A Mawrtyr alum visits the Mawr

This weekend I had the chance to interview my friend and fellow Mawrtyr, Carissa Yao ’17. Carissa talked to me about San Francisco, her work, her aspirations and retrospections, and how to surmount the uncertainty after college. After Bryn Mawr she moved to San Francisco where she worked at a nonprofit in the Bay Area analyzing medical claims data and then at a startup that building software platforms for restaurant owners to manage their back-of-the-house operations. In the fall she will pursue a Masters of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) at the Berkley School of Information. 

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When Your Parents Come to Visit 

In hopes of increasing productivity among the stacks at the library, I decided to remain on campus this spring vacation. Originally disappointed to not return home and spend time with my parents, I was happy when they opted to come visit me for a weekend excursion to Philadelphia. I’m always glad to see so many parents and prospective parents visiting Bryn Mawr and the surrounding towns. My parents have explored Philly with me since my first year at the Mawr, and we have certain places in the city we always make sure to return to (a bookstore with a tabby cat), as well as new places we try to add to our schedule. Here are a few suggestions that we enjoyed this past weekend. . . .

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Snapshots of Classrooms at the Mawr


As Mawrtyrs, we love the gothic castle-like architecture of our campus dorms. We muse about the Great Hall that reminds us of Harry Potter, or of Rockefeller Arch and its little grey stone owls perched in the nook watching over the passerby with their eyes wide and their wings spread. Yet here I will draw your attention to some places we Mawrtyrs spend the most time in: our classrooms.

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Senior Year Thesis Chronicles Part II: A Corsican Recipe 

“All food produced in Corsica has strong, characteristic flavors: the cheeses that burn one’s tongue, the olive oil with an intriguing, slightly musty taste, the honey, at once sweet and bitter.”

—Dorothy Carrington, The Dream-Hunters of Corsica

It is impossible to study and write about Corsica without thinking of its cuisine. Several writers describe the home-cured boar salami hanging from the rafters in Corsican homes. And for good reason the charcuterie is legendary—the cured meats have been raised feasting on the maquis, the dense scrubland of fragrant herbs. Yet the famous Corsican boars also fed on another treat, the châtaigne or chestnuts, brought to Corsica by the Genoese in the thirteenth century.

Corsican chestnuts are common in Corsican cooking and find their way into both sweet and savory dishes. One could consume a chestnut polenta and follow it with a creamy chestnut pudding. Another dish featuring the nut is called canistrelli.

I find baking helps me relieve stress and writer’s block, and fills the kitchen with sweet aromas. I have recently taken to baking canistrelli, a type of Corsican breakfast cookie much like the Italian biscotti. Like biscotti, canistrelli are baked twice, and the second baking gives them crispy brown edges and a dry, sugary consistency. However, unlike in the word “biscotti,” the final i in canistrelli is not pronounced—the word sounds more like canistrelle. One of my professors, who kindly talked with me at length about the island and its turbulent political culture, also noted the nuances of pronunciation in the Corsican language.

Canistrelli are often made with chestnuts or chestnut flour. However, in lieu of Corsican chestnuts, which might be a bit difficult to come by at the local supermarket, hazelnuts prove just as tasty. The finished product is tastiest when dunked in an espresso, which both softens the cookie and accentuates the roasted hazelnuts peppered throughout.

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The Art of Eating Well at the Bryn Mawr Italian Department

Imagine belting sixties Italian karaoke with your professors at the annual departmental Christmas party while holding a piece of panettone. College is clearly more than the exams.

PC: H. Novak

This week in Italian class, we discussed Pellegrino Artusi, a prolific cook and chef of one of the most famous gastronomic books written; La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene(Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well). Our class discussions are always fascinating; ranging from the problem of the mammone (mamma’s boy) in Italy, the out-of-control tourist influx in Venice, and the Italian terrorist activity during the 1970s, to the art of savoring an espresso. I think that discussions flow freely not only because of the nature of the content, but also because we feel encouraged to speak without the embarrassment or shame of stumbling over our words. This week’s topic was Artusi and his magnificent cookbook, a work that told the stories of recipes spanning different regions of Italy, all with a humor and passion for the food.

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A Festive Saturday in Narberth

Bryn Mawr is located on the Main Line, a string of prosperous suburban towns that grew along the early rail line running west from Philadelphia. As much as I encourage exploring the city, I think we have the tendency to bypass the towns in between Bryn Mawr and Philadelphia. Of course, we students love Ardmore for its Trader Joe’s, and those who take classes at Haverford frequent the Green Engine Coffee Co., but we do not often venture farther.

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Senior Year Thesis Chronicles Pt. 1 

In the French department, a culmination of the senior experience is the thesis, a large, fifty-plus-page essay on a topic of your choosing. A thesis is not required in every department, and even within the French department the thesis is optional. I have noticed from observing seniors, and now as a senior myself, that those who have chosen to do the thesis will frequently be heard grumbling and moaning about their topic. Yet what I also observe is their dedication to their subject. The complaints are surface, for they mask a deep commitment and love for their thesis.

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Clubs and the Coming Semester

Mawrtyrs, how are you? It surprises me to think there are so few weeks before the semester is over. Between Thanksgiving and the end of the semester are a mere three weeks. With that in mind, I advise you to go now and talk to your professors and advisers about papers, and outlines, and projects, and exams, because the hectic whirlwind of work and student activities at Bryn Mawr will only gather momentum as the holidays approach . . .

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