Lately, I’ve taken an interest in dogs. Specifically, looking at cute dog videos on the endless feed that is Instagram. One account that I now follow is known as @idogsplanet where various dogs are given subtitles as if they are verbally expressing the physical attitudes they display. Here’s a link to a funny video they recently posted (hope it makes your day):
Last year, on a whim, I took a one unit seminar through UCLA entitled, “Dolphins: People of the Sea”. I figured it might be a nice break from my otherwise stressful schedule and several members of my family have been dolphin trainers in the past so I thought it might be useful to study up. While it was certainly entertaining to learn about these hyper-intelligent aquatic mammals, the class also explored a darker side to our relationship with dolphins.
During last week’s class we discussed the most popular item in a diet— Bread. Bread is the product of baking a mixture of flour, water, salt and yeast. The basic process involves mixing of ingredients until the flour is converted into a stiff paste or dough, followed by baking the dough into a loaf. To make good bread, dough made by any process must be extensible enough for it to relax and to expand while it is rising. A good dough is extensible if it will stretch out when pulled.
Imagine driving home from a long day of school, excited to be done with the day and to curl up with your little Shih Tzu puppy in just a few minutes. Within seconds, your life's turned upside down. Literally. Your car starts flipping over and over and over and over again until finally coming to a stop. The craziest part of it all, no one in your car has a single scratch. This scenario was my Wednesday afternoon in 2013.
During week 1, I attended Linda Weintraub’s lecture about eco-materialism and also got to participate in her workshops based on her book What’s Next? Eco-Materialism and Contemporary Art. Weintraub talks about how disconnected humans are with nature and how this disconnect is causing the divide that is affecting both the human race and nature in negative ways.
This past week we discussed something that is seemingly so simple and something that is a staple to many cultures around the world, bread. This ball of gluten comes from a dough made from wheat, water, salt and maybe some yeast. Once the wet dough has risen then it is cooked in the oven and becomes a light and delicious loaf of bread.
Linda Weintraub’s workshops during week 1 perfectly introduced the idea that scientific material—biological, chemical, etc.— can capture larger elements of humanity. Our capacity to do physical work as a collective unit, shared knowledge, experience, and resources, common identity as a species can all be represented by simple materials like carbon dioxide, micro-biomes, and hair, respectively.
A large part of last week’s section was dedicated to a discussion on (and consumption of) bread. Needless to say, I was a happy girl. One of my friends once posed the question to me, “if you could have any food for zero calories, what would it be?” and my response was a nice loaf of bread. The satisfying external crunch of a rustic roll or sourdough giving way to a soft, savory interior... sign me up.
If one were to mention anything regarding deadly plants, images of carnivorous human-size venus fly traps straight out of a science fiction horror film would be the first thing to come to mind. On a bit of a more relaxed note, ever since I was little in elementary school, I have always been aware of plants that caused irritation of the skin. I vividly remember a specific bush near the playground of my school that was infamously notorious for causing rashes if you touched the plants that resided.
Staple foods are those foods that consume a large part of people’s daily diets. They can be stored easily and can be eaten throughout the year. Staple do not require special facilities, like refrigerators, to be stored. Thus, any food that needs to be stored in a refrigerator is not a staple food. Staple foods are eaten worldwide. Specific staple, however, is usually eaten more in some cultures and countries than others. Two examples of staple food are rice and beans.
More than half the world, (upwards of 3.5 billion people,) depend on rice for over 20% of their daily nutrition. In 2017, the volume of rice produced worldwide amounted to 495.9 million metric tons and occupied 161.1 million hectares of land! To give you a sense of scale, because… scale is fun: a blue whale is slightly smaller than a space shuttle and just 1 hectare could contain 12 blue whales.
This week, professor Vesna showed us a self-therapy project her former student did with hair and Trichotillomania disorder. I found this project interesting and somehow relatable. When talking about anxiety, I think everyone more or less have their own reaction to either alleviate or to shift their attention from the anxiety itself.
The Art of Bread
Collective Bread Diaries
Last week in HC 177, we began a delicious new topic: The art of bread.
Featured in this discussion was the Collective Bread Diaries: A Taste of Protest, an interactive art project by UCLA artist in residence, Haytham Nawar. His work studies the complex relationship between man, machine, and bread.
I tried making bread for the first time when I was about ten years old. My father helped me prepare it, but we both failed miserably. The bread never rose, and stayed flat throughout the baking process. I attempted baking it again by myself, but I encountered the same issue. I came to the realization that making bread was a much more difficult process than I initially thought.
It is no wonder that cooking is called culinary art. Looking at bread making specifically, it is an art to mix such simple ingredients together and create sustenance that people across the globe cannot live without. The episode “Air” from the Netflix documentary Cooked offers a fascinating look at the art and science behind bread making and the importance of bread. Pollan recalls the intimidation he felt at the thought of attempting to make bread.