Neighborhood Watch: Adriana Lucci

It’s about time we talked about it. Nothing says collected, confident, and chic like the style of sophomore and city-dweller Adriana Lucci. In this edition of Neighborhood Watch, we take a look into the world of the foodie and thrifting connoisseur–and come away with more than just a few wise words. LV: What year are you, what are you studying, and where are you from?

AL: I’m a sophomore concentrating in Gender Studies, Italian, and Creative Writing. My parents still live in Massachusetts, where I grew up. After moving out of their place, I lived in Vermont and Maine for a couple years before attending SLC.

LV: In a few words: why Sarah Lawrence? AL: Honestly, I didn’t get in anywhere else. Inversely: because SLC seriously saved my ass when I wasn’t sure if I’d ever have the courage to get back to college.

LV: What are some major sources of inspiration for your style?

AL: Janet Alexander is my inspiration. Last week I heard someone call her the Anna Wintour of SLC. I approve. LV: Favorite brands/photographers/models/musicians (aesthetic gods) in your life?

AL: Tilda Swinton, Haider Ackermann, Sly Stone, Atticus Finch, Diane Keaton, Josephine Powell, and Garance Doré.

LV: Are there fashion rights and wrongs for you? AL: Wrong: ties on a button down shirt worn outside of sweaters. Honestly I’m not a big fan of flip flops or sweats outside of the house, I don’t own either. Right: not caring about the rules. Except for the aforementioned tie outside of sweaters rule, I’ve never seen that work on anyone.

LV: Do you have a favorite go-to piece in your closet right now? AL: I found this Missoni blazer this past weekend. New jackets and blazers by Missoni sell at plus or minus $1000 today, but I found it with the tag cut out for $20. I’m guessing it’s from the ‘90s. The fabric is this beautiful multi-colored chevron that can be easily worn with loads of different colored pieces in my closet. Plus it’s super comfortable. I only own two blazers; they’re both chevron.

LV: Where did you learn to cook? How has that influenced your creativity with the dishes you enjoy preparing?

AL: My mom and my Nana are both excellent cooks, and brought me up in their tradition. I also went to culinary school, which helped me learn some new techniques but really killed my intuitive cooking abilities! There’s so much focus on obedience, and the right and wrong way to do things there. Before I went I wasn’t so afraid of screwing up a meal, I’m slowly getting back to caring less about whether or not dinner is perfect because it’s usually pretty good. LV: What are five ingredients/items every college student should have access to in their fridge?

AL: Olive oil & balsamic, dark salad greens, avocados, canned tuna, dark chocolate.

LV: What are your all-time favorite recipes and resources to check out for foodie inspiration? AL: Other people. Food and cooking have always been about relationships conversation for me. It’s fun to cook with restaurant people, because they have great tips and tricks. I also like cooking with someone who seems to have an intuitive knack for it, but doesn’t use recipes or better yet can’t explain how to cook at all. I don’t look at cooking magazines or blogs often, and I’m somewhat averse to foodie culture. In restaurant culture, foodie is a label for people who are interested in food or cooking as a hobby, but not a profession. Since I’m not in the industry anymore, I’ve fallen into the class of foodies, which to a lot of restaurant folks reads “amateur”. I actually slapped someone in the face for calling me a foodie once (ungraceful reflex). It turned out he was being sarcastic, but was cool with my reaction. As far as resources go, America’s Test Kitchen and their magazine Cook’s Illustrated is good for formulaic classic recipes, but they just don’t taste like love to me. Saveur has pretty reliable recipes most of the time; you can find them all (with user reviews!) online. I just started reading Spenser magazine, which started up a couple of years ago, and have my fingers crossed for an internship with them. If you’re into food and culture, check out the journal Gastronomica. Anyone interested in food writing should read The Man Who Ate Everything, a collection of short stories by gastronomist Geoffrey Steingarten or Serve it Forth by M.F.K. Fisher. Graze and Alimentum are both food-lit and poetry magazines. Meatpaper is a magazine devoted entirely to art and ideas about meat. The Renuncible Spoon is an independent, DIY food magazine from D.C. If you only look up one resource from this list it should be The Art of Eating. LV: Favorite restaurants/cafes/shops in the city you recommend to adventurous students looking for something delicious?

AL: Allswell on Bedford grills an incredible burger with Grafton Cheddar and house-smoked bacon. Hand-cut fries and house pickles are served on the side. The grilled octopus at Speedy Romeo’s in Clinton Hill is outstanding. If you haven’t gotten a salty pimp at the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck (or shop) you’re missing out. Bubby’s Pie co., Ayurveda Café, and Sundaes and Cones are all great spots. As for shops I’m a fan of The Meat Hook and Radish—especially the latter’s ginger caramels. LV: There have been some incredibly talented and serious female chefs in the past century, and yet we still deal with demeaning women-belong-in-the-kitchen stereotypes, while men dominate most cooking networks and esteemed restaurants. How do you deal with these notions as someone both passionate about food and gender studies?

AL: Ha ha ha…well sexual harassment was definitely the icing on the cake when I decided to stop pursuing a career cooking. Honestly, I don’t know what to say, it’s overwhelming. I see sexual harassment, stereotypes degrading women, and the male-dominated food industry as part of the same larger problem. Whether gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, or class-based, we need to get better at being conscious of what privilege and prejudices we have to keep from subordinating others. Talking about it helps lift the taboo on discussions about privilege. If you’re afraid to offend someone while talking about it, ask questions and admit what you haven’t experienced or don’t understand. That’s what I see as the first step to making further progress.   Adriana’s Go-To:

“Nothing Says Love Like Mac & Cheese”

AL: This was my Valentine’s Day dinner. It’s great for parties or potlucks; you can make it a day ahead of time before adding the cream and breadcrumbs. Leave it out for a couple of hours before baking, so that it isn’t cold in the middle when served. It’s fun to switch up the cheeses as you please. I put cheddar below, since that’s what a lot of people like, but a mix of cheddar and gruyere or aged gouda is excellent, as is a mix of fontina and Parmigiano. Play around with what cheese you like, as long as there’s a creamier one that will meld easier with the sauce and something sharp to add a little zing. You can also add bacon, prosciutto, or fried sage to the topping. Some people prefer to season the cheese sauce with a tiny bit of nutmeg right at the end; others prefer to add red pepper with the flour at the beginning. If you want something really luxurious, add chunks of parboiled lobster. 1 stick of butter 8 T flour Salt and freshly ground white pepper 1 quart of milk 4 cups of grated cheddar 1 lb. shells, cooked al dente ½ cup heavy cream ½ cup panko bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350 or 375. Melt 6 tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly so not to burn, for about 4 minutes. This is the roux that will thicken your sauce. Allow it to foam, or your cheese sauce may taste like raw flour. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper. Whisk in milk, 1/2 cup at a time, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring and scraping the bottom with a spatula, until sauce thickens. Reduce heat to low and stir in 2 cups of cheese. Cook, stirring, until cheese melts, about 2 minutes.

2. Combine pasta and sauce in a large bowl, and season with salt to taste. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over the bottom of a buttered 8″ × 11″ baking dish. Place one-third of the pasta in the baking dish, top with 1/2 cup of cheese, then repeat, layering pasta and cheese, ending with cheese, making three layers in all.

3. Pour cream over assembled macaroni and cheese. Melt remaining butter in a skillet. Add bread crumbs, coat with melted butter, and sprinkle over macaroni and cheese. Bake until crust is golden, about 30 minutes. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes before serving. All photography by Jenny Sharp.

Lauren Valentine (Fashion & Beauty Editor) is a sophomore. When she’s not obsessing over her health or wandering New York City, she maintains the firm belief that one can never own too many pairs of pants. Her studies include German, International Socioeconomics, and various veins of Psychology. She hopes one day to achieve a well equipped yet unorthodox business platform–Sarah Lawrence style, of course.

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