I am nothing if not a foodie. Food has permeated both my personal life and academic career. In high school, my chemistry professor and I always discussed ways to integrate cooking into the curriculum. In my college art history class on the Material Culture of the Victorian Era, I chose to focus on dining and wrote a guide to throwing a Victorian dinner party, researching proper serving dishes, utensils, table displays, menu planning and table etiquette. If I find myself loosing interest in a subject, I always know that if I can find a way to tie it into food, I will have undying energy and enthusiasm for it.
From my mom, I have inherited a love of Mediterranean food and a heritage of Ashkenazic cooking. I remember when I was little, she would make strudel. She used our dining room table, laying an old cotton tablecloth over it. Using her knuckles, She gently pulled on the small lump of dough until it reached the edges of the table. Mom reminisced how Great-grandma Olga made it so thin that you could see the lines on her palms through the dough. Mom could only pull it so far before she would have to start patching. I loved my mother’s strudel filled with those dark Morello cherries that would ooze out after it was cut. It was always tangy and sweet, with its flaky crust and warm fruit -- just right!
In the Summer of 2012, I volunteered as a counselor at the Dirt to Dine Adventure Camp at Connolly Ranch in Napa, California. I worked with children ages five to twelve, teaching them about the workings of the farm and cooking with the ingredients we had harvested, helping them develop an appreciation for healthful, farm-fresh produce. I was able to unite my passion for food with my childcare experience and concern for sustainability.
We spent the mornings in the garden, rubbing our hands along stalks of rosemary and drawing them in to smell the sweet oil before rubbing it on our hair. I held the harvesting basket, which was filled with small bunches of thyme and sage, oregano and spearmint, their perfume wafting around me as gleeful children ran up to toss small snippets of basil into the basket. After gathering the herbs, we stopped at the fountain for a water break and to wash mulberry and blackberry juice from faces and fingers. Occasionally, a child would come to me with hand outstretched, offering a borage flower or some berries for me to eat. Some days, we would walk down to the barn to milk the goats or to gather eggs.
After lunch, the kids sampled honey and varieties of stone fruits. I was amazed by the subtle flavors the children noticed and the words they used to describe them. We made fresh ricotta, pesto, herbed salts and fruit cobblers with the ingredients they had harvested.
Spring Semester 2013, I took "Issues in Early Childhood Education" and a microbiology course titled "From Farm to Fork". After graduating from Smith, I plan to attend culinary school and to work on a biodynamic farm. Utilizing the knowledge I gain, I plan to combine education and environmental consciousness with my love for quality ingredients and farm fresh produce. Although I was raised in a home which was not always financially stable, my father woke up early each morning to cook us kids hearty breakfasts and healthful lunches for school. I want to educate both parents and children about mindful eating and to help them acquire the tools to make healthful meals both affordable and convenient.
Another area which I plan to explore is that of professional event management. I would promote the use of local ingredients and materials, working to reduce the disgraceful quantity of waste associated with large events through practical strategies, including composting and mindful purchasing practices, while boosting the environmental consciousness of both my clients and their guests.