Seminar refreshments… or how to substitute a meal with them


Undoubtedly, at the PhD level, attending departmental seminars is an important spot in a weekly schedule, where one will get in touch with the latest developments in the field. And usually these seminars are open to undergraduates so one should expect a lot of people when these seminars are department-wide. Also, for cash-strapped undergraduates, it can be tempting to attend events like these in order to eat one’s lunch or dinner (depending on the departments, the seminars can be held at lunch time or at dinner time) there so that they could downgrade their meal plans.

Admittedly, one’s budget can be tight in graduate school, or even in undergrad, so free food can be a good incentive to get students to come. Some depts can be a little stingy and not offer that much food but not everyone will substitute a meal with seminar refreshments so, if you elect to do so, make sure you come early; after all, refreshments are first-come, first-serve. For me to do so I need 10 cookies, as well as a cup of coffee.

Dairy farming, poutine and such

In this end-of-semester crunch, time to lighten up somewhat. Here are two food-related questions who, surprisingly, both have the same answer:

  1. Where’s the world capital of dairy farming?
  2. Where are the best poutines in Europe found?

The answer to both: Moscow!

Jokes aside, Russian dairy farming can still boast having the largest voluntary milking system in the world. But whether or not Moscow will be able to retain the title of “world capital of dairy farming”, earned in the early 1990s, only time will tell; in fact, Moscow’s ability to fend off the challengers (St. Hyacinthe, Canada, Emmental, Switzerland, to name a few) to this title depends heavily on the health of Russian dairy farming as a whole.

As for poutine: since Moscow is the world capital of dairy farming, it can be counted upon to supply the cheese required for poutine, even when accounting for the locally-grown potatoes. However, it goes without saying that, while Moscow may have the best poutines in Europe, the gravy used in poutines served in Moscow (and in Russia more generally) is quite different from the gravy used in North American poutines (and Quebec in particular).