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Food Reviews

Our Fellow Peers’ Favorite Holiday meals

By Destiny Ugochukwu

When December rolls around, a lot of events appear in people's minds: holidays, celebrations, or spending time with family and friends. I have certainly had those thoughts as well since I'm excited to celebrate Christmas with my family and friends this year. In addition to that list, I would also like to add another item, food. When holidays come around, restaurants or even your close relatives should make dishes that exemplify the holiday tradition. Food has always been one thing I look forward to when the holidays come around, and I also know that it's one of my friend's favorite things to look forward to. So I decided to ask three of my friends, Yadier, Ella, and Destinee, what their favorite dish was to eat in the December holidays.

Ella's(10th grader's) favorite dish to eat in December is a classic warm chocolate chip cookie. I am biased toward this dish item because chocolate chip cookies always remind me of December. The feel of the cookie is slightly rough but crumbly, but when you bite into it,t it's like you're in heaven. From its surgery to its, slightly salty taste with chocolate that melts in your mouth, it's an amazing snack to eat, especially if you have a sweet tooth like me. Destinee’s(10th grader) favorite dessert to eat in December is cheesecake. I normally don't assign cheesecake to a specific month, so honestly, her choice was quite surprising to me. Either way, I believe that cheesecake is an amazing dessert to eat. The dessert is soft, with a sour-ish and surgically flavor, that somewhat reminds me of cream cheese. But the base always pulls the dessert together. It's harder and crumblier compared to the white part of the desert,t but its flavor, almost matching the cakey part of the dish in taste, really helps to provide structure to the dessert. Yadier's (10th grader) favorite dessert for the holidays is gingerbread cookies. This, in my opinion, is a stable dessert to have in December. As the name suggests, there is a strong flavor of ginger in the cookies, but the hint of sugar in the cookies helps to dilute the strong ginger flavor, making it less strong and making me have the urge to go back for more. Its sweet, strong, gingerly taste pairs well with a tall glass of milk on a cold winter day.

These three desserts, which have been recommended by our classmates, really exemplify what the holidays mean to them. Food brings out the holidays since it helps give insight into how people celebrate the holidays, and what typical desserts they would enjoy during the holidays. I would recommend trying all these desserts since they can help spice up your holiday season.

What Do People ACTUALLY eat on the Holidays?

By Yaretzi Ayala

It’s the time of the year when everyone can’t wait for the winter break. Many people enjoy the break for the gifts, celebrations, movies, songs, and especially, the food that many will be scarfing down this holiday season. When you think of food from the holiday season, people usually think of eggnog or fruit cake, but after interviewing a selection of our peers; I find that there are more foods that people have during the season. First interviewing the junior duo, Vianessa, and Yasmine, asking what they would have on a cold day and what they enjoy to get in the holiday spirit. Vianessa replied first, “I would drink virgin pina coladas and eat pasta during a cold day. I would eat snickerdoodles to get into the holiday spirit.” Yasmine added, “Really good tea since my family drinks a lot of it and I would have soups in general. My family doesn’t celebrate during this season so there is nothing that would make me get into the spirit of it.” Now both these responses surprised me as some of these items were unusual to me, but for these students, they usually have them and bring them great comfort. Furthermore, I interviewed Mahira Khan, she said “My favorite thing to eat on a cold day is chicken lollipop with Thai soup. And my favorite thing to drink on a cold day is hot chocolate. Gingerbread cookies, brownies, cupcakes/cakes, marshmallows are what I eat to get into the holiday spirit.” This response also really intrigued me as I have never heard of chicken lollipops. It was interesting to see how cultures can influence what a person eats at the time of year and how it differs so much from my own. Hopefully, this makes you more open-minded about what people have for Christmas instead of what they always show in the media.

Food Reviews: Opinions on Popular Fall Foods

Mouthwatering Food Suggestions for The Fall
By:  Destiny Ugochukwu 

October is the season of Halloween. Many people in America celebrate Halloween or indulge themselves in a multitude of activities, such as pumpkin or apple picking. Some people take this time to bond with family and friends or eat some of their favorite fall-themed dishes. In my household, one dish that my mom makes during October is salmon and squash. This dish is made by taking store-bought salmon, defrosting it, and then adding it to a pan with many spices. These include maggi, which is a salty, surgery mix that is made of onion powder, garlic powder, and turmeric. My mom also adds salt and Italian seasoning. For the squash, she adds the same seasoning that is used for the salmon and puts it in the oven to cook. After she is done plating it, dinner is ready. Words cannot describe how good this dish is, the abundance of flavor and the juiciness of the salmon makes me want to have this dish every day during October. In addition, the squash also has a salty, spicy flavor that compliments the salmon. Overall, this dish is very comforting to me and it might be to others as well. October is a month to explore different foods, so I recommend people to make this dish at home

Make it or Buy it?
By: Karen Perez

For most, autumn is the definition of the perfect season, as it’s not too cold nor too hot. The leaves change color, the weather is breezy and perfect for Instagram pictures; autumn is associated with pumpkins, pumpkin patches, pumpkin carving but most importantly pumpkin-like foods. Big companies advertise seasonal foods and drinks, for instance, Starbucks sells “Pumpkin Spice Lattes” or PSL’s. However, most people know how they taste, so I focused on Starbucks' new seasonal bakery item the “Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin.” Though this delicious treat sounds great, you have to keep in mind the price of this item (not including tax), the pumpkin cream cheese muffin is $4.25. Since the item is only seasonal and new, I wanted to know if it was worth the price, consequently sacrificing $4.63. The search for the “Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin” was hard considering they only sell it at certain Starbucks locations. Overall, the taste was actually really good! I thought it would taste mediocre but the pumpkin which lacked sweetness alongside the super sweet cream cheese was a good mix. The addition of the pumpkin seeds was good since it added a nice crunch. I wish it had more cream cheese since it’s only at the surface of the muffin. In summary, I would rate it a 8/10, it was okay but buying the ingredients is an option.

After reviewing Starbucks seasonal treat, I decided to buy all the ingredients to make this item, costing a total of $27.90. Although the price of buying all the ingredients seems absurd, I only used half of these ingredients, meaning this batch of muffins would have cost me $13.95 but you also have to keep in mind how many muffins were made, meaning each muffin would have cost me $1.16. Already the cost of the muffins is ​​triumphing Starbucks’ in the amount of money spent. Nevertheless, it all comes down to taste. In order to make the pumpkin cream cheese muffins, I followed the recipe, “Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins (Starbucks Copycat!)” by Dana DeVolk which didn’t take me too long to make considering it was my first time baking! After following the recipe step by step, it came out to a dozen muffins and I decided to give some out to my sophomore classmates: Janel Sevilla, Kiran Srikant and Sakura Jung. I also asked two of MHSHS’s teachers, Mr. Gallardo and Mr. Jewram about their opinions. When asked the question, “What would you rate the muffins out of 10, and describing the flavor?” Sevilla responded, “Out of 10, it was a 10/10, the muffin tasted very chewy, crumbly and soft. I especially liked the flavor of the cream cheese because the flavor was easy to distinguish.” Srikant said, “7.5/10, pumpkin portion was moist, would have wanted more of a pumpkin spice flavor, the cream cheese was a little dry, overall really good”and Jung said “10/10, tasted very spongy “like a sponge cake”, the cream cheese adds the sweetness to the pumpkin portion which was the perfect combination in order to not make it super sweet nor too dry.” Mr. Jewram said “Amazing/10, very moist and very delicious, it tasted very good with my coffee!” and finally Mr. Gallardo said “9/10, delightfully pumpkiny, I ate it cold so that’s why it was a 9 not a 10, cream cheese frosting was a delightful touch to the pumpkin.” Overall most would agree the muffins were delicious. Comparing the Starbucks muffin and the recipe I found, I would definitely have to side with the recipe. It isn’t as hard as you would think it is to bake, and it’s better to make it yourself than buy it. However, if you don’t have time to bake them and you need a quick breakfast, I would definitely recommend Starbucks’ “Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin” but over time the cost definitely accumulates. 

Karen's Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin

Starbucks' Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin

Food Reviews: Opinions on Popular Fall Foods

Bored of basic Thanksgiving meals? Try some of your peer's favorites! 
By: Karen Perez

After a long sugar high and trading candy with others during Halloween, most will quickly start thinking of Christmas. In their heads will be all of the presents they’ll be opening, or the delicious sweets; whether it’s the gingerbread houses with too much frosting or the eggnog. However people tend to overlook Thanksgiving–myself included, mostly because lots of people don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, rather those who are fortunate enough to have the day off, enjoy traditional food, something that identifies them and their culture. When it comes to Thanksgiving, my family, friends and I will enjoy a traditional Mexican dish which made me want to ask my peers, “Describe a food that’s unique to your culture, what’s your favorite aspect of it? Would you recommend it to others?” Knowing that many people will have different tastes, I decided to ask two different people, Destiny Ugochukwu and Yaretzi Ayala! When asked this question, Ugochukwu responded, “A food that’s unique to my culture is “Fufu”, it’s served with pounded yam and egusi soup. The soup is very flavorful and has lots of spices. I would recommend it to others” and Ayala said, “A food that’s unique to my culture is the concha, it’s sweet bread. I especially like how it looks like a seashell. I would recommend it to everyone, more specifically a chocolate concha.” With this in mind, I decided to buy both the fufu with egusi soup alongside the concha and rate them. 


Since there aren’t a lot of places in NY that sell fufu I had to find a good place and at last, I went to “Voila Afrique” which is located at 844 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10017. My first thoughts while ordering the food, the employees were extremely sweet and although the place wasn't big, it compensated with its amazing taste! As I’ve never tried African food, it was a great first impression. The fufu was made out of plantains and though it had a slightly sour taste, the spices and flavors of the egusi soup combined with the fufu worked out nicely. With the order, it came with a side of chicken all for the price of $33.47, the price isn’t bad at all! Overall the cozy environment, the super kind employees, and the delicious food would be something I would recommend to anyone, and would eat there again. Now when it comes to the concha’s, they’re quite common near where I live, and buying one in a supermarket comes out to $1.79 per concha. Unfortunately, Ayala’s preferred flavor of concha wasn’t available so I had to go with the vanilla flavor. It was really good and I would describe the outside of the concha as slightly crunchy and with its sweet covering and softness on the inside, it was quite good. Now I can’t rate one over the other simply because I’ve had conchas ever since I was a child and Fufu was a first-time thing. Generally, I would recommend either of these foods depending on what you're craving, if you want something sweeter, then go for the concha! On the other hand, if you want a generally filling meal, try some fufu and egusi soup!

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Fufu and Egusi Soup 

Brand vs. Off-Brand Food, is there a difference?
By Karen Perez

When you go to the supermarket, what’s the first thing you look for? Is it snacks such as chips, cookies, or candy? Or do you try to avoid those foods and try to go for the healthy option? Regardless of which one you choose, there’s probably something you unknowingly do and that’s picking the brand version of the food rather than the off-brand version. However, do you ever stop and wonder why you do it? Is there some certainty that comes from choosing the brand version rather than the off-brand version? All of this got me wondering and I wanted to know if there’s actually a difference between these two so I went around and asked my peers, “When you go and buy food items, do you pick the brand version or the off-brand version? Depending on which version you choose, why? Do you feel there’s a difference in the product's taste?” Based on my peer’s responses and a bit of research, I wanted to know if there is a difference.


The first of my peers to answer was Yaretzi Ayala who said, “Unless it’s a food I particularly favor, I really don’t care about the brand name and don’t think there’s any difference in the taste. Plus it helps that the off-brand versions are usually cheaper.” However, Destiny Ugochukwu opposes Ayala’s response and argues that she “picks the brand version most of the time because I know what to expect. In addition, I associate brand-name food with ‘good’ food. But on the off chance I get the off-brand name one, there is literally no difference when it comes to taste.” Then there’s Maddisyn DaSilva whose a mix of both responses, stating that 

“It depends on the product; sometimes, when I get used to a specific brand, I think everything else is off-brand. For example, I used to think everything was a copy of Chewy bars but now I like madegood bars. Usually, there is a difference in product taste but sometimes it’s better or worse.” Based on these student’s answers, it seems that brand food is associated with “good” food but the taste between brand food and off-brand food is slim to none. There isn’t any difference between its taste and on the rare occasion that there is a difference, there’s a 50/50 chance that the food you’re eating will either be really good or really nasty. Nevertheless, with some further research, Shelf Cooking conducted an experiment in which they bought the name brand foods and off-brand food, which included pantry staples (flour, sugar, rice, pasta, beans, etc), frozen foods, and dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter) and their ultimate conclusion was that “In most cases, the name brand markup comes from marketing, so read the ingredients and do your research.” This means that when you go to the supermarket, opt for the off-brand version because you’ll save a few more dollars AND still get the tasty foods you enjoy! 

Consider these Candy Choices this Valentine's Day

By Destiny Ugochukwui

As we embark into this new month, one of them the popular celebrations is Valentine’s Day. When you think of Valentine’s Day, you think of February, since that holiday has become synonymous with the month. The holiday to me is about gift giving to your loved ones or a significant other, like flowers or sweets that others can enjoy. Since the topic of sweets has always interested me, I decided to ask 3 of my fellow peers, Karen, Sakura and Lex what their favorite sweets from Valentine's Day are. Karen, a 10th grader, said that her favorite sweets from Valentine's Day were Hershey Kisses. I am a strong believer that chocolate is extremely synonymous with Valentine culture; hershey kisses is a very classic choice. The yummy chocolate goodness wrapped into a small package helps to foster a sense of friendship when it's shared with friends. The taste is a standard milk chocolate treat, so if you were hoping for something more flamboyant, you might not get it with this candy. I believe that what stands out about Hersey kisses is the friendship and happiness that you get from it, not the taste itself. Sakura, a 10th grader, said that her favorite sweets from Valentine's Day were Twix, and to be honest, I’m biased toward this candy. Twix has two of my favorite things, chocolate and caramel mashed into one candy bar, and when these flavors are mixed together, the product is heavenly. The milk chocolate and caramel are nice on their own, but the crunchy part of the candy bar ties the whole candy together, helping the candy bar to establish its own taste and flavor. This Valentine's Day and other ones to come should be special, so I believe that these candy choices, Hershey Kisses and Twix, should be choices you should pick to surprise your significant other or your best friends. 

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