Stories

What's Cooking in Education

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by Carolyn Foster Segal

ImageA few lines in a recent “Quick Takes” column at Inside Higher Ed were enough to make me put down the faux-croissant I’d just purchased at my school’s café and seek out the full story in The Boston Globe: the most popular class at Harvard right now is “Science of the Physical Universe 27.”

It has another name as well—“Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science”—and it “uses the culinary arts as a way to explore phases of matter, electrostatics, and other scientific concepts” (Devra First, “Harvard Uses Top Chefs to Spice Up Science,” Nov. 2, 2010). One interesting fact about this course is that it isn’t your mother’s or your home ec class: it has a guest list of top chefs. Another interesting fact is that 700 students tried to sign up for the fall semester’s offering.

Seven hundred! That’s the total enrollment at some small formerly-known-as-liberal-arts-colleges. I began to think about the potential here: Why stop at physics? Why not use food to teach film and literature? Perhaps this is just what the flailing liberal arts need.

Survey Says: A True Story from The Mall

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by Matt Armendariz

ImageShe was old but sharp and I knew she identified me yards before I even noticed her standing there. With a sweet smile and grey hair, she was the kind of woman just nutty enough to have 3 or 7 cats but sweet enough to make apologies for her behavior. She held her clipboard like it meant the world to her.

“Excuse me sir, do you speak Spanish?” she asked. “Not very well,” I replied, causing her to slow down on her list of pre-anticipated responses. Her pencil fumbled to find a new section, and once she did she began all over again as if I hit a secret reset button.

“Do you like hot dogs?”

In 30-something years I don’t think I’ve ever missed the opportunity for a smirk or off-colored response to that question; with this woman it didn’t seem appropriate. I said “But of course. Why? Are you inviting me over?”

The Wife I Always Wanted - Part 4: Talk to Me

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by Don Seigel

ImageCall it vanity, arrogance ...when I signed on as a stay a home dad I assumed there’d be mothers stepping over one another to help guide me through the trials and tribulations of my new job. I miscalculated. To the contrary, gaining admission into the sorority of stay at home mom’s has been impossible. I’ve tendered numerous applications on my sojourns into Mom Land and have been rebuffed at nearly every turn. Case in point. I was attempting to make a ratatouille awhile back and was shopping at Whole Foods for one of its ingredients – a Japanese eggplant. Shocked that Japan even had its own eggplant, I searched and searched, but the closest thing I could find was – are you ready for this – a Chinese eggplant; given their geographical proximity, it seemed logical to me that a Chinese eggplant was more like a Japanese eggplant than, say, an American eggplant. But was it suitable for my recipe?

For the answer to this, and perhaps more, I approached what looked to be a mom and politely asked if she’d be kind enough to explain to me, once and for all, the difference between a Japanese and Chinese eggplant. After looking me up and down, she snorted some sound of disapproval and walked away. Just like that. Why, the contemptuous look, I wondered?

The Soup Diet

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by Susan Russo

ImageRecently at my dentist's office I told one of the assistants that she looked great. Her skin glowed, her hair bounced and her body looked lean and firm. "Thanks. I'm killing myself doing that P90X program," she said.

Oh. P90X. In case you haven't heard of it, it's an intensive (some think masochistic) home exercise program that relies on cross-training: a mix of cardio, strength training, yoga, and stretching. As for the diet, it's high protein and low-to-no carbs. Think skinless chicken and egg whites. If you even fantasize about pasta or potatoes, you need to drop and do 50 push-ups.

The assistant added, "You should see my husband though. He has lost 12 pounds in two weeks. He looks amazing!"

"He's doing the P90X too?" I asked.

"No. He's on the soup diet," she said.

17 Things to Do on a Snow Day

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by Carolyn Foster Segal

Image1. Check the college’s weather hotline and confirm that classes have been cancelled.

2. E-mail students with directions for the next class meeting. Reassure them that spring will come (this isn’t the first cancellation of the semester), and wish them a joyous day.

3. Survey the landscape and begin shoveling.

4. Take a break to visit with your neighbor, after wading to the middle of the street. Compliment each other’s regalia: she’s wearing a jaunty beret with a pompom; you’re wearing – for which you fervently thank your son – those ear warmers with the band that fits around the back of your head (no hat hair for you, even the morning after a blizzard). When ice crystals have completely lined the inside of the scarf you’ve pulled up over your face, it’s time to stop talking and go back to shoveling.

 

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