Can you stomach this science class?

Laura Lucas

Laura Lucas

When taking a class that has a lab, most do not require the experiment to be eaten. Most labs also do not have a schedule including fruits, meats, breads, cakes, cookies and sugar cookery.

The foods principles class (NFS 141), offered through the nutrition, food science and hospitality department, is no ordinary class.

“In lecture, you learn about why you cook foods and do what you do with them,” said Mary Gengler, class professor and senior microbiologist. For example, students learn why to leave a lid on or off when cooking different vegetables.

This is Gengler’s first semester teaching foods principles, but it has been offered for more than 18 years.

Anthony Kinsley, senior health promotions major, said, “Mary’s great lecturing ability” is his favorite part of the class. “She has a lot of useful stuff in lecture like why things happen when you cook. She also gives reasons for why things happen and the point of it.”

So far, students in the class have learned how to cook and prepare vegetables and fruits. They have also experimented with the pH of water when cooking. “Red cabbage turns red, blue or green depending on the pH,” said Gengler.

Every week in lab, the class is split into five groups. Each group makes a different dish, and at the end of lab, everyone tastes the results. According to Charles Williamson, senior health promotions major, everyone has to at least try everything.

“My groups has made sweet and sour cabbage, peach crisp and salad dressing,” said Kinsley.

Spinach pie (spanakopita) and hummus are two things Williamson’s group has made. Both Williamson and Kinsley said they are looking forward to the meat lab.

According to Gengler, after students have tasted what others have made, they give feedback.

“There is a scale of one to five,” said Williamson. “I rate it on general taste.”

Kinsley said he also rates the food based on simple tastes and not having a lot of crazy spices – like ginger root.

There is a textbook and a lab manual. The manual has recipes; however, Gengler said she also brings in her own. “I have a large collection of cookbooks,” she said.

Williamson said he has learned to make things he would not normally make.

“If you want to learn basic cooking and different foods, I would recommend this class,” said Williamson.

Both Kinsley and Williamson said they will be cooking more after taking this class.

“I don’t cook much, but now I will,” said Kinsley.

The foods principles class is a nutrition requirement but is open to all students. As the course description says, this class is for the “scientific investigation of basic foods used to maintain optimum nutrition.”