The Charger Blog

Nutrition Sciences Major Discusses Culinary Class She’s ‘Ecstatic’ to Take

For Beatrice Glaviano ’26, it was her Sicilian father who gave her a taste of her own potential in the kitchen. She’s now continuing to explore, experiment with, and enjoy cooking as part of a class that is already serving up more than she’d ever expected.

February 20, 2024

By Beatrice Glaviano ’26

A well plated and aesthetically pleasing meal.
Beatrice Glaviano ’26 has prepared a delicious meal.

When I was told I had to take a culinary class for my major, I was ecstatic. I still am ecstatic, lol. There’s no “and everything went horribly wrong” or anything, just pure happiness. Ever since childhood, I’ve been drawn to the culinary arts. This is probably due to my dad, who is very Sicilian in the way that he will use almost anything he can find in the fridge or pantry to make a dish rather than go to the grocery store.

He’s the person who taught me how to whisk eggs with a fork and not one of those spinny-whisky-things because I was going to be cultured, and nothing less. To my child brain, this didn’t make much sense and my hand usually hurt, but here I am doing it eleven years later without a second thought. In Sicilian culture, the passing down of recipes and cooking methods is very, very important and dear to families. It’s how traditions are made, kept, and relived.

The pasta I make is different from my dad’s, but his is also different from his mother’s, and her parents as well. At the end of the day though, it’s semolina (a type of flour noted for its yellow color and slight grittiness), eggs, water, and all the love you can muster as you knead the dough out onto the counter.

Pasta is never meant for one, in my opinion. It’s meant to be shared, steaming hot and smothered in a sauce that took hours to make topped with freshly cut basil, and enough parmesan to make your heart happy. We don’t have recipes, really; we measure with our memory, our intuition, and the lessons we’ve learned from past dishes. Oh, and don’t forget the family comments. According to my sisters, my pasta is better than my father’s, and to this day I am endlessly flattered by that compliment. My dad’s cooking is phenomenal, and despite being simple, packs enough flavor and diversity to truly make a fantastic meal.

When I first walked into my culinary class, I was actually standing by the door for about ten minutes because I’d gotten there a little too early. Yet, I was greeted by kindly Professor Lyon – of whom I’ve spoken highly of in past articles – and allowed in. I don’t really remember much of the first class, but what I do remember is two main things:

  1. There are no guys in the class.
    • To clarify, I’m not sexist. But to all the women who are reading this, one can imagine the relief to be in a culinary course with no guys in it.
  2. Someone asked for my number through Canvas, and to this day, that’s one of the sweetest things anyone had ever asked me because it was so genuine. Needless to say, I think I found a new friend.
A container of pickled onions.
Beatrice Glaviano’s pickled onion is ready to go.

For the class we were required to purchase Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat, which delves into the main elements in cooking that are used to enhance the flavor and texture of one’s dishes. Recently, we finished “Salt”, which apparently is a lot more complicated than I originally thought. Some of the main takeaways from the chapter (that I found to be the most helpful) were:

  • The main role of salt is to enhance the flavor (and potentially texture) of food
  • Salt will allow any cut of meat to be more tender, and the sooner you salt your meat in advance, the better the flavor (24+ hrs is typically a good rule)
  • Salt can be used to decrease the bitterness of foods, such as dark chocolate
    • I personally find that the addition of sea salt to chocolate makes it “warmer,” if that makes any sense; it brings out the cocoa in the chocolate and makes the party in your mouth a lot more festive
  • Ensuring the water used to boil vegetables is well-salted can ensure the veggies maintain their color and nutrients

Salt isn’t the enemy (unless you have hypertension or another medical condition that requires you to be watchful of your salt intake). Any food made in the kitchen will most certainly have a lot less salt in it than any restaurant, processed, or fast-food option. Without salt, most food will be bland and lackluster. That being said, if you want to take this as your sign to get yourself some Kosher salt instead of the table stuff, I won’t argue: go get yourself the salt you (and your food) deserve. ‘Nuff said.

However, culinary is a lot more than what I was originally expecting. Upon the first week or so, we were given an assignment in which we were tasked with defining health and wellness. What even is that nowadays? Celery juice? Running an extra mile? Those nights where you tell yourself, “I’ll start Monday?” God knows, and I’m not him. Our wellness as human beings consist of eight factors according to the article “Dimensions of wellness: Change your habits, change your life” by Debbie L. Stoewen, and a couple of them I’d never thought to consider before. You see, wellness involves eight “mutually interdependent dimensions: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, vocational, financial, and environmental” (Stoewen). The first four listed are a lot easier to guess, aren’t they? We don’t often think of our spiritual, vocational, financial, and environmental health very much, but they do matter. All of these areas are intertwined – and in more ways than you may believe.

I’m not the most spiritual person, but when I stick to my usual Pilates, yoga, and meditation routine, I feel a lot more connected to myself and the world around me. Being – and staying – grounded is something that I’ve found increasingly vital in my life as a busy student, as well as someone who is trying to heal themselves from the inside out.

Food, of course, plays a factor in this. What we eat should fuel us physically (i.e., eating nutritious foods), but we also want this food to come from a place of genuine appreciation and love, too. There is no point, in my opinion, to eat food that one doesn’t enjoy or doesn’t necessarily ‘connect’ with, if that makes any sense. If you’re craving something fresh, grab a crisp apple to start the day off. Feeling a bit more solid? Try a homemade stir-fry. Whatever the case, make meals your own, and find fulfillment in them.

A bowl of dill.
Beatrice Glaviano ’26 prepares a bowl of dill to use in a dish.

This doesn’t mean they have to be society’s idea of “healthy” either – if you want to get a burger with friends or heck, get it for takeout to watch with your favorite movie because your day went from bad to worse, that’s 100% okay. What’s not okay is always relying on food to balance your mental health. This is why we have therapy or other ways to release stress. It’s all about balance.

Balance will vary for everyone, as we are all uniquely our own in the sense of the eight dimensions of wellness. Find what works for you, and I mean that; I don’t want any of that “aesthetic,” “glow-up,” “clean girl” nonsense. Give me you and pour me that cup as strong as you can make it.

Never water yourself down for anyone (though that’s not to say to never allow vulnerability into your life, similar to grace and softness), and embrace everything life has to offer. That’s when the magic happens.

If I were to define health and wellness, I’d say that they’re how you maintain the body (health) within a realm of various conditions (wellness). By altering your wellness, your health will be impacted. Sometimes when your health isn’t great, perhaps it’s time to switch up the things that constitute your wellness. I believe that this is a fair statement, right?


"I’m happy that I’m in a class where the people are kind, honest, thoughtful, and open"Beatrice Glaviano ’26

Anyhow, I am genuinely enjoying this class. This past week, we did cured salmon, house-made pickles, and pickled onions, and I am beyond impressed with my group and myself. We did such a lovely job, and I am exceedingly proud of us and our newfound capabilities. Who knew this was all so easy? Granted, perhaps I wouldn’t use plastic containers (me and plastic don’t get along; those who know, know) but glass jars instead, but that’s just me. The cured salmon definitely had my brain questioning things, but I did enjoy it a lot. In fact, I asked if I could take an extra bagel home to share with a good friend of mine, and my professor was more than happy to allow me (so long as we had extra for faculty to enjoy, haha).

They ended up really liking it, and it made me really happy they did.

I love that sentence. It’s so simple but you can feel the girlish feet-kicking-on-the-bed happiness of it. Making people food that they enjoy or have fond memories of makes me incredibly, incredibly happy and fulfilled, and it’s one of the staple reasons why I love cooking so much. It’s how I connect with people, despite my history with food n’all. At the end of the day, sometimes good food goes a longer way than you’d think.

I think this class, for whatever reason, is going to be really healing for me. I don’t know why. I just have a feeling. Being able to enjoy a bagel in silence, without judgment, in a chill environment where we all pitched in to make a beautiful spread of food was something else.

I loved it.

I loved the food I made, and I love the people who I made it with. I’m happy that I’m in a class where the people are kind, honest, thoughtful, and open. For those who are thinking about picking up a new hobby, I highly suggest getting in touch with your kitchen. Explore foods and the many tastes, textures, varieties, groups, etc. Try a follow-along YouTube video (Binging with Babish and Joshua Weissman are a few of my favorites!), or maybe experiment on your own. Do what you will.

I hope all of you are having a lovely week, and that life is treating you with the softness you deserve. Take a deep breath, reader, and remember all the progress you’ve made, and the progress that will come. Sending you all my love.

Peace, love, & PB,

Works Cited

Stoewen, Debbie L. “Dimensions of Wellness: Change Your Habits, Change Your Life.” PubMed, vol. 58, no. 8, 1 Aug. 2017, pp. 861–862. Accessed 11 Feb. 2024.

Beatrice Glaviano ’26 is a nutrition sciences major at the University of New Haven.