I thought about writing a sort of “term in review” piece for the Carletonian’s last issue of the term; however, considering my own views on the universality of food, I wound up in something of a debate with myself about this. On the one hand, I began this series of columns with the belief that, unlike those hurried classes we take, in which we vastly confuse ourselves for ten weeks and then put that term away, the food we eat is rather transcendent; the fact that I for the most part cook for myself, and that I want to keep expanding my food horizons, will not change with the changing of the term.
On the other hand, I have to admit that there is a feel to winter term food that I can reasonably hope to depart from in the spring, and this is what I want to talk about this week. I made what’s hopefully one of my final batches of cookies for the term (although reading days are always a trouble zone); banana pumpkin oatmeal cookies. Although I know I complained a bit about the whole concept of seasonal fruit last week, I do believe that baked goods belong to winter more than they do to spring. There’s something about a nice spring day that encourages you to make something on the grill or stir-fry vegetables, rather than bake a cake; by contrast, the Tuesday night freezing rainstorm of this week practically cried out for people to huddle up with a plate of cookies and watch a romantic comedy.
In addition to the whole “comfort food” vibe of winter term, there is, for those of us without cars, that whole problem of the eight-block walk to Econo that we’d rather not do in the freezing cold; and in Minnesota, although the winter has been reasonably mild, you never know when conditions will prevent you from going, be it the cold or the huge lakes that currently stand between us and 6th and Division. In winter, there’s a tendency to lean on non-perishable foods more than in other seasons; a lot of baked yams have happened this term, in addition to frozen vegetables and meats. In the spring, there’s no reason to stock your fridge for two weeks, halfway through which you will inevitably run out of vegetables. Things like fresh basil and homemade pesto become more viable options; so does actually running to the store when you’re missing an ingredient.
Finally, the lovely thing about spring is that there will be items at the store that simply aren’t there in the winter. Again, despite last week’s derision toward in-season fruit, there’s a difference between fruit that’s there, but “out of season” and stuff that simply isn’t there at all. Thus, we can look forward to cherries and perhaps the occasional pomegranate in the next couple of months, rather than relying on their frozen counterparts.
All in all, though I insist that the way I eat or otherwise live doesn’t correspond to my academic schedule, there is a sense of mild impending excitement when it comes to spring term eating, and on that theme, I’d like to sign off with one exciting food discovery; it has to do with that ultimate of warm weather foods, ice cream. I stopped eating ice cream a while ago, and keep my freezer stocked with sorbets, which simply aren’t the same when you don’t want something fruit flavored. For those of you in similar circumstances, try this: put a couple of frozen (really frozen) bananas in a blender or food processor with a bit of soy or almond milk. Blend, and keep on blending. Add more milk if it’s too thick. After a few minutes the bananas take on the consistency of soft serve. I am not exaggerating this at all. I added vanilla extract and cocoa powder: instant chocolate ice cream. There’s barely a hint of banana taste. This may have changed my life, and I recommend, as the weather warms up (hopefully) or if you just need a break from studying, that you try it.