In her essay about the freshman seminar “Food for Thought” with Eleanor Tison, Sierra Bassett-Wooley shares her experiences with classmates as they rediscover the joys of cooking together and reflect upon the role of food in relationship building.
One of the most important set of activities we did as a class, was with our Collaborative Culinary Dining experiences. During these activities, I got to work closely with my classmates, and many typical classmate barriers were broken. We banished judgement on cooking skills coming into the kitchen and, instead, worked, taught, and helped one another to come together and make full meals as a class.
We experienced ebb and flow with one another, and we learned more about each other working together in the kitchen than living together. We learned to trust one another and divide duties to be able to work as a whole. I noticed less selfishness and more work towards selflessness as everyone gained pride in how much they were contributed to the process. In these activities, we talked about home and what home meant for us, and it was a way for us to share where we had come from related to where we are now, and how our childhoods had impacted us while leaving something predominately important to us all: food.
We all took big dives into trying out new foods, some of which reflected traditions and treats we enjoyed at home. This allowed us to show one another how special and important food was to us, while learning what foods were special to others as well. I’ve never felt more at ease cooking and working with others in groups as I did when I was cooking with my classmates.
These activities really showed us how important food is in everyone’s lives–even if we all felt we hadn’t been living perfectly sustainable lifestyles. We worked with gleaned produce and extra produce from The Farm and got to see how creative one another was, and how simple things like thrown together salsa and hand made tortillas could make someone feel so at home.
I learned so much about other people’s cultures, something I had never felt so personally as I had when I was in high school or elementary, and it stuck with me because each of my classmates were opening their hearts up to me and everyone else to see and get a taste inside their own world and palettes which, to me, resides more than reading about culture or meals.
The Food for Thought seminar explored themes such as “How does the food we eat reflect and shape our relationship to nature, as well as our culture, community and identity?” How can our choice of ingredients and meals affect our own wellbeing as we adapt to a different place and new routines, as well as impact the sustainability and resilience of our local environment?” and “What is the taste of this new ‘green place’ in Vermont we now inhabit?”