Two years ago, I was pleasantly surprised at a social gathering by senior Sam Howard’s proposal that we cook dinner together sometime. I reckoned it was merely a charming gesture that would not be pursued. However, the next day we decided on a time and a place for our cooking rendezvous.
The following weekend, Howard showed up outside of Mathias 20 minutes late, donning a button-down shirt and jeans in senior Dylan Conway’s distinctly steezy pickup truck. I perused the aisles of King Soopers while he carefully picked out the ingredients for our chicken masterpiece. He was planning on teaching me how to cook a zesty, honey mustard chicken with rice and broccoli on the side.
We returned to the Mathias kitchen and he began chopping and sautéing onions, glass of red wine in hand. While Howard eyed the proportions of spicy brown honey mustard and orange juice and mixed them into the pan, he instructed me how to recreate this meal in the future.
The dinner we shared was a delicious change of pace from Rastall’s routine spread. I still attempt to cook the honey mustard chicken as well as Howard did that night.
Now that us elderly seniors have moved to off-campus houses, we are forced to embrace our kitchens, even if we’re attempting to survive off of Annie’s mac-and-cheese. Losing inspiration to cook intricate meals for my housemates, I was compelled to check in with Howard about his cooking endeavors.
Howard and his housemates, seniors Sam Brody, Will Lindsay, Danny Hovancsek, Raphael Broh, and junior Leona Waller, arrange weekly family dinners, in which each housemate contributes something to the table.
The most successful culinary task thus far was when Lindsay and Howard decided to conquer the pulled pork sandwich for a family dinner. They threw the pork into a crock-pot with barbecue spices, barbecue sauce, and a hickory mesquite whiskey rub. They topped it off with two onions and a cup of ginger ale and set the crock-pot on for twelve hours. After the first stage, they strained the pot, added a half-cup of rum and a beer to create a caramelized texture, and waited four more hours before they were able to strip the pork.
Lindsay looked at Howard after their creation was complete and said, “I feel like a man.”
Howard agreed with Lindsey and was thrilled with their creation. In fact, Howard would prefer to distinguish himself from the prototype of a “bro”. While he is a social butterfly and loves frequenting classy gatherings, Howard is much too independent to strike anyone as your typical college bro.
Following this account of Howard and Lindsey’s pulled pork work of art, I was obviously intrigued to hear where this domestic side of Howard was rooted. He delved into a narrative of his grandma’s Thanksgiving meals from when he was younger. His grandparents typically presented a spread of two different types of turkeys, and a rum-and-honey brushed ham.
The Thanksgiving tradition sparked Howard to “want to have good food all the time,” he said.
Howard’s grandma began to share her recipes and guidance with him as he slowly developed into a culinary expert. His grandma owns a restaurant in Farmington, Conn. named Apricots. Apricots specializes in seafood and ranges from $15 lunch entrees to $30 dinner entrees. Howard has regularly visited the restaurant for many years.
“I got exposed to quality food and developed a different desire for food. I won’t just settle for slop,” he said.
Howard’s cooking excelled when he traveled to Greece in place of his senior year of high school. Living independently for the first time, Howard was well prepared to face the challenge and cook for himself.
Howard said, “I learned to have an idea of what I like and cook to my liking on a cheap budget for one or two nice meals a week.”
And his exposure to cooking on his own in Greece has translated well into his current college lifestyle.
“Cooking gives you something productive to do with your time. It’s a good life skill to have. I’m not going to be a chef, but I can come home and whip something up that will be comparable to paying thirty dollars in a restaurant,” he said.
And the best part? He is willing to share his culinary talents.