Archive for January, 2011

A “Karen Cake”

These are a few photos of my “Karen Cakes” throughout my life.  Karen has a split profession.  She is an insurance consultant during the day, a mother, a grandmother, and the cake lady in her spare time.  Making cakes is a hobby of hers.  I can remember going to her house when I was little to pick up our cakes; every inch of counter or table space was always covered with a beautiful cake waiting to be picked up from someone else.  She makes all kinds of cakes from birthdays to weddings.  Also she makes all kinds of flavors.  My personal favorite is marble, which is a yellow and chocolate combination.  My birthday is on April 29th, but I will not be able to get my “Karen Cake” until after the end of the semester.  I am looking very forward to this celebration!   My brother is also graduating from highs school in May, so there is a potential for two “Karen Cakes” in a very close proximity!


Here is a photo of me eating my mother’s beloved pancakes at a very young age.  They have always been a favorite treat of mine.  Note the towel covered over the chair, so I do not spread my stickiness from the syrup everywhere.  My parents knew me very well 🙂

Class Discussion Views

Throughout the last few weeks of class we have been very busy.   It seems like there is so much to discuss about our topics, but there is not enough class time for all of this discussion!  I would like to just give my views on what we have been doing in class.

Eat Pray Love:  Here are some of the topics I thought were interesting about the Italian food and culture.   In the daily Italian newspaper, the Pope’s health is recorded daily.  Public affection is not hidden.  Here is in the US people seem to hide their feelings when in public.  Like they are hiding behind a mask and not revealing their true self or feelings.  “The beauty of doing nothing” and “The art of making something out of nothing” are well understood expressions in Italy.  However, here in the US they might not make much sense to everyone.  No one knows how to just do nothing.  I should not point a finger at anyone because I am one of these people.  Soccer is a big thing in Rome!  Before a child is born their soccer team is chosen.  This is serious :).  One part in the reading where I actually laughed out loud was when Liz was “going out” after the soccer game with her friends, and they ended up going to a bakery to eat cream puffs!  When I think of the image connected to “going out” from the states I think of a crowded bar that smells like beer.  I would like very much to “go out” in Italy!!  As an ending note, I give Liz credit for living up her experience in Rome.  She gained 23lbs in 4 months, but who cares she had a spectacular, fun time; and that is all that matters!  

Mid August Lunch:  This movie was very humorous.  We talked about the strong Italian relationship between a mother and her son.  This may just be my opinion, but I feel like girls are closer to their moms and boys are closer to their dads here in the states.  The most interesting cultural significance I found in this movie was the details of Aug 15th, Ferragosto.  It impressed me how everything, absolutely everything, was shut down.  Here in the US stores are still open on Christmas.  I wish that there would be holiday traditions like that here.  This way people could spend time with their families.  I grew up with my dad working most holidays, and it is not fun.  If something is closed, people should respect the fact and have patience until the holiday is over.

Olive Oil:  I was surprised to learn that there are tasters who do not drink or smoke and never use spicy condiments to certify olive oil.  In addition, they do not just simply taste the olive oil they evaluate the mold, acidity, and overheating.  On the same day that we discussed olive oil in Italian class, olive oil also came up in my geotechnical engineering class.  How is this possible you might wonder?  Well, we were discussing common specific gravities and olive oil was on the list.  In case you might want to know olive oil has a specific gravity of .91.  One of the geotechnical engineering professors, Santagata, is from Italy.  She too loves her olive oil.

Food and Family

When I think of food, I automatically think of my family.  When I think of my family, I also think of food.  An intermingled relationship exists between these two words:  Food and Family.  Thinking of food makes me think of my family because I think of the celebrations and every day meals we have shared over the years.  In addition, thinking of food makes me think about the food I would like to share with my family.  I always look very forward to sharing meals with my family when I go home for breaks and holidays.   Being away at college has led me to see that I underappreciated the little things when I still lived at home, such as the family meals.  However, looking to the future I cherish the times we will have together centered around a meal.

Let me start off by talking about my family’s customary dishes and traditions.  Since I was old enough to have teeth, I have always loved my mother’s pancakes.  They have always been a weekend tradition.  There are several photos in our family albums with me sitting at the table with a smile from ear to ear eating my mother’s pancakes.   Special celebrations such as birthday parties, when my brother and I were younger, consisted of both sides of the family coming over to the house.  The kitchen always smelled delicious with barbequed pulled pork and glazed little sausages simmering in the crock pots.  Everyone could not help but gather around my mother’s taco salad as they shared the new exciting events in their lives.   However, no birthday was complete without a cake from our neighbor, Karen.  She held the reputation of being the go-to  birthday cake lady for the entire town.  My mother has promised me a “Karen Cake” for my twenty first birthday, so I am holding her to that.

My family has always had Thanksgiving and Christmas on each side of the family; meaning that we go to each of my grandparents’ houses for the two holidays.  Each of my grandmothers is known for her own specialties.   My grandmother on my mom’s side makes wonderful hash brown casserole, any type of homemade pie, and she even shreds her turkey on Thanksgiving and barbeques it in a crock pot (my grandfather does not like dry turkey).  My grandmother on my dad’s side is the German Grandmother.  She is known for her German potato salad, peach cobbler, coleslaw, and fried ham and egg sandwiches (not one of my favorites).

Being away at college I have had the opportunity to taste new foods that I would not have at home.  For instance, my family never really ate Italian food.  I remember once growing up when my mom made a “real” lasagna. All of the other times lasagna in our home was prepared by Stouffers.  I look forward to sharing what I learn in this Italian food and culture class with my family.  I am ready to expose them to bolognese and nutella!


Emily and I made bolognese together!  Pictures and a recipe link are soon to come.  It turned out delightful, and there are plenty of left-overs!! 🙂

The Meaning of Food

Food has a vast and differential meaning to me.  My view on food changes day-to-day depending on my mood.  It is amazing to me how everyone consumes food in different portions and flavors.  At the end of the day, everyone is connected with food.  The major connections with food arise in the topics of tradition, family, celebration, and love.

Food is a tradition. It is odd how lasagna here in the U.S. tastes remarkably different from lasagna in Italy, even though it is essentially the same food.  Different cultures have different traditions of preparation. Just the slightest alternation or substitution of an ingredient can make an enormous difference in the taste.  My mom has treasured recipes which are held sacred.   They hold the key to the history behind the dish.   I hope I can be part of the tradition some day.

Food entails family.  At the end of a busy day, food brings loved ones together to just slow down and relax.    These simple moments are the ones that I cherish in their absences.  When I go home, I love to just eat with my family.  We are able to talk and enjoy the tastes of home cooking.

Food is a form of celebration.  If an event needs to be praised, food brings everyone together.  Even if people do not know each other, food unifies the relationship. Different celebrations call for different foods.  For instance, birthdays have to include the famous birthday cake here in the U.S.  However, in other cultures celebrating a birthday might consist of another food item.

Food is loved.  Some people show their love with food, and some people just love food.  Personally, I love cookies.  For everyone their love for food is different.  This is another characteristic that makes food unique.  Food satisfies craves of rejuvenation.

Food is great!!