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Thursday, April 18, 2024

On my plate: Toast is cooking, actually! 

Turning simple ingredients into beautiful meals

 

By NADIA ANEES — nsanees@ucdavis.edu 

 

I came into this academic year feeling very confident about my cooking abilities. Last summer in my Bay Area home, I was cooking away, creating cool concoctions with fresh ingredients from the farmers market and other ethnic grocery stores nearby. Two or three weeks into fall quarter, I received a flattening reality check — the colorful dishes I was spending hours on at home over summer break would likely not happen often in my college apartment during fall quarter (or winter… or spring). 

I simply don’t often find myself with the remaining energy to put into making a beautiful and exciting meal for myself. The extra time I do have on my hands is put into resting, letting my brain go numb on Netflix or doing nothing with friends. 

I started to feel bothered by my lack of creative production in the kitchen. In fact, it was impacting my ego because something I hold so close to my identity — making beautiful food —  was something I was neglecting. “Yeah, I never cook anymore,” I started telling people. 

On Instagram, I started to watch how people were making something beautiful even out of the most simple to put together foods — I’m talking toast! 

Toast became a culinary palette for me to paint on. I started to imbue my toast with whichever flavor combinations I was craving. When it’s warm and sunny out –- cool whipped ricotta on rye, topped with extra virgin olive oil from my mom, cracked black pepper, ultra-ripe  yellow and red heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil leaves I would pick from a nearby garden. When it was cold and dim and my sweet craving was particularly prominent, the classic cinnamon and sugar sprinkled generously on sourdough, which I’d toast on a skillet with salty butter. On a chilly spring morning — peanut butter and a dollop of Greek yogurt with strawberries, honey and mint on wheat.

I’m here to say that if your cooking skills are an area of low confidence, turn to the simplest possible foods and create art out of them. Toast is cooking. Now go be a chef!  

 

Written by: Nadia Anees — nsanees@ucdavis.edu

 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.

 

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