Cooking with Snow
By Sonia Booth
It is a warm day in January and sun is streaming through the large windows in the space Above the Bike Shop. But that hasn’t deterred Knowledge Commons DC teacher, Willie Shubert, from following through on his latest cooking class adventure. Magically, he has filled the room with snow.
On one side of the room a snow cone machine is plugged in and churning out little mountains of ice crystals. In the center of the room some of this “snow” sits atop a huge slab of dry ice (from Harris Teeter, a dollar a pound.) The dry ice forms visible curls of smoke that drift into the air. Willie has displayed various viscous food items near the dry ice slab: maple syrup, hot sauce, cherry syrup, and sweetened condensed milk to name a few. There is also vodka.
Willie introduces the class by asking everyone why they came to a class called “Cooking with Snow.” I say that I came because I went to college in Maine and have been missing snow here in DC. Even though it might not be “real” snow, I hope this class helps quell the melancholy feeling I have thinking of friends sledding up north.
Willie demonstrates how to drill little holes in the dry ice with a hot pick. He writes out the letters “KCDC” in the slab. Then we pour syrups into the ice holes and wait several minutes for the food to “cook.” The syrups turn so frozen that they basically become hard candy, and we poke these treats out with popsicle sticks. My favorite is a combination of sweetened condensed milk and maple syrup. It is so sweet it could make your teeth fall out. Some of the other students comment that they did not know vodka could freeze into pops. Only when you’re cooking with snow!
Besides the popsicle treats Willie also shows us how to make Korean cold soba soup and Chinese baobing. Baobing is a delectable mountain of snow-cone-goodness topped with boba (like the tapioca balls you find in bubble tea), kiwi pieces, blueberries, and sweetened condensed milk.
After the class I head outside to face the warm day in Adams Morgan with a smile. Thanks to this class I have discovered a secret. Snow can happen anywhere. Don’t let the reality of weather stop you.
Sonia Booth is a museum educator who grew up in the Boston area. She works as a program coordinator at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Before she moved to DC she gave tours of the Boston Massacre site for the Old State House Museum in Massachusetts. As part of the Knowledge Commons DC organizing team, she helps wrangle volunteers, facilitators, and classes. Her favorite fruit is cherimoya.