College Student Comfort Food
How do recipes for college student comfort food fit in a digital design tools course?
The spring semester has ended with some fun surprises from students in a course I teach at Temple University, called Introduction to Digital Design Tools. I have taught many variations of this class, introducing students to Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign since the early 2000s. The software and the need for it have changed a great deal over the years. Despite the increasing availability of easy and free design apps for non-designers, basic competency in Adobe applications is still an entry level requirement for many jobs.
Since I learned these tools on my own, (having gone to art school in the dark ages before the invention of the personal computer) my approach to teaching is project-based. If there is a problem of interest to solve, the students, with no prior experience in design or design applications, overwhelmingly surprise themselves (and me) with how creatively they learn to use the tools.
In previous semesters, students have been challenged to design travel magazines, music posters, fairytale playbills, portraits of John Oliver… In this first in-person semester after two years of remote learning, the goal was to create recipe cards using all three of the digital design application we covered. I reflected on how important food had been to me during the lockdown days, weeks, and months of the pandemic and I asked the students to choose a comfort food as their topic. Some adapted favorite recipes from cookbooks, some checked in with family members, and a few developed their own dishes.
The results were tasty enough to encourage me to share these three samples, each with the student’s own words.
Nicole Caligiuri is a senior at Temple University studying communications and content creation. She loves expressing herself on social media, especially through digital design. Nicole is looking forward to a career in social media marketing.
“I chose to highlight this recipe because my mom’s chocolate chip banana bread was my absolute favorite as a child, and it made the house smell so good. It’s super easy to follow and the result never disappoints. When I am home from college, my mom and I always find time to make chocolate chip banana bread together.”
Quinn Botkin is a junior at Temple University studying advertising with a concentration in art directing. He loves all things art and design, ranging from the fine arts like painting and photography to tech- based design like digital art and typography. Quinn hopes to follow his interests with a career in graphic design working towards an art directing position.
“French Toast is one of my mom’s and my favorite Sunday brunch meals. We love experimenting with different toppings and finding our favorite combinations. I wanted to capture the fun and elegance that French Toast can bring with this recipe card.”
Anesu Nyamupingidza is an International Student from Zimbabwe and is a Senior at Temple University, studying Visual Studies at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture. She enjoys creating art that is representative of the natural world around her and is an advocate for sustainability.
“Growing up in Harare Zimbabwe, I was fortunate enough to experience the consumption of foods that are considered bizarre outside of the culture, and everything was always passed off as ‘it tastes like chicken.’ From Mopane worms to crocodile tail but, in all honesty, it did not taste like chicken at all. In 2018 I became pescatarian, and I found the transition easy both financially and nutrition-wise. That was until I started attending college in Philadelphia. Being pescatarian is anything but cheap in Philly and, although still somewhat expensive, picking up a vegetarian diet was the next best thing.
Living on a student budget in a country where food is much more expensive, especially seafood, I had to reconsider my eating habits. I quickly learnt that being vegetarian is surprisingly cheap– that is if you are making your own meals.
Dried beans have been my go-to. They are inexpensive, keep well for a long time, take up less storage space and are more nutritionally dense than canned beans. Chickpeas have a decent amount of protein and fiber among other nutrients and can be prepared in many ways. Originally, I had been searching up candied chickpea recipes for a quick snack on the go, but I kept finding recipes for crispy chickpeas. All the recipes were short of the herb flavor my mom would always add to a dish without fail. “I decided to spice up a basic recipe by infusing the oil with rosemary. For some added crunch I found that microwaving for a minute gives them a wonderful snack-like crunch.”