Eckhardt and Hagerman were on campus for several days to participate in the cooking demonstration, visit Armanios’ class, and give a public lecture and presentation on their book. Armanios had invited them to Middlebury as part of the College’s Professors of the Practice Program, an initiative that brings professionals to campus to share their expertise with students as part the academic curriculum.
The dishes the class made included Spicy Bulgur Köfte–a mixture of bulgur, tomato, pepper pastes, and pomegranate molasses–“The Imam Fainted” Baked Eggplant, Tomato and Pomegranate Relish, and Strained Yogurt with Cucumber and Herbs. Once the cooking was done, the class sat down to sample the different recipes.
“Getting to make something from the cookbook was valuable because as much as we talk about food, it’s nice to get to taste it,” said Celia Ripple ’20, a student in Armanios’ class. “Robyn said that there is a flavor that is distinctly Turkish to her, and it was nice to get to try her recipes and understand what that tastes like.
“I like the class because using food to study history is different,” added Ripple. “It’s not like any history class I have taken before. Food is an integral part of life, and I didn’t realize until this class how much historical events can influence cuisine. Understanding food history adds a dimension to studying history that is both really interesting and creates a more complete understanding of culture and how it changes.”
“What I love about the cooking element of this course is that it reflects this applied, experimental quality where collaboration, teamwork, and sometimes a little kitchen chaos can produce something delicious,” said Armanios. “Most importantly, the cooking and tasting can allow students to become immersed, if partly, within a culinary tradition that they may not have otherwise encountered.”
Reporting by Sarah Ray; Photos by David Hagerman and Febe Armanios