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Watch What You Eat: Buzzfeed’s Tasty Videos

By Daniella Byck

As my third semester of college came to a close, I found myself immersed in a new form of stress relief. Pushing aside flashcards and textbooks, I could be found huddled over my phone watching seemingly anonymous hands easily combine pre measured ingredients, throwing together an elaborate dish with ease. With winter rolling in and finals piling up, Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos became my oasis.

Tasty’s Facebook page describes the concept as “food that’ll make you close your eyes, lean back, and whisper ‘yessss.’ Snack-sized videos and recipes you’ll want to try.” The videos are all shot in the same aerial style and set to an upbeat, lyricless soundtrack with an emphatic declaration of deliciousness to end each clip. The entire experience is confined to about one minute.

“Its satisfying to watch a really good meal be prepared in such a short period of time,” said sophomore student Jess Schwartz.

The videos have given birth to a social media empire. The Facebook page was established in July 2015 and has since garnered 74,602,410 followers. Additionally, Tasty can be found on Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and its own mobile application. Beyond the main Tasty page, there are spin-offs such as Proper Tasty’s twist on British recipes or the course specific Tasty Desserts.  

“I find tasty videos extremely therapeutic,” said senior student Jacob Weissburg. “They’re always a terse distraction in the middle of a busy day when I’m scrolling through Facebook.”

The aesthetic qualities streamlined across all Tasty videos create a perception of simplicity. Tasty’s world of seemingly concise and convenient cooking provides a welcome respite from hectic exams, conflicting activities and bustle of student life.

”Tasty videos are the meditations of millennials. Immediately gratifying and extremely stimulating,” said junior student Molly Galinson.

The relationship between food media and relaxation is not unexplored territory. The idyllic sets of Food Network shows summon an illusion of organization and order. Instagrams touting slow motion shots of cheese pulling off of pizza invite a satisfying mental reward. Harper Magazine published a piece drawing parallels between food porn and sexual porn – both share a sense of effortlessness while addressing primal human needs. In fact, food videos trigger the same pleasure centers.

“It soothes me to watch videos of people doing easy cooking,” said sophomore student Lindsey Feder.  “It takes my mind off of life.”

With exams coming to a close and winter break approaching, I found myself inspired to take on a deceptively simple Tasty recipe. The video titled Cheese Spinach and Artichoke Bread Ring Dip seemed easy enough. Alas, after a mishap with slow to rise bread rolls and a mess of kitchen tools, I produced a dish far more time consuming and complex than advertised. However, my real life experiment did not tarnish the video watching experience. Each new videos still brings with it a welcome opportunity to escape into the fantasy world of the Tasty kitchen.

Photo retrieved from Tasty’s Facebook page.

Video retrieved from Tasty & Yummy’s YouTube Channel.

The Office of Sustainability

By Meghan Horvath

As undergraduates go forth in their future career paths, The Office of Sustainability raises awareness on sustainability, encouraging students to keep these efforts top of mind as they enter the workplace.

The Office of Sustainability’s mission is to highlight sustainability as an issue that warrants the attention of all majors. It works to show students that they can install sustainable initiatives and spread knowledge of the topic in their respective fields regardless of degree.

Jackie Hazelwood, communication and outreach intern for The Office of Sustainability, is a senior studying Community and Environmental Sociology with an Environmental Studies certificate. In her time working for the office, she can attest to the healthy range of majors that get involved.

“It’s anywhere from Environmental Studies to Business, which is something I like a lot about The Office of Sustainability in general is the diversity,” Hazelwood said. “It’s really necessary; I think what we’re trying to bring to campus is that sustainability can be applied to pretty much any field and can be inputted in your daily life and any job, especially people that are leaving and going into the working world. This is the time for sustainability to be put into place.”

Run by dedicated university faculty, staff and student interns, The Office of Sustainability is the lead resource for sustainability efforts on campus. Since it started in 2010, its team continues to promote education and best practices to make sustainability a greater part of campus culture.

Brenna George, student leader and student programs coordinator with The Office of Sustainability, is earning her degree in Environmental Studies, as well as Operations and Technology Management in the business school. She intends to pair sustainability with business in her future career path.

“My sophomore year I worked with a professor in business and sustainability and he encouraged me to apply for a leadership position with the office,” George said.

Within the office, she’s worked specifically with the Sustain-A-Bash event, which is designed for freshman engagement in sustainability, as well as the sustainable Wisconsin Welcome that shares a similar goal of reaching new students as they arrive on campus.

With eight interns, two supervisors and two full-time employees, The Office of Sustainability primarily works in conjunction with other local, environmentally-focused groups.

“The Office does a lot of partnerships to help other sustainability initiatives on campus. When there’s a void, we’ll fill it, which is how Sustain-A-Bash and the ABCs of waste were developed,” George said.

As part of the ABCs of waste program, interns weigh trash bags around campus buildings as a form of trash auditing to account for waste.

“We did trash audits in housing this October and found that 37 percent of the trash was compostable,” George said. “Food waste is super heavy and we have to pay to send it to the landfill.”

On top of current initiatives like Sustain-A-Bash, sustainable Wisconsin Welcome and trash auditing, The Office of Sustainability is also looking to expand its mission to be an even greater resource to students.

“We’re trying to work more towards a consultant and partnership model,” Hazelwood said. “We’ve worked with housing a lot in the past and We Conserve. We are a resource to students. In the future, we’re definitely moving towards more group interaction and brainstorming.”

With the combination of its sustainability programs and its partnerships, The Office of Sustainability serves as an outlet for students to pursue their passion and make a difference in sustainability efforts.

“Coming from San Fran, I think I came into this university with a very environmentally conscious interest,” Hazelwood said. “I really wanted to get involved in some capacity in that and put to practice what I was learning. This gave me a resource to do that and try to make a difference on campus in any way we could.”

A Sustainable Food System

Photos courtesy of REAP

Photos courtesy of REAP

By Liz Schnee

Imagine a school cafeteria where children are excited to eat their vegetables. That’s the vision the Madison non-profit REAP Food Group is working towards. For the last 18 years, REAP has created a more just and sustainable food system in Madison with projects like their Farm-to-Business and Farm-to-School programs. Their goal is to work with the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) to increase the community’s access to healthy food choices, to provide nutrition education opportunities for children and to support the Wisconsin agricultural market.

REAP knows that trying new foods can be scary, especially for kids. The group tries to alleviate that stress by ma

Photos courtesy of REAP

Photos courtesy of REAP

king new foods fun for elementary school students.

Farm-to-School Coordinator Emily Latham says, “Kids may see the veggies on garden bar, but if they don’t have a connection with it, they won’t want to eat them.”

A main focus of the program is to expose elementary-aged students to healthy foods and to encourage them to think about where it comes from. For middle and high school students, the focus is on teaching culinary skills and sustainability concepts.

Latham reported that one of her favorite memories on the job was when the REAP classroom education group asked the children to deconstruct where their food came from, and one student had a big revelation and exclaimed, “All of my food comes from the dirt?!”

In addition to providing programming, REAP also prepares fresh fruit and vegetable snacks for schools in the district, featuring in-season produce from nearby Wisconsin farms. This provides kids the chance to eat things like kohlrabi and sweet potato sticks.

This summer, REAP will launch a new partnership between the City of Madison Parks Department, the Public Health department and the MMSD to bring an extended meal program to Madison city parks. Students will be able to go to any of the participating park locations to receive a free lunch from the school district using local produce.

Photos courtesy of REAP

Photos courtesy of REAP

According to Latham, this exciting expansion is just more proof that “The city of Madison is invested in this project.”

University of Wisconsin-Madison students play an essential role in REAP’s success. Students donate their time and money to support REAP’s mission of a healthier Madison by leading lessons and prepping snacks alongside Americorp members. In fact, REAP is looking for volunteers for a community based farm-to-school event on May 15th from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. The event will invite all ages to celebrate farm-to-school work with a garden scavenger hunt, cooking demonstrations by Madison chefs and activities to promote physical fitness. Students interested in volunteering at the event or for other programming are encouraged to contact Emily Latham at Emilyl@reapfoodgroup.org.

So maybe it’s not as hard as we thought to get kids excited about eating their vegetables. All it takes is some taste-testing, quality Wisconsin food and maybe some people dressed up as giant broccoli.

Slow Food Boosts Access to Local Cuisine

By Jackie Bannon

The Slow Food movement was founded in 1989 to reconnect people with local cuisine and to combat “fast food” culture. Today, 4,500 miles away from the Slow Food’s origins in Italy, UW-Madison students are working to achieve the movement’s goals.

Slow Food embodies a holistic approach in which people slow down their lives to reconsider the cultivation, production and distribution of what they eat. The movement attempts to increase respect for farmers, consumers and the environment by indulging in local food.

Local food is defined as agricultural products that remain within the state in which they were produced or travel less than 400 miles from their origin, according to the 2008 Farm Act. On average, local food only travels 45 miles from farm to consumer, according to the Worldwatch Institute. In contrast, regional food travels an average of 1,500 miles. In the process, it emits four to 17 times more greenhouse gases than local food.

UW-Madison’s Slow Food branch encourages local eating by working with farmers and producers to serve locally sourced, affordable meals to the community, which in turn supports local businesses.

By serving dinner on Mondays and lunch on Wednesdays, Slow Food attracts a diverse group of students, professors, parents and other community members, according to former Slow Food intern Katherine Franz. Their menus feature creative dishes and desserts each week, such as pear gorgonzola balsamic pizza and cranberry orange French meringue pie.

The UW-Madison student organization F.H. King also embodies the goals of Slow Food by fostering connections between the Madison community and the land.

Each year, the organization harvests crops on its 1.75-acre farm in Eagle Heights Garden. Through a program called “harvest handouts,” the organization distributes free, organic produce to the Madison community every Friday during the harvest season. Last year, they handed out 6,000 pounds of produce, and according to their Outreach Coordinator Jackson Froliand, they hope to give more this year.

F.H. King also teaches people to grow and care for their own food by hosting a variety of workshops, such as rooftop gardening and pruning demos. Froliand explained that as consumers, people have the choice to indulge in foods that will influence the community differently.

“If you buy something, you’re voting for it. You’re supporting it,” Froliand said. “Everyone is part of a bigger system and the way you choose to be a part of it affects the system as a whole.”

Although these programs make healthy, local foods more accessible, UW-Madison Professor of Consumer Science, Lydia Zeepeda, explained that much of the community has yet to tap into these resources.

“I’m struck by the number of students and people who are working full-time and struggling because they have debt or bills to pay,” Zeepeda said. “They make the choice to pay bills and eat ramen for weeks. It’s unhealthy, and it’s really sad.”

While Slow Food and F.H. King are supported by a strong base of interns and locals, the organizations still have many seeds to plant to make these programs and local agriculture flourish among the student body.

Supper Club finds home at Kohl Center

Photos Courtesy of Travel Wisconsin

Photos Courtesy of Travel Wisconsin

By Daniella Byck

Kohl Center patrons seeking a quintessentially Wisconsin meal can now enjoy traditional supper club fare at a new concession stand at the Kohl Center.

A day before UW-Madison basketball took on their in-state rival, Marquette, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism launched the Travel Wisconsin Supper Club. Located outside of Section 112 at Gate C, the concession stand is serving state classics with game-day convenience.

“We wanted to certainly parlay off of our heritage and history in the state and bring one of our iconic brands to our building,” said Joe Carney, Director of Operations for Levy Restaurants, the contracted concessionaire for UW Athletics. “We tried to model it after what you would see in a traditional Wisconsin Supper Club but also focus on very quick service and keeping people moving through the lines.”

The birth of supper clubs is credited to Milwaukee’s Lawrence Frank. Although Frank’s club was established in the glamourous 1920’s in Beverly Hills, supper clubs remain a family-friendly Wisconsin tradition. Customarily, a supper club can be identified by its relish trays, brandy old-fashioneds and Friday fish fries. The Travel Wisconsin Supper Club is at the intersection of Wisconsin tradition and game day fun.

Photos Courtesy of Travel Wisconsin

Photos Courtesy of Travel Wisconsin

The concession stand’s aesthetic is inspired by the familial feel of sit-down supper clubs. Deep red walls and glowing lanterns evoke the warmth of the traditional restaurants. A 46-inch musky, the Wisconsin state fish, is mounted on the wall. The stand is completed by a blazing neon sign set atop a shingle roof.

“It’s moving more away from your stainless steel and more institutional look and really trying to customize and theme concession stands to a different level that is outside of the norm,” Carney said.

While the stand’s design is a departure from the usual game-day look, it’s the food itself that sets the Supper Club apart. Sports fans looking for a unique concession experience can sample the featured daily specials such as a Tuesday pot roast and the quintessential Friday fish fry. For those attached to Kohl Center staples, the main menu offers cheese curds and french fries.

“This season we offered hand carved turkey sandwiches, hand carved brisket, hand carved everything,” Carney said. “We’re always looking to create our own unique identity and give Wisconsin fans a different taste.”

At the Kohl Center, sport and supper club enthusiasts can now conveniently feed both their cravings. The Travel Wisconsin Supper Club continues the Wisconsin tradition of both food and fandom.

Nutrition for Badger Athletes

IMG_3315By Josh Bartels

The academic year is wrapping up at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and with it comes the end of another great season in Badger Athletics. This year saw a sweet sixteen appearance in the March Madness tournament, a Holiday Bowl victory, and many more accomplishments from a large variety of sports. This success begs the question, how does an athlete perform at his or her top level?

While holistic aspects are essential to the health and well-being of athletes, nutrition is absolutely necessary in the improvement of physical performance. To find out more about this feature of health, I sat down with the Nicholas Aures, Director of Performance Nutrition for Badger Athletics.

According to Aures, the most important factor for athletic performance is the holistic view of each athlete with input from a nutritionist, strength coach, coach and even a psychologist. Each person needs a combination of nutrition, sleep and workouts.IMG_3350

No matter how hard you train, “You can never outrun a bad diet,” Aures said.

So what exactly is available to our athletes to help them perform at a superb level? The university keeps a dietary station available to all athletes in order to help them achieve their goals. From a large smoothie station filled with drawers of fruits and veggies, to a soda fountain of Badger Max, to a large refrigerator filled mostly with various dairy products, athletes can choose different foods based on their goals.

Not only does this help our athletes, but it also helps our local economy, as most of the items are from local companies. For example, Country Ovens, who supplies the athletic department with items like Cherry De-Light Nut Mixes. These smaller snacks help athletes get a small food boost in their busy schedule before they run to class. The opportunity to work with local vendors not only boosts our economy but is also beneficial to the athletic department.

Besides food and taste, the athletic department must also fit the standards set by the NCAA guidelines for what can and cannot be provided to athletes. If a certain product isn’t reaching  taste and nutrition standards, or the NCAA guidelines, the smaller vendor will work directly with the university to ensure the best quality product, something that is rarely possible with large, national food companies.

So what exactly do our athletes eat leading up to a match, game or meet? According to Aures, food varies on the specific sport and the athlete himself. A sport such as cross country requires constant, steady work over a long period of time. Because of this, accompanied with other factors such as genetics, Aures recommends a ratio with more carbohydrates than protein, as carbs are a better source of energy in the short run. In rare cases, the ratio of carbohydrates to protein can  get to as much as 4:1 for athletes. However, in a sport such as volleyball, with high intensity moments filled with rest periods in between, a diet with more protein is recommended. In this case, a ratio closer to 1:1 is better for the athlete due to the energy properties of protein.IMG_3313

However, most of us aren’t Division 1 athletes on campus, so how can we improve our health through nutrition? Aures recommends that individuals watch their sodium and cholesterol intake, as meta-analysis has shown damaging levels of these nutrients in the American diet. He also recommends staying away from superfood trends. Foods like avocados have gained a lot of traction lately, and while they are beneficial to health, too much of a single good thing can be harmful. While avocados are healthy, so are beets, cherries, spinach, blueberries, nuts, and so much more. Remember, variety is always the best option.

Enactus Redistributes Food Waste to Feed the Homeless

Article by Liz Schnee

Student organizations all over UW-Madison are working to solve problems to improve the Madison community and beyond. One of these said organizations is the social entrepreneurial group Enactus.

Their program, Project Redistribute, connects local businesses to the food insecure by transporting leftover meals from restaurants to homeless shelters. Approximately 15 Enactus members have been working on Project Redistribute since its conception in September 2015. Since then, they have saved over 100 pounds of food from being wasted and fed over 200 people using certified Servsafe delivery methods.

The organization is made up of passionate students from a wide variety of majors and skillsets. Thanks to the logo created by a student studying Graphic Design, the eight restaurants currently involved can advertise their participation with Project Redistribute on their storefront. 

Enactus hopes to partner with 15 restaurants by the end of April with a larger goal for the project’s self-sufficiency. The group hopes that the restaurants will eventually commit to continued transport of the meals that are not sold during the day to the shelters without the help of Enactus.

As project manager Samantha Linden explains, “We don’t want this to end.”

In the meantime, Enactus has won a $1,000 prize from a social entrepreneurship competition to be used for access to a UW-Madison fleet vehicle or to purchase a shared refrigerator to store deliveries overnight.

Linden looks forward to the expansion of donation site locations and increasing the businesses Enactus work with.

“Thousands of pounds of food are wasted in Madison every year by restaurants,” Linden said. “We can’t tackle every pound of waste, but our goal is to make a dent in it by taking food that would otherwise go to waste and giving it to those who need it the most.”

She also feels that she has benefited from the opportunity to explore business skills and accomplish goals in Enactus’ professional setting.

Students looking to get involved in Project Redistribute or other Enactus projects can contact President Robby Granger or attend a bimonthly meeting.

Businesses interested in partnering with Enactus should visit their website.

Chabad Shabbat Dinner

By Daniella Byck

Come Friday night, students from the Lakeshore area all the way to Langdon Street throw aside their microwave mac and cheese and prepare for a warm, home-cooked meal. It is the beginning of the Jewish day of rest, Shabbat, and a time that can conjure nostalgia for home traditions. However, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chabad house brings the Shabbat spirit to campus.

“One of the themes of Shabbat is family and community,” said Rabbi Mendel Matusof. “Especially in college where you don’t have family nearby, and so the community is your family.”

Rabbi Matusof and his family run the programming at the UW-Madison Chabad house, teaching classes and hosting holiday celebrations. Each week, dozens of students, alumni and visitors flock to the house to observe Shabbat. On some nights, attendees spill into the next room as more chairs are brought out. Luckily, there is always room and food for more at Chabad Shabbat.

“I do Shabbat every weekend at home so for me it’s nice to be in a communal, home-feeling environment every Friday night,” said Hannah Sopher, a student at UW-Madison.

Henya Matusof, the rabbi’s wife, helps cook the multi-course dinner full of customary dishes such as braided challah bread and matzo ball soup. For many Jewish students on campus, the food is reminiscent of family memories and long-held traditions. However, it is not just the food that connects students to their Friday night comfort zone.

“Setting up Shabbat with Henya reminds me of home,” said Jojo Rubnitz, a member of Chabad’s student executive board.

Students are invited to help prepare the meal’s challah and to share their interpretations of the weekly Torah portion. The Shabbat candles are lit and the traditional blessings are made. Rabbi Matusof takes a moment each meal to have the attendees introduce themselves and answer an ice breaker question, forging connections.  

“People really come because they felt connected. It’s the community, it’s the warmth, it’s the invitation,” said Rabbi Matusof, recounting the observations of a campus visitor who came to Shabbat dinner one night.

The laughter and noise of students describing their weeks echoes off the walls. But always, the discussion begins to quiet as the main meal is brought out to the table, and mouths are more concerned with consumption than conversation.

“Judaism is more than anything else a gastronomical religion,” joked Rabbi Matusof.

Shabbat dinner occurs at the UW-Madison Chabad house every Friday night at 7 p.m and all are welcome to attend. Dinners are free to UW-Madison students, but also open to the public for a small fee.

Big Share Fundraiser to REAP Benefits for Child Nutrition

REAP Big Share Online

photo by REAP Food Group

Big Share Fundraiser to REAP Benefits for Child Nutrition
By Liz Schnee

On Tuesday March 1, the second annual Big Share fundraiser will be held online by the nonprofit organization REAP. REAP has been working in Madison for 18 years with a goal of building a more just and sustainable food system. They work to increase community access to healthy foods and to encourage students to learn about where their food comes from, all while supporting Wisconsin farms.

The Big Drive is similar to the concept of “Giving Tuesday” after Thanksgiving, where people are encouraged to donate online during a 24 hour period. This year, REAP hopes to surpass the fundraiser’s first year of success for their Farm-to-School Program. Working directly with the Madison Metropolitan School District, the Farm-to-School Program supports nutrition education programming and aims to bring sustainable food into the schools. One of their most popular programs, Chef in the Classroom, brings Madison chefs into middle and high schools to teach cooking skills.

The fundraiser will simulate a day in the life of a Madison elementary school student, following a student’s typical routine. The idea will focus on food choices and the availability of special “Garden Bars” in the lunch line. A fresh fruit and veggie snack will also be provided by REAP.

REAP’s work has a positive impact in low-income neighborhoods in the Madison community, providing children with opportunities to learn what a healthy lifestyle looks like, as well as supporting the Wisconsin farming economy. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to donate on March 1, and students and community members looking for other ways to get involved are encouraged to volunteer.

More information can be found on their website.
Check here to donate and like their Facebook page!

Souperbowl Fundraiser at Madison West

By Natasha Biscoe

The 20th annual Souperbowl fundraiser for the Habitat for Humanity UW-Chapter was a record breaker. Over 1,300 soup fans donated $15 to taste the soups offered by many of Madison’s local businesses and larger chains such as McDonalds and Culvers.

Souperbowl goers were provided with the delights of hearty food while enjoying live music and spirited conversation. Selecting a hand-crafted bowl made by local student artists was a fun activity, adding to the experience of the occasion. Taking it home was a bonus.

Hugh, the’Manity for Humanity’ was this year’s mascot and addition to the event, on duty to provide a photo opportunity and expand the social media profile of the chapter’s most well-established and successful fundraiser; over $20,000 was raised this year. These funds will contribute to providing a home for a local family, who described owning their own home as a “dream come true.”

Without a doubt, supporting a good cause makes people feel good, but what is it about food that makes fundraisers like these so popular and deeply rooted in tradition? Hayley, one of the student volunteers simply said, “Food is comfort.” The relaxed vibe of the event was palpable. It is a unique opportunity to be able to sit next to a stranger in the community and have an interesting conversation over good, hearty soup.

Food is familiar; it’s something that people are comfortable talking about, and conversation about flavors and recipes between foodies flows easily. The various homemade desserts available provided a perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation between bites of cappuccino cookies, including which soup was in the highest favor. The vegan tomato and chickpea proved to be some favorites.

Food plays a big role in drawing people to the annual fundraiser, which is a significant one for Habitat for Humanity’s UW-Chapter. This year’s was a definite success.

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CHEW on This: Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin

By Liz Schnee

Photo by Meghan Horvath

Photo by MH

For the last 15 years, the Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin have gathered together once a month to explore various historic aspects of food. Basically, meetings are a way for interested Madisonians to become educated foodies. I was lucky enough to attend their December meeting, where Julia Wong gave a presentation on the evolution of restaurant menus.

Before the meeting, I chatted with the CHEW vice president and co-founder Terese Allen, who shared some of her favorite parts of being in the organization. She described the group as, “Nutty people who are fascinated with the roles that food play in our culture and what food means to us.” Allen also plays a dominant role in food culture in Madison, having written a cookbook and long-running columns in Edible Madison, Edible Door magazine, and the Isthmus.

Every meeting has a different topic, and their relationship with the Wisconsin Historical Society and UW-Madison enables them to attract a wide range of guests. The December meeting hosted Julia Wang, who works at the Wisconsin Historical Society and processes collections in the Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Collection. She gave a presentation chock-full of Madison references and pictures. For me, one of the highlights was seeing a picture from 1908 of a bake shop on State Street, now the home of Ian’s Pizza. Another was a menu from the 1980s of the restaurant L’Etoile on the Capitol Square, documenting their constant emphasis on regional procurement. There was even a binder of collected menus showing a lobster dinner for 50 cents with gold-embossed lettering as the font. Julia explained that studying menus serves as a “reminder of a communal experience,” which resonated with me because going out to eat is a shared tradition that has marked special occasions and important life events for many generations.

Anyone looking to impress friends by dropping some culinary knowledge can attend a meeting. They’re open to the public, and take place at 7:15 on the first Wednesday of each month in the bustling and friendly Goodman Center on the East side of Madison.

The next meeting will be presented by Nichole Fromme and Jonmichael Rasmus on the history of the Madison restaurant scene, and February’s presentation will be about food deserts and their origins.

CHEW believes that exploring the culinary past brings about the same joy as traveling; getting to discover exotic dishes otherwise unknown to daily life.

For more information, check out: http://www.chewwisconsin.com/

Far from Home and Full of Food

By Daniella Byck

Photo by Talia Byck ~taken in Madrid, Spain at the Madreat food cart festival

Photo by Talia Byck ~Madrid, Spain at the Madreat food cart festival

 

For some students, campus is a car ride away. For others, the journey to college spans time zones and states. But for the brave and adventurous, a university experience can traverse oceans and cultures. Studying abroad—be it for a semester or the time it takes to get a degree—provides students with insights and newfound knowledge that can only be gained through travel and exploration.

In the spring of 2015, Whitney Johnson left life in the midwest to spend a semester in Sevilla, Spain. Eating served as a cultural lesson, providing Johnson with great insight into the history of her new Spanish home. When her host mother prepared dishes, she would also verse Johnson in the meal’s origins. “Spain has a lot of influence from the Moors,” Johnson shares. “She would talk to us about dishes from Morocco because it’s so close, so we would kind of learn about the history of Spain through the dishes and what they represented.” Johnson also experienced cultural differences in the way food was consumed. “A lot more emphasis on not just eating and being done with it but just being together,” she noticed.

Felix Nguyen, a student from Vietnam shares the same sentiments on how meals can go beyond just what is on the plate. “Because we all need to eat, bonding over food is an interesting way to make new friends,” Nguyen writes in an electronic correspondence. “As an international student who is willing to experience dissimilar cultures, I am willing to try an array of dishes that I might not think of trying in Vietnam.” He contrasts Vietnamese dishes as having a more watery, soup-type base than a typical Madison meal.

Traditions related to food go beyond flavor—the appearance of the food is a cultural indicator in itself. Rui Zhou, a senior from mainland China began his studies in Seattle before transferring to Madison. A lover of China’s spicier cuisine, Zhou is quick to spot the differences between the presentations of food in the two countries he has called home. “Something really different in China is when we have fish we serve the whole body of fish,” Zhou says. “But people here, when they see a body they think of a body, it’s a scary thing. It’s something really different.” The presentation of food can also provide links between modern food norms. Nguyen shares how Vietnam’s cultural focus on street food has led to the development of “unique flavors and simplicity in food presentation.” Not unlike the beloved food truck trend that has permeated Madison’s own campus.

Although the newness of dishes and meal customs might leave some feeling out of place, these students represent experiences where food can be grounding as well. Far from familiarity, connections forged by food remain uniting while on adventures spanning the map. Johnson’s go-to meeting spot in Sevilla was the churro cart, and even back in Madison, whenever she sees fellow students from her program Johnson says that they “always joke to meet at the churro stand in ten minutes.” Zhou enjoys the quintessentially American cheeseburger as the meal he most identifies with his home in Madison. As for Nguyen, the center of his culinary community is a campus favorite: Buffalo Wild Wings. “To be honest,” Nguyen writes, “most of my close friendships developed at Bdubs.”