Masterpieces of Western Food
Departments: Underwater Basket Weaving
Professors: Waxima Perez
Waxima Perez is half Mexican, a quarter Russian, and a quarter Eskimo (okay, Inuit). In my opinion, she is the best teacher of Masterpieces of Western Food at Columbia University -- she knows food like Jeffrey Sachs knows the economics of sustainable development, and has never left a grocery store or supermarket without screaming at the management if they carry Velveeta, Cheese Whiz, or any canned/whipped cheese equivalent. Due to her personal vendetta against American Cheese, she has been known to explode angrily at family picnics and the like, and has become increasingly popular among Columbia's student body due to her incredibly entertaining short temper, directed at what seem to be the most arbitrary of things. All this hype is perfectly justifiable -- the previous reviewer described the class spot-on.
The previous reviewer is correct.
I was a bit skeptical that the Witten Center for the Core Curriculum had decided to add yet another course to the already hefty Core Curriculum. Art hum, music hum, and now food hum? Let's be serious.
When Professor Perez assigned the first paper, however, I realized how much more exciting a topic food is than literature, art, or music. The assignment was to write a six page paper analyzing the interactions of one key ingredient in a recipe of our choice from The New Basics Cookbook. I wrote mine on the way heavy crème fraîche in gratin dauphinois, while providing substance to the dish, depresses the dish's existential themes, invoking in the eater a sense of profound admiration for both the cook (the interpreter of the recipe) and the author of the recipe itself.
The midterm and final were a little strange, I have to admit. The TAs blindfolded each student and we had to identify individual spices and dishes, which were spoon-fed to us in different contexts.
Waxima Perez, being a professor of food studies, was surprisingly skinny! She attributed her good bodily shape to her superior genetics - she is a quarter eskimo.
Not too bad. Most tastings occurred class but there were several take-home cooking assignments and two field trips to restaurants.