Who loves eating at Commons? All right—“love” may be a strong word for some, but the quality of food is undeniably fantastic compared to other colleges and universities, and, personally, having dinner with friends has always gotten me through the more stressful days here. The community felt at d-hall has always struck me as something unique to Bennington, and after a term and a half of flitting from room to room across my various friend groups and shouting, “I need honey mustard!” at a volume that elicits the head-turning to which I have become so accustomed, I returned this term worried my experience would be changed. And though due to social distancing I am less of the butterfly I once was, I must say the atmosphere of dhall has remained largely intact, and the Farm-to-Table dinner over Fall Weekend was no exception.
Apart from mixed feelings over the bizarre transportation to Thanksgiving, this meal was received with high levels of frivolity, satisfaction, and even whimsy. With good energy all around, the hum of each room alerted me that Fall Weekend was well underway, bringing relaxation, quality social time, and great food in its wake. I walked around to various tables and was greeted by charming centerpieces and the smiling faces of my friends already seated and digging in heartily.
“How does the food make you feel?” I asked them. Here are their testimonials, unfiltered:
“It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. A lot of good spices. A lot of good flavour, surprisingly.”
“They set our expectations low at lunch in order to surpass them at this dinner.”
“I think it’s my first tofurkey experience and the consistency is good.” I asked: “Are you pleasantly surprised about your first tofurkey experience?” This student responded with a resounding, “Absolutely!”
First-year Alma Navarre provided thoughtful feedback on the meal. She lamented the stuffing being salty, but praised the “good, creamy” sweet potatoes; although she recalled that they were blatantly lacking marshmallows (a fan of the favoured Thanksgiving dessert). She thought the turkey was “pretty good” but “thickly sliced,” and her face brightened at remembering how “the carrots were fire.”
I asked Alma about her emotional state following the dinner. She responded in earnest, “I’ve been in a purple-grey emotional state—probably because of the weather.” (It had indeed been a dismal day.) She commented that the Thanksgiving cuisine had unpleasant associations, and “brought back some trauma for sure,” which seems to be the type of sensation felt by many students who commented on it being “November already?!”
I, for one, enjoyed the meal immensely—one of my friends remarked that music students should record the sounds I let loose after each bite to sample for their experimental projects. I had, in fact, entered a sort of lilting ecstasy. Revivified by these victuals, I reflected that Long Weekend, and the new term, had only just begun. Even at ordinary meals, I try to take the time to acknowledge the people surrounding me and the gift of sitting down to a meal. Something about the festive nature of this particular meal brought a deeper emotional resonance that I sensed many around me could also feel as conversations became joyous and spirits carefree. All of Long Weekend had a revitalizing quality, but this meal in particular brought further connection with friends and an appreciation for simple pleasures.