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Op-Ed: Learning to Cook at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education

I lived in the Spanish Language House sophomore year, which comes equipped with a roomy kitchen and lots of fun housemates to wine and dine with. Two of my housemates, both seniors at the time, were experts in the kitchen, whipping up baked goods and yummy, vegan dishes with ease. Needless to say, I was jealous: Dewick’s salads were getting old, and I was interested in making beautiful dinners and packing yummy lunches just like them. That being said, I was also embarassed…19 years old with a fully stocked kitchen, and unable to fend for myself beyond cooking basic meals. I couldn’t just keep calling my mom every five minutes while trying to bake lasagna. It was time to really learn about how to cook.

One evening was especially low, as I had just grilled another batch of chicken to last me a few days. Inspired, I Googled “cooking class” and “tufts” and was re-directed a few times before stumbling upon the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (CCAE). I explored the site and signed up for a Tuesday and Thursday night class on knives – because, after all, how could I cook if I couldn’t cut anything properly? – and put it in my calendar.

As the date got closer, I got more and more nervous. I wondered if the only people there would be senior citizens. I also wondered if they would laugh at me, then shrugged that off, because they would be there, too. Would any other students be there? What if I chopped a finger off? It went on and on, believe me. The house was a 2 minute walk from the T stop, and it was a quaint New England home. I made it to class a few minutes early and signed in, introducing myself to a few older folk (middle-aged, mostly, and some early 30’s). They asked me why I was there (to figure out how to be an adult) and I returned the question in kind (same).

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Our instructor was an enthusiastic and humorous chef; in time, he would learn all of our names and would reprimand us for not following his instructions clearly. We chopped onions, minced garlic, sliced tomatoes, and learned how to fillet fish. We cooked the meal – so at the end, we were eating what we made (the omelet was delicious, as was the french onion soup) and got to take the recipes home. In fact, I made dinner for my friends later that week, and I have the picture to prove it!

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I returned to CCAE for another course dedicated to cupcakes, which was hosted on a Sunday early afternoon for three hours. It was a relatively cheap class, especially accounting for the fact that the price goes into buying the ingredients and paying the instructor, who was a well-respected local baker and cupcake connoisseur. I bought her recipe book at the end of class, and I still use it to bake cupcakes and sweets for special occassions. I also took a class on eggs in preparation for a family reunion (we all love omelettes, and I always wanted to know more about how to use eggs and cook with them).

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If you’re looking for a great place to learn the basics of cooking and baking, special cuisines, or mixology, CCAE is the place to go. The Center is designed for learning – the course catalog offers classes on languages, visual arts, and performing arts, among others. All three of my experienes at CCAE were fantastic; everything was clean, the people were kind, and the instructors were really knowledgable and truly enjoyed sharing their craft.

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