Of all the wonderful aspects of Chewonki that make it truly special, the delicious home cooked meals are what I value most. Meals are a shared experience that set Chewonki apart from anywhere else, and I have missed them dearly since coming home. Every day the entire community congregates in the Wallace to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Meals are taken very seriously at Chewonki, and there are many traditions involved in the dining experience that create a sense of unity and promote community bonding. For example, before we eat we stand behind our chairs to hear a quote from the leader of the day and a food fact from the kitchen, then we pass around each dish until everyone is served. Faculty and semester students intermingle at circular tables and students are encouraged to sit with different people at every meal. Every weekend, students have the chance to cook Saturday dinner and Sunday brunch. I am grateful that I took advantage of those opportunities during our shortened semester, as cooking meals for the entire community is incredibly rewarding.
The food served at Chewonki is some of the most fantastic food I have ever eaten. It is adventurous and comforting, consistently showcases a variety of cuisines, and is rarely the same meal twice. The ingredients are all sustainably grown, featuring food that is locally sourced and harvested directly from Chewonki’s farm. Above all, the incredible quality of Chewonki’s food can be attributed to the love and dedication the kitchen staff put into each meal. Favorites include Fettuccini Alfredo, pesto pizza covered in vegetables like kale, bell peppers and onions, and desserts like fudgy brownies and chocolate chip cookies the size of your face. Since returning home for the remainder of the semester, I have longed to eat some of the classic meals that I enjoyed in the Wallace.
Beyond the food itself, the emphasis on community surrounding meals has made me appreciate the times my family sits down to have a meal together. When I cook dinner with my family, I often try to recreate my favorite recipes from Chewonki to satisfy my cravings for these hearty home cooked meals. Over the past several weeks, I have made pesto pasta, chickpea curry, greek salad, vegetarian chili, stir-fry, fried rice, lasagna, and much more. I have also made some delicious desserts including brownies, banana bread, apple-cranberry muffins, and chocolate chip cookies. Although my family doesn’t take part in reading quotes from a leader of the day, sharing food facts, or listing an endless stream of announcements, we have our own versions of Chewonki mealtime routines. My mom inspires us with her favorite poetry, my dad informs us of the latest COVID news, and we have certainly bonded more as a family every day since we have been back under the same roof.
My cabin Gordy has felt a similar loss of not being able to enjoy Chewonki’s delectable food every day. Several weeks ago a few of us joined together on FaceTime to make specialty Chewonki granola bars. Following the recipe posted in the journal, we combined sugar, flour, oats, chocolate chips, raisins, coconut, honey, vanilla, and pumpkin and sunflower seeds while talking about the upcoming Saturday night coffeehouse and reminiscing on past memories. I scraped together all the ingredients I could find in my kitchen and the results tasted phenomenal. Biting into one of those bars hot from the oven transported me back to my wilderness trip. I felt the instant relief of sitting down in the snow after a long trek of cross country skiing, digging out a bag of granola bars from a frosty pickle barrel, and letting the sugary goodness soak in until we had enough energy to continue our journey. Baking with some of my best friends reminded me that although we won’t be reuniting this spring as we had desperately hoped, I am still able to enjoy moments like these with the people I love.