A chocolate tart decorated with raspberries, pinecones, and leaves

Student-Run Food Magazine Celebrates a Festival of Flavors

 Crème de Cornell features tempting recipes and sleek design

You’ve heard of Bon Appétit and Saveur, Cook’s Illustrated and Vegetarian Times. But what about Crème de Cornell?

For the past decade, Big Red foodies have been cooking up an increasingly impressive online magazine—featuring recipes, essays, travelogues, photography, illustrations, and more. And in the COVID era, the epub only gained in popularity as limitations on restaurant meals and other outings prompted people on East Hill and around the world to embrace homier pleasures.

“We’ve had an incredible uptick in interest in the magazine, largely as a result of the lockdown,” says Abigail Reing ’22, a food science major in CALS who is Crème de Cornell’s club president and the magazine’s editor-in-chief. “On social media, you see how many people have baked bread for the first time, or made fluffy lattes or matcha or other things that they may have wanted to try before but didn’t have the time. Now is the time.”

The cover of the spring 2020 issue of Crème de Cornell features a variety of vegetables.
The cover of the spring 2020 issue. (Photo provided)

Founded in 2010, Crème de Cornell is a student-run organization that generally produces one issue per semester—though its burst in popularity prompted it to come out with two in fall 2020, each themed to an aspect of how pandemic life has shaped culinary cravings. (Two issues are again planned for fall 2021.) As the national media have observed, many of us have sought solace in sweets and carbs, leading to the proverbial “COVID fifteen.” Says Reing: “Cooking has tied a lot of students together during this rough year, giving people an outlet and the chance to try something new.”

The most recent issue, released in spring 2021, is devoted to the theme of picnics and includes recipes for aloo achar (a traditional Nepali potato salad), kimbap (Korean rolls, similar to sushi), and riffs on mojitos and sangria. In “The Joys of a Pandemic Picnic,” Hannah Rosenberg ’23 recalls eating al fresco at a state park last January, when she and her hometown friends sought a safe way to socialize over winter break.

“The food melded in our plates and danced in my mouth,” writes Rosenberg, who contributed a quinoa salad with citrus-balsamic vinaigrette. “All the dishes complemented each other, even the generic-brand Nutella, and the love I had for my friends in a time of isolation during that moment heightened the rich flavors of our picnic. We chatted, laughed, and interrupted bites of food to express the exuberance we felt enjoying the food together, the views, and our commitment to finding joy with each other during a time with so many restrictions.”

Abigail Reing (left, holding a whisk) and Alex Castroverde (holding a red bowl and spoon)
Crème leaders Abigail Reing (left) and Alex Castroverde. (Photo provided)

The fall 2020 “Comfort Foods” issue features essays exploring the emotional role that food plays in various cultures, plus an international menu of recipes including Swedish pancakes, Cantonese sweet buns, rigatoni alla salsiccia (a pasta dish with sausage and blush sauce), a Filipino dessert made from rice and coconut milk, and a Korean soup with tofu and kimchi.

The “Guilty Pleasures” issue contemplates such topics as the joys of illicit snacking in the library stacks and the eternal popularity of ramen noodles; in an essay titled “Let’s Brie Friends,” a student describes the indulgent thrill of buying a wedge of the unctuous French cheese at Collegetown Bagels and devouring it solo.

Recipes include “Mexican hot chocolate” cookies and a boozy sauce for pouring over cake and setting it aflame, in the tradition of a British Christmas pudding. “Do note that this is a fire risk,” the author advises, “and all involved should keep a safe distance from the flambé.”

It’s a pretty diverse group from all over campus, because food is such a universal thing. Everyone loves it.

Alex Castroverde ’23

In non-COVID times, Crème de Cornell hosts in-person events, like issue-launch parties and cooking demos in the Stocking Hall test kitchen. During the pandemic, the club stepped up its social media presence, with Instagram-driven giveaways of gift cards to Collegetown eateries and tote bags emblazoned with an arty Ithaca food map.

The publication’s website has links to past issues, whose themes include finger foods, brunch, and greens. Each issue taps the talents of some three dozen students—writers, editors, photographers, designers, and culinary mavens from a variety of colleges and majors.

“It’s a pretty diverse group from all over campus,” says Alex Castroverde ’23, the club’s treasurer and vice president, “because food is such a universal thing. Everyone loves it.”

A tote bag with food-related images.
Crème’s tote bag depicts an Ithaca “food map” featuring local eateries. (Photo provided)

In spring 2020, the club published a tenth anniversary cookbook, Crème de la Crème. Its offerings include Castroverde’s all-time favorite Crème de Cornell recipe: a vegetarian take on Buffalo wings that uses cauliflower instead of chicken.

“I continually make it—it’s one of the best recipes I’ve ever had,” says the CALS nutritional sciences major, an avid home cook. “I make it for my friends. I make it for my mom. I’m actually making it tonight.”

Top image: A chocolate cake, made with Irish cream liqueur, from the group’s 2020 cookbook. (Photo provided)

Published October 5, 2021


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