While my roommates and I were preparing for a brunch at our humble off-campus abode, Sir Eric Syrjala pleasantly surprised us an hour early with ingredients for scones in hand. It started out with a simple request for some flour, a baking sheet, and a few other tools.
Engulfed in a cloud of bacon smoke, I glanced over at Syrjala. He was carefully grating orange peel onto rolled-out dough. It was the most delightful sight to see while our housemates were frantically running around gathering last minute supplies and pre-made food.
Now, Syrjala isn’t your Urban Dictionary version of a “bro.”
In fact, he claims his only connection with bro culture is “living in a large house with nine men and throwing lots of parties that random people unexpectedly show up to.”
While he certainly enjoys this, it is not as if he talks about extreme sports while hitting on girls, identifies with brand names, or obsesses over his appearance, according to his reaction to Urban Dictionary. So he may be a one-of-a-kind bro in that his cooking skills differentiate him from most guys I know.
Syrjala credits his mom as an inspiration for his cooking and baking. She attempted to raise him with the intent to cook for the family once a week, but this wasn’t exactly maintained. However, his mom’s cuisine has provided enough appreciation for food to encourage his curiosity in cooking.
Syrjala enjoys combining any random assortment of ingredients to make “one big disorganized mess, [including] whatever is in the fridge, to make something that you like.”
He emphasizes the use of meat in their house. Syrjala’s golden rule is to always undercook your meat because the alternative is worse and, “Who doesn’t like their meat bloody?”
In addition to his knowledge about meat, Syrjala was swarmed when he approached the brunch guests with a tray of his Orange Currant Scones. He learned the recipe from his mother after growing up with these scones at every family brunch. Syrjala also remembers baking with this same recipe in the Spanish house during his sophomore year.
While he is modest about his intricately created scones, Syrjala highlights that his cooking is mainly a mission to combine whatever ingredients are available. One of his favorite dishes is risotto. It is an Italian rice dish that tastes best with the Arborio rice at our local Mountain Mama’s. It serves as a base food that can include many different contents. Last year, Syrjala was even able to whip up a Thanksgiving risotto with the leftovers. And it has been a tradition for he and his mom to make green risotto with pesto, and red risotto with beets in the spirit of Christmas.
At school, Syrjala cooks with his housemates at 724 Nevada from time to time. While some are more involved in the cooking than others, their house is equipped with a new crock-pot and steamer.
Seeing as the boys tend to use a lot of meat in their dishes, Syrjala claims their cooking style is “180 degrees from the vegan, local food potlucks that the senior class loves to throw,” although he recognizes those are “always delicious.”
But ultimately, with their ability to combine the most random array of ingredients, Syrjala claimed, he and his bros have mastered the late night snack with “bacon wrapped dino-nuggets topped with 12 scrambled eggs and condiments,” and he would call this “pretty bro-ey.”