Words by Michaela Mazure, Photos by Michaela Mazure and Jay Patruno
Whether it’s teaching Occupational Therapy classes, leading international service delegations for People For People, or co-hosting her local television show, Sargent College Clinical Professor Dr. Karen Jacobs never fails to keep herself busy. Yet despite her jam-packed schedule, she always makes sure to leave her Wednesday nights open to run the Sargent Choice Test Kitchen.
In a nondescript corner of Cambridge on October 18th, a steady stream of people carrying stacks of trays, mysterious steaming containers, and overstuffed bags of kitchen equipment began filing into the Dante Alighieri Italian Cultural Center at half-past-five. The group, consisting mainly of local students, also including some hardcore Italian chefs (and a Frenchman in suspenders), convened on this Saturday evening to participate in a curious display of culinary prowess and culture in the annual International Students’ Cooking Competition, hosted by Cookradar.com.
I must admit, that when I journeyed to StuVi 2 to check out the Sargent Choice Test Kitchen, I was a bit nervous. My fears were mostly caused by the fact that I hadn’t cooked in the two months since I arrived at Boston University--my biggest culinary achievement being a lopsided peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In other words, I was a tad rusty in the kitchen. Yet when I stepped into the apartment of Karen Jacobs, the driving force behind the Test Kitchen and a professor of Occupational Therapy at Sargent College, I immediately felt at ease. Jacobs offered everyone present the chance to make a cup of tea – I chose a cinnamon apple flavor and happily sipped it for the rest of the evening – and greeted her guests with a pleasant blend of friendliness and enthusiasm.
When asking a person their favorite type of cuisine, one might expect a variety of answers. Most people tend to say Italian, Japanese, Chinese or even Greek. But what about Middle Eastern and Arabic cuisine? Sure, those also tend to be very popular, especially among people with a slightly more adventurous palate. However one Arabic country that people usually don’t consider when they think of their favorite type of food is Morocco. In fact, most people don’t even know what types of foods are served in Morocco. This may be because Moroccan traditions and cuisine are very different from other Arabic countries. The influence of Berbers and Riffians and the domination of the French, Spanish and Portuguese at different times in history have made Morocco more unique not only in its traditions but also in its cuisine.