January 28, 2007 Though sophomore seminars have been recently deemed optional, Food for Thought is one of the gems that will still remain popular. Who wouldn’t want to take a class on food? No one. That’s who. One of the topics that we covered within the first week was how food became easily accessible within the 1960s and 1970s due to the ease of transportation and a variety of other factors. Before then, if you could believe it, food was actually seasonal. So, to demonstrate this, Profs Sciacca and Gapp had the very brilliant idea to throw a dinner 1820s style. I’ll admit that I was pretty worried. The only utensils we were allowed to use were a wooden spoon, a knife, and, of course, our hands. Apparently, though forks had been invented at the time, the typical Hamilton student didn't use them. How dainty.
The dinner held last Thursday in the Great Room of Philip Spencer House. If you’ve ever visited, it’s the massive house with stone columns next to Admissions. It’s right next to Bundy, where I live, so I was thrilled that I wouldn’t have to trek to Commons that night. I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by Bon Appetit waitresses in black and white garb, and the several round tables had white tablecloths and candles and cloth napkins and a menu and there was a roaring fireplace. It was really sweet, and it made me feel warm inside, like I was actually eating at restaurant. As a tour guide, I really try to emphasize the “Hamilton family.” I know it sounds cheesy, but I was definitely getting those vibes that night. Invited professors were mingling with students and sat down at various tables. Even President Stewart was there. It was quite an event. The food, which was made according to original recipes, was brought out in increments. Our first course was a chicken potpie with giant chucks of chicken a flaky crust. Indian pudding, a concoction of cornmeal and molasses, was next. It was interesting, and I doubt any of us had ever tried something like that before. There was also a pumpkin soup and bread with apple chutney. A thick beef stew with root vegetables came afterwards. The acorn squash and the pickled cabbage were really good as well (although, I was afraid to try the cabbage, but I heard it was good). And finally, for dessert, we had apple pie and apple charlotte, which had a bread crust arranged in a flower with an apple filling. The meal was pretty intense, and I can’t imagine that the menu was a typical dinner. Or maybe we were supposed to pace ourselves and not eat both desserts. Oh well.