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Week 1: Welcome to "Food for Thought"!

Anne Dalke's picture

Welcome to the course forum area for Food for Thought, an Emily Balch Seminar being offered to first-year students @ Bryn Mawr College in Fall 2009. This is an interestingly different kind of place for writing, and may take some getting used to, but we hope you'll come to value it as much as students in other courses have.

The first thing to keep in mind is that this is not a place for "formal writing" or "finished thoughts." It's a place for thoughts-in-progress, for what you're thinking (whether you know it or not) on your way to what you think next. Imagine that you're not worrying about "writing" but instead that you're just talking to some people you've met. This is a "conversation" place, a place to find out what you're thinking yourself, and what other people are thinking, so you can help them think and they can help you think. The idea is that your "thoughts in progress" can help others with their thinking, and theirs can help you with yours.

So who are you writing for? Primarily for yourself, and for others in both sections of our course. But also for the world. This is a "public" forum, so people anywhere on the web might look in. That's the second thing to keep in mind here. You're writing for yourself, for others in the class, AND for others you might or might not know. So, your thoughts in progress can contribute to the thoughts in progress of LOTS of people. The web is giving increasing reality to the idea that there can actually evolve a world community, and you're part of helping to bring that about.

We're glad to have you along, and hope you come to both enjoy and value our shared exploration of food for thought. To get started, introduce yourself here by telling us a story about one of your favorite foods.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Food story

I had asked a friend what her favorite food was. This lead to a conversation about cuisines. She mentioned nothing beats Moroccan food. I had argued for another ethnic tradition, which I will not mention here. This led me to explore Moroccan dishes. This recipe is an example of the flavor combinations (sweet flavors for meat dishes) that can be found in Moroccan cuisine: Moroccan chicken recipe Debates can be a way to get inspired!
ED's picture

Relevant nytimes article link

 Hey all-- I came across this in the New York Times online and thought it was pretty pertinent to what we've been reading about in Pollan's book...

It's about the use/misuse of that green checkmark that is appearing on cereal boxes, beverages, and other food items in the grocery store. This green checkmark is the logo/label for foods that fall under the "Smart Choices Program"... the choices aren't so smart, though... So it's interesting because this whole Smart Choices program is like large, industrial, processed-food companies' attempt to make their food more attractive by saying it's "healthy"-- or at least "healthier". For example, the woman who is the president of the smart choices board gave the choice between feeding your child doughnuts vs Froot Loops-- of course Froot Loops are healthier, but, in my opinion at least, Froot Loops are by no means deserving of a label flaunting their healthiness... Nonetheless, this labeling method makes food more attractive to consumers. Take a look! -Emily

Jessica's picture

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream on a Waffle Cone!

There are lots of food I like. I love Italian food and like almost anything, except grilled fish. But if I were to choose one thing that stands out in my mind, I would pick mint chocholate chip ice cream! Of course, mint chocolate chip ice cream is many people's favorite and is very common, but there is a special reason for my choice. I lived in California for the past five years and I love the beaches there. I went to beaches very frequently for all the occasions such as birthday, New Year's Day, 4th of July, and just simple hangouts with friends. But there's one thing that I must have when I go to beaches, and that is, as you might already know, mint chocolate chip ice cream on waffle cones! I love walking down the beach barefoot with the ice cream cone in my hand. I could never forget the feeling of eating refreshing mint chocoloate chip ice cream on a waffle cone, feeling the cold ocean water and the cool breeze. I have done it every time I went to beaches, but it never felt redundant. It is always, always so refreshing.

Amy's picture

Almost-cheese cheesecake

Let's try this again... This time not anonymously!

Cheesecake is my favorite food ever. I love it's rich, creamy texture, especially with berries on top to add some sweetness. I've recently transitioned to being vegan, so cheese is a food that I've had to give it. My loss of most desserts is the most difficult part of being vegan, and is where I've failed in my previous attempts (sometimes ice cream is just too tempting). My realization of never being able to eat cheesecake again left me incredibly remorseful... Until I happened across a blog with a recipe for vegan pumpkin-pie cheesecake. I immediately called up my best friend to try out the recipe, so we went to Wegman's and grabbed the ingredients and baked. Since neither of us have much experience, it look a bit less than appetizing, but the final product was delicious. Not quite as good as real cheesecake, but almost.

PS Anne, I can't delete my anonymous post, so you'll have to take care of that. Thanks. :)

pbrodfue's picture

favorite food

Lillie Catlin


My favorite food is corn and cheese chowder, from a Moosewood cookbook. I think the spine of the book is broken where this recipe is. This soup is the perfect combination of corn, potatoes, spices, milk and cheese. It's best when you don't just use monterey jack, but you substitute part of it with spicy jack. It gives it the right amount of spicy, where it keeps your mouth warm but you don't need to interrupt your eating to get a drink of cold milk.

This soup reminds me of the fall and winter, and more specifically christmas eve. Christmas eve is my favorite holiday because of the tradition we have with this soup and having family friends over. At my Quaker meeting we have a christmas eve service, and afterwards, our (F)riends come over for soup and fellowship. My mom spends all day making three soups, in HUGE pots. Two are subject to change every year, but we always have corn and cheese chowder, and its always gone first. All of the adults stand in the cramped kitchen, drinking, talking loudly, and eating soup. All of the kids watch the same christmas special of Jackie Chan adventures that we have for 10 years, and eat soup. I know this isn't a crazy tradition or creative or cool like Bryn Mawr's, but its the strongest one my family has, and I absolutely love it. And I LOVE corn and cheese chowder.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Favorite Food.

Hello everyone, my name is Sharaai. I am from central Mass. If i had to pick a favorite food, i would have to pick corn on the cob. i would pick it because not only is it delicious, but it is very hands on and messy. i like to eat anything that makes a mess, like corn on the cob and ribs. but now that i've read the selections from Omnivore's Dilemma, i dont think i can look at corn the same, ever again.

Serendip Visitor's picture


Hey all,

my name is Laudita, and I'm from Surabaya, Indonesia (Surabaya is located in East Java). Well, yesterday I tried posting a comment but it doesn't appear here, so I'll just post another comment.

As I have told you all the other day, penyetan is my favorite food and so far, it has been this way since I was 6 years old. I can't imagine myself sitting on a dining table without chili paste by my side (i do now!). The taste of chili paste will restrain you from stop eating (seriously). It is so good that it makes you want to eat more and more. You can adjust the spiciness of the chili paste, it all depends on how many chili you used for the penyetan.

Well, penyetan is very easy to make and doesn't cost lots of money. In fact, you can make the chili paste by spending approximately Rp 1000 (10 cents!!) only, and as for the "objects" that you dip into the paste, it ranges from Rp 250-Rp 3000 (convert it to US $ by dividing it by 10000). Basically, you need chili, salt, prawn paste, sugar, tomato, red onion, and garlic to make the chili paste. Just grind them together and your chili paste is ready!

I usually eat it with chicken, eggplant, egg, tofu, tempe (i don't know what it is in English-- some sort of meat substitute made from cooked soybeans), lettuce, catfish, squid, and the list goes on and on. Not forgetting the rice which is mandatory on every meal.

I love this food because it's not hard to make, cheap, and sort of remind me about the hardship and suffering of Indonesian people during the Dutch colonization. They don't have anything decent to eat, so they made this chili paste to eat with rice. If you go to Surabaya, you'll be able to order penyetan in almost all of the restaurant there (except fine dining, because this food is meant for the "lower-class" people).

Someday, I want to make this penyetan in Bryn Mawr and let you all try it. Don't worry, I can make it less spicy =).
Btw, here's the link of a penyetan picture so that you all know how it looks like.


Serendip Visitor's picture


Hey all,

so as I said on the other day, penyetan is definitely my favorite food ever! I can't imagine myself eating meals without the chili paste besides me (well, i do now and it's depressing). It is a very simple dish which does not require lots of time and money to prepare. Basically, we only need the chili, prawn paste, garlic, red onion, salt, and sugar. It is also very easy to make. You just need to mix and grind them together. With that chili paste, you can eat almost everything. Usually, I eat it with tofu, catfish, fried chicken, eggplant, lettuce, egg, squid, and the list goes on and on. Well, not forgetting rice which is mandatory in every meal. I can eat it all day without getting bored! If you are in Surabaya (my hometown), almost all restaurants serve this dish and it is very cheap!! The last time I ate penyetan was at a small warung (it is a small place where they sell food, can't even call it restaurant though and usually located along the roads) and it only cost me Rp. 20,000 (US$2) to eat as much as I could!

I really want to make penyetan while i'm in bryn mawr and let you guys try it =). Don't worry, i won't make it as spicy as the usual ones. Now, i'm badly craving for penyetan!!=(
btw, this is a link of the picture of penyetan so that you all know how it looks like. =D

~enjoy! and see you tomorrow!

c.k.koech's picture

Food ^^ yumm

Hi, My name is Keshia, I live in Boston,MA and I love food! From Sushi to Anchovies and Red Cabbage I love to try all kinds of foods. Its interesting to me because food is such a large part of many peoples cultures...when you get to try a small taste of their  food is like getting a better understanding of a culture.

With that said I must share one of my favorite dishes, which is something that I always crave after I have been away from home for a long time. I love to eat leftover boiled sweet plantains with beef stew and  kale. I like to eat it when  its been cooked  a day before because  I think it tastes better. My mom gave this to me to eat when I got back from studying abroad and I just remember how good it tasted and how happy I was to be eating it and how I wanted it to last longer with my I wanted that comfort feeling to last for a while longer.



nbagaria's picture

Favourite food?!?


  To me freshly baked pizza delivered under thirty minutes is a symbol of the American way of life. It is fast,convenient and absolutely delicious. It was hardly any wonder then that pizza was my favourite food for the longest period of time. I loved the colour(depending on the topping) and smell of the dish. Its brownish base with bright red tomato sauce and golden yellow melting cheese often studden with black olives or green peppers smelt like something my mother would cook at home everyday(if only she could.Sigh).However,"Just when you think you have everything under control.Life happens".Life happened to me and it happened to the food I ate! I came to America to get a college education. I could almost imagine eating every sort of pizza that there is everyday of the week. My dream however of becoming a foodie was short lived. On my first trip to the dining hall I realized that the only "vegetarian pizza" was cheese pizza. To add insult to injury all the vegetarian food tasted bland almost as if it had simply been boiled in water with a little bit of salt. I was horrified! I only ever ate boiled vegetables in India when I was ill. Thus, I do not think that I have a favourite food anymore; at least until I recover from my traumatising first experience(I still wince when I look at the dining food).


["Just when you think you have everything under control.Life happens". I do not remember where I read this or who said it. Googling this produced no results so maybe it is not an exact quote. I do hope that I have not violated any citation rules.]

Oh, I almost forgot. I am Nayan Bagaria from Kolkata,India.

ED's picture

Toast and Tea... or Olive Oil

Hello all!

Wow this blog makes me hungry.

I am not a picky eater, and I love eating. I'm the kind of person to try all the random vegan sides in the dining halls, try the oddly-colored vegetables (like purple or orange cauliflower or black tomatoes), pile on some neon-yellow, exotic-looking Asian noodles, and still reserve a corner of my plate for a tuna sandwich. Yum.

But, like everyone, I do have my basics/staples. More specifically, I believe that everyone has a preferred starch (potatoes, noodles, rice, bread, etc). Toast seems to be the happiest medium (if that makes sense) for me. It is the best vessel for carrying my two most comforting, familiar tastes (though they're different): tea with milk and sugar, and olive oil. I eat these things separately. Buttered toast dipped in sugary, milky tea is probably the most comforting food I can think of. It's like it's partly digested for you, but it's still crispy and sugary and warm when you bite into it. Mmmmm. It reminds me of tea time with my mom on weekends and dessert on Christmas when I was young. Eating toast (or just bread) with olive oil really is all about the olive oil. I inherited a love for its peppery, cool, distinct taste from my father, who was 100% Italian. Oh, my mom is 1/2 English (hence the tea time?). It's not all about the condiments, though: I really love a freshly baked loaf of bread.

Have to say-- as much as I love toast, you all make a convincing case for your favorite foods!

See you tomorrow, -Emily

PS-- sorry you're missing home and the home food, pxie! I heard you can rent out a kitchen at bryn mawr... so if you're ever so inclined to make your home food yourself, you could.... and possibly share it with others (me).... you know where to find me. But seriously, sorry you're missing home.

pxie's picture

Dumplings.. Jiaozi...

 Hey guys...

I feel glad to join you and discuss food all over the seminar with you guys... yummy...As I said in the class, my favorite food are dumplings, no surprise for chinese... Recently, there are many different flavors of dumplings. I mean the filings. We have meat, celery, Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, etc. Dumpling is one of the most traditional food in China. Thus, it carries a lot of meaning. Usually, we eat dumpling during Spring Festival. The whole family gather together to make dumplings, praying good luck for the next year. The funny game is that we put a coin to one of the dumplings, and mix it with the other ones, and the person who get that dumpling will be considered the lucky dog... Though it sounds a little gross to place a coin into the food we eat, it is a lot of fun... I do hope that we will have the opportunity to make dumplings together sometime in the future...

Not until I was here in till I realize how much i like the mom-made dumplings... Missing home and home food...



rshen's picture

Bacon cheeseburgers are fabulous

Hey, I'm Rachel and I love a good bacon cheeseburger. I'm really not picky about toppings or the level of grease involved, it's all just about that first meaty bite where pure bliss overwhelms all other senses.

The first time I realized my fondness was at a great Five Guys (a fantastic burger chain) right by my school. It's pretty crucial for me to set the scene: I had a class that ran past my only time for lunch so I spent the rest of the day listening to my stomach growl its empty walls. Luckily, my afternoon classes ended early that semester, and I was free starting at 2 pm. I drove to school and had my car waiting for me and I drove searching for a quick fix to my hunger. And there it was: a Five Guys burger joint, beckoning me in the distance. It must have been fate, but in my hunger-induced frenzy I ordered the nastiest thing (at the time) on the menu. That first bite of that bacon cheeseburger, with jalapenos, fried onions, mushrooms, BBQ sauce, tomatos, it was love.

So for me, all bacon cheeseburgers are reminiscent of that initial experience of leaving a long day of school and just indulging in something I know will one day clog up all my arteries.


Anne Dalke's picture

Metaphors for Education

I enjoyed our first class together, and am enjoying being "introduced" now to Peter's students on this forum. Though it's decidedly "off-topic," I want to record here what I thought was the most interesting part of our first conversation on Tuesday: naming our metaphors for education. I said that I hoped this class could be a potluck (w/ me as only one of the many preparers of our intellectual food), but it turned out that many of you had very different ideas of what education was (or has been for you):

education teacher yourself other students
mirror mirror observer ??
crushing blunt object malleable object ??
playground architect new child specialists
race timekeeper athlete competitors
workout gym manager exerciser vending machines
gift Santa child other children
constant race car gas stations

So much to say about what these (almost unconscious) images tell us about our assumptions of what education is and how it operates: are the other students our competitors, or the suppliers of what we need to flourish, or co-workers? Do we see our teachers as coaches who are trying to help us flourish, or as umpires who will tell us when we are out-of-bounds? Does each of us see ourself as a child, small, not knowing the game, while others have an adoit sense of how to play it? And (most importantly!) can we revise those images for more productive ones....?

I'd be curious to hear what other students' answers might be to this prompt: "Education is...." -- and what the implications of those answers might be, for the work we'll be doing here together.

kgrassle's picture

pop pop popcorn!

In my family, popcorn is not just a traditional snack to go along with Friday night movies.  It accompanies Yatzee games on lazy summer evenings, is choked while gasping at a shocking twist in a NCIS episode, and tucks itself into homework folders and history textbooks.  It is vacuumed up by my Australian Shepherd, Cody, and even munched on by my cats Hobbes and Picklette.  Popcorn has laced itself into so many of my fond memories, it is hard not to love it.  Not just any popcorn will do, however.  The only popcorn that is truly satisfactory is a large bowl of stovetop popcorn.  Rather than just throwing a bag into a microwave, I have to wait patiently next to the stove, listening for the tiny *ping* sound that signals the first kernel flowering open.  After a few more scattered *pings*, a symphony of popping erupts.  Some muscle power then becomes involved, and I stir the kettle until the popcorn quiets down.  Finally, I get to pour the warm popcorn into a smooth silver bowl and lightly salt it.  I then get to share a bowl of popcorn made with love rather than one made by a microwave =)

avietgirl's picture

Pho for everymeal


I come from a Vietnamese family and I really like Pho. When one talks about Vietnamese food, pho is definitely something one would mention. Pho is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup. It usually have two kind, beef and chicken Pho. I prefer the beef one. Pho is not an everyday food for a Vietnamese family because it takes a while to make. However, since I live in an area with several Vietnamese restaurant, I often eat it although I prefer homemade one. Pho is definitely the food I eat when I'm sick and I can also eat it three times a day, seven days a week. My family thinks that sound crazy because they can't eat that but of it. But to me, pho is something that I can eat any day, any time.
kdlz's picture

sushi sushi sushi :)

I love Japanese food. I know it's a type of food, not a particular dish, but there is no way I'd be able to narrow it down -- I just love it all! Udon, Katzu, Tempura, Mochi, Edamame, and SUSHI; it's all just amazing. I love the mix of flavors and textures you can find in a single dish. Many people would assume that since I’m half-Japanese, I eat it all the time at home. However, in reality, my family rarely eats it during the year – my dad hates it (I don’t understand how he can!). Summer is the only time I get to eat all the Japanese food I want.  I think this is where my love of Japanese food began: summers spent in Virginia with my grandma. Many of my memories include her making sticky onigiri, or frying gyoza with friends on the stove .

SO, while I might miss home and home-cooked meals, one thing I'm looking forward to is finding a great Japanese place nearby (: (or learning how to make some of my own sushi!)

hlehman's picture

gotta love the greens

 Ever since I was little, going to Village Pizza on Sunday afternoons and ordering a large Greek salad was what got me through the week.  The crisp pile of leafy greens, stacked high with layers of feta cheese, tomatoes, and olives, and drenched in the most delicious, special Italian dressing would make my mouth water (and even does now just thinking about it)!

Although it seems kind of silly, I think I could live on salads for the rest of my life.  Some of my friends at home think I'm crazy, but there is a true art to building the perfect salad and I've developed my skills over the years by watching my mom. 

If there was an award for best salad maker, my mom would win, hands down. Her secret recipe for dressing, combined with an assortment of different vegetables from our own garden and the occasional extra something special, always makes a delicious meal or side dish.  Whenever we go to a party at a friend's house, my mom is in charge of bringing salad because everyone knows she's the best too.  Thanks to my mom's teaching and influence, I've been able to make some pretty good salads so far at Bryn Mawr, but no matter how hard I try, I don't think I'll ever be able to fully match her talent. 

Rabbitbmc's picture

yummy in london town!

Hello everyone! Yesterday in class I said that my favorite food was definitely salad, hence the "Rabbit" title. It's true, if I could chow down on a salad every meal of every day, I would be one happy camper. I would consider this to be my favorite everyday food. BUT, after some careful thought I remembered a food story that I'd rather share.

Last November I was in London, visiting my older sister who was studying abroad. With my miserable luck, I was of ended up visiting on the coldest and rainiest week  that month. In stead of following our normal pattern of grabbing a measly breakfast to go, we decided to brave the cold and eat in a restaurant for breakfast. We found a little breakfast stop, sat down, and ordered our food. Out came a plate of poached eggs on toast and sizzling baked beans. It doesn't sound like much, but I know for a fact that this breakfast made the rest of my day better! It stopped raining, the clouds parted with sunshine, and I enjoyed a wonderful day touring the beautiful city, feeling great!


Just goes to show the true power of a healthy and delicious breakfast!

Annagibs's picture

Hello and a favorite food

 Hello, my name is Anna. 

As for a favorite food, this is hard for me to choose. I have very specific tastes because I associate foods with experience more than actual liking. I guess one of my all-time favorite foods would be ramen noodles, but not the kind they sell in the super market. On the lower East side in Manhattan there is a small (and by small i mean about 50 feet long and ten feet wide) noodle bar named Rai Rai Ken that has the best ramen. The soup consists of a strong fish broth, scallions, spinach, a slice of beef, a fish cake, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and of course the noodles. In the winter, this soup hits the spot when the air in New York is cold and dry. I have been to this restaurant several times with my boyfriend and my friends, and each time the noodle bar is the first stop on a new East Side adventure. When i go to this noodle bar, I always know that good things are around the corner. 

jrf's picture


I don't come across marzipan often, and even then it's almost always doled out in disappointingly tiny morsels-- hidden inside a fancy piece of chocolate or layered super-thin over the top of a cake. These little, impure tastes keep me going, but I live in wait for pure marzipan, alone, sans chocolate, maybe not even molded and dyed into tiny fruit shapes. It's an addiction I share with my dad, and I figure I can blame him for it, since he had it first. He loves to explain it to people who don't know what it is (and to people who do)-- how you mix a pound of sugar into a pound of almond paste, with just a little water in there to stick things together-- and to reminisce about the day he got to eat all the little marzipan fruits he wanted. I've heard about it so much, and for so long, that I can't remember the first time I ate marzipan. It's always been so firmly established in my head that marzipan was the food of choice under any circumstance that, when I finally actually tasted it, not much changed.

maliha's picture

Favorite Food

If anyone had asked me what my favorite food was a week ago, I would have said anything that doesn't involve rice. In my family rice is the main part of every meal everyday. My brother and I asked for pizza or takeout from anywhere as often as possible, but inevitably what we got was more rice. But after being here for a week, I've realized that although the food in the dining halls is great, the thing I miss most from home is a plate of hot rice and dal. It's something I've eaten on countless days and always taken for granted. I guess it's become my comfort food without me ever realizing it.

Avocado's picture


 My favorite food story happened in Japan.  My very first experience with Thai food, with no consideration for my bland midwestern palate from the chef, was painful.  I had a delicious cucumber salad, with carrots cut into flower petals around the outside and luscious vegetation within!  Alas!  About five bites in my taste buds imploded, and five bites more had me weeping, my nose running, attracting stares... it was all together an epiphany.  I went home, and began working for a Thai restaurant.  I trained to develop my pain tolerance abilities or, possibly, just destroyed so many taste buds the chili could no longer affect me.  Whatever I managed to accomplish, Thai food is now (to me) by far the most awesome food on the planet.  Green curry... green curry.... pad thai... kao pad... curry.

Shayna S's picture


Hello! I am Shayna Schwartz from Professor Brodfuehrer's seminar. My home base is Carlsbad, a county of San Diego in Southern California. As my classmates are already familiar with, I have picked lemons as my favorite food. Living in Southern California has the advantage of allowing a personal lemon tree that produces juicy, sweet, and large lemons two to three times a year. Fresh lemonade is very soothing on a typical San Diego day and a compliment to any meal. Lemons can add more variety to typically bland or singularly flavored fish, vegetables, and drinks that a kosher kitchen tends to produce. As a kid, I always sucked on lemons because I loved the contradiction of sweet tartness (though my dentist hated what they did to my teeth).

Serendip Visitor's picture


When the next Meyer lemons come off the tree
we will send you some,
to have with tea.
Love, mom

ellenv's picture


I have always been one to gravitate towards the chocolate desserts that are offered at parties, dinners, and other such events but something I like even more than just a piece of chocolate is a scoop of chocolate ice-cream. When I was around the age of 6 or 7 I was on vacation with my family when I was able to get a ice-cream cone with some really good chocolate ice-cream. Only seconds after I had gotten my hands on the ice-cream, however, a rather large dog came up and ran into me causing me to drop the ice-cream which the dog then ate right up. It was a very traumatic experience and since then whenever I get my hands on some chocolate ice-cream, I will not give it up easily.

Serendip Visitor's picture

favorite food

As I said in class, I love ice cream. However, I'm going to talk about corn and cheese chowder because its more of a "real" meal and is more significant to me. The receipt is from a Moosewood cookbook.
This soup is so perfect. Its really creamy but not too thick at all. It has potatoes, onions, spices, and of course, corn and cheese. It's best to put in both sharp jack cheese and monteray jack cheese instead of all monteray jack cheese in order to make it have the perfect amount of spicy.
Corn and cheese chowder soup reminds me of christmas eve, which is my favorite holiday, partially because of our tradition with this soup. We have a christmas eve service at my Quaker meeting, and then our family (F)riends all come over and have soups. My mom spends all days making three different types of soup in HUGE pots. The one constant in the choice of soups is corn and cheese chowder, one of my favorite traditions ever! All the adults stand in the crowed kitchen drinking and eating soup, while the kids (under 20 or so) watch the same christmas special episode of Jackie Chan adventures that we have watched for 10 years, and eat soup. I absolutely love that night and love that soup.

thatcaliforniagirl13's picture

Tacos, tacos everyday


I come from a traditional Mexican family. My family isn't too big on making food everyday. At times, my mother will cook one or two days in a row, and after that, it is what I call "leftovers galore" for the remainder of the week. Instead of just reheating the food and eating it the same as the nights before, it all seems to taste much better inside of a warm corn tortilla. A taco can consist of anything and can definitely be eaten at any occasion. There are usually days when we have beef and chicken for dinner throughout the week. However, I always feel that the food becomes tastier inside a corn tortilla. When my parents try to be creative with these leftover dinners, we sometimes have fried tacos, which are an absolute delight to my taste buds. I see tacos as a food that I can experiment with. There is no wrong way to make a taco and there are no limits as to what can be put inside of them.



ygao's picture

I love chow potatoes

I think anyone who loves Chinese food must have had some chow mein at some point. The way "chow mein" is spelled actually came from the Taishan dialect. Even though the name does look different from the way I learned it, I am simply happy that at least it sounds the same as the standard Madarin dialect that I understand. In Taishan dialect, "chow" stands for stir-fryed, and "mein" for noodles. But today I am not going to talk about the noodle part. In fact, I am replacing the word "noodle" with "potatoes." Yes, chow potatoes.

My mom taught me how to make chow potatoes when I was in the third grade. I loved chow potatoes so much that after I learned how to make it, I wrote at least two essays about it for my literature class. Now as I enter college, I cannot help but amazed at the fact that I am writing my first short essay about it again.

I like chow potatoes not only because it tastes good, but also because it takes a lot of learning during the cooking process. Chinese cuisines consider color, smell and taste the three most important elements in cooking. Most importantly, the color. Potatoes have to be cut quickly or else the earlier cut ones would have gone brown by the time one finishes cutting all of them up. Cutting potatoes into same sized strips is no easy task. One has to be careful using a knife, cut the slices into the same thickness, and use the right amount of force so that the knife does not get stuck in the potato nor crush the potato too quickly that the sound it makes scares people. Then you cook them, with pepper and or meat. I prefer overcooked fries-sized potatoes, but some people prefer slim and crisp ones.

Now that I am on a diet, I cannot have any more potatoes, nor can I buy some and cook it in college. But I do miss making the dish, and serving it to my family. Lastly, I welcome anyone who is willing to come over to my house in Beijing sometime and try a mouth full. Trust me, it is worth the trip!



jtm715's picture

Ravioli from the Bronx

 As someone from an Italian family, I eat a lot of pasta. My favorite has to be ravioli with a cheese filling (definitely not meat!). Every Thanksgiving, my family goes to my dad's cousin's house in Scarsdale, New York and we eat cheese ravioli straight from Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. In 2004, the year the Boston Red Sox won the world series, my dad's cousin, an avid Red Sox fan living in New York decided that now that they had won the world series, it was time to wear his Red Sox cap to pick up the ravioli. As is true in most places in New York, everyone in Arthur Avenue is a huge Yankees fan. We always joke that the ravioli just wasn't as good that year...

Calála's picture

Seven Layer Mexican Dip

Throughout most of middle school and high school my three best friends have remained the same. It has always been Ellie, Liz, Lily, and me. As our junior and senior years wore on, the trials and tribulations of teenage life pulled us apart, but gathering arounda sizzling hot dish of seven layer mexican dip has never failed to cheer us up. Armed with Tostitos scoop tortilla chips, we each choose a corner of the dish that we stake out as our territory. Only then may we delve into consuming the heavenly mix of melted cheese, cool salsa, and smooth refried beans. In between bites, we tell stories and crack jokes. The laughter causes us all to edge dangerously close to spitting out the mouthfuls of food because of our failure to control the giggles.

The preparation necessary for a mexican dip night has been edited down to an exact science. One girl brings seven layer and chips. Another makes sure our itunes playlist is ready and someone provides Snapple Ice Tea, the perfect cold drink to accompany the spicy entre. The seven layer is placed in the microwave for 3 minutes and 30 seconds and then placed on a plate to protect our fingers from the hot plastic container. We bring the delicacy upstairs upstairs and place it in the center of Lily's flower shaped rug. The positions we all take on the floor, as we circle around the food, always provokes a comparison to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. In truth, that is what we are: a sisterhood, but our pants have transformed into seven layer mexican dip.

pbrodfue's picture

Welcome and new foods

I would also like to welcome you to Food for Thought. This is the second year teaching this course.  Year 1 was enjoyable; I imagine year 2 will be just as much fun. I find the topic of choice fascinating because the more I read and discuss it, the more aware I am of the number of choices I make daily and the internal and external forces nudging me in different directions. 

My family belongs to a CSA and we love it, well my wife (Madge BMC ’81) and I do, not my kids.  I love it because you start eating and thinking about meals differently.  Instead of going out and buying food items for a specific dish, you have to find recipes for the food items (vegetables) you got that week.  This week we got something called purple peacock!  Heard of it?  Madge and I hadn’t.  Luckily, the farm (North Star Orchards) emails notes on the different vegetables and fruits, and sometimes recipes. So, I can tell you that purple peacock is a cross between broccoli and two different types of kale.  I will let you know how it tastes.

rmilitello's picture

Favorite food


My name is Rebecca Militello and I am also in Professor Brodfuehrer's seminar. Choosing a favorite food is somewhat difficult because I am always changing my mind about what my favorite food actually is. Though, at the moment I would have to say that my favorite food would be mangoes. Good mangoes are hard to find, especially living in upstate New York, but the good ones are absolutely delicious...especially when they are used to make refreshing mango smoothies on hot summer days!



pxie's picture


Professor Brodfuehre, I'm sorry, but I get a little confused. What are we supposed to talk here? favorite food or new food? I got the email that asked us to talk about our favorite food, but we have already talked about that in the class.. Sorry for that...But I really have no idea what to do...

Anne Dalke's picture

Changing Habits

I've just moved this summer into Center City Philadelphia, so all my shopping habits are under adjustment. Instead of following my time-honored suburban method, of making up a week's worth of menus, then going to the grocery store and buying what I need to fix those meals, I now get off the train right @ the Reading Terminal Market, and can pick up fresh food daily. So, like Peter, I'm shifting my cooking to begin w/ the ingredients, and then find a recipe for them, rather than my old habit of working in the other direction. The market  is filled w/ all sorts of local food (including raw milk! I thought that was illegal!) that I've never tried, and I plan to try 'em all.

I am also surrounded by wonderful (new-to-me) restaurants--this weekend, I discovered a wonderful gorgonzola, pear and sunflower seed flat bread @ Audrey Claire's, a BYOB in the Rittenhouse Square area...


Jessica's picture


Wow, picking up fresh food on the way home sounds amazing! And I ought to go out to Philly with some friends from my dorm to try that gorgonzola, pear and sunflower seed flat bread sometime.

Maiya Zwerling's picture

Truly Me

 Hi guys, My name is Maiya Zwerling and I am from Portland Oregon. I am very much looking forward to this forum discussion as I have done a lot of these in the past with my other classes. So, to get to the real business. As I discussed earlier today in class, if I had to choose a favorite food (although I don't like to, don't want to play favorites), I would say steak is my favorite food. There is two reasons that make this choice so uniquely me besides the fact that I crave a juicy steak regularly. To begin, I am from a family of hard workers with a distaste of cooking. As a family, we ordered in or went out for most meals. Therefore, the meal I would always choose when I was out on the town was a New York steak (or maybe a filet if at a nice dinner). That's how my family relates together and that is the kind of food that makes me feel at home. In addition, for some reason I always get asked the question, "are you a veggie?!". After seeing that this is a regular question, I am almost proud of the fact that I don't give in to other's expectations of me. I like what I like regardless of how I dress or how I act. And I am proud of it!


So here's to a sirloin steak. Hopefully I'll be meeting up with you soon!

Lydia Jessup's picture



Hi! My name is Lydia Jessup and I'm from Seattle, Washington.  I have never been a picky eater and have never come across a food that I dislike, although I have a low tolerance for spicy foods.  When choosing my favorite food, I tried to think of a food that I am always in the mood for and don't get sick of.  The food that fits these qualification is pasta.  My family eats a lot of pasta at home and I always look forward to it when I get home from sports practice.  I love all types of pasta and I enjoy trying new types of pasta.  I love how many different ways it can be prepared and how easy it is to make.  It can be part of a fancy meal or it can be casual.  It can be served hot or cold and it goes well with so many other things.  I often heat up pasta with some butter and cheese as a late night snack! I don't have a story to explain why I like pasta so much - I simply think it's delicious!