By Katia Protsenko
Politics & Culture Editor

Being in college and cooking don’t exactly mix.

In this weekly column, I hope to teach you a little something about the world of food. Having food — and cooking food — is a useful skill. We college students should have our cake and know how to bake it too.

When it comes to my relatives, everybody is always right.

My family is stubborn, loud, and illogical. Arguments are inevitable when there are more than two of us present and do not end when a solution is agreed upon. That will never happen. Instead, discussions go in circles and end when everyone simply runs out of steam — or food.

Among all the hotheads present in my family tree, the peacekeepers are my grandmother and my great-aunt Vicky.

In their everyday lives, they are charged with keeping the two patriarchs in my family — their husbands — happy. Along with my grandfather and great-uncle Andrew, my mom and aunt have steadily become incredibly vocal about their points of view.

When we’re all together, it’s impossible to get a word in around them— and usually, they’re telling you with complete confidence what you need to do to solve all of life’s problems.

This usually leaves my grandmother and great-aunt Vicky to accommodate everyone’s uncompromising needs and appetites. Along with the stubborn streak, everyone in my family has their individual palates to satisfy.

When we make Russian potato salad, everyone’s unique needs are met with three or four variations of the same salad on one table.

Russian potato salad is a fairly simple and everyday dish, much like the American version. It is made with boiled potatoes, cooked carrots, hard-boiled eggs, bologna or other leftover cold cuts, pickles, peas and scallions. Dice all the ingredients, put them into a big bowl, and dress with mayonnaise and a little bit of sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

My grandmother and great-aunt Vicky have varied the salad for each of our tastes — I don’t like peas, my aunt can’t bear the taste of pickles, and my great-uncle Andrew follows a strict kosher diet.

If any of us are making the salad in our own homes, these restrictions aren’t a problem. When we come together as a family, it’s inevitable that somebody gets left out and complains about it.

For no other reason than to shut us up, my grandmother and great-aunt Vicky make one big bowl with the traditional recipe, and three smaller individually catered salads.

As everyone at the table eats and argues, I always like to look over at my grandmother and great-aunt Vicky, who always sit near each other. While everyone else is yelling, they are most likely rolling their eyes in response, or they are oblivious to the noise, engaged in a private conversation and their food.