Skip to content ↓
MIT student blogger Yan Z. '12

Week 1 by Yan Z. '12

Autumn tastes like warm apple pie covered in bacon.

Registration week was a heinous tangle of scheduling; seven (7) classes knotted my temporal ropes into a gnarly mess, wrapping up any loose pieces of slack time between 7 AM and 9 PM. After Thursday, my self-preservation instincts began sirening for me to pick up the scissors and start cutting classes. As Facebook would say, here’s the status update:

-Waves and Vibrations (8.03): Required for major, will keep.

-Special Relativity (8.033): Same as above.

-Intro to Cosmology (8.286): It hurts to drop this class, but four physics problem sets per week hurts even more. Perhaps I’ll give it another go in two years.

-Electricity and Magnetism II (8.07): Having spent 6+ hours on the problem set already, I’m reluctant to drop this class. I’m already 3% of the way to completing 8.07! Don’t give up now! (Bonus: Thanks to funding from the MIT Class of ’22, everyone in 8.07 received a free copy of The Maxwellians on the first day of lecture. On the second day, everyone received an electronic clicker so that the class could answer multiple choice questions in real time during lecture. By extrapolation, I conclude that 8.07 will give me a new car before October.)

-Film Studies: Dropped.

-Intro to Black Studies: Turns out to be surprisingly engaging. Bonus: class participation involves a daytrip to New York City! Will keep.

-Intro to Comparative Media Studies: After an hour of lecture, my interest in comparing mediums had evaporated to the point where I really, really wanted to just go to the grocery store and compare medium-quality produce. I left early and arrived at the grocery store just as an employee was stocking the shelves with grapes ludicrously priced at 88 cents a pound. I’m sure CMS.100 is a worthwhile class, but grapes at 88 cents/lb might be an unfair comparison. Anyway, this class was dropped, and I had grapes for dinner. Twice.

-20th Century Composition Techniques: I stumbled into this class on a masochistic whim and loved it. Whether I add it to my schedule hinges on whether I have time to read the textbook and crank out a handful of Stravinsky/Debussy analyses before Tuesday. Were I taking this class next semester, I’d call this assignment The Write of Spring.

Ignoring the lumped mass of four problem sets, five textbook readings, half a novel, a music composition exercise, and two score analyses currently coagulating on my platter, I’ve been lately documenting my unreciped forays into experimental gastronomy. Throughout freshman year, cooking served as an expression of self-sufficiency and Ramen-avoidancy; nowadays, I’m trying to tighten my culinary grasp in order to make new and exciting friends. And by “friends,” I mean “food.”

Perhaps the inspiration for food as a creative catharsis came from the unabashedly sugar-saturated “Introduction to Undergraduate Women in Physics” event that I hosted for the Class of 2013 during orientation. Every year, MIT’s orientation coordinators organize a themed party/carnival/interactive infomercial in the Student Center for student groups to feed and bedazzle the incoming class. This year’s theme was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I freely interpreted as a challenge for student groups to 1-up each other in distributing free candy to the 1000+ freshmen. As president of Undergrad Women in Physics, I armed our humble one-table booth for war with the Undergrad Math Association to the West and the Electrical Engineering Club to the East.

The secret weapon: Edible circuits- the intersection of technology and sugar.

Some people come to MIT to learn the recipe for success. Ultimately, they learn that the recipe includes graham crackers, unpeeled Twizzlers, icing, marshmallows, food coloring, and gumdrops.

graham cracker = circuit board base
gumdrops / Jujubes = LEDs
Twizzlers (long) = wires / inductors
Kit-Kat = capacitors
Starburst = battery packs
Marshmallows / short Twizzlers = resistors
icing = solder

Halfway through, I came up with a gimmicky circuit board construction contest to encourage visitors build circuits out of food instead of eating it. The winner, as advertised, would be mentioned on my blog in no less than one relative clause. As it turns out, I don’t remember the name of anyone who submitted a circuit board to the contest, except for Sheila. Hi, Sheila. Furthermore, the winning circuit boards as judged by a panel of volunteers from the Undergrad Math Association and Undergrad Women in Physics were all built by either myself or Symone ’12. Oops. Looks like we succeeded so much that we failed. Success fail!

Honorable mentions:

Circuits like this one left me puzzled. What’s the voltage drop across a gumdrop in series with two marshmallows and another gumdrop, and also in parallel with a bigger gumdrop, which is itself in parallel with the two marshmallows and the other gumdrop? I feel like I missed the 8.022 lecture that covered this.

I’m not sure if I want the real-life version of this circuit inside anything I own, probably because it reminds me of a rickshaw. Honestly, I’m fine with having some device that contains three gigantic, unwired LEDs piled on top of each other in the middle of a circuit board where nothing is connected to anything, as long as I didn’t have to pay more than $9.99 for it. It’s just that this one looks too much like a rickshaw. Nothing personal, Sheila. I really do appreciate your attention to reflective symmetry.

This was a short circuit. It’s also a blurry circuit.

Greg ’12, not to be outdone, responded to the above by building a “short” circuit. It’s not even a circuit, so Greg loses anyway. Sorry, Greg. Better luck with 6.002.

“MisLED: A Study in Unconnected, Non-functional LEDs” by Symone.

“Wires o’er Wires” by Yan.

Scarcely 5/14th of a fortnight later, Alorah ’11 and I threw a bacon party at pika. A bacon party is exactly what it sounds like, except with more bacon. For hor d’oeuvres, I served a tray of grilled melon and peaches wrapped in bacon.

I accidentally burnt the bacon-wrapped fruit in the oven, which added a smoky carcinogenic musk of charcoal to each bite.

In a moment of divine inspiration, I was left unattended in the kitchen in the company of a lovely organic pie crust, an equally lovely bag of organic apples, and a pack of fat-streaked bacon. With a few plentiful shakes of cinnamon, a glaze of agave nectar, and a wink of patriotism, I had this:

Introducing: the Bacon Lattice Apple Pie.

I popped it into the oven until the bacon was crisp at the edges and still dripping with sizzling pork juice in the chewy inner folds of each salt-sweaty strip. For the finishing caress, a drizzled spoonful of melted caramel sauce was swirled over pork and apple like a silky ribbon.

It turned out to be inadvertently delicious too, albeit murderous.

Just like my class schedule.

33 responses to “Week 1”

  1. NathanArce says:

    I need pie like that!!! TT_TT

  2. That pie surprisingly looks pretty good….

  3. NathanArce says:

    It’s not “surprisingly”! It’s bacon with apple pie! Welcome to Yan’s blog, where all the best food you will ever see is… seen.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Ignoring the lumped mass of four problem sets, five textbook readings, half a novel, a music composition exercise, and two score analyses”

    You’re the source of my motivation to get through senior year in high school xD
    Your workload makes taking 5 AP classes seem like child’s play. Do you do anything else besides work/studying and how much sleep do you get each day?
    It’s amazing how you find time to write these awesome blogs in the midst of all your work!

  5. Aubrey '13 says:

    88 cent grapes that are surprisingly fresh, delicious, and crisp! Shaw’s next produce special: 38 cent/lb bananas.

  6. Rishi says:

    See, this is why MIT is awesome. People do such wacky stuff!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Gross, gross, gross

  8. Anonymous says:

    i totally bought those bananas.

  9. Yan says:

    @ Anonymous 1:

    Thanks! I’m cutting my course load down to 4 classes this week, actually (well, maybe 5). I’m a slow worker, and I’d rather have time to focus on each of my classes than cram myself with a hosing smorgasbord of subjects. As for sleep, the past three days have been: 6 hours, 4 hours, 7 hours. I haven’t managed to sleep in past 7 AM for some reason.

    Anyway, there’s absolutely no reason to spend all your time at MIT doing work.

  10. Liz ('14?) says:

    those circuits are epic. i want one.

  11. @Nathan I’ve read Yan’s blog before, actually. And it’s surprising because I would have never thought of combining bacon and apple pie, as much as I love the two. But now that I’ve seen the result, I so want to.

  12. Anonymous says:

    So, uhh, who’s gonna submit that one to

  13. anomy says:

    Intro to Black Studies: …. “surprisingly engaging.”

  14. anon says:

    Someone has a dirty fingernail….

  15. Sheila says:

    Haha, but I’m sure my design was delicious to eat..and let’s say that my 8.02 is very rusty. :D

    and are you crazy for taking on so many classes and all the homework you have? Now, I feel like the amount of HW and stuff I have is very trivial compared to yours. raspberry

  16. My cholesterol level shot up just from reading this.
    We just finished a unit of circuits in Physics; if only we’d had edible ones like these.

  17. Those circuits are so cute! smile How did they taste?

    As for the pie… That’s OBSCENE. I love it!! I’ll definitely try that as soon as I muster the discipline to endure a week-long fast. It would probably be worth it.

  18. Yan says:

    @ Sheila:

    I’m down to four classes as of yesterday, 5 pm. (Leaving 3 physics problem sets, 3 physics readings, and a novel that I read last night in one sitting.) Completely manageable. I think the hardest thing I have to do this week is wrap my intuition around the vector/tensor manipulations in E&M a la 8.07.

    The generic first semester subjects are probably not any less work-intensive than classes you’ll take later; they’re just less time-intensive. A lot of time I spend preparing for classes goes into just teaching myself to think in new ways.

  19. Raff says:

    Everybody needs a friend like you.

  20. makesense says:

    If you made a cookbook with all these amazing ideas, that would be awesome.

  21. Su ('14?) says:

    Yan!! Do you watch TopChef?
    This season there’s a guy called Kevin, who got into MIT and went to culinary school instead, and he made candied bacon jam!! It looked YUMMY smile I’m trying to work on a recipe at home – it’s not as easy as it sounds.

  22. Anonymous says:

    In Soviet Russia, Hybrid Apple Pie eats YOU.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Hi Yan! Your blog never ceases to amaze me (:
    Out of curiosity, if you don’t mind, what SAT IIs did you take?

  24. Yan says:

    @ Su:

    I’m familiar with candied bacon ice cream, but the jam sounds infallible. Let me know if you figure out a recipe.

    @ Anonymous:

    Thanks. I took the Math II and Physics.

  25. Piper '12 says:

    I’ll admit that the bacon obsession has gotten old for me.

    But the circuits look YUMMY.

  26. Jacobi says:

    Yan what’s the recipe for your Bacon Lattice Apple Pie? I so want to make it!

  27. Yan says:

    @ Jacobi:

    Take the simplest apple pie recipe you can find (fill a pie crust with apples soaked or dipped in cinnamon and sugar) and weave raw bacon over the pie. Bake at like 350 degrees for an hour or so until the bacon is fully cooked. Take a paper towel and soak up the extra grease. Drizzle caramel sauce on top.

    To keep the edges of the crust from burning, you can wrap aluminum foil around the circumference of the pie.

    Smile and serve.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Best. idea. ever.

  29. Emily Bliss says:

    That bacon apple pie frightens the daylight out of me. The circuts were adorable, though.

  30. Nara says:

    You have an amazing sence of humor. Love it!

  31. ak says:

    I am in second year of Computer Engineering and I just wanted to know what all things do I need to do (I know all about the transfer application)so that I can enroll myself as a transfer student given that I have got 800 in each of my SAT subject tests.I mean what other activities should I be good at?
    And yeah,the circuits are great!

  32. Light ('14?) says:

    And it’s little things like this that make me hopeful to get in.

    Better get back to work on that EA app…