The number one thing I crave at school (besides sleep) is home-cooked food. Don’t get me wrong, HUDS has some clutch items on their menu. But nothing compares to a meal made from scratch with love.
You can find this simple delight at Cabot Culinaries, a student group in Cabot made up of people who really just want to cook and eat some good food. I usually fall in the category of people who show up just for dinner, after all of the cooking is already done. But I decided to take initiative and become an active player in my meals, rather than a passive eater. Cabot Culinaries met this past Saturday to cook an incredible meal: beet, arugula, and goat cheese salad, roasted spiced cauliflower and asparagus, home made gnocchi made two ways (I couldn’t make this up), rhubarb bars, and coconut mousse. Naturally, I was in charge of the easiest dish – the cauliflower and asparagus recipe that my mom texted me, then called to ensure that I understood, then texted again demanding updates because she has a reputation to uphold. I quickly realized that I was in the kitchen with some seriously experienced cooks. One whisked together an amazing balsamic vinaigrette while another actually made gnocchi starting from scratch. Meanwhile, I was struggling to break cauliflower into florets. It’s more physically exhausting than you would think.
Overall, we had about 12 people help cook the meal and over 20 eating. I was so stressed out at the thought of 20 people eating food that I made, but all of that stress fell away with my first bite of salad. Everything was so fresh and delicious and, not to brag, but I didn’t even burn the roasted vegetables. So I would call it a success.
Coming from California, it is sometimes hard to go for long stretches of time without any home-cooked food. Cabot Culinaries helped me get my home-cooked fix and get over my fear for cooking for a lot of people. That being said, it didn’t help me conquer my laziness. I think I’ll rest for now – at least until the next Culinaries comes around.
Today, I ventured down to the depths of Northwest Labs to attend a Thai food cooking class. Led by a Thai chef, the class was filled with a diverse mix of people including hungry college students like me, grad students, as well as old people. After a swift safety briefing, we familiarized ourselves with the authentic Thai ingredients, utensils, and layout of the cooking lab, a neat and comfortable space.
Following the instructions of our instructor chef as well as the recipe, we got to work. Chopping vegetables and mixing sauces, I was glad to get my hands dirty with some Thai spices. My partners prepared the vermicelli noodles. Mixing it all together, the fresh peppers, hint of spice and succulent noodles combined to create a wonderful dish. I could hardly believe that I had cooked it myself!
Next, we started preparing the curry by warming some coconut milk. The fragrance bubbling up from the pot was enough to make my mouth water. With my stomach growling, we added dollops of spice and sauces, plopped in some tofu, tomatoes and pineapples, and brought the curry to a gentle boil. Once the consistency was just right, we sprinkled some basil to finish it off.
The taste was amazing, to say the least. Perhaps the fact that we had cooked it from scratch had heightened my senses. The curry was just the right amount of spicy, creamy and silky smoothness. The warm and soft tofu complemented the sharp sweetness of the pineapple. Drizzled over jasmine rice, the dish was a huge success.
Overall, I immensely enjoyed the experience. Not only did I learn how to make some great curry, I also learned to appreciate food, and real food. These days, we consume so many processed and pre-cooked foods, that we often forget where food comes from. By partaking in the process of transforming fruit, vegetables and grain to a delightful dish, my eyes were opened to the true nature of food. Perhaps that’s a little too cheesy, but hey, at least I got the best curry recipe under my belt.
If there’s one thing New Yorkers do well, it’s setting trends. Let us never forget the cronut, a humble combination of a croissant and a donut, that caused New Yorkers to lose their minds a couple years ago.
There is one food trend Caroline and I can get on board for, however, and it’s the not-so-humble milkshake.
This trend originated in Black Tap Burgers and Beer in NYC and has found its way to our very own Boston Burger Company! Dubbed “freak frappes,” these milkshakes are topped with m&ms, brownies, toasted marshmallows, and even bacon. Caroline and I decided to investigate these high-calorie treats to see if they were worth the hype.
Pro tip: do not attempt to tackle a freak frappe if you are even a little bit full. I couldn’t even finish mine (the Nutella frappe with chocolate cookies and m&ms), which is saying a lot. The real MVP would have to be Caroline, who fearlessly conquered an Oreo frappe with every cookie offered, a toasted marshmallow, and a brownie.
These milkshakes will look incredible on your Instagram feed and taste equally as good. Be wary of the pricing, however, because it’s easy to get carried away with all the delicious toppings and lose track of it all. Boston Burger Company is already known for their crazy burger options (the 420 burger has mozzarella sticks in it!), but they have really outdone themselves here. Midterms got you feeling down? Grab a friend, grab a burger, and grab a freak frappe at Boston Burger Company. I guarantee the sugar rush is powerful enough to overcome any stress that’s coming your way.
There are lots of reasons to order in. Sometimes the winter cold is just too much to venture into. Sometimes the walk is daunting. Sometimes the restaurant in question delivers in under an hour and the trek there and back would take the same time, so it just seems easier to order in. And often, the ordering method that allows me to give the maximum detail for what I want so that I know I will get what I want and the minimal time spent sounding awkward on the phone wins out.
The first day I attended Harvard summer school in 2014, my parents took me out to a thai lunch in the square. That late afternoon I dined in Annenberg with my roommates. That night I made an account with Seamless. I was still craving the delectable fried rice I had eaten earlier that day. Not really wanting to spend money on food with a free meal plan, it took two weeks for me to break down and order again.
Seamless has a multi layered filtration system for finding new food places, with star rankings that I have learned to trust. I did not use that the first night, though, because the night I first ordered from Seamless I just wanted my Spice fried rice. Living in union dorms for the summer, I was able to enter a real address, ask the deliverer to call me upon their arrival. After an hour, an unknown number popped up on my food. I hurried excitedly downstairs. The delivery man told me he had been waiting for almost ten minutes. Apparently the instructions to call up were not well translated. I did get my food, still hot, in the estimated delivery time, I just felt bad because the poor guy had waited for me downstairs in the time it would have taken for me to walk to the restaurant. I ordered three more times during the summer, and each time the message to call was poorly translated. Otherwise, the delivery service was just as advertised.
Coming from New York and not having tried to get food delivered from anywhere except the thai place that I did not know no longer delivers, I assumed most places would deliver. After being in Cambridge for a few months, I found that the usual call and deliver method is rather unpopular. Many of my favourite places do not have their own delivery service via a phone line and often they do not even deliver through an online service like Seamless.
At the end of last semester, however, I was made aware of DoorDash. I downloaded DoorDash for the sole purpose of having places that did not normally deliver, deliver. Offering ASAP or a specific time delivery while the restaurant is open, and pre-orders for the next day once the restaraunts in question is within an hour of closing time, DoorDash boasts selections such as Liquiteria, Au Bon Pan, JP Licks, Dumpling House, and Felipe’s. On the easy-to-use app, DoorDash advertises times between thirty minutes and two hours for delivery. Skeptical of if the $5.99 fee, excluding tip, would be worth getting Felipe’s in 50 minutes, I waited for DoorDash’s time to come.
Reading period, after watching the hours blend together as I got not as much work done as I had hoped in Lamont, I decided it was time. I would not have to take a break from working and I would get to eat one of my favorite foods, so it was a win-win. I watched the delivery process unfold on my phone through the order tracking portion of the app. 23 minutes after placing my order, my phone started buzzing. On the other end was a man telling me he was downstairs. I grabbed my ID card, speed walked out of Lamont, and ran to Greenough. As I approached the entrance I heard a man in a long coat holding a brown bag ask “Are you Andy?”
“I am so sorry for taking so long. I was in the library.”
“Next time just put in that address and I could take it to you.”
Despite having several times been told that the perk of living in Greenough is that it’s outside-of-the-yard address makes food deliveries possible, DoorDash actually delivers to Harvard buildings. One can put the name of a dorm into the app and it will come to wherever one is on campus in less than the predicted time. My burrito arrived as warm as the welcome of my DoorDasher, and the food was what I had ordered online to a T.
Still, I wondered if I was on the best food delivering website. GrubHub I have found to have almost the same options as Seamless, just three fewer options at 20 restaurants. Offering solely restaurants I had never tried before, GrubHub pushed me to try new foods and delivered in the expected amount of time. With fees varying by restaurant, from free to $3, GrubHub is worth considering.
Overall DoorDash has my favorite options and I found Seamless and GrubHub hardly distinguishable. If all three have the food one needs, Seamless and GrubHub have the lower fee and still get the delivered in the estimated time. However, if I am craving a late night burger from Tasty, or a tasty smoothie while Lamonstering, DoorDash is the only option, and it is a great one.
It’s always fun to venture to the other side of the table are cook rather than consume. For Caroline and me, the Food Literacy Project’s South Indian Cooking Class was definitely a voyage into the unknown. South Indian cuisine always reminds me of color, flavor, and, above all, danger. The dishes were classic: chapatti, raita, all of the makings of a good South Indian meal. Our only mistake? Forgetting to always watch your back in the kitchen – constant vigilance.
The cooking class was divided into teams, each one tasked with making coconut chutney and sambar. The coconut chutney was made with no complications. My main task was to cut up green chilies, which is something I have seen people in my family do since I was a little kid. I carefully replicated the proper technique: cut the top off, use the back of the knife to slide the seeds out, and then cut into smaller pieces. Caroline helped with the chutney itself, slowly stirring it over a low simmer until the coconut smell filled the room.
Up next was the sambar, a classic South Indian lentil dish that’s infused with spices and vegetables. Now experts at our crafts, Caroline and I cut up the onions, bell peppers, and chilies that were cooked in an oil with spices, which really enhances the flavor of the dish. I took a break to brag to my parents about my killer chef skills and, a split second later, heard an unusual shriek – Caroline had gotten green chili in her eye, which is literally so painful.
After a quick Google search, we had Caroline pouring milk in her eye (it actually works, something about neutralizing the chemicals in the chili – check out this sick Life Hack if you don’t believe me) and she recovered gracefully. Now having really earned our meals, we returned to the class to finish what we started.
The food turned out great, mostly due to our friends that really carried the team during our little crisis. We made plates of rice, sambar, chapattis, raita, and fried chickpea snacks. People always say that it’s more satisfying to cook a meal than to just eat one. In this case, I would have to agree. We fought with sweat, milk, and tears for our food. And it really was worth it.
Every Lunar New Year, I look forward to food. Friends, family, and fun, too, but mostly food.
Even though my parents immigrated to America years ago and proudly claim to have assimilated to American culture, celebrating Lunar New Year with the people we love has always been a staple of our heritage. The Lunar New Year parties are always an amazing festivity, and the potluck style of the dinner guarantees a variety of wonderful dishes to satisfy anyone and everyone’s cravings.
The preparations for these parties are always a labor of love (emphasis on the labor). It is like Thanksgiving dinner preparations, but the Asian version. My mother, a frequent host of the parties, often spends days in advance preparing the house, and the two days leading up to the party meticulously cooking enough dishes to feed a group of at least 60.
Meats of any (and every!) kind are a cornerstone of the dinner. My mother has always been partial to smoked salmon, and is known among her friend group for having the best salmon dish in town, but she, and all of the other wonderful mothers contribute plentiful types of meats. From spicy chicken to pork to pig ears, there’s something for everyone.
The meat dishes are, of course, supplemented by plentiful amounts of vegetables, noodle dishes, and bao zi (Chinese rolls). My parents and their friends take their spicy food seriously, and it’s not uncommon to see pepper or some other spicy-looking sauce liberally tossed on top of most dishes. The lotus and cauliflower and leeks and chicken dishes are favorites of my family’s. Spicy tofu soup is also a staple of every year’s dinner. As someone who unfortunately can’t handle much spicy food, I usually try to mitigate the burning sensations of too much spicy with copious amounts of rice.
I’ve always had a weakness for the dessert options at these parties. The soft sweetness of the red bean cakes and handmade red bean mochi by family friends complement an otherwise very savory and rich meal. Red bean filling is the most unique part of an Asian dessert dish.
There’s one more dish that I haven’t mentioned: the pork dumplings that my family makes. These dumplings are particularly special to me, because my family actually comes together to help mix the filling, knead the dough, and fold up the finished dumpling into their signature bow shapes. It’s almost difficult to eat the dish that so accurately represents the labor and love that goes into creating a Lunar New Year Dinner.
I have always looked forward to celebrating Lunar New Year with my family. The food, of course, is wonderful, but the sense of joy and community of so many people coming together to eat and celebrate is something unique to this special day.
Just when you are about to give up hope-you’ve eaten out at every semi-affordable place in the Square and all that’s left is eating your way through CVS’ snack aisle- something, a miracle, occurs. That miracle is the Crema english muffin. Yes, a simple english muffin, and probably the singular best deal in Harvard Square that has ever existed.
Amidst the warm-lighting and coffee scented mist of Crema Cafe, the english muffin is certainly not the most exotic-sounding menu item. With the enticing Crema classics, such as the sweet potato sandwich or banana date walnut bread, it’s hard to imagine anyone would think to order something as basic as an english muffin. This, however, is not the english muffin you were forced to eat at Brain Break when everything else was gone, but on the same level as your Mom’s english muffins if she were GOD.England, a country famous for its bad food, is undeserving of these esteemed muffins. Better would be King muffin, Saint muffin, or just Obama.
Now here’s what’s going to happen: you order an english muffin with jam and butter on the side because that way they give you MOARRR. Then, you’ll have the choice of apricot or raspberry jam—we recommend apricot if you want a more supple experience, and raspberry if you want a razmataz to balance out the fat.
Once you get it, ask for more butter. This is essential. Then, take the specimen to whatever table space you can find and commence the critical operation. Butter first. Jam second. Bite third. Notice the extreme complexity of the crust simply made with a misunderstanding of how much butter is a good idea.
These muffins are made by first cutting flour into mounds of butter, kneading the dough, and letting it rise. They are then baked in a popover pan with even more butter, and finally eaten with a fine and generous spread of gratuitous butter. At the end of it all, that crispy, flakey outer rim serves as a perfect vehicle for your butter and jam.