Greeting and Meeting

Today is the second of two departmental soirees wherein we new students get to meet everyone else, though this one is aimed more at everyone getting back together after summer vacation, not merely the introduction of the new cohort.

This means I finally get to find out who everyone else is. The first one was last Friday, and I missed it because I was unavoidably on the wrong side of the country. So this is my chance.

This is exciting, this is great, this is…apparently a potluck. Well, I wasn’t expecting to eat anyway, although now I have the slight reprieve of being able to eat whatever I bring. (Well, to be fair, I could buy pork rinds and put them out, but why would I?)

But what to bring? Is this more of a serious lunch sort of thing (at 3:30 in the afternoon) or a snack thing? Should I be thinking of a salad or a cake or a quiche.
Or I could start by making a list of things I CAN make, given the dual constraints of the not-in-the-least-well-stocked-ness of my kitchen and the general absence of kosher food.

Quiche – out because there is no cheese.

Savory Tart – I don’t have a grater, so no potato crust. I also don’t have a rolling pin and, having tried to make pastries without one before, I would honestly rather eat the ball of dough.

Salad – No good vinegar other than rice, which sadly limits my dressing possibilities. Also, what if this is more of a snack thing? What if everyone else brings chips and dips and cookies and I’m standing there with my pathetic green salad and…

That was the point when I realized I was overthinking things.

My darling husband, with whom I was discussing this unfortunate conundrum, suggested that I ask someone. This would have been a good idea if a) It wasn’t about three hours beforehand and b) It actually mattered.

That’s the crux of the problem. It doesn’t matter what I bring. It will never matter what I bring – this is not my academic career on the line, nor my future job prospects nor my eventual ability to get tenure. I will not look back at my life, many years from now and think, “Yes, it all went downhill the day I brought potato chips to the English faculty party.” (Especially because I’m not bringing potato chips.)

The point is that this isn’t what matters. The point is that there are a lot of cool and interesting and intimidating things coming up and I have better things to do than fret over the little ones like this.

So this is what I have learned today:

1) Priorities. Now would be a good time to get them in order.

2) When all you have in your kitchen is a pot, a metal mixing bowl and a whisk, you can make brownies.

3) For the first time since moving out of my parents’ house, I am in an apartment with a fully functioning oven. It heats to the right temperature, it cooks food the way the manufacturers intended it to. This was such a shocking realization that I nearly burned the brownies because they were done when the recipe said they would be and it has been YEARS since anything I’ve cooked didn’t require an extra 5-15 minutes.

Hopefully they’ll still taste good. And if they don’t…well, see lesson #1.

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About

I'm a doctoral student in English Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My interests lie in the field known very broadly as the Digital Humanities and I focus on reading digital books (what happens to books as they become not merely digitized, but digital) and reading books digitally (how can we use computers to learn new things about literature). In what spare time I have, I read speculative fiction, transform long strings of yarn into apparel and decor and play with my friends' dogs while eagerly awaiting the day when we move to an apartment complex that will allow us to have one.

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5 comments on “Greeting and Meeting
  1. Rachel says:

    I was going to suggest cookies, but brownies are even easier. Well done. The nice thing about simple desserts: they go with both snacks and meals, and there’s (almost) always room for more of them.

  2. Yael Shayne says:

    Why do I feel guilty? I feel like I should be sending out to you some vinegar, cheese, rolling pin, grater and everything else you mentioned that you don’t have; however, I will refrain, also citing #1 above, and realizing that they will love and respect you for yourself and not your cooking skills.

    • jabenami says:

      🙂 – It’s like those camp care packages, only instead of hot pink lanyard and stationary, I get balsamic vinegar and parmigiano reggiano. Don’t worry, though, I’m good.
      Although they do say “If you can’t wow them with wisdom, bribe them with baking”.

  3. Aunto Barbo says:

    Just made a “New York Style” cheese cake w/o crust for my good friend’s birthday – at her step children’s behest. Your Brownee endeavor reminds me to make my “Decadent Brownee” recipe for Sukkot — my friend’s home every year for this holiday. Lizzy, I didn’t realize you were such a versitile cook and baker! Kudos.

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