What Mr. Retan Eats in a Day


Food is the last topic you’d think to discuss in your math class, but that’s what Mr. Retan’s Pre-Calc class talks about every day. In addition to the wonderful world of “Mathland” (as Mr. Retan calls it), students start the hour by asking, “What did you have for dinner last night?”

It’s a tradition that sparked one morning thanks to the junior Robert Nguyen. “I did not want to do it at first, but another classmate pushed me, so I said, ‘F it,’” Nguyen shared. He continued because he found Retan’s meals unique, explaining, “[Retan] eats a new concoction every day.” It’s become such a staple part of his day that it feels unnatural to stop now. When Robert is absent, or asleep, other classmates will take on the role, ensuring the tradition continues.

One student expressed, “Sometimes [Robert] seems like he is stalling, but it’s fun to talk about food.”

Retan originally thought the question was strange but later he shared, “I don’t mind…anytime as a teacher that you can make yourself seem more human, I think is a good thing.” Being open and clear about who you are truthfully is imperative to establish open communication and engagement, which is one of his biggest goals as a teacher.

Cooking is an important part of Retan’s life. As an author of his very own cookbook and the head chef in his home, Retan expressed, “I think I love to eat and I’m very passionate about food because it’s boring to eat the same thing every day, and it’s a chance for me to be creative.”

Retan is not only a renowned chef to his immediate family, but also his extended family. When Retan was younger, he bestowed his knowledge through his very own cookbook titled Eric’s Cookbook. His family very much appreciated the ability to learn his art. We’re currently in the process of getting access to the cookbook.

Out of all the food Retan eats, two take the top spot: vegetables and fish. Retan explained, “[It was] partly because my grandpa had a garden, and he taught me how to have a garden too, so I had my own garden [but]… specifically fish was like my absolute favorite and still is.”

Retan makes sure that everyone in his family has something in his meals to enjoy. Between his and his family’s palettes, they can sometimes find it a struggle to create a meal that everyone can like. He explained, “I have to try to be intentional about the meals that we have because I know that good, healthy food and a balanced diet help you feel better and just live a healthier lifestyle.” Unlike Retan, his wife is vegetarian, so he makes sure that vegetables and vegetarian meals are included in his family’s diet. He and his wife plan to have a more vegetarian-based diet once his children are out of their house.

Currently, Retan’s family is obsessed with Indian cuisines, but Thai is his favorite. Both cuisines offer a flavorful blend of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy that are often regarded as two of the best cuisines in the world.

Retan bestowed upon us his top dish recommendation, called “The Stew,” which is a chickpea stew that went viral a few years ago on Instagram. He explained, “It’s called spiced chickpea stew with coconut and turmeric.” He later added, “It’s my daughter’s… favorite,” contributing to the dish’s credibility. Chickpeas are the main ingredient of hummus–-just in hummus, they’re crushed. So if you’re alright with hummus, try this vegetarian delicacy.