Today, for the first time, my friends and I cooked Korean food on our own. My mom is Korean, and when she makes Korean food, I’m typically assigned the task of chopping vegetables or mixing salt into rice or some else mundane. The most pivotal role I’ve played in Korean food prep up until today has been spreading rice and vegetables on a sheet of seaweed and rolling it up to make kimbap, the Korean lookalike of sushi. Even then, my aunt was working beside me, bestowing frequent advice: don’t spread the rice all the way to the end of the sheet, or it’ll splurt out when you roll it; put the spinach and radish in this order to make it look prettier.
But today, a few friends and I attempted to prepare a dish without any guidance or prior experience making it: Jajangmyeon. Like miso soup, the dish is based on fermented soybean paste. Noodles are drowned in a black, savory-sweet soybean sauce. It may sound strange at first, I realize, but hear me out. First into the sauce is pork belly, fried to a golden brown. Next, diced onion and cubes of zucchini and potato are added and cooked until soft. Finally, globs of the deep black soybean sauce are stirred in, turning the whole dish black. Crisp slivers of cucumber are arranged on top of each serving.
Also on the menu for our Saturday dinner: Aloe vera juice, ginger dumplings, sweet spiced pickles, and mango mochi. Most of our cooking supplies were funded by a Caltech grant literally named the “Fun Fund.” The Don Shepard Fun Fund randomly distributes twenty-five dollars to about a hundred Caltech undergrads each term just to “do something fun,” as long as it has “socially redeeming value.” I’ve entered the lottery for this all three terms, and have won it twice. Both times I’ve used it for—guess what—food.
Unlike many students, I never had the opportunity to visit Caltech before enrolling. I had visited California once in elementary school, and the first time I returned was to move in for college. The only time I had ever left home before was for a week or two of sleepaway camp. Now, I would be moving across the country to a place I had never seen before with a bunch of strangers. Naturally, I was a bit terrified.
…Or, How a Disciple of Bethany Ehlmann, a Former Desert Militiaman, Moore Lab Subbasement Dwellers, Roblox’s Newest Intern, a Florida Man, and a Luminous Plasma Scientist Went to War with the Caltech Mail Center, Got Double-Crossed by AirGas Corp., Survived Three COVID Outbreaks, and Nearly Stranded Themselves in the Mojave in order to Send a Bag of Peanuts to Space (A True Story).
Every midterm week and final week, Page House Peer Advocates (PAs) put on a de-stressing event. This term for midterms, the PAs hosted a painting night in conjunction with a Page dessert night. (Every Thursday, the House gives $60 to a pageboy (a member of Page) to buy a bunch of dessert and snacks for the house for dessert night.). They provided canvases, paint brushes, and a variety of paint colors for the night. It was a really fun and relaxing time to stop working on sets or studying for midterms for a bit and hangout with friends.
On the weekend of April 16th, my friends and I participated in the first ever Southern California College Poker Tournament! The tournament was for college students in the SoCal area with a $0 buy-in that doubled as a recruiting event for quant and finance firms. A senior friend of mine (Vanessa, a fellow blogger) put together a team of five girls who had no interest in being recruited and just wanted to have fun playing poker.