Yagoda: “Cheese is also good”

I am a very nervous person. When I watch Disney movies I get worried that Aladdin won’t defeat Jaffar. When I see squirrels I instantly assume they are rabid and sadistic. Incidentally, midterms also make me nervous, especially because the threat they pose is significantly more far-reaching than that of Disney movies ending poorly or squirrels harassing me.

My nerves manifest themselves as a tendency to shred things.

As a nervous shredder, I’ve recently been shredding any shreddables I can get my hands on. This is not a good habit. Unsurprisingly, it’s actually pretty annoying to those around you who find shredded pieces of paper everywhere — especially when the nondescript, yellow pages you’ve been binging on happen to be someone’s lab report.

This is why I love to bake, chop, sauté, mash and stir. There’s something about food — its taste, its smell, the way it hits your taste buds — that is inherently, viscerally soothing. Whatever, so food helps me cope with the hardships of life, especially when they come in paper, exam or problem set form. But while eating is a magnificent way to deal with stress, cooking is the better way to satiate one’s vices — you get to destroy, pulverize, slice and burn things, acts that are taboo under circumstances outside of the kitchen.

Freshly baked chocolate-chip banana bread is both indulgent and guilt-free (because bananas, you know, being a fruit, have zero calories). If you’re trying to buy friends or a mate, there’s no better approach than baking. If you bake someone something — especially something as climax-inducing as this banana bread — they have no choice but to love you and/or make love to you.

Relationships based on baked goods aside, the sole act of making banana bread works wonders for your spirits. There’s nothing like mashing soft, squishy bananas with a fork, your hands or even a knife if you’re feeling especially cold-blooded. (For extra fun, squint your eyes while you’re smashing the bananas and it’ll look like that kid who fucked up the curve.)

Cheese is also good. Melty cheese, in particular. If your Buttery’s grilled cheese isn’t cutting it, make your own! Grilled cheese with Gruyère and caramelized onions is an upscale alternative to the standard cheddar that is easy to make and easier to omo-nom-nom. You can always drop the caramelized onions if you don’t have the time or resources to get them together, or you can buy them premade. Still, try to get creative — add chipotle peppers, roasted garlic, arugula and even bacon.

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