Brandon writes: Mucilaginous Sweet Knowledge

Yesterday night was a windy chilly fall night in Cambridge Massachusetts. Crossing Harvard campus in the evening around nine we came to a welcoming site just beside the entrance of Sever Hall, a small pile of wood logs burning and glowing brightly in a temporary pit fire. Surrounding the fire were a few white clothed tables offering hot cider, which I know from other Harvard events to be a delicious cider made from locally grown apples.  Another table had a bountiful arrangement of baskets containing small mounds of chocolate, marshmallows and graham cracker, and in front of them bunches of long wooden skewers. Mihoko, my wife, my better half, my better 7/8ths, is from Japan, and to her this assortment of American ingredients appeared random until I skewered a marshmallow, roasted it over the fire and assembled a sandwich of chocolate and marshmallow pressed between two graham crackers. Once she bit into her first “S’more”, this gooey mucilaginous concoction that makes you want “some more” the taste was instantly familiar.

There are so many departments and clubs and branches of Harvard that all together there is an event, some small like this and others much larger, going on every day. So many that you would have to skip class to attend them all and you would still be missing another held at the same time. But you don’t have to keep up with them all—just getting through your class day and doing your homework is enough—but to stumble upon such events by accident or hear about the good ones through your professors is part of the whole Harvard Extension School experience. The other day after finishing a midterm exam, the entire class, the professors, teaching assistants (TA’s) and all spent a merry time celebrating at the Queens Head Tavern, the campus restaurant and bar tucked cozily under Memorial Hall. I have seen tasty platters of fish and chips devoured there and have enjoyed their signature ale named “1636” for Harvard’s founding year. As you mentally savor your beer consider this bit of knowledge: In our last paper for Environmental Management 101 on the topic of wetlands I came across the Marsh Mallow plant (Althea officinalis) which you may be amazed to learn is the humble marsh growing plant from whence or current sticky marshmallows came!

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