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I Turned My Love of Food into an Ivy League Acceptance

Brb, getting my degree in dessert.

*Record Scratch* *Freeze Frame* You're probably wondering how I ended up in this situation. How does a foodie with a penchant for taking too many Instagram photos get accepted to an Ivy League university? The answer doesn't exactly lie in your GPA, SAT score, or whatever other numerical measure you've been conditioned to value yourself by. The answer lies in writing about what you're most passionate about, be it fashion, football, or—in my case—food. 

I wrote my Common App essay (aka the most stressful, yet rewarding essay of your high school career) on matzo ball soup, avocado toast, and, yes, sushi burritos. None of these are metaphors for some universal truth I learned. They're just simply things that I've eaten, liked, and influenced my life in irreversible ways. So, without further ado, this is the essay that turned my love of food into an Ivy League acceptance.

The Essay

Breadbaskets of Sentiments

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m pretending to be more Jewish than I actually am. My family sits at a booth in the only Jewish deli open past ten in New York City. I have a cold but won’t tell my parents I need medicine because I am independent. My cousin is hung up over a breakup that happened when the sun didn’t set at 4:30. She’s drowning herself in a sandwich the size of a small dog and sour pickles. I think matzo-ball soup will cure me. I am happy. I am full.

It’s November 22nd and I decide to embrace my friend’s vegetarianism. We sit in a corner booth, talking about what boy she likes most today. We split avocado toast sliced in an odd number of pieces and pretend that she's a Carrie and I'm a Samantha, even though it’s clearly the other way around. I am happy. I am full.

vegetable, meat, seafood, salad, fish, lettuce, chicken
Beatrice Forman

It’s mid-August and I’ve just told my mother that my orthodontist attempted to set me up with his son. We sit in Westchester’s best attempt at “cool”: an upscale food court. We laugh at teenage boys, the quirky, mismatched chairs next to us, and how I can’t read a map. She decides sushi isn’t her thing. I decide it’s mine. I am happy. I am full.

I am good at food. I know language dictates this can’t be. It sounds awkward, for one thing, and we can’t be good at nouns unless they’re abstract. However, I am bad at many verbs, and come to think of it, more nouns. I’m terrible at singing and spelling, but I’m exceptionally worse at embroidery and calculus. Food, it seems, is one of the few at which I excel.

By this I mean I’m good at making reservations. By this I mean I’m good at remembering that dietary restriction you mentioned offhandedly. By this I mean I’m good at ordering food cohesive with your Instagram theme. In other words, I am exceptional at designing your happiest moment.

As much as I want it to be, this talent isn’t some cosmic divination. The gods didn’t set out to mold a girl no taller than a stepladder who can’t refuse a doughnut or an al-fresco table. Rather, it’s a product of my environment: a kitchen teeming with four kinds of granola, a family that chases food trucks, a mother who believes brunch is the most intersectional meal. I measure life in fullness, be it of stomach or soul, and I am brimming. Overflowing with the need to construct experiences marked by laughter, breadbaskets of sentiments, and wide-eyed sincerity. I have taken, for sixteen years. Now, I give.

Beatrice Forman

Logically, I began photographing my meals. Every repast, from lopsided ice cream cones to skillets of mac’n’cheese permeating steam, sits in front of my phone’s camera, waiting for someone to love it. Someone always does. Sometimes, it’s a friend with a hankering for something more than what’s on her suburban plate. Most times, it’s a stranger entranced by the photo’s integrity. I capture reality, meaning what’s on my plate is beautiful because of the effort behind it, not because it’s posed to appear so. I value candor, as do the 1,353 sets of mouths, eyes, and beating hearts that follow my Instagram. I feed the masses the truth and they swallow it, often coming back for seconds.

Beatrice Forman

Still, this doesn’t feel like enough. My figurative table is too wide, too many place settings excluding me from you. To bridge this gap, I write. I write about the restaurants that elevate your neighborhood, the experiences that shape your palate, the ice cream you should eat based on your zodiac sign. Mostly, I write about how food molded me into the voraciously curious and open-minded person I am.

After all, I am happy. I am full. But I will never stop eating. 

The Bottom Line: 

Applying to college is stressful. But it's even more stressful to cover up your authentic self for the sake of sounding "professional" (whatever that means). If I could offer one piece of advice, it's to sound like the happiest version of yourself. Who knows, that version may end up on University of Pennsylvania's Locust Walk.