Initial Conditions

[by Mike]

Given the prolific posting by my compatriots as of late, I should probably start with my own contributions. Following Naveen, I'll begin with my own introduction to the finer bits in life.

Having been emphasized growing up, food never really interested me until high school when my mind was blown by the first season of Good Eats. You have to remember that this was before the recent upswell of nerd love in popular culture, so Alton Brown's foray into food wasn't just one of the better science shows on television it was one of the few. Needless to say, I was immediately hooked on the science of cooking and the anthropological history of the ingredients. Any focus on the food itself, though, the flavors and textures, was absent.

Once I started undergrad, my adolescent yearning for science was quickly satiated by the torrent of coursework in the core curriculum, but the application of science to food still intrigued me. There was something fascinating about the complexities of something I had taken for granted for so long. I still remember the day I walked to the local bookstore and picked up a copy of Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking" (proudly before it was cool). Over the next few years I read, watched, and slowly started to do some cooking of my own. By the time I graduated I was beginning to develop an appreciation for not only the science behind the food but also the interplay of flavors and textures of each ingredient .

That timing was fortuitous, because the most important aspect of graduate school outside of academia is getting yourself fed. While other students embraced the cheap (and occasionally free) food characteristic of the graduate environment, I took advantage of having my own kitchen to cook as much as possible. Slowly I discovered the culinary scene in Boston, and it's been a joy ever since.

Oh, and how could I forget imbibing? Quality alcohol was never really available in undergrad, so my exposure to liquor up until graduation was mostly Amaretto Sours and terrible cocktails. Once settled into grad school I started to build a bar, experimenting with spirits and drinks and fostering an appreciation for the good stuff. The serendipitous explosion of cocktail culture in Boston has been a treat.

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