Posts Tagged ‘student cooking’

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.


Lee, Alexander. “Enchiladas, a Culinary Monument to Colonialism.” History Today,

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.


What cooking is for me, and what it can be for you too

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

As you have probably understood so far, I value my relationship with food more than the next person, but what I value even more is the time I spend preparing my food. While living at home I was lucky enough, in many ways, to have food ready for me waiting on the table as I got back from school. Though at the time it was the best way I could have imagined things, I had no idea how passionate I would become about preparing my own food daily.


It’s common to see cooking as a chore, and in many ways, it can be. I’m sure that after a day of very hard work when one gets home in time for dinner, the last thing one wants to do is actually have to spend a significant amount of time cooking. However, in my everyday life, I’ve found that instead of dreading the times of day when I have to cook, I actually look forward to them. Not only am I happy during the process of cooking but I’m also proud of what I’ve ended up creating. For me, cooking has become, an escape, a time to relax, and a way to feel a small sense of accomplishment throughout the day. You could even say that it has become a small way for me to meditate…


I definitely benefit from my small cooking ritual, and I think if you follow the following steps you might too:


  • The Environment


First things first, the most important factor is always the environment. Obviously, if we all had amazing, huge, well-lit, chef-worthy kitchens, we would probably all enjoy cooking more. Nonetheless, there are a few things you can do to make your dorm’s or small student apartment’s kitchen more enjoyable. For starters, lighting is key, so if you can, invest in making your kitchen well lit. Next, I’d suggest getting a few good basic appliances, pots and pans to make your cooking struggles easier. Lastly, the miscellaneous but -oh so- important things will make a world of difference: some plants (extra points if they are basil, coriander or mint), some cute kitchen towels as well as oven mitts, and some fun fridge magnets or maybe some pictures on the wall. After you’ve set up your kitchen, it is your job to keep it that way, by cleaning and making it an environment you want to stay in.


  • Your Ingredients


Secondly, as any good chef will tell you: good ingredients make the best dishes. I’d suggest finding a store you like, getting familiar with it, and making it a habit of going to shop there for your groceries. In time, shopping for groceries will stop being a hassle and will instead become a peaceful time, in a known environment, without all the frustration it can sometimes have. Furthermore, ensuring you have high quality ingredients every time will show in your final product, which will, in the long term, benefit you greatly, both in your health and wellbeing. One of my favorite places to shop at is Lifesum Market, on 6th avenue and 8th street. I love it, as it is close to campus and my apartment, but most importantly because it carries only organic produce and packaged items. Another crucial factor which makes Lifesum one of my favorite stores is the discount I get from the Campus Clipper.

cook 4

  • Your Motivation


Another key factor in improving your relationship with your kitchen is having real reasons why you want to do so. That is, you have to get educated and understand the benefits of cooking your own food. By knowing what goes inside your food you are in charge of your health and thus in charge of one, if not, the biggest parts of your life. Furthermore, in the long term, by incorporating meal prepping and some money saving hacks, you’ll see how cooking can be very cost effective, helping you adhere to your student budget. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll even find a peaceful escape in cooking, which helps you reboot during the day. Whatever the reason, finding your motivation is key in succeeding.


  • The Inspiration


After you’ve managed all three previous steps, it is time to get inspired. This means that it’s time to find what exactly you want to make and what gets you most excited to create in your own safe space, in your own way. Finding inspiration is key, as it will take cooking from being a chore to becoming a fun way to pass the time, to be creative and to feel a sense of accomplishment. My grandfather used to say that anyone who likes to eat will eventually know how to cook. So, find what you like to eat and make it for yourself. I suggest getting a few cookbooks that look appealing to you, but have recipes anyone can execute. Or, if you like, you could spend hours, as I do, on websites, blogs and YouTube looking at all the wonderful things people manage to made with just a handful of ingredients. The only thing I am certain of, is that somewhere out there, there is something that you’d love to make again, or make your way, so find it and get cooking.


  • Relaxation


Above all, as always, what is more important is that you stay relaxed. If you actually get into cooking and find some enjoyment in it, don’t worry if all you have time to make that day is a grilled cheese sandwich. Any type of food is fuel, but the best fuel is the food you make yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you don’t make something great or if it’s the 10th time you’ve made spaghetti and you still make them mushy. Try to appreciate the fact that you’re trying to do something that is good for you. Every moment that you spend in your kitchen, trying to make something healthy for your body is a moment that you spend showing love for yourself and your body.



By Marina Theophanopoulou


Marina Theophanopoulou is a Campus Clipper publishing intern who is studying Philosophy and Sociology as a junior at NYU. Passionate about healthy, food and wellness, Marina aspires to make others think of food in a more holistic way. 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 encourage 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.