Hey readers, I'm Mike. I'm a rising senior at Olin joining the blog for my final year. Normally, I think the best way to get to know people is to swap stories over a good meal. So I'll spend my first post talking about food.
This past semester I studied in Aberdeen, Scotland and traveled throughout western Europe. Here are some culinary highlights.
Here's me enjoying delicious pizza on my first night in Rome.
The best cheesecake on the planet is Bailey's Irish Cream Cheesecake, served in Dublin.
The Eiffel Tower is an unbelievable picnic spot. Especially after dark as the city starts to glow.
EATING AT OLIN
I'm pretty sure my favorite place at Olin is the fantastic all-you-can-eat campus dining hall. During the semester, I eat all my meals here, and would probably have at least one more per day if they didn't close after dinner. The Chicken Parm sandwich is ridiculously tasty, the curly fries are top-notch, and the fajitas, while admittedly not the least bit authentic, are nevertheless always able to fill me up on Wednesday afternoons. Some weekends the made-to-order omelets are the only things that pull me out of bed before 2PM (yes, we have a very forgiving brunch schedule).
HOW I LEARNED TO COOK
While I've never really been hungry at Olin (except when the dining hall is closed), the experience as definitely failed to teach me important life skills like planning and preparing meals for myself. I've known my way around Cup o' Noodles and Hot Pockets for a while now, but I think that hardly qualifies as lasting nourishment. So I got a rude awakening this past semester when I arrived for my study abroad experience in Scotland only to find out that the school I chose offered absolutely no meal plan.
Luckily for me, I had plenty of time and a girlfriend who knew her way around a kitchen but refused to let me just stand by and watch. Together, we honed crucial culinary skills like budget grocery shopping without a car, troubleshooting lack-of-ingredient dilemmas, and maximizing the value of leftovers. We not only survived the semester extremely well-fed, but could look forward to a new (and tasty) challenge almost every evening. I learned two big lessons:
1) Cooking (like most things) is pretty much always more fun when you plan and execute it with someone else.
2) Never, ever lose a bet that forces you to do dish duty every night for a week. (Long story... ).
More importantly, I got to make and eat awesome food like Peanut Noodle Stir-fry, Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli (from scratch...even the noodles!) and Cheesy Black Bean Enchiladas (below).
Thanks for reading, and eat well this summer.
PS: If you get hungry someday soon, try out this stellar recipe for Spinach Lasagna, given to me by my old roommate Alex Jones '11. It was basically the first recipe I ever perfected, and still one of my all-time favorites.