BY AGAVNI MEHRABI
For Chemistry teacher Eliane Waite, cooking is more than simply a means of survival. She said her fondness for cooking emanates from how it is an extension of the subject she teaches.
“I have two passions in my life: one is chemistry and the other one is cooking,” Waite said. “If you think about it, the kitchen is really a little lab because you experiment with spices, combine tastes and mix flavors together, just as if you would with chemicals.”
Meanwhile, freshman Daria Hernandez said she likes to cook because it is a valuable way to bond with those to whom she is close. For example, she said she is able to spend time with her grandmothers while learning to cook traditional dishes like flan, pao de queijo and pierogi. This exchange of her Cuban and Russian heritage and family history through food is what she said inspires her to cook.
“I usually cook every weekend because I get to see my grandmother and she loves it when I cook for her,” Hernandez said. “My grandmothers have inspired me with their dishes to cook with them and learn from them.”
Waite said she also uses her roots when in the kitchen by preparing Brazilian cuisine. However, she said she equally likes to expand her knowledge of the culinary arts through television series like ‘Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern’ and ‘Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown’.
“I enjoy watching Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, especially because it explores foods from different cultures that are existent throughout the globe,” Waite said. “I like to visit the restaurants I see on television and I use the new techniques and flavors that I am exposed to in new dishes at home.”
Similar to Hernandez, sophomore Bryce Lin said cooking is special because it allows him to connect with others who enjoy his cooking. In this way, he said a personal hobby becomes a shared experience that brings people together.
“Cooking makes me feel great, since I sometimes bring my food to school and my friends all love it,” Lin said. “It feels nice to know that you were the source of something like that.”
Lin said he also agrees with Waite that cooking is a form of implementing the field of science in real life. He said that cooking is a learning process.
“I would consider cooking as a branch of chemistry, since a lot of it is just about observing reactions such as how pan-frying mushrooms, carrots and red wine creates a sauce,” Lin said. “I draw conclusions from these results, which I remember in the future and can apply to other dishes.”
Lin said the type of scientific experimentation used in cooking is what transforms the same food into a different dish with every preparation. Instead of looking up recipes and following them strictly word for word, he said his technique is to explore different combinations of ingredients.
“Cooking is all trial and error; you gain so much more knowledge by failing to make a cake ten times than by simply googling a recipe,” Lin said. “This makes it so that each one of the dishes I cook has variability, so I can see which version is better and adjust as needed.”