“Gastronomy definitely made me think critically about where food comes from and how it is produced, and that is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Since taking Gastronomy I have definitely expanded my willingness to try new food (at this point I will try literally anything… I’ve eaten grasshoppers). I have also generally been more mindful of my eating habits, and tried to embrace and enjoy food while eating it. I think the course taught me a lot about learning to balance pleasure in eating with making healthy choices. Gastronomy encouraged me to buy local, fresh produce as often as possible. In college, my housemates and I would go to local farmers markets every weekend for groceries. Everything I learned I have shared with my family and friends (I find myself teaching people about cheese a little too often). My family has even embraced some of the knowledge I brought back from the class- we now own part of a CSA share and bring back fresh produce from Hawthorne Valley Farm every week.
Since taking the class in high school, I’ve become very attentive to the complicated issues associated with the agriculture industry and was inspired to learn more about them. As an Anthropology major I have taken a lot of courses on Political Ecology that relate to the agriculture-economy side of things. I have learned all about agricultural development projects and their impacts. Industrial agriculture causes all kinds of problems for the environment. Big industrial farms can displace local communities, and put smaller farmers out of work. Conditions of animals can cause health issues for both the animals and the farmers who work there. Biological diversity gets lost as patented seeds are modified until they take over. At the same time, the industry employs and feeds many people, and it’s so integrated into our way of life. We are so reliant on the agriculture industry to provide us with affordable food, but the quality of the food and the way it is produced is providing us with health issues. On the less political side of things, I’ve also learned a lot about cultural heritage and food and the meaning it has for people. Food and culture are linked very tightly, and Gastronomy taught us to appreciate food from all over the place and the associated traditions.” — Jeanette, Class of 2008
“Thinking back to my senior year of high school, it’s difficult to quantify the great effect the Gastronomy course has had upon my living. For most of my life, I’ve heard the saying “You are what you eat,” but it never resonated much in the foods I ate. I, as an American, have grown up in a society where efficiency and profit are the paramount goals of any corporation. It is an unfortunate truth that these same goals have over time made its way to the dinner table of most American families. Absent, prior to taking this course, was a love for food and its position in my life. I have learned that there is a great difference between eating to live and living to eat. The human race has existed for thousands of years and for every year which we have walked on the earth food has remained an integral part of being. It seems almost ludicrous that something so important to living remains outside of academic discussions within most high schools. Among many other reasons, I eat now to partake in different customs, to celebrate the traditions of family and to enrich my knowledge of the world around me. What I’ve learned from this course is very simple; I am what I eat… so I intend to eat well.” — Kion, Class of 2008
“I took Gastronomy my sophomore year in high school and since then I’ve developed a greater appreciation for food. From tasting foods in the classroom to venturing out to places in the city, the course allowed me to develop a more cultured palate. I learned that there’s more to cheese than Kraft square slices and mozzarella. We once had a reading assignment, “A Guide to Buying Cheeses”, which I took as informative rather than applicable since I wasn’t a cheese fan. Having only tasted cheese made from cows’ milk, the idea of goat and sheep cheeses was odd to me. Following several other cheese-related readings and class discussions we had an instructor from Murray’s Cheese Shop teach us more about it but this time with pieces we can try. A little over half of the cheeses we tasted were made from goat’s and sheep’s milk. After tasting every piece and going over each of their appearance, smell, flavor and origin I discovered that I really enjoyed goat cheese. Since that unit, all I do is eat goat cheese, with the Wabash Cannonball and the Bijou among my favorites. My love for cheese flourished so much that I have passed on my knowledge and even had mini cheese-tastings with friends. Every time I visit home from college it is an unwritten rule that I have to take my mom shopping for cheese and this goes for birthdays as well.” — Nadyli, Class of 2011
“In the last few days, I’ve made bucatini fra diavolo, with shrimp and local sand shark, baked fresh filone, threw together a stir-fry with handmade tofu from a storefront vendor in Chinatown and farmer’s market spinach, and mixed fresh herbed labneh. I took a chance on some seafood and chive pancakes from the Japanese deli downstairs, restocked my favorite frozen pork bao, and introduced a friend to my neighborhood hole-in-the-wall Mexican taqueria. This isn’t just to illustrate my affection for slightly grimy, provenance-unknown snacks and ingredients, but to highlight the ways international culture becomes New York fuel. I come from a food-minded family, but Gastronomy helped expand my appetite for soy sauce and pork products to food politics and culinary traditions. The class provides a balance of behind-the-scenes access and big picture discussions on food production and history, introducing students to the ever-growing food culture of New York City and encouraging independent exploration and experimentation.” — Lillie, Class of 2008
“To me, gastronomy was one of the cornerstones of my high school education. I learned that good, flavorful, and truly nutritious food is not only accessible, but serves as an anchor for a society I want to be a part of. A community that eats local, honest food oozes with a culture that can genuinely enjoy a dish because of the appreciation of the whole process from farm to plate. Growing up, I typically saw cooking as a chore. My single mother had to raise 3 very hungry boys. After work, she’d make her way home to start dinner. Understandably, this event, to her, was simply another thing to do. After gastronomy, I see cooking as an escape. It is a craft that I am consistently improving. Cooking connects people through recipes, techniques, and, of course, the eating. Sophomore year, I prepared chicken cordon bleu with roasted redskin potatoes and spinach salad for this girl I really liked. It came out perfect! The chicken was moist, the potatoes were golden. Over the table and past the bottle of affordable red wine, she told me she was very impressed. In a few months, we’ll be moving in together. Now that I’m a graduate, I’m looking forward most to having a kitchen equipped with a high end knife set, lots of counter space and a farmer’s market within walking distance.” — Julian, Class of 2008