Monthly Archives: January 2016

A Cook’s Repertoire: Daring Dishes and Family Favorites

Senior year of college is like watching a great cooking show.

These shows (disclaimer: I only watch them on planes) instill a sense of adventure, possibility and wonder. Like anything is possible. Really? You can layer pan fried bison on a bed of stewed jelly, and it will taste good? Even gourmet?

Done well, these shows will spur initiative. The ingredients are presented in such aesthetically delightful kitchen ware. You can even buy the proper accoutrements on screen. The idea is: you have the tools to make these dishes come true. And the time is now.

As seniors, we’ve been “cooking” for three and a half years now. Admittedly some dishes tastier than others. But on balance, we’re getting by. In most cases, thriving.

But there is always that time that you’re flying Jet Blue from Burlington to New York and the cooking channel comes on. You’re overcome with a sense of newness and a near-frantic feeling that this dish is now or never. Like maybe the old dishes you’ve been cooking haven’t really been as good as you think.

So, you try cooking the primo-deluxe fish dish. You buy the ingredients, make the dish, and serve it up. Your company enjoys the filet. It’s a hit!

This newness is so important for us as students, like hiking Buck Mountain for the first time, or joining the jazz ensemble as a second semester senior. Like successfully tracking down the ever-elusive Heady Topper, or meeting a new friend. These tasty new “dishes” excite and rejuvenate. It’s what keeps things interesting.

But when the newness fades and the buzz quiets, we return to what we know and love. We remember that we actually enjoyed subsisting on peanut butter and ramen. Our first friends are some of the most meaningful – the things that made us happy still do.  It’s what we’ve been doing for the last three years, and it’s worked beautifully.

Of course, Middlebury’s unlimited dining plan sort of muddles this whole analogy anyway. Rarely do I prepare my own meals here. But the point remains: exploring the new, because I feel like I’m running out of time, has renewed my love of the old.