The Gastronomy Program is thrilled to introduce our brand new Program Coordinator, alumna Barbara Rotger! If you haven’t gotten a chance to meet this talented lady, check out her introduction below, and stop by her office to introduce yourself. Welcome, Barbara!
by Barbara Rotger
I grew up not far from here in Carlisle, and now live in Melrose with my husband, our two teenagers, a cat, and more goldfish than I can keep track of. I (try) to play the piano, do quite a bit of volunteer work for my children’s schools, and, of course, enjoy cooking at home. This year I gave up coaxing vegetables to grow under our giant oak trees, and decided that growing herbs is a more viable option.
I have always been interested in food – my family attributes this fascination to the fact that they were living in cramped quarters when I was born, so my crib had to be in the dining room. (I think I was first taken to Weight Watchers when I was seven…) As an older child, my grandmother came over and cooked with me one afternoon every week. I went to Brown University as an undergraduate, with the intent to major in chemistry and pursue a career in food science. This seemed to be the only viable career option that had “food” in its title. However, organic chemistry proved to be my downfall. (Perhaps my heart was never fully invested in a career dedicated to preventing the frozen pizza cheese from turning green, or perhaps I was simply pulling too many shifts tending bar at the Brown Faculty Club.) I ended up majoring in Russian Studies, and after graduation I went on to work at Harvard University, in the Ukrainian Research Institute. Despite the fact that I was working at the Ukrainian Research Institute during the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the birth of an independent Ukrainian state, my real excitement in being at Harvard was still all about the food. Some of the first academic food studies courses were offered during those years by the Radcliffe Seminars, and I was able to use my employee benefits to enroll. I had finally found my academic home.