Posts Tagged ‘Erin Zubarik’

Soraya’s Enchiladas

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

It is a Saturday night, and all of my roommates have left. I have placed my computer on top of the water purifier, so through our Zoom call, Soraya can have a full view of my kitchen. This evening, Soraya is guiding me through her version of enchiladas. In my opinion, nothing beats making enchiladas with one of my closest friends–even if we are 2186 miles apart.

Enchiladas is a dish that has been appropriated and reformed by many cultures. The translation of enchilada is to season with chili. The earliest rendition was Aztec, and it was called “chillapizzali” or chili flute. According to records from Spanish conquistadors, chillapizzali were tortillas dipped in spicy chili sauce and filled with beans, meat, squash, or eggs. When the Spaniards conquered Mexico, they appropriated chillipizzali and added new ingredients–mainly cheese, chicken, and spicy sauces. These alterations have made the enchilada what it is today.

These alterations aren’t just national, they also occur at the household level. I ask Soraya about the recipe we are using, and she tells me that these enchiladas were her mother’s creation. Soraya’s father is from Ecuador and doesn’t like spicy food. To make the enchiladas milder, Soraya’s mother adds a can of cream of mushroom soup.  

“You wouldn’t see this recipe in a normal Mexican household at all. They would be kind of pissed actually that we did this to the traditional enchilada.”

Soraya is from El Paso and was my roommate at NYU Florence. When she walked into my freshman dorm she was carrying a Louis Vuitton duffle and was dressed in high-heeled boots and a form-fitting dress. The first time we bonded was at a small Florentine sandwich shop, where I began to get to know her as an observant, intelligent, and passionate person. There are so many memories I want to add for context–partying in Florence and accidentally leaving her at a club (yikes),  getting drinks at Piazza Della Repubblica, watching her (and Hailey) tape crosses around our dorm room, visiting Notre Dame the day before it burned, learning the salsa and bachata, watching movies projected on our ceiling, and becoming regulars at Cafe Panna in New York City. Soraya is a very important person to me. We have shared amazing experiences, and our friendship has shaped the course of my life. 

While discussing the consequences of getting pierced on Accutane, we begin to make the sauce. I shred boiled chicken and put it in a blender with cream cheese, cream of mushroom soup, milk, queso fresco, and salsa verde. The aim is for a creamy-liquid consistency.

Soraya’s enchilada sauce

My enchilada sauce

When the sauce is done, we pour some into the bottom of the casserole pan. Meanwhile, we heat the tortillas up in the microwave, and fill them with sauce. 

“Make it into a mini flauta.” 

“A flute?” 

She nods and laughs. The description of the enchilada as a “flauta” makes me think of the Aztec, and how the origin of enchiladas was the chilipizzali (chili flutes). This makes me realize how food is a culmination of culture and identities. Soraya remarks on this herself in the following: 

“Food is something more than alimentary, it’s our identity. Each recipe, spice, and ingredient that we choose reflects our ethnicity, religion, and social class. Food is something that all humans share, yet it is also something we use to define ourselves.”

When I cooked with other students for this series, they all talked about how cooking keeps them in touch with their identities. Alison told me her lu rou fan is a taste of home, Dorothea loves to bake because of her personality, and Paris uses flavor to satisfy her taste. While these narratives differ slightly, they all use cooking as a way of reflecting who they are. 

Soraya’s understanding of food is similar. She tells me about how her cuisine and heritage intertwine. 

“I feel so Mexican when I crave a tortilla. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I’m like, do you know what would be so good for breakfast? A tortilla! Or I feel really Middle Eastern when all I want is fatayer… I feel super Latin American whenever I see plantains, cause that’s all my grandma would give me, and I’m like ahh delicious!”

Food doesn’t only connect us to our heritage. When I ask Soraya how she feels about cooking, she tells me that for a long time she found it boring. As a child, she enjoyed making cakes, but most of her time was devoted to practicing ballroom dancing and school. It isn’t until recently that she has paid more attention to what she eats, and has taken up some cooking as a result. 

“I am proud to say what I am made of, and we are made of what we eat. I prefer to make it.”

Soraya makes me think that identity is composed of the unchangeable and changeable, and this is clearly reflected by cooking. Heritage is something that determines our cravings, and it isn’t something that we can change about ourselves. However, we still have the power to choose what we make and how we make it.

Filling the enchiladas

For the final touches, we pour the rest of the sauce on top of the flautas and cover them with shredded cheese and queso fresco. Then we spread crema on top and put the pan in the oven. 

When we leave Zoom, I have her send me a picture of her final product.

Soraya’s enchiladas
My enchiladas

While our enchiladas are cooking, I take some time to consider the things I have learned:

1. Heritage. The foods we crave are frequently a reflection of who we are and where we are from.

2. Agency. Cooking for ourselves gives us the power to determine what we are made up of.

3. Technology.  Soraya and I talked for two hours over Zoom, and our final products came out well. Modern technology has the power to keep people connected. 

In the end, I take a bite of the cheesy enchiladas and am delighted, but also a bit concerned: my tortillas have been absorbed by the sauce (later I am told this is normal). Regardless, I am happy that despite the actual distance the virus has created between people, technology has allowed us to remain connected.

Source:

Lee, Alexander. “Enchiladas, a Culinary Monument to Colonialism.” History Today, www.historytoday.com/archive/historians-cookbook/enchiladas-culinary-monument-colonialism.


By: Erin Zubarik

Hello! My name is Erin Zubarik and I am a junior at New York University majoring in Global Liberal Studies and minoring in Chinese and Italian. Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to study abroad in Florence and Beijing, where I enhanced my language skills and became acquainted with lovely people. This fall I am primarily holed up in my apartment taking online classes, and playing with my hamster Pork Chop. I am very excited to share my cooking and relationships series this fall on Campus Clipper! 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Paris’s Crab Cakes and Tartar Sauce

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

It is a fall evening and the sun has set. Outside our window, New York City’s skyline is lit up with a wide range of colors: yellows, reds, blues. Rhianna’s slow sultry voice hums through my speaker, and Paris and I begin to make crab cakes and tartar sauce. 

Crab was once thought to be a shellfish that was too difficult to eat. However, blue crab was plentiful in the Chesapeake Bay, and people from Maryland began to utilize the resource by mixing crab meat with spices, bread crumbs, and crackers. Crosby Caige came up with the name “crab cakes” in 1930. The recipe made its way into the New York World Fair Cook Book in 1939 and was called the “Baltimore Crab Cakes,”(History).

To accompany our cakes, we decided to make tartar sauce. While I scavenge in the fridge, Paris reads off ingredients. 

“We need mayo, mustard, pickle juice…” She reads off a recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen. 

Paris is from Ocean City and is a sophomore at NYU Tisch. The first time we spoke we talked about spirituality, taxidermy, and her podcast That’s What She Said. Frequently caught up in her thoughts, Paris is very passionate and open-minded. She also has a great sense of music (her Spotify has a playlist for every mood). A fun side note is her full name is Paris Monet Hitchens, which suggests she is destined for France at one time or another. 

Despite the seemingly perfect evening, there is an exhaustion that has consumed our apartment. It is the day after election day, and everyone has been checking results every hour. We are all eager for a distraction from politics–cooking provides this respite. 

Paris tells me about how her parents are both seafood lovers, and of how crab ball horderves are a must for Christmas Eve dinner. However, the dish is mostly reminiscent of her mother. “It reminds me of coming home from school. Sometimes I would have practices, mostly school plays, and I would come home late. I would walk in and smell food cooking, and my mom would yell out “I’m making crab cakes! What else do you want with it?” They just really remind me of my mom.” 

When I inquire about a family recipe, Paris tells me that her mother once had a fantastic recipe that was passed down by a family friend. Unfortunately, her mother lost the slip of paper and has been trying to recreate it ever since. Currently, she always uses the recipe “Maryland Crab Cakes” for a basic structure. However, there is one personal touch that Paris and her mom always add: Adobo.

Adobo is immensely popular in our apartment. Many seasonings sit by our stovetop, and on most days I hear someone say, “let me just add some adoooobo!” 

If anyone else is in the common space, you can count on a back and forth: 

“Adooobo!”

“Adooobo.”

“Adooobo!”  

While I chop the pickles and rosemary, Paris mixes the mayo, mustard, and spices. She works with confidence and is not afraid to add a lot of flavor. This style of cooking mirrors her mother’s methods. Paris tells me that when her mom cooks she always works using the basic structure of a recipe, and then adds more spices. 

“She knows she can always make it better with more flavor.” 

When I sample the sauce, I taste the fresh rosemary and tang of Worcester sauce. There is a slight sweetness from the brown sugar, and while the flavors are certainly heightened, they are also balanced. It is the best tartar sauce I’ve ever had. 

Paris’s delicious tartar sauce!

Straying from the recipe and cooking for your palette is new to me. I watched both Alison and Dorothea do the same when we cooked together. While I understand the value of cooking for your taste, I find that I love following recipes. In the last few weeks, I experimented with cooking based on my gut. I found that it didn’t bring me as much satisfaction as following a recipe. Lining up ingredients and following recipe instructions makes me feel like I have accomplished something.

Sometimes I also don’t know what flavor I want to bring out. Food can be over salted. However, can there ever be too much parsley, rosemary, or oregano? What makes food taste good? From the balance in flavors in the tartar sauce, I’m thinking that strong flavors that are balanced make for the best food. If strong balanced flavors are the best, I contemplate why recipe engineers always call for 1-2 teaspoons of spice. My guess is 1) this is a convenient estimate and 2) less seasoning will appeal to more people.

After putting the tartar sauce away, I chop crab and scallions while Paris mixes dry ingredients (Paris isn’t a fan of chopping). I watch her mix everything and shape it into a ball. 

Our crab cake mix.
Raw crab cake patties.

While we sit at the table shaping the mixture into patties, I ask Paris why she cooks. 

 “I like cooking because it distracts me–especially now. Also, with different recipes, you can add your own mix to it. You follow it, but there’s nothing like putting your own twist to it and making it to your own taste. I make food for me.”

With the election, covid, and other anxiety-provoking crises, it has been made clear that distractions are needed. Last week Dorothea was talking about how she loves to bake because it’s fun, which reminded me of the importance of enjoying small pleasures. Paris’s call for cooking distractions reminds me once more of the importance of getting carried away by hobbies. 

Paris also tells me about how cooking brings people together. She says that with all of us spending so much time in the apartment, cooking together is a small act that reflects what our lives at home are like, which somehow leads to confessions and revelations of our deepest darkest secrets. 

From our conversations, I walk away with the following thoughts:

1. Balance Flavor. I am going to start adding more herbs and spices to my food–I will also pay attention to how spices complement each other. 

2. Distraction.  Cooking was a great distraction from the election.

3. Connection. Paris talked about how cooking together bonds people. This is an idea I am very passionate about–I am most connected with my family members, and the most sacred time we spend together is over a meal. 

For the final step, I leave Paris to fry the patties while I go to the store to buy a bottle of wine. As soon as I walk outside our building, I feel the election anxiety return. I walk by boarded-up stores and pass outdoor restaurants with televisions playing live election results. 

Frying the crab cakes.

When I return to the apartment, everyone sits down and eats together. Paris’s remarks on cooking and relationships stick with me, and we all spend the rest of the evening relaxing. 

Final product.

Source:
“History of the Maryland Crab Cake.” Boxhill Crabcakes, 27 Apr. 2015, www.boxhillpizzeria.com/boxhill-crab-cakes/history-of-the-maryland-crab-cake/.


By: Erin Zubarik

Hello! My name is Erin Zubarik and I am a junior at New York University majoring in Global Liberal Studies and minoring in Chinese and Italian. Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to study abroad in Florence and Beijing, where I enhanced my language skills and became acquainted with lovely people. This fall I am primarily holed up in my apartment taking online classes, and playing with my hamster Pork Chop. I am very excited to share my cooking and relationships series this fall on Campus Clipper! 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Dorothea’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

 It’s a regular Wednesday evening in 2101. In room B, two of my roommates are preoccupied with the video game Among Us, and are screaming accusations into their phones, “Why would you think it was me!? Weren’t you just saying Marcos was looking suss?” 

Meanwhile, Dorothea and I sit at our Ikea table observing the ingredients I bought earlier in the day. We are excited to experiment with the cake flour and Ghirardelli chocolate chips when making our rendition of America’s most iconic sweet: the chocolate chip cookie. 

This dessert was invented in 1938 by Ruth Wakefield at the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts. Wakefield originally called them Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies. During World War 2 soldiers from Massachusetts shared the treat, which gave it national and international renown. This resulted in Nestle purchasing the recipe and printing it on the back of every bag of chocolate chips. 

Dorothea is from New Jersey and is studying acting at NYU Tisch. We first met on move-in day, when she bounded into the apartment enthusiastically shouting, “HELLO QUEENS!!”  She then proceeded to embrace everyone. 

As my fellow early bird in the apartment, we spend most mornings chatting while studying and drinking coffee. She is always willing to listen and support people and will do so with great enthusiasm. Dorothea is what Anne Shirley would describe as a kindred spirit.  

“What recipe are we using today?” 

Dorothea pulls out a cute recipe book she bought from Moleskin. The soft leather cover is decorated with baked goods and cooking appliances. Inside the book, she has ingredients and measurements written down for “Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies.” The informality of the book reminds me of my mother’s collection of family recipes. 

I think the benefit of personalizing your recipes is it solidifies your identity. Last week when I made lu rou fan with Alison, and I talked about how cooking gives you the power to recreate home. Only you know what home tastes like, and you have the greatest capability of satisfying your taste buds. Documenting personal recipes allows you to develop this identity as a cook and consumer.  

Dorothea’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe


Dorothea’s recipe book

Dorothea starts the process by melting 2½ sticks of butter in the microwave, while I mix ¾ cup brown sugar and 1 cup of white sugar in a big bowl. As we carry on with our tasks, I ask why she started baking. She tells me of her childhood fascination with her sister’s easy-bake oven, and of how when the toy broke her mother told her to start using the real oven. This led to a middle-school obsession with making cupcakes until she became fascinated with the chocolate chip cookie.  

“Chocolate chip cookies were a big craze in the Tasti and food blogger world, and I was really attracted to that. The opportunity to play around and experiment was exciting to me.”

Besides being a fun experiment, Dorothea tells me that chocolate chip cookies are very nostalgic. They remind her of coming home from school and discovering that her mom had made cookies. This was a surprise that was always well received. 

Dorothea mixes in the vanilla, salt, baking powder, and flour. She tells me how she rarely measures ingredients when baking.

“I never follow a recipe totally. I don’t know why…I think it’s my ego! Even if it is the smallest thing, like adding more salt. I usually go off the skeletal structure and then I take the derivative.”

This response reminds me of Alison’s cooking methods, and her advice to trust your gut. However, while Alison’s deviations from the recipes are carefully measured and thought out, Dorothea’s acts with more impulsiveness. The mixture comes out more liquid-like than Toll House’s classic recipe. Dorothea tells me that less flour and more butter makes the cookie softer and chewier, which we both agree make for the most delicious chocolate chip cookie. 

Cookie dough mixture

We let the dough sit in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, which Dorothea tells me gives it a chance to thicken. While waiting we sit in our living room, and I ask her why she likes to bake.  

“Cooking, baking, and theater are when I am happiest. I always think of acting like this–  playing with different acting choices is like playing with different ingredients.”

Cookies on baking sheet

After putting the cookies in the oven, I take time to reflect on the things I have learned: 

  1. Collect. Saving recipes allows you to form an identity as a cook and consumer. 
  2. Experiment. Experimentation gives you a chance to personalize your cooking.  
  3. Fun! This is less of a tip and more of an appreciation point for Dorothea’s passion for baking. 

The apartment is filled with comforting smells of sugar and vanilla. When the cookies come out, they are doughy in the middle and crispy around the edges. We do a taste test, and I decided that the Ghirardelli chocolate chips were worth the extra cash. The chocolate is rich and sweet, with a slight bitterness. 

When the kitchen is cleaned and the cookies are put away, I think about how Dorothea’s passion for baking is similar to my own. Although baking cookies isn’t a seemingly important endeavor, I think the opportunity to play is positive and fulfilling. It reminds me that while I am trying to find my way in the world, it is good to remember small pleasures.

End result

Source:

World Trade Press. “United States: Chocolate Chip Cookies.” AtoZ World Food, 2 November 2020.



By: Erin Zubarik

Hello! My name is Erin Zubarik and I am a junior at New York University majoring in Global Liberal Studies and minoring in Chinese and Italian. Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to study abroad in Florence and Beijing, where I enhanced my language skills and became acquainted with lovely people. This fall I am primarily holed up in my apartment taking online classes, and playing with my hamster Pork Chop. I am very excited to share my cooking and relationships series this fall on Campus Clipper! 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Alison’s Lu Rou Fan

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

The smell of sizzling pork and shallots wafts through the hallway, and I eagerly follow the smell by stepping into Room 914. My friend Alison is making Lu Rou Fan 滷肉饭–a beloved Taiwanese pork stew. I am eager to learn how to make the dish, which I have researched a bit beforehand. 

The origins of Lu Rou Fan are disputed, however, most people claim the Han and Hakka people from China’s Fujian province brought this style of pork stew to Taiwan. In the 1850s, there was an influx of Fujianese settlers in Taiwan. These immigrants were mostly poor farmers who were creative about using the least appetizing animal parts. They discovered mincing pork and boiling it in soy sauce did the trick, and this was likely the beginnings of Lu Rou Fan. 

There is a sensory overload in the kitchen. Alison’s roommate chats on the phone while carving a Jack-O-Lantern. A guest speaker for one of her engineering classes lectures about computer security. On top of this, a small speaker hums lofi music. This is an amount of multitasking I can’t wrap my head around, and I ask how she does it. 

“Oh, ya know. I figure the class doesn’t take up much of my attention, and cooking doesn’t take much. So if I only did one thing it would just be a waste of time.” 

Fair enough. I hope my interview will not be a task too many! 

Alison is from the bay area in San Francisco, and I met her during my freshman year at NYU Florence. The first time we talked she told me she wanted to be an electronic music festival light designer. She is very hard-working, creative, and intelligent–I can hardly imagine her doing anything less innovative. However, as an overly modest person, she would likely refute my claims. 

 Turning the conversation to the cooking process, I ask what recipe she is using. Alison’s Lu Rou Fan is a combination of five or six recipes. She tells me it’s best to look up as many recipes as possible when making something new. By comparing different methods, you can distinguish the most important elements, and refrain from unneeded or unusual steps. This is particularly helpful for undergraduate cooks, because you may not need to buy all of the ingredients a certain recipe calls for (a great way to save money).  

While Alison didn’t choose one recipe, she has written out guidelines on a sticky note pasted to her kitchen cabinet. 

This is the recipe Alison used. It is a combination of five or six different recipes for Lu Rou Fan.

The pork, garlic, and mushrooms are cooking in a tall silver pot above the stovetop, and I watch as she takes the regular and dark soy sauce out from the cabinet. Alison encourages me to smell both. While the regular soy sauce has a familiar tangy smell, I recognize a sweet fragrance of the dark soy sauce (reminding me subtly of molasses). 

Despite the precise measurements written on her post-it, these were estimates. Alison takes the lid off the pot and adds an amount of soy sauce that seems to look about right. She then turns to the prep work and throws in the spices and water.  

This is the prep work Alison did for her Lu Rou Fan.

After a few minutes of watching the pork bubble, we taste a piece to see how it is coming along. The pork is extremely flavorful, but Alison decides to add more dark soy sauce.

I comment on how confident she is with her cooking. In the past I have always mimicked my father’s style–he prints out recipes, lines up ingredients, and follows each step exactly. He used to tell me “you can’t make changes to a recipe until after you have made it five or six times.” While I find the organization very helpful when cooking, Alison has me questioning the mantra. She tells me cooking is about the feel. It is about your taste buds.   

“According to that person from Epicurious, don’t be scared to taste test something in case it’s bad. You can always fix it while it’s cooking but it’s hard to fix it after you’ve cooked it.” 

While waiting for the pork to become more tender, I ask her why she likes to cook. Alison tells me she cooks because sometimes she’s craving something that’s not in New York. For being such a diverse city, it seems almost unimaginable that a cuisine is unavailable. 

“Lu Rou Fan reminds me of Taiwan. You can go to a night market and get this on rice for like a dollar fifty.” 

“When you are in Taiwan, do you get a homey feeling? Or is it just a relaxing vacation?” I am curious about her drive to be closer to her parent’s home country. 

“I definitely feel like it’s a homey feeling, but also it does feel like a vacation…So it’s like the perfect medium.” 

This homey comfort is exactly what is inaccessible in New York City as a college student. Only you know what home tastes like–and cooking gives you the power to recreate it. 

As we sit scrolling through culinary Facebook pages, I pause to consider the things Alison has taught me over the last few hours: 

  1. Compare Recipes. This will allow you to understand the fundamentals of a dish better and will prevent you from buying ingredients you don’t need.
  2. Taste test. It is easier to fix things before food has cooked versus when it’s done. 
  3. Trust your gut! You are usually cooking for yourself, and the only person who knows what your taste buds are tasting is yourself. Feel free to deviate from your intended instructions. 

Using a fork, we fish two pieces of meat out of the pot. The pork has become extremely tender, and the entire apartment smells like soy sauce, cooked pork, and fragrant spices (even my clothes have absorbed the smell). Alison gives me a small container to take home, and I leave thinking about how much you can learn from your peers. 

The final product.

Sources: 
Jeffrey Lin “The Origin Story of Taiwanese Lu Rou Fan aka Minced Pork Rice” (滷肉飯). Foodamentals, 21 Feb. 2018.


By: Erin Zubarik

Hello! My name is Erin Zubarik and I am a Junior at New York University majoring in Global Liberal Studies and minoring in Chinese and Italian. Over the last few years, I have been lucky enough to study abroad in Florence and Beijing, where I enhanced my language skills and became acquainted with lovely people. This fall I am primarily holed up in my apartment taking online classes, and playing with my hamster pork chop. I am very excited to share my cooking and relationships series this fall on Campus Clipper! 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

 

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