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Homaira’s Note: Earlier, I accidentally pressed the “Publish” button before this post was ready. The post below is the final version.

As a culminating project for our 12-week Scientific Principles of Medicine class, the first-year medical students were asked to cook special meals that would be suitable for individuals with various metabolic diseases. Our 8-member PBL group was assigned to maple syrup urine disease (MSUD), an inherited disorder that affects a person’s ability to break down proteins from the diet.

Naturally, we decided to bake a Low-Protein Cheesecake. The only caveat was that I couldn’t (and still can’t) cook or bake anything that looks socially acceptable for human consumption. I therefore assigned myself to the presentation part of the project, because we would have to convince the judges of the superiority of our group’s dish.

Considering my artistic and musical deficiencies, I decided to draw upon some of my own creative interests. While my teammates were baking away, I lounged on the couch with my laptop and concocted a speech.

The following morning, I pre-tested my performance on some medical school interviewees before heading off to class. In the lecture hall, I watched as the representatives from the other 3 MSUD groups listed their ingredients and gave brief summaries of their procedures. When it was my turn, one of my teammates held up the cake for the audience to admire while I began my solemn speech:

Presented by the Penn State Hogwarts PBL group

Presented by the Penn State Hogwarts PBL group

“We have something cheesy

This project was just breezy

Welcome to our feast

You’re here for scrumptious treats!

Though it’s tasty, never fear,

MSUD friends have cause to cheer!

This time we made a special cake

The cheese today is light and fake

Low in protein, high in fun

This concoction is number one.


We first begin the crust

And build atop Graham cracker dust

And sticks of butter are a must.


Second is a filler

The part that is killer

Coffee, cool whip, marshmallows double

Turned this pretty cheesecake supple.


Third’s the topping,

and then I’m stopping,

Raspberry filling

and kiwi ceiling

A touch of chocolate

This cake will rock it.


Our team has baked

The Caseating CheeseCake – “

My dramatic pause was punctuated by the uproar from the audience. Undoubtedly, I had reminded them of our Infectious Diseases unit in vivid detail:

caseous necrosis

Caseous necrosis: a cheesy deposit of dead tissue encountered in the lungs of tuberculosis patients

“Wait, I’m not done yet!” I waited another ten seconds for the commotion to subside.

At this moment I divulge

And thus I leave you to indulge.”

With a flourish of my hand, I bowed to the audience and returned to my seat. Meanwhile, the five judges were hard at work, tasting each of the four MSUD dishes in turn.

As the judges made their choices, there was a drumroll from the audience, and…


Our group received 3 out of 5 votes for the best dish in the MSUD category.

Low in protein, indeed.

Low in protein, indeed.

So thus, after a morning of fun,

I must get a boatload of studying done.