Week 2: Getting Acclimated

We were really just thrown into the fire. Our intensive orientation schedule catapulted us into a full-time class load. Even though it is a culinary school and most of us throughly enjoy the subject matter, there is still a lot of college level work that is required and we only have 6 weeks to complete four 3-credit courses. A normal semester, at a regular school, you have 15 weeks to complete a 3 credit course. So, once the excitement died down, I felt better able to focus on the task at hand.

My classes are amazing. Monday started off with Culinary Math, which, not to be rude, is ridiculously easy. I like our teacher, Prof. Dreesen because she is a real fan of the independent study. She goes over the material, gives us our handouts and let us get to it. If we have questions, let her know. Some of the other students in the class would prefer if she spent more time going over the material… but some of the questions they ask should have been learned in middle school, like how to convert a percentage to a decimal (84% = .84). I am sorry if I sound like a jerk, but really people this is college.

Our first day of product identification, starting with lettuces!

Our next class is a blast. Our professor is Chef Briggs and she’s a ball of enthusiasm, which is infectious.  She mentioned in class the other day that she just got a cappuccino machine, so that might explain her giddiness. One of the requirements of the class is that we must visit the store room at least once a week to get familiar will all the varieties of produce that the CIA has available. This is one of my favorite places on campus. I like get together with some of my classmates and play my new favorite game… name that product and for my readers you can play along too!  See bottom of the post for the answers.

 Don’t cheat!
For those who read about Week 1, you are familiar with the Introduction to Gastronomy course with Professor Stanley.  This week she gave us our first class tasting. The day’s lesson was on Preferences, Aversions, Fears and Taboos and how those ideas relate to food.  We all received a plate with 9 cups and we needed to document our feelings about the items below based first only on sight and smell, then taste them and record if our feelings changed.  If it was me from 10 years ago, I would have had only fear for probably everything, but honestly only 2 items raised some flags; what I know now was a dried mulberry, but looked like a moldy raspberry. It was actually sweet. The dulse looked and smelled weird; I didn’t like the taste either.  
Over all it was an interesting class assignment.  From what I hear from my roommate, Prof. Stanley does a lot of tastings and tactile in-class activities.  While in her Gastronomy class, the only time she did a tasting was when Stanley subbed for her regular teacher, so again… lucky to have Stanley… if you couldn’t, tell I love gastronomy!
Final class on my schedule is Food Safety, which can be a rather dry topic, but Professor Vergili makes the material palatable.  He is quite entertaining, especially the way he banters with the students.  If we confess to committing any questionable food safely practices, he will jokingly call us “dirtbags”, which is  quite funny because now when we are not in class we will call each other out for being “dirtbags” For example, if someone doesn’t shower after hitting the gym… dirtbag!  Vergili is also really passionate about food ecology, which is also another class that he teaches.  After school, he is really involved with Slow Food Hudson Valley and organization I want to get involved with while I am the culinary.
My second week at school, also brought about another development.   I am drinking coffee again.  Let me explain.  Back in high school, I worked as a barista in a coffee truck, in a parking lot in Broaheadsville, PA.  The owners were Seattle hippies, who were passionate about their coffee and encouraged us to read literature to help us improve our foams and brewing techniques.  I was voted Ms. Foamy Cappuccino, an award I still have… somewhere. So, part of our education was to drink as much coffee as we wanted to help us attain perfection.  Being the addictive person that I am, I ingested 7 – 8 shots of espressos per shift, in various forms, lattes, granitas, capuccinos, americanos… etc. I loved my coffee, but as my senior finals rolled around, I began to crack under the pressure. I started freaking out and crying in the hallway and ended up in the guidance counselors office.  She identified my excessive caffeine intake as the root problem, so I went cold turkey and abstained from all coffee beverages.
Fast forward to today, I have incorporated a regularly scheduled coffee beverage into my daily repertoire. This beverage goes by the name Latte du Jour (Latte of the day), whose flavors change daily, obviously. I come to crave and look forward to my small Latte. I know the perils that can arise from coffee drinking in an academic situation, but I think that I mature enough to handle it this time around… fingers crossed.  
My dealer!
I hope that you have been enjoying my adventures thus far.  If you have any questions please feel free to email me or comment below.  
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Answers: A. Bulls Blood B. Trevizio Radicchio C. Tomatillos D. Swiss Chard, red

Author: caseyangelova

Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria www.caseyangelova.com

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