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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Food House Cook it and Book it

Residents of Food House don't take food lightly. Photo by Devon Gamble.
Residents of Food House don’t take food lightly.
Photo by Devon Gamble.

Walking into Pine Tree House at 1128 East Street, a delicious aroma of garlic and onion sizzles away. Here nestles the charming, barely off-campus Food House, which is home to Nicole Albrecht, Alethea Cook, Sheva Greenwood, Taylor Wright, Lisa Stern, and Jill Wielgos (all ’16); Devon Gamble and Nick Hunter (both ’15); and Rachel Fritts, Daniel Kisslinger, Emma Curtis and Kathlyn Cabrera (all ’14).

The house brimmed with good cheer and laughter as guests and residents alike helped themselves to freshly baked bread with butter. Beyond the Christmas lights that framed the kitchen entrance, shouts of enthusiastic arguments were heard about the proper oil temperature for cooking latkes.

Given its importance to the house, the kitchen is incredibly tidy and clean. Side by side refrigerators stand near crowded spice shelves and a cooking assignment blackboard. The sound of cooking latkes and mouth-watering smells of boiling borscht soup fill the air, as idle conversation was made about the next meal.

“The kitchen is our hangout spot,” Cabrera said. “The process of cooking meals brings everyone together and we develop respect for each other. It fosters a sense of community.”

Part of building this community bond is a reinforcement of the importance of staying positive and happy, which is done in a staggering variety of ways. House members put compliments and appreciation grams into a “Love Bucket,” which is read out loud at Sunday meetings as a way of increasing the house’s sense of community and bonding.

“We also have a lot of dance parties,” Kisslinger added.

Dancing is a frequent activity. As the house members cooked latke, they were serenaded by the syrupy sweet lyrics of the latest Taylor Swift single. Traditions are also a crucial part of retaining the home-like feel. Recipes with as many swear words as ingredients line the halls and pinpoint the most energy-efficient ways to cook exotic recipes. There is also the house tradition of the “happy chore,” which was borrowed from Eco House.

“The person who signs up for the Happy Chore has to do something nice for everyone,” Cabrera said. “It really makes people smile and brightens our days.”

For most residents of Food House, the feeling of living in dorms and eating in the Dining Hall felt too devoid of character.

“Living in the dorms was just too impersonal,” Albrecht said. “Here, we’re able to grow our own community and add our own personal touches.”

More importantly for its members, Food House provides an opportunity to know exactly what goes into one’s food and makes it far easier to incorporate a healthy diet into their lifestyle.

“We definitely eat healthier here than in the Dining Hall,” Cabrera said. “In the D-Hall, you don’t know what’s in your food. [At Food House, we] know what we put in it. We know where it’s coming from.”

Food House prides itself on not only being a tight-knit house, but also being a house entirely open and connected to the Grinnell community.

“We do vegan co-op every Wednesday night, and right now we’re preparing for a community meal in November,” Stern said.

There is also a strong emphasis on cooking locally and eating seasonally. Grocery lists are careful to avoid out-of-season products and preserved foods.

“We eat a lot of tomatoes,” Cabrera said. “We’re eating a lot of summer stuff, and soon we’ll be getting squash and pumpkins!”

Over the semester, Food House intends to use its Grinnell-inspired recipes to write a big cookbook for their house project.

“The cookbook will have things we actually make, and you can make them, too,” Gamble said. “Hopefully, it’ll be published by the end of the semester, because it’s really long.”

The approximate length is going to be around 200 pages, so there’s bound to be something for everyone. At the end of the day, cooking, eating and cleaning is all about the pride of accomplishment and making delicious food.

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