Oberlin Blogs

Sate Yourself

September 26, 2010

Ma'ayan Plaut ’10

I'm probably beating a dead horse here, but as you probably know, I adore food. I cook it, I eat it, I shop for it, I share it (on the Internet and in real life), I write about it, I photograph it, I dream about it, I watch (and make) movies about it, I foodgasm all over the place (the only blogs I track constantly, other than social media stuff, are food blogs, and I am constantly reading up on different lenses and lighting for food photography wherever I can). One could say that there is nothing that I don't do with food.

I feel that food inspires, uplifts, and all those other cliched things that you usually hear about feel-good movies and romantic songs. I realized early on in my Oberlin career that food was a social lubricant, definitely more than the proverbial alcohol. I ate in Harkness for six semesters, breaking my daily homemade bread with 100 other people who were a captive audience to delicious vegan and vegetarian meals.

I joined a co-op because I wanted a direct hand (literally and figuratively) in what I ate. Many other people in Harkness believed similarly: you could see your food go from farm or delivery truck in its most basic form, end up into something delightfully edible, and then the scraps of which would end up in the compost that would head back to the farm for fertilizer of future food. We could witness the full life cycle within our co-op, and it was happening in a similar capacity with another 500 people and 8 co-ops around campus. Now that. is. cool.

We came for the food, we ended up staying for the conversation. In sharing our from-scratch meals, we bonded over cleaning, cooking, and discussion of all things food, ranging from what the co-op purchased, what special meals were in our near future, or sharing the best ways to cook a major surplus of root veggies.

For the majority of my last year, I was in Brown Bag Co-op (BBC), which purchases ingredients in bulk and co-opers would purchase a portion of it at cost, and then cook in their own homes (it's a fabulous dining option, but only available to students in village housing or off campus). I whipped up incredible meals at home, with some supplements from West Side Market and some Asian ingredients from my mom, NYC Chinatown, and various Cleveland-based Korean groceries. You may recall that I spent all of January bustling around my kitchen with elaborate meal plans... well, spring semester, I was a part-time student, creating a senior project about food, and with a way-too-well-stocked kitchen from some extremely eager BBC food buyers. I was rolling in delicious food.

I moved my extremely well-stocked kitchen from 46 Union Street, with its copious storage counter space, gas stove, and dining room, to a much much smaller kitchen with only a fraction of the cabinets, a postage stamp of a counter, and no dining room. I poked and prodded, and managed to organize an entire kitchen (with much help of my parents and some shelves and storage pieces from my landlady's garage) into this smaller space, and promptly started turning out tasty meals inspired by my favorite summer dishes: tons of fresh pesto, tomato and cucumber salads, and my favorite, thick cut tomatoes on toasted wheat bread with cheddar, a thin smear of mayo, and salt and pepper.

This summer, I realized I am not cut out for cooking alone. I've cooked with a family, I've cooked for hundreds, but I just don't know how to cook for myself and only myself. I become inspired too often and don't know how to scale my recipes accordingly. Example: I want lasagna! I make lasagna, I eat lasagna, and then the next day, I want peanut noodles. I make peanut noodles, I eat peanut noodles, and then the next day, I want summer rolls. I make summer rolls, I eat summer rolls, and then the next day... It's a vicious cycle. I want to make and eat so many things but I can only make so much. It doesn't help that I constantly read food blogs (fabulously compiled on the amazing Foodgawker), in the hopes of finding a good use for a vegetable I already adore, learning new techniques for molecular gastronomy, or comparing pudding recipes for future deliciousness.

Over the summer, I found more people in Oberlin who appreciated, nay, relished in the social gatherings of food (Brandi! Helena! Patrick! Ben and family! Greg! Cary! Colin!) and as a result, found people to cook for and with. If invited for dinner, or taken out to grocery-shop in the surrounding Lorain County or Cleveland, I shared that, if supplied with company and ingredients, I would cook for anyone.

Food brings people together, and I am taking full advantage of that this year. I'm hosting BlogNFeeds for the Oberlin bloggers this year; the food brings us together, and then we're motivated to work because of the deliciousness. As I (started to) write this, a group of eight of us sat down to blog with vegan chocolate cupcakes and caramel pudding. Mmmm. You know you want to blog with us.

Food is my relaxer, and my social stimulant, and has become my favored method of spending time with people and sharing my day. Call me old fashioned, call me a fatty, call me that stranger that offers you homemade candy, but food without company isn't food at all.

What? A whole blog post about food and no photos? Just so you can drool all over the place, have a taste of what I dined upon in the last few months.

Tofu summer rolls with red pepper, cilantro, cucumbers and homemade peanut sauce. Shared with Michael.

Artichokes. I love 'em. Shared with Sean.

Pesto pasta with peas and sweet corn. Shared with Brandi during our first BlogNFeed.

Watermelon juice, as part of a bigger Sunday brunch. Shared with Brandi, Jay, Helena, Rebecca, and Steve.

Patrick's cream cheese pie. Shared with Helena, Brandi, Patrick, Fajer, Rebecca, Sarah, and Colin during a housewarming party.

Heirloom tomato gazpacho. Just for me.

Peachy-coconuty smoothie. Just for me.

Miriam's bourbon peach pie. Shared with Brandi, her parents, Midge, Smith, Uncle Rick, and Miriam.

Inari sushi (partnered with a tasty potato leek soup). Shared with Brandi and Helena during a summer BlogNFeed.

Helena's blueberry clafouti. Shared with Sarah, Colin, Helena, Brandi, Patrick, and Rebecca during Sarah's goodbye party.

Corn fritters with garlic aioli and alfalfa sprouts. Just for me, rehashed for the previous meal as well.

My favorite asparagus salad. Just for me, because it was too good to share.

Broccoli-cheddar soup. Shared with Harris, and now, with you! Have a recipe!

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