On Saturday mornings as a child, you could always find me watching “Masterchef,” “Chopped” or “Cupcake Wars,” my eyes glued to the screen. I was obsessed with these food competition shows growing up; I was mesmerized by the way that thinly-shaved cucumber slices could form flower-shaped garnishes and how a specific arrangement of a thousand cupcakes could bear semblance to a snow-laden oak tree. These shows cemented in me the importance of good presentation, and for a long time I held onto this ideal unwaveringly — that is, until a couple weeks ago.
One Sunday, before driving to my church in Orange County, I decided to stop by Nosy Neighbors in the Claremont Village to grab some treats for my friends. I had heard that they sold donuts by the bucket, and I was intrigued.
I stepped inside and placed the order, and a few minutes later I was, indeed, presented with a bucket of mini donuts. The bucket was nothing special, made out of thick white paper — but as soon as I had it in my hands, I smiled. I knew my friends would get a kick out of it: tiny donuts in a literal bucket, transported with care all the way from Claremont to Orange County.
With the donuts in my possession, I carefully made my way to my car, tightly clutching the bucket as I walked. It felt like I was carrying my own little secret. Little did the people around me know that this unassuming paper vessel held two-and-a-half dozen cinnamon sugar-dusted mounds of fried dough. When I arrived at my car, I placed the bucket on the passenger seat, supported by my backpack on one side and a cajón on the other (don’t ask), and drove down the bumpy freeways with it safely by my side.
When I finally arrived at church, I approached my friends excitedly. “I brought donuts!” I declared. “In a bucket!” Their eyes lit up as they reached inside, and the donuts soon began to dwindle — they were undoubtedly a hit. At one point, my friend told me to get these addictive treats away from her, and, as any friend would, I immediately handed her the bucket and insisted that she hold it instead.
The bucket moved around my group of friends over the next couple of hours, and somehow, as the pastor was preaching, I realized it even made its way to the pulpit. My friends, and even my pastor, enjoyed the donuts. As I drove back to Claremont that afternoon, I amusedly reflected on the entire process of bucket-bringing and donut-eating. I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about the unexpected charm of food in a bucket.
First and foremost, food in a bucket carries an element of mystery. What’s inside? You may notice a peculiar scent wafting out, but what exactly is the surprise waiting within?
Food in a bucket also requires a certain degree of care. You must be careful not to drop it or let it tip over; you must hold it close, like you would a friend; you must consider its needs as you transport it from place to place. Is it steady? Does it need support? How do I keep it from falling?
Perhaps most importantly, food in a bucket is optimal for sharing — both of the food itself and of stories. You can pass a bucket around and enjoy its delectable contents with friends, and the silliness of the bucket itself can spur fun conversations, too. “You brought donuts?” “Yes, in a bucket!” “A bucket, you say?” I firmly believe that a bucket is the perfect conversation starter, and as it moves around the room, so do the sounds of chit-chat and laughter.
Even though a bucket may not be the most aesthetically-pleasing culinary vessel, it creates a truly one-of-a-kind eating experience. There is assuredly a time and a place for intricate culinary masterpieces — for tender proteins sitting elegantly upon brushstrokes of colorful puree — but the humble bucket has clearly proven itself worthy of recognition.
So the next time you picnic with friends or whip up something to be shared in the dorm kitchens, fear not if your presentation is not necessarily a work of art. Though it may seem crazy, I suggest that you toss your creation instead into a large, unassuming vessel — a bucket, perhaps, if you have one. I assure you that it will create a worthwhile experience all around, and truly, you will not be disappointed.
Emily Kim PO ’25 is a banana bread enthusiast from Irvine, California. You will always catch her with a scrunchie on her wrist and napping in Lincoln Hall.