. The carcasses drip blood, leaving a television-esque gore behind in the water kettle. The disgusting part is cleaning up the bloodbath. Covered in raw poultry gets me thinking. Why did I justify myself, toiling away for someone’s dinner a few 42

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nights from now? The term used is service: in the kitchen, that translates to doing whatever it takes to put out the best food. But sometimes, it is painful. What matters is not how time is spent but what it is spent for. I am addicted to the art of the professional kitchen. It lets me serve my feelings and my opinions, based on what is plated and how it’s cooked. I had always been artistic, taking ceramics classes in high school and drawing classes at a local art center. Then food took over my creative passions as I learned the joys and surprises of eating. It was, in my mind, the best modern art. But something was off. I had to reconcile service and art. * * * At my grandmother’s house in San Francisco, a few years ago, dinner was ready. Her meatloaf was my favorite. A


staple for her, I think it was a consequence of her World-War-II-era past, unconsciously celebratory of everything she couldn’t have in food-rationed England: enormous portions of meat and frightening amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. But as my brother, parents, grandfather, and I sat down to eat, she would still be fiddling with something. When she finally did sit down, it was often on a wooden stool. Most likely, instead of meatloaf, she’d eat a medley of leftovers, microwaved haphazardly together. After dinner, if any of us tried to wash up, she shooed us away, calling herself the dishwasher. She just couldn’t stand having any of us be in service to her. That was several years ago, and now, when we visit, I cook because I love to and she does not. But I see parallels with the kitchen. She is often in service to us, I realize. Just as I eat staff meal and clean up pots of bloody water, so does she eat leftovers and wash every plate despite being the oldest in the house. Learning to serve her helped me understand the true value of service. Cooking stories: I’m stirring a pot of risotto, ladling in mushroom stock half a cup at a time. “Simplify!” she shouts. I’m de-podding, blanching, and peeling fresh fava beans. “Simplify!” I’m slow roasting a chunk of pork on the grill for several hours. “Simplify!” “Simplify” is her all-time favorite mantra. After growing up in poor, industrial Leeds, England, where she was never treated to service, she married an aspiring lawyer, moved to America, and has lived well since. But as an octogenarian, her origins of poor privilege show themselves. Thus, she begs us to simplify, hoping we don’t have to toil as she did. To simplify, in my mind, is the antithesis of service. A few months after I started at Abe Fisher, I was at my grandparents’ house, and while everyone sleeps, I’m up early in the quest for croissants for breakfast. Flour cakes under my fingernails, and I can now prove that rolling solid butter can make you break a sweat. Finally, I cut and shape my viennoiserie, the French word for yeasted, laminated pastry. Did my grandmother protest my making them, asking to simplify instead? Probably. Did she eat one? More like four or five. Service was also making fusilli al ferretto at home. Each twirl involved rolling out a thin strip of dough, wrapping it around a skewer, and painstakingly rolling it into a spiral. I probably made five hundred. If my grandmother were making pasta for dinner and started just after lunch, we’d be eating before even beginning to digest our sandwiches. When I made fusilli, we ate well after sunset, half a dozen hours of rolling pasta later. I don’t even like pasta very much. Yet I stood at that counter for the better part of half a day with the dough in my hands. My grandmother must have approached me at least five times to remind me of the box of spaghetti in the cupboard. “Simplify!” But did I care? I was serving her, and the rest of my family. And I was okay with that, because it didn’t really matter. What I really was doing was cooking. Serving is just the end result to the means that I love so much. Cooking for her wasn’t necessarily about the end result, or the time it took, but the process. What she has trouble understanding is that it’s not a service if it’s something you love. Or maybe it is. It’s a service to yourself. Someday, I may simplify for my family. But I realize that until desire turns into a need, service isn’t difficult to stomach. Tonight, when I make my dinner for one, or tomorrow, prepping at the restaurant for a hundred people, I won’t be simplifying. I’ll be serving. I’ll be cooking. penn appétit





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hen I awoke on the fourth Thursday of November, everything was different. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade—with its elaborate floats gliding across the TV screen—was replaced by a decorative art exhibit at the Louvre for my 19th century art history class. Pumpkin and apple pies, perfectly browned on top, were traded in for a jambonfromage-beurre baguette before French Grammar and Composition. Walking the streets of Paris, it was just a normal day of study abroad instead of the American holiday of family and turkey comas. This would be my first Thanksgiving not spent with family, and while I wouldn’t trade away the cultural opportunities that came with studying in Europe, missing a major holiday introduced its own feelings of homesickness, maybe even FOMO. I had all the fresh croissants I could wish for and a train to Amsterdam booked for the next day, yet I still had a craving for the warm feeling of family and my home in Seattle. Recognizing that American study abroad students were not accustomed to missing out on Thanksgiving, the program had planned a potluck for that night where we could all come together and celebrate, as we were a group of only 25. Of course, “potluck” meant that I would have to find something to cook in the communal kitchen of my French residence hall. The building had one large kitchen for all residents, which evoked feelings of MasterChef with its many burners and open floor plan that allowed all chefs to observe each others’ culinary prowess, or lack thereof. Reflecting on my own Thanksgivings, I settled on a honey-glazed carrot dish that my grandma prepared for me as a kid to make vegetables more desirable. Easy to make, it carried fond memories of my childhood. I chopped the carrots into thin slices, boiled them until they were warm and soft, and folded them into a mouthwatering blend of butter and honey—healthy, I know, but Thanksgiving is not a time for skimping on sweets. I drizzled a squiggle of extra honey on top of the final product for good measure. When I arrived at the potluck, one of the program advisors saw my dish and said that she had never seen honey-glazed vegetables PHOTO BY SELNIA ZOU before. The advisors had prepared a turkey and

“ I think we could take a lesson from the French, learning to relax, appreciate food, and use meals as a time to take a step away from all other responsibilities of the day. ”


mashed potatoes to make us feel more at home—alongside a fromage and charcuterie plate with wine pairings and a French onion soup, of course. Instead of my usual pumpkin pie, I treated myself to pumpkin macarons for dessert. It was a delicious blend of cultures. Most of the Thanksgiving classics were accounted for, and they were complemented in just the right way by the French delicacies. We spoke French with the adults in charge of the program, and a mix of French and English (“franglish,” or the more proper “franglais”) amongst ourselves, wanting to immerse ourselves in Parisian life and create meaningful connections. Even though we were celebrating an American holiday, we were giving it a French twist and starting to get a sense of how Parisians approach meals. Our food events in the U.S. tend to be sources of stress at times. In France, every meal is an event and everyone is taught to take their time with food. We may do this on Thanksgiving in the U.S., but on all other days I think we could take a lesson from the French, learning to relax, appreciate food, and use meals as a time to take a step away from all other responsibilities of the day. Surrounded by the eclectic group of French and Americans, any sense of homesickness melted away. I realized that this was an opportunity for me to do something new—possibly uncomfortable—and I was excited to take part. It was not the same as being at home, but I was forming new ties, learning about a rich culture, and eating fresh pumpkin macarons— redefining “family style.”

Caramelize the sugar by cooking the sugar over medium heat until it turns into an amber color. Be careful not to burn the sugar and stir often.

RECIPE BY ALAINA CHOU AND MAGGIE TANG 5 Pink Lady or other crisp apples ⅔ cup sugar 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 2 teaspoons of rose water 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract ⅛ teaspoon salt 1 sheet frozen puff pastry Preheat the oven to 425° F. Peel and cut apples into three lobes; set aside.

Stir in butter, vinegar, salt, vanilla, and rose water. Place apples cut side down in skillet and cook until the apples start to shrink (around 6 minutes). Turn apples over and make sure they are packed tightly as they will shrink in the oven. Smooth out creases in the puff pastry and cut into a round that will fit snugly and flush inside the skillet. Drape the puff pastry over apples and transfer the skillet to oven. Bake the pastry at 425° F for 20 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to 350° F and bake for another 25 minutes. Let the dish cool for five minutes before turning it over onto a platter.

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came abroad to Lyon to thirdwheel the love story of France and food. In France, food is a life force. Mealtimes begin as if an alarm clock has sounded or a referee has blown the whistle to signal the beginning of the World Cup Final. At breakfast, lunch, and dinner, millions of French people gather around their dining room tables at the same time to share a meal. This is true family-style. In the United States, sharing a family meal with your entire family is not the default. But in France, dining is a sacred part of the day. Meals do not only offer sustenance for the body, but also a connection between the people at the dining table and the past generations who have left behind their recipes. Take a typical Saturday: While I’m still asleep, my host parents are already walking through the stalls at Marché Saint Antoine along the quai of the Saône river. They visit the boucher who provides cuts of beef for our lunch of pot au feu, the marchand de légumes who offers his finest leeks, carrots, and parsnips, and the fromager who presents the finest cheeses from nearby Beaujolais and Montbrison to top off our meal. On the way home, my host parents stop at Boulangerie Saint Vincent where they hold an open tab for buying bread. These vendors share an infectious enthusiasm for their products, for their region, and


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for France. This is a family of Lyon producers and consumers. At nine o’clock upon their return, we each find our way to our seats at the dining room table. Breakfast introduces the delight of crusty baguettes spread with butter and peach jam. Immediately after breakfast, it’s time to compose the pot au feu, a dish that demonstrates the quintessence of French family cuisine and graces the tables of all social classes. It showcases inexpensive cuts of beef that require cooking for long periods of time and root vegetables like parsnips and potatoes that soak up the flavors of the beef like little sponges. After a few hours of cooking, we gather again at the dining room table promptly at 12:30. We place the pot au feu at the center of the table and each serve ourselves. We eat each bite of meat and vegetables with a generous helping of strong Dijon mustard, from a producer less than two hours north of Lyon, and coarse salt, from Île de Ré. Next up is the cheese course. I am slowly mastering the art of eating cheese, tearing small pieces of the baguette to spread with cheese and eating each with one bite. Taking bites of the baguette as if you are consuming

Julia Child once said,

"people who love to eat are always the best people." a piece of toast or bruschetta is not an option. There is almost the same level of attention to detail with eating cheese here as there was in launching the first man to the moon. Even as we approach the limits of our hunger, we keep eating, talking, and enjoying the mealtime ritual that is a weekend lunch. A lunchtime conversation spans the topics of our families, politics in the U.S. and France, or where to travel in Europe. My host mom tells stories of their three daughters, who now live away

from home in Paris and Montréal, and describes their summer home in La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast; my host dad speaks to his love of rugby and talks about upcoming business trips to Lisbon. Somehow, we always find our way back to planning my parents’ upcoming visit to France in April where the five of us—myself and my two sets of “parents”—will sit around this same dining room table. Julia Child once said, “people who love to eat are always the best people.” In Lyon, I am meeting and eating with these people. In fact, I’ve learned that the French live out this motto as much as they do their national motto, “liberté, egalité, fraternité.” Several people in Lyon have told me that here, there are two subjects of discussion: food and politics. I don’t doubt that a butter shortage would cause more panic than a political crisis. That’s how I knew I chose the right place to come abroad. I may miss Penn Appétit, but I am settling into a lifestyle of my daily baguette, my daily pastry, and my daily stick of butter (just kidding!). I’ve found a place where mealtime is the centerpiece of life and rich beef stews are the centerpiece of the dinner table. I think I’d like to stay forever.

PHOTO BY SELNIA ZOU penn appétit



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akji-Bokkeum is a full sensory experience. My family and I had never heard of the dish before setting foot into Sun Nong Dan, a popular Korean BBQ spot in Los Angeles’ Koreatown. It was our winter vacation and anyone familiar with my family knows that we travel far for good food. We had tried other typical dishes like bulgogi and bibimbap at Honey Pig, our favorite Korean place back home in Maryland, but Nakji-Bokkeum was something totally foreign to us. All we had to say was “We’re Mexican. We like spicy,” and our waitress knew exactly what to bring us. After waiting eagerly amongst the sounds of boisterous grills, I finally spot our waitress out of the corner of my eye carrying an ordinary metal mixing bowl. Inside lie steaming stirfried baby octopuses splashing red chili sauce onto anyone who dares come near. I can smell it coming from ten feet away; the garlic and onion is so strong that it pinches our olfactory nerves as it gets tossed onto our table grill. A big plate of udon-like noodles is added to the mix, and it starts to simmer loudly, then settle. We’re mesmerized. The bravest soul, my 8-year-old brother, sticks a chopstick in and brings it to the tip of his tongue to detect the temperature. He nods briefly, giving us the green light. We reach out and simultaneously stab our ten chopsticks

into the dish with no hesitancy. The first taste is ordinary: sweetness from the onion, savory umami, mildly spiced red pepper. Then the good stuff happens: the noodles absorb the flavor and act as a buffer to the intensity of the sauce. The octopus is perfectly cooked; not waxy, and just tender enough to give it a smooth consistency. A few more bites and the spice starts to kick in stronger than I thought it would. The noodles are so thick that we slurp them up one by one as sauce builds up on our lips and starts to burn. We all squint and our eyes turn red. Soon enough, everyone is crying. “Me enchile!” shouts my mom in Spanish. To “enchilar” oneself means you’ve eaten something so spicy that it makes you tear up, but not necessarily in a bad way. In Mexico, many people subconsciously strive to have these tears of joy during their meal. At home we usually fulfill this urge by adding chipotle, habañero sauce, or sriracha to our rice. Some can’t resist the feeling even in between meals. On any given afternoon you can find one of my cousins tearing into a bag of takis fuego, a popular Mexican snack made of rolled tortilla chips with addictingly spicy chili powder. Nakji-Bokkeum is on a whole different level, however. The intensity only increases with each bite yet so does our pace. Mucus builds up, forcing us to pause every

few bites to blow our noses. I move as quickly as possible in order to maximize my share of the meal. With my two younger brothers and parents at the table, it’s sure to go quickly. The spice is so powerful that it feels like a mental battle. How much can I really eat? Should I drink more water or will it only make me feel more pain? There are no words being uttered throughout this entire experience, only exaggerated facial expressions and head movements. Our mouths are too occupied with chewing and heavy breathing. When I look at my brothers they widen their eyes and smile with their reddened tongues out. Soon enough the octopus is gone, but the experience is not over. I take the big metal serving spoon and scrape off the remnants of this crusted octopus delicacy. It’s the best part. Looking at each other collectively for the first time since the dish arrived at the table, we take deep breaths and nod our heads as we look around at the empty plates, polished spoons, and layers of napkins beneath us. Finally, we order some milk and chug it down as we take in the magnificence of our culinary experience. Our waitress seems impressed that we finished it so quickly. “Good, no?” she asks. Our facial expressions say it all. The dish that was once so foreign to us now feels like a part of the family.

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ale yellow Spanish rolls, warm and dripping in butter, from Nanding’s Bakery. Misshapen scones speckled with spots of blueberry and cream cheese chunks from Diamond Head Grill. Glistening dim sum dumplings and steamed buns from various establishments in Chinatown. Blue and red tupperware filled to the brim with cubed pineapple and watermelon. Plates upon plates of food, each set out for display in a different serving device, covering the entirety of the marble kitchen countertop. A fine spread—a collection of some of the best delicacies from all over the island. In Hawaii, every get together is a potluck. Growing up, potlucks were a huge part of my childhood. Whether taking place for the purpose of celebrating the end of another soccer season or simply bringing friends from all over together to laugh and bask in the 80-degree weather, potlucks never failed to supply everyone present with a full smile and a full stomach. Especially during winters on the East Coast, when the air turns cold and I find myself walking home slipping and sliding on snow-coated sidewalks, my mind wanders to happier, warmer times such as these, when I had the ability to move without being restricted by a cumbersome, down winter coat. Despite the fact that some of my most cherished memories from home revolve around food-centered gatherings, until recently I had never given much thought to why or how


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these bring-a-dish-to-share traditions came to be. What, exactly, is the origin of the potluck? Throughout history, the term “potluck” has come to adopt a variety of meanings. Rewind to 16th century England—in the work of playwright Thomas Nashe, the word pot-luck was used to mean “food provided for an unexpected or uninvited guest, the luck of the pot,” referring to the impromptu meal provided by a pot of leftover food kept on simmer. Another interpretation of a potluck is a one-pot communal meal, where each guest brings something to add to the mixture. However, the more modern execution excompasses the definition we might all be more familiar with—a meal where everyone brings a prepared dish to share. The true origins of the potluck are up for debate. Many believe that potlucks are derived from the tradition of “potlatch” ceremonies conducted by the indigenous peoples of the Northwest Pacific coast. During these gatherings, the distribution of property and gifts was used to reaffirm social status. Important events such as marriages, births, and deaths also occasioned a potlatch—great feasts and generous hospitality were characteristic of each event. Though potlatches are one possible origin of the potluck, another historic source is thought to be tied to Europe

in the Middle Ages. Potlucks have been traditionally associated with feeding unexpected guests, and are also associated with the practice of never throwing a n y thing away. Leftovers would be left in the pot to keep warm, and used to feed people on short notice. This practice was especially prevalent in taverns and inns in England during medieval times. The origin of potlucks may be uncertain, but their ability to supply an array of heavenly, unique dishes, as well as an abundance of good memories, is undisputed. Regardless of time period, place, or occassion, a potluck is the best way to bring together family, friends, or strangers around a surplus of good food—though leftovers may not always be guaranteed.

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We wanted the ambiance. We wanted high ceilings, arches, and columns; we wanted great panes of glass, spiral staircases, and the restaurant’s valet necklace of pearl white Range Rovers. And we needed a booth. Everyone loves a booth. She and I sat in a corner. I faced the wall, which I hate doing, but I’m easily distracted, and she preferred to face outward. This was our first attempt to get to know each other, our first attempt to learn to love each other, to close the loop between Maddy, me, and her. So here I am, staring into the face of a near-stranger and it feels like something is pushing through my sternum from the inside. She texted first. Lunch plans were her idea. Maybe there’s something on the other side of her chest too. Small talk ensues. We want to break through the wall of front self, to exit the stage and meet behind the curtains, but the words escape us. That’s fine, these things take time. Before the French Restaurant, I’d only seen her at the dinners Maddy and I put together at home. I love our home: it feeds twelve comfortably. It has an archway and a wall of windows; the bedroom, living room, and dining room are essentially one; it has a kitchen


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without a dishwasher and warped floors and slanted doors that don’t close. The creakiness is neutralized by rent that’s one-third of the price of what I paid for my share of a fourbedroom in Philadelphia last fall. We tell ourselves that we host these dinners because splitting food costs as a group makes cooking lavish meals for ourselves more affordable, but it’s really just because Birmingham pretty much still observes the Sabbath. Every restaurant worth going to is closed on Sunday—and Monday. We wake up Sunday mornings, sometimes to swallow Excedrin, or to pee, or snuggle, or to fill the orange, stickercovered Hydroflask with ice water and crawl back into bed. At some interval we get off our asses and head to the farmers market. When we get home we make a prep list and get to work. She tries to keep the recipes simple and I always ask if I can add three extra steps that only make the sauces 15% better 50% of the time, or otherwise ruin them entirely. We’ve made gnocchi with brown butter vinaigrette, and grilled cheese with parmesan crisps from the French Laundry cookbook, and used the pea soup recipe to guide us through a butternut squash alternative. I deviated that time. I put all the squash in a pot with my sous vide machine and made it overflow; the water pooled against the floorboards in the spot where the floor leans and is creakiest in the morning when I’m trying to sneak to the kitchen for late night Captain Crunch; I try to be quiet but it just creaks so goddamn loud from a hundred years of spilled mop buckets and soil that shifts faster than Sunday business practices. I love our dinners: they’re meant to be family time. But

there are too many bodies. There’s no space for intimacy when your living room is crowded with farmers, servers, food writers, cooks, and Amazon glassware filled with pinot noir. We snack and get high; we smoke the roach end of joints in a contraption made from toilet paper cardboard, yet the whole exchange feels disingenuous. After a peak of laughter and simultaneous exhale, the room dies. Resignation follows inhale and the room starts to vacate. Everyone leaves but Emma. She stays a bit longer. She lays on the other side of Maddy while we finish our wine. In our bedroom, with the wall of windows to our left, the three of us watch Gilmore Girls—cast bright and wide, via gifted projector, against the wall. Then she leaves. Maddy will see her throughout the week, but my 11-to-11 shifts preclude that possibility. I need this time with Emma. I want family dinner to feel like family dinner and that requires intimacy. So, we steal away to this structure, the French Restaurant. We come to find shelter under its arches and share communion between its columns. We need to spend time commiserating over not knowing what the fuck coq au vin is and googling it to avoid exposing ourselves as uncultured swine to the server; I need to talk shit to her for ordering an artichoke she doesn’t know how to eat, and we need to poke fun at the fact that I don’t understand the food I cook every day—the food I’ll be cooking when she gets the car from valet and I walk around to the building’s back entrance. I need to squeeze in this time, because it won’t make itself.

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B one Marrow & Buttermilk Burgers RECIPE BY DEVON INMAN

For the red wine bone marrow: 6 beef marrow bones 3 cups red wine For the aioli: 2 egg yolks 3 cups neutral oil (sunflower, canola, vegetable...etc.) 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 2 oz (or more) rendered red wine marrow (above) 2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar Kosher salt and black pepper to taste For the burgers: 3 lbs ground chuck 4 oz (or more) red wine marrow (above) 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon ground black pepper Lettuce topping: Iceberg or romaine lettuce 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or cider vinegar 2 tablespoons lemon juice ½ shallot, finely minced ½ cup buttermilk 1 cup base aioli 2 tablespoons sour cream 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 8 buns 2 tablespoons butter Bacon and/or caramelized onions (optional) To start, call any butcher or grocery store and ask for some marrow bones. They’ll probably ask you how you want them cut. Say you want them cut across and not lengthwise; sound cool—like you know what you’re talking about. This is good life practice. 54

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Family meals are not an exact science. This one is rather “bougie,” but feel free to get laissez-faire with ratios. Be casual, drink some wine while you cook, taste and adjust: liberate yourself from guidelines. Also, I swear I’m going to copyright this recipe. Don’t you dare open a restaurant and take credit because this may be the only stroke of genius I’ve ever had or will ever have. Oh also, all of this can be made a day or two ahead so you can like be relaxed the day of your big group dinner. Or make it a day-long project and be a bottle of wine down before guests arrive—just live your best life.

Roast the bones on a sheet pan at 400°F for about 20 minutes, until almost all the fat renders out. Remove from the oven, set the bones aside, and quickly add all the wine to the pan to deglaze. Scrape any browned bits off the bottom and then scrape it all into a saucepan. Reduce over low until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. The fancy term for this is reduce until it reaches a nappe. Remove the marrow from the bones and mix with the reduced wine until uniform in texture. Cover and refrigerate overnight. To make aioli, put the yolks and Dijon in a mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture tightens up and becomes homogeneous. Start adding the oil a teaspoon at a time while continuously whisking by hand, or a tablespoon at a time with a stand mixer running on a high-ish setting. Be sure the oil is fully incorporated before adding more. As the process goes on, increase the amount of oil added each time. Once it looks like a nice, stable mayonnaise (around the 1 cup mark), stop and add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Maybe a teaspoon of each. Get back to whisking and incorporate the rest of the oil. Once all the oil is incorporated, set half aside (base aioli) and slowly add the rest of the ingredients. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Add as much as you want of any ingredient, just try to make the red wine marrow the star of the show. Then call the same butcher back and tell them you’re gonna come

pick up whatever ground beef they recommended. Y’all are on a first name basis by now so it’ll be super cool and casual. Hand mash the beef, red wine marrow, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. If you want, cut off a little tester to cook up real quick and see how your marrow to meat balance tastes. Adjust based on your preference by adding more of anything. Form eight 6 oz patties. For the lettuce topping, mix vinegar, shallot, lemon juice, and pepper together and let sit for 30 minutes. Slowly incorporate—while whisking hard—the buttermilk, base aioli, sour cream, and the olive oil. Add in some water, a tablespoon at a time, to reach your desired consistency. Add salt to taste. Add the greens and toss to coat. Toast your buns of choice with the butter on a cast iron and then set them out on the table along with the red wine marrow aioli, the lettuce mix, and the bacon and/or onions. Heat a dry cast iron pan on mediumhigh for 5 minutes before adding the patties. You need to get a good sear on the outside and the preheating will make it happen. Add the patties 3-4 at a time, cooking for 3 minutes before flipping. Let sit just a few more minutes and then remove from heat. Let rest for 3-5 minutes before serving. When all the burgers are cooked, pile them on a plate and add to spread. Put down some wine and open some beers. Build your own burger and have a great time with your loved ones.

Meat: It’s a Family Affair WRITTEN BY KELSEY WARREN ILLUSTRATIONS BY VALENCIA FU When the “Big Green Egg” showed up at my house, you would’ve thought it was Christmas morning. My dad was insistent that it be moved to the backyard and set up immediately, and we—my three younger brothers and I—were to help him with this task. He had convinced my mother—an avid oven-loving indoor cook—that this egg-shaped, green barbeque was the answer to all our grilling needs. With three boys ages six to 14 (not to forget me at 15), he made it seem like the only way to keep growing kids satiated was to invest in this peculiar gadget. As we helped my dad unwrap his new toy, he explained to us how this was going to revolutionize his chicken kabobs, make his seasoned vegetables more flavorful, and bring out the marinades in our favorite tritip. My brothers were captivated. To them, the Big Green Egg was a way that they could connect with my dad as they assisted him in choosing what to grill, preparing the meat, checking its temperature, and sharing his excitement over planning the next meal before they were even done with the current one. All of this is to say that barbequing is the “family style” of the Warren household. My dad’s prized Big Green Egg has turned our family’s favorite meals into events. Barbequing brings us together like nothing else—even if my involvement is just taste testing peppers. I’ll always have the image seared in my head of my dad cooking outside behind a green spherical grill,

calling in from the backyard: “It’s ready, bring your plates out!” ... During the summer of 2017, I spent a month in Argentina with a host family on an exchange program. I’d been living with my host family in Buenos Aires for three weeks, but this was the first time we’d all sat down for a meal together. As I took in what was going on around me, the sizzle on the grill hissed in my left ear, as the clinking of wine glasses filled my right. It was the five of us: Maria, Frederico, Emilia, Valentina, and I. Maria and Frederico were divorced. Maria lived in the city and Fred (as his daughters called him) lived in the suburbs. It was a brisk winter day, but we sat outside on Fred’s porch, warmed by the fire from the grill—and the wine. This barbeque— an “asado” as they called it—was my official welcome to their family. The wine had time to warm my belly by the time the meat was ready. The meat came out one by one. First beef, then pork, then chicken, then chorizo, and finally, morcilla. I’d never tasted meat like this: perfectly charred, juicy, and salty. I’d always viewed meat as a filler food—something I ate because it was protein, rather than something I particularly looked forward to. But, this, this was different. With each new dish, a new flavor emerged: the juicy and almost fruity marinade on the chicken; the tender chorizo with peppers; and, the morcilla, heavily salted and served with onions. Each meat arrived with a story—Fred explained their

proper preparation, diverse origins, and unique flavors. Looking at Fred pulling meat from the grill, I was reminded of my dad who took charge of our barbeques, instructing us all on what we were eating, and making sure we were satisfied. Trying everything from yerba mate to dulce de leche to milanesa, food had been a constant source of exploration and discovery during my time in Argentina. However, I always felt like an outsider, needing to ask waiters in my barely fluent Spanish about the special because I never knew what to order. As took in what was going on around me, I saw this asado as my initiation into their world. We sat around the patio table, laughing over the sound of second and third servings of meat being cooked on the grill—all of us captivated by the abundance of meat surrounding us. While a stone oven built into the wall of a home in the suburbs of Buenos Aires couldn’t be more different than the Big Green Egg, there was something strikingly similar about the two environments. At home, I didn’t share my dad and brothers’ obsession with meat or sports, but we bonded around our meals cooked on the barbeque. In Argentina, I too was an outsider in many respects. But, coincidentally, this barbeque brought Maria, Frederico, Emilia, Valentina, and I together in a way that I hadn’t seen during my time with the separated family. In fact, sitting around the table stuffing ourselves with meat, it felt like we were all family. penn appétit


A Beginner’s Guide to


Nowadays it seems that everyone is on some insane diet. Whether it is a paleo diet, veganism, Whole 30, gluten free, dairy free, or food free, it seems like everyone has their own unique set of food restrictions. Although many of these food trends are recent, my family has always been filled with diet fanatics. In my extended family, there is a confusing mix of picky eaters, vegetarians, vegans, fad diet lovers, and people with actual allergies. The perfect example of my family’s complex relationship with food is our Thanksgiving dinner table, which consists of three different versions of each dish to accommodate each family member’s restrictions. I’ve seen what the stress of cooking for people with food aversions does to the host (my dad) when the guests are rude to him about all their precious needs. So here are some tips on how to not be a jerk

Do you have a legitimate food related affliction or do you just get some unpleasant feelings? If you have been to a doctor who has diagnosed you with a legitimate intolerance or allergy, of course you should be accomodated. I myself am lactose intolerant and understand how it feels to be presented with a dish that is covered in cheese and dairy (I still eat that tho #dairygang). However, if you just have some mild stomach aches or some less than ideal bowel movements after the meal, maybe consider if your stomach ache merits the host making an entire separate dish without (insert: gluten, dairy, meat, sugar, etc.) in it. You could just discretely conceal your farts.


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If you’re on a diet, don’t make people feel bad about not being on the same diet as you.

I get it. Dairy drains your energy. Everything needs to be organic or you’re basically eating garbage. Meat is murder. Veganism or paleoism are the only options for survival. I’ve heard about all the great ways for me to totally reinvent my diet so that I will be happier, healthier, and hungrier. Although I tip my hat to anyone who can make a lifestyle change to better themselves, I do not want to be accosted

If possible and appropriate, you can accommodate yourself. So you’ve decided that you cannot eat a certain food (whether a legitimate allergy or just a fad diet) and now you have to attend a food related gathering. Think about how hard it would be for the host to accomodate you. Would it be avoiding a whole food group or just making a slight change to a recipe? If you have thought this through and realized it would be difficult for the host to accomodate you, bring your own dish. Everyone loves a potluck! You should run this idea by the host first to see if they feel more comfortable accommodating you themselves. If they would rather you bring your own dish, all those brags that it “tastes just the same as the real thing, but will make you feel so much better” will finally

Keep your negative opinions to yourself unless explicitly asked! Someone has invited you to their home, cooked for you, and accomodated your tastes. Maybe, just maybe, now is not the time for criticism. They may not have cooked your tofu for long enough. They may have used processed ingredients that your hunter gatherer taste buds are just not used to. Or maybe, to quote my grandmother at almost every dinner table, it’s good, but you’re “just not savoring it.” If someone has cooked for you, they are providing you with the fruits of their labor. Someone who has cooked a meal for you should hear nothing but gracious remarks. End of story.

for adding milk to my coffee (or for drinking coffee at all). I truly am so excited for you that Whole 30 has made you feel like a kid again, but I AM a kid. If you’re about to approach a college student on a break from school or a someone who finally gets to take time off work to see their family to criticize their life decisions on such a personal level as food, stop and ask yourself: who is this really helping?

Eggplasagna Bites RECIPE BY BROOKE CHANG AND OLIVIA LEE Whether you’re vegan, gluten free, or just want to be healthy, this modern twist on lasagna is perfect for any busy college student. Swapping noodles for eggplant and almond “cheese” for dairy, these Eggplasagna Bites definitely satisfy dinner cravings. They are healthy, easy to make, and ready to go!

Makes about 18 bites 3 cups blanched almonds 3 medium eggplants 1 cup button mushrooms Canola oil, for frying and sauteing Juice of 1 lemon 1 ½ cup water 24 oz. jar marinara sauce 1 tablespoon olive oil ½ cup fresh basil 2 teaspoons oregano 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast 1 tsp salt Pepper to taste Preheat oven to 375 ° F. Slice eggplants lengthwise (about ½ cm thick). Over medium heat, pan fry the eggplants until brown. It will shrink down and start to look caramelized (and smell amazing!). Over medium heat, pan fry

the mushrooms. They will also shrink down. Time for the “cheese”! In a blender or food processor, blend the blanched almonds until they form a mealy texture. Add in water, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, nutritional yeast, basil, salt, and pepper. Blend again until it forms a paste. It should start to look like ricotta. In muffin tins, alternate layering eggplants, marinara sauce, “cheese” mixture, and mushrooms. Fill the muffin tins about two-thirds of the way full, finishing with eggplant on top. Bake the lasagna cups for 20 minutes in the oven. Let the lasagna cups cool slightly, then enjoy warm! penn appétit



modern family


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he family unit is dynamic; over time, fluctuations are inevitable. Members achieve their highest dreams, but also experience setbacks. People leave, explore, and return to home base. Times change for the better, for the worse, and then for the better again. In the midst of all this chaos and excitement, family dinners are a built-in time to reflect upon the good and the bad and enjoy a few moments with the people who love you the most. Modern families are busy. With every person striving for individual successes, overscheduled and running on caffeine, it is difficult to find the time to settle down for a meal every day. When I used to talk to my friends in high school about family dinners, most would gawk at the concept, shocked that it was possible for my family to settle down for a meal every day. It wasn’t that we had more time on our hands (trust me, with my brother, sister, and I each doing 50 different after-school activities and my parents both working full-time, we barely had a second to breathe). We didn’t have more time—we made more time—for each other. I used to love coming home

WRITTEN BY SARAH FINKELSTEIN PHOTO BY MINNA ZHENG AND MIN PARK after a long day and helping mom (or dad) cook dinner. One of my favorite meals to make with Mom is chicken parmesan. To me, breading chicken and smelling it bubble up on a scalding pan is an almost cathartic experience. And with my mom and I working in tandem, there was an undeniable bond that comforted me no matter what twists and turns the day had brought. As we poured sweet homemade tomato sauce liberally over the chicken and topped each with a slab of fresh mozzarella cheese, we talked through our triumphs and tribulations, receiving congratulations, clarity, and consultation. As the rest of the family followed the smell of bread warming in the oven, we shared stories and laughed happily until the last bit of sauce was scraped off of every plate. Now that all three of us kids are in college, family dinners are few and far between. But like I said, the family unit is dynamic, and my parents have found new ways to enjoy all the amazing aspects of shared meals. On Sundays, they have “family dinners” with five of their closest friends who are now also “empty-nesters.” One couple cooks each weekend, and the other couples come over, and everyone enjoys hors d’oeuvres, and hashes out their weeks

over a delicious meal. When I came home for winter break this year and had the chance to attend another one of these family dinners, it was a truly special experience. My parents served chickpea tikka masala and naan bread, with babka for dessert. As the house filled with the strong smell of garlic, ginger, and cumin, the three other families came in with all of their kids, who I hadn’t seen since leaving for school. We all sat in the living room, enjoying cheese, crudités, and each other’s company. We gave updates on our lives, funny moments we had missed out on, and successes passed without congratulation. Then, before eating the main dish, we went around and said one thing that we were grateful for, reminding me how lucky I am not just to have such a supportive and loving family, but to also have this whole other “family network.” I recognized again how much I miss the time spent rushing home to cook with mom or the moments where in between bouts of laughter, we shared the soundest advice and fixed each other’s problems. I realize that from the time I was young, to now, when I am not even living at home, family dinners have shaped me into the person I am today.

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he door chimes ring as I pull open the door, and my senses are immediately overwhelmed. Waves of distinct aromas hit me one after the other—freshly baked naan bread, chili peppers and spices of infinite varieties, the halal butcher in the back. It’s not my first time in a South Asian grocery store like this one, and each visit evokes memories of my childhood. As the son of Bangladeshi immigrants, ethnic stores have played a major part in my understanding of my culture. I was raised in South Florida, completely separated from the society 60

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my parents had left behind when they arrived in the 1980s. For most of my life, the only other Bangladeshis I knew were either family friends or relatives who lived hours away. In this isolation, grocery stores have provided me a sense of cultural understanding, pride, and belonging. I know ethnic grocery stores play vastly different roles for my parents than they do for me. For them, they are friendly outposts scattered in an unfamiliar, and sometimes hostile, wilderness. In the absence of a stronger community, these stores act as points of convergence for migrants like them,

offering a brief moment of belonging until the label of “other” is once again thrust upon them by the outside world. It’s a window into the world of their past: until they moved here, my parents had always been surrounded by the elements of their culture that are recreated in these grocery stores. But for those like me who didn’t grow up in South Asia, grocery stores can be a glimpse into a universe we’ve never known. I’ve only been to Bangladesh a few times as a child, and I don’t feel a steady connection to the land my parents were raised in. As a result, one of the strongest cords to the culture of

my ancestors has always been food. Besides language, cuisine is the one thing immigrant parents can easily pass on to their children, and it also has the advantage of being one of the most distinguishable cultural forces. One of my most distinctive memories is of walking home from middle school, eager to down as many of my grandma’s dal puris (a seasoned flatbread) as I could. Almost every ingredient she used would come from a South Asian grocery store, from the lentils to the special type of flour. The tastes and smells that define so much of my childhood could not exist without those grocery stores with their endless rows of vegetables and spices most Americans have never heard of. For me, the stores themselves were the source to which much of my understanding of Bangladeshi culture owed its existence. The importance of these grocery stores goes far beyond food. As a kid, there was little proof available to me that there were people out there who looked like me, spoke my language, and ate the same dishes I did. When you’re the only one of your ethnicity out of the thousands of students in your school, hearing strangers talk in your language is mindblowing. Simple things like picking up a soft drink bottle and finding Bengali script on the label, or seeing posters of South Asian celebrities tacked to the wall behind the cashier, validated the existence of a larger cultural identity abroad. In these grocery stores I found evidence of something that, like a scientist studying dark matter, I couldn’t directly experience myself but could

observe the effects of. I imagine these are all things my parents were quite familiar with before they left for the U.S., but for me, these grocery stores were some of the

few indicators that my family was not completely alone in our traditions. As a college student, these stores have also become critical to my duty of keeping those traditions alive. Nowhere else will I find ilish mach (a type of fish)

straight from the Indian ocean or the piquant naga morich (a chili pepper native to Bangladesh), and if I am to safeguard the recipes of my family, it will be here that I am able to do so. Nowadays, every time I step foot into one of these grocery stores, I am awestruck by its mere existence. There is just something improbable about their presence that contradicts so much of what I have come to accept through my experience as a first generation American. We live in this beautiful, diverse country, but often our distinctive cultural elements are obscured by a pressure to homogenize. As a society, we have yet to erode the concept of “normal” and the implications of falling outside the narrow set of boundaries we’ve drawn. It’s almost paradoxical that the same groups that perpetually strive to prove their belongingness can simultaneously participate in these gratuitous displays of uniqueness. Nevertheless, these stores have become the lifeblood of the migrant community, unrelenting in their role in keeping culture alive. They are an enclave in which we are spared from the core struggle nearly all immigrants face—the conflict between the desire to assimilate and the pride we share in being different. As I walk the aisles, I must remind myself that there is nothing “normal” about the folk music emanating from the speakers, the Bollywood film repeating on the television snuggled into the ceiling corner, or the woman in the sari scolding her two young children in Bengali. Yet here, we are allowed to embrace it all. penn appétit



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Spring 2019: Family Style  

Spring 2019: Family Style