ezyang’s blog

the arc of software bends towards understanding

Food-related functional humor

Fall is coming, and with it come hoards of ravenous Freshmen arriving on MIT’s campus. I’ll be doing three food events... all of them functional programming puns. Whee!

Dumpling Hylomorphism

Anamorphism: the building up of a structure. Catamorphism: the consumption of a structure. Hylomorphism: both an anamorphism and a catamorphism. This event? A hylomorphism on dumplings. Come learn the basic fold, or just perform a metabolic reduction on food.

I’ve done this event several times in the past and it’s always good (if a little sweaty) fun. Dumpling making, as it turns out, is an extremely parallelizable task: you can have multiple people rolling out wraps, wrapping the dumplings, and a few brave cooks actually boiling or pan-frying them. (Actually, in China, no one makes their own wraps anymore, because the store bought ones are so good. Not so in the US...)

The WOK Combinator

The combinator is familiar to computer scientists, but less well known to food scientists. A closely guarded secret among the Chinese is the WOK combinator, guaranteed to combine vegetable and meat in record runtime. (Vegan-friendly too.)

Dumplings are a little impractical for an MIT student in the thick of term; they usually tend to get reserved for special events near the beginning of term, if at all. However, stir fry is quick, cheap and easy and an essential healthy component to any college student’s diet. My personal mainstay is broccoli and chicken (which is nearly impossible to get wrong), but I’ve diversified and I’m quite a fan of bell peppers and chorizo these days too (see below). One difficulty with running this event is making sure there are enough rice cookers... running out of rice is no fun, since it takes so long to cook up a new batch!


Roast(X) where X = {Broccoli, Garlic, Pork, Bell Peppers, Chorizo, Carrots, Onions, Asparagus, Sweet Potatoes}.

This is a new one. Really, I just wanted to do roast broccoli with garlic. It’s sooooo good. I’ve never roasted chorizo before, but there didn’t seem to be enough meat on the menu, so I tossed it in. I did a lot of roasting when I was in Portland, because I’d frequently buy random vegetables at the farmers markets, get home, and then have to figure out how to cook them. Roasting is a pretty good bet, in many cases! I forgot to put beets in the event description; maybe I’ll get some...

4 Responses to “Food-related functional humor”

  1. fuzxxl says:

    The dumplings you refer to, are they Jiaozi (餃子)? I love them, though I usually boil them instead of frying and enjoy them with vinegar.

  2. gasche says:

    One funny thing to do with beetroots is to fry them, in long slices like French fries. It also works very well for carrots. But frying, with the important quantity of hot oil it implies, may not be adapted to a dynamic social event.

  3. fuzxxl: Yes! Actually, at home, my favorite way of preparing them is sort of an oil and water method, which makes them crispy without being too oily. And yes, vinegar + sesame oil is the best sauce, though I usually demand my dumplings be tasty enough to eat plain :-)

    gasche: Yeah, I don’t really like deep frying as a food preparation method. It’s tasty though…

  4. FUZxxl says:

    That’s a way of preparation. I’ve never heard of. Sounds interesting.

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