Jim Bern: Mongolian Barbecue & Midterms


Anaika Miller

Credit: Jim Bern.

Time passes incredibly fast at Caltech. In between proving whether or not f(x) = x^2 is continuous at x=1, choosing whether to program to Kanye West or DJ Mangoo, and assessing whether or not you can fit more noodles on a tower of questionable structural integrity, you don’t have a lot of time to focus on the big picture.

Which brings us to the big picture: Mongolian Barbecue. But before we get ahead of ourselves–it is continuous, but for some reason greek letters get involved, winners listen to Kanye West while doing CS1, and fewer noodles is never an option.

So–Mongolian Barbecue–The culmination of last week. It was a Friday if I remember correctly. Probably the last Friday in October.

You begin with the vegetables. While you wait in line, you ponder the meaning of baby corn. Is it really small, or is it just far away*? Is it even corn at all? By now you’ve built a protective vegetable shell upon which you can pile a surprisingly high pile of noodles. More noodles. Maybe a few more noodles. Okay, that should be good.

The same applies to sauces. There are a lot of sauces. Personally, I prefer the sophisticated and delicate blend of Mongolian, oyster, soy, curry, and garlic. There’s probably one more that I’m forgetting.

Anyway, your bowl of to-be-cooked noodles is taken from you and thrown upon a really hot metal cylinder, presumably called the Mongolian barbecue. It was at this point in the Mongolian-barbecue-process, as I stood, triumphantly and absent-mindedly, that I happened to hear someone talking about midterms.

Cut to Monday, likely a few days later, as I sit in my loft typing this blog entry. Last night I dreamed about math. This is what happens when your math midterm is a four-hour-five-question-choose-four-take-home-test-o’-death/fun. Later today I’m going to take chem, and things might seem hopeless, but what really matters is that I got Mongolian again today. And since I got so many noodles, I get to eat it again tomorrow. And tomorrow I do my CS. I’m going to program to Kanye West.”

Footnote: *SNL parody of “Miracles“.

What do you think?