No Foam 101 for Me

September 2, 2010 · 2 comments

No Harvard

Back in March of this year, the food blogosphere picked up on this article in The Washington Post, which reported that Ferran Adrià of El Bulli and his friend José Andrés, prominent DC area chef, would be lecturing at Harvard University this fall. A bit of searching unearthed the official announcement from Harvard, which I excerpt below:

A collaboration by the Foundation Alícia (Alimentació i Ciència), headed by internationally acclaimed chef Ferran Adrià of El Bulli fame, and the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) has led to the creation of a new undergraduate course on science and cooking.

Debuting in the fall of 2010, “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter,” will be part of the new program in General Education atHarvard College. The course will bring together eminent Harvard researchers and world-class chefs, including Wylie Dufresne of wd-50 and Dan Barber of Blue Hill, as well as food scholar and writer Harold McGee, one of the leading authorities on kitchen science.

Presented with an opportunity to see Adrià, Andrés, Dufrense, McGee, and Grant Achatz  all lecture just a short walk from Chez Belm, I asked some of my Harvard alum friends if I would have any difficulty sitting in on the lectures. This was the reply I received:

…you can simply walk in and attend the lectures. Unless things have changed since 9/11, no one checks IDs.

You could take the course as a special student (and get the lab), but my memories of how much it costs didn’t take into account 25 years of 8% inflation per annum. Yeeeeooowww!

I clearly didn’t need the lab section; I already know how to cook and work with whatever basic chemical reactions the course would cover.

The first class was today, in Hall C at the Harvard Science Center (MIT has a Humanities Department, Harvard has a Science Center) at 1 PM. I left home at 12:30 to give myself plenty of time to find a parking space and still be on time. I arrived to a mob scene: the class would be packed with undergrads who planned on using it to fulfill a basic science requirement (“This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the Core area requirement for Science A.”).

As I reached the hall entrance, I saw a notice taped to the door:

Be prepared to show your Harvard ID.

This class is for Harvard Undergraduates ONLY!

I was hosed. Not only did I not have a Harvard undergrad ID, I couldn’t even use my plan B explanation of being a special student. I saw the lecturer waiting for the student to file in, and asked him if I could sit in.

“Sorry, it’s undergrads only, we’re not even admitting special students. You’re welcome to attend the general lectures on Mondays.”

“Are they on this subject?”

“No, it’s more general interest material for the community.”

And now that he knows what I look like, I won’t be able to sneak in and sit in the back. I just hope these kids understand what an opportunity they’ve been presented with. I’ll just have to settle for this interview with Wylie Dufrense. No Foam 101 for me.

2 comments

Bryan September 2, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Yeah, there’s card readers all over the place on campus now. I suppose they’re not allowing staff to register for the class either. Well, I’ve already used my TAP for the semester anyway.

David September 3, 2010 at 12:18 am

I was very surprised at how popular the class was. There’s probably not an empty seat in the lecture hall.

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