Garam-miso Lasagna

In addition to the essay you have written for the Common Application, please write an essay of about 500 words (no more than 650 words and no less than 250 words). Write about a person, event, or experience that helped you define one of your values or in some way changed how you approach the world.


Being Indian -- and I am 100% South Indian by birth -- is not about Bollywood or cricket for me. Rather, my culture revolves around food. Few countries can lay claim to cuisine influenced by Anglo-Saxons, Mongols, Turks, and Persians. No other country uses India's hundreds of spices. Having learned to appreciate a multitude of seasonings, I have a deeper appreciation for life's subtleties. And knowing that new cultural influences can spur new subtleties, I am always eager to excite my taste buds with new ethnic fusions.

A few years ago, my family was cooking Italian b├ęchamel sauce for our lasagna. I remember chasing my brother around the kitchen and, in the process, accidentally knocking Indian garam masala into the sauce. Seeing my folly, my brother impishly stirred in Japanese miso paste, deciding that a second kind of Asian zing was needed. We thought the entire dish was ruined, but we still let our father sample the monstrosity. When he proclaimed it delicious, my entire family dived in. Ever since, we won't eat our lasagna any other way. We've experimented since then, tossing kimchi on nachos and tandoori paneer on bruschetta. This is how the cultural experience should be, beyond my family's kitchen. Like bizarre flavors...

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