Food and You

Just over three years ago, I arrived at Colgate for The Maroon-News pre-orientation program. I felt fortuitous to cheat the system by arriving on campus early to learn my way around before the move-in day madness that descends each August on Whitnall Field. 

When I think of my time at Colgate, I don’t immediately think of the food I’ve had while here, yet it has played a role in some of my most valuable, significant memories. While academics are essential to my Colgate experience, food and its shared experience with others remains at the forefront of my happiest memories. I can reminisce on my first slice of apple pie at Applefest, my first Slice and the all too important first Chipwich. Our community thrives on the collective enjoyment of meals shared with others. It is in these gaps in our schedule that we refuel, telling tales of our experiences across campus connecting with friends, forming new friendships and engaging with faculty and staff.

My first meal on Colgate’s campus as a student was a fresh slice from New York Pizzeria, or as I would come to learn more appropriately titled Slices, eaten on the Village Green. My first published newspaper article was a “Guide to Downtown Hamilton,” profiling the eating establishments to be explored by students in their spare time. Writing that article, I had never tasted my now-favorite banana smoothie from Hamilton Whole Foods, enjoyed a serving of steaming hot Hamilton Eatery Mac and Cheese or even heard of the wonder that is brunch at the Colgate Inn. A new member of the Colgate community, these dining experiences were foreign.

The past three years have allowed for exploration of campus and village dining establishments. Four years of college are truly an evolutionary process. As a first-year, Frank Dining Hall began my dining journeys. Coming from a household that ate primarily organic food sources, the unlimited supply of Lucky Charms symbolized the freedom of choice that college presented. While two years of Sodexo dining hall food proved to be a difficult experience for my finicky ways around food, Frank offered a time to meet with friends and make new ones while experimenting with my meal choices. Frank was an introduction to the power of dining experiences in our community. While I would never trade my Hamilton Eatery egg sandwiches for a breakfast in Frank, those meals with all first and second-year students were critical for the creation of my own community of friends within Colgate.

A much more enjoyable on-campus dining experience centers around my triumphant discovery of library café cookies my first year. Transitioning to college meant adapting to learn new rules. One rule to be followed was the noise volume by floor in Case library. And so to avoid the stares of upperclassmen, my friends and I frequently found ourselves in the Flex room on the fifth floor sipping our hot apple cider and sharing the perfectly baked yet gooey chocolate chip cookies from the library café.

While my eating habits include significantly less Lucky Charms and café cookies than my first year, it is those shared experiences of food that served as the essential ingredient in establishing and forming friendships on this campus. Prioritizing academics and completing assignments on time, while critical, also must leave room for the preservation of relationships and the formation of new ties. Colgate is not just a place – it thrives because of the unique individuals that contribute to its community. I’m no longer the 18-year-old who arrived to this campus unsure of what it would come to mean to me. I have spent three years passionately celebrating this place. My meals no longer require a swipe of my ‘Gate card or a conveyor belt to carry away the dishes. Now a resident of the village, I can easily have Slices, Saxbys or N13. Meals offer an escape from looming deadlines, Maroon-News articles to write and hundreds of pages of reading. While cooking my own meals is admittedly a rarity, I make the most of my time away from my laptop to reconnect with roommates, classmates, friends and acquaintances.

Our campus food culture has experienced transition as we have seen a new dining service, new restaurant concepts and the reconstruction of a beloved coffee shop. While the food may vary, the significance of the collective meal remains the same. Food is best served when shared. Enjoy the chance to explore the options of Frank with new people, to share a cup of hot chocolate with a classmate when the first snow inevitably falls and to try the Hamilton eating establishments until you find your signature meal. Have a cup of coffee with your professor, attend a Brown Bag lunch lecture with a classmate, gather a group for Slices – take the time to explore the food traditions of our community and discover your own favorites.