Being remote this semester has me missing a lot of things about Kenyon, including Peirce Hall’s cuisine. There’s something about waiting in line for food that makes it taste better, I suppose. Since I was feeling so homesick (Peirce-sick?) for Peirce food, I decided to try and recreate Peirce dishes at home.
I ran into several problems immediately, the biggest being that I had no Peirce menu to base this off of. Believe me, I tried. The AVI website just hates me. Instead, I did my best to guess what food would have been served on each day.
The second problem is that I’m a vegetarian, so I couldn’t try to recreate Buffalo Mac and Cheese, Schnitzel and Spaetzle, or Ropas Viejas. As tempting as modifying those options sounded, I was determined to stick to things I would actually have eaten if I was on campus, which means that my options were pretty limited.
For Monday, I pretended that I got to Peirce just before it stopped serving breakfast and made myself oatmeal. Nothing special, but it sure hit the spot. Of course, I had to honor the Peirce tradition of serving grilled cheese on Mondays, which made lunch easy and cheesy.
I cheated on dinner, since my family ordered pizza for everyone. If I’m being honest, ordering takeout is a regular occurrence at Kenyon, so I didn’t feel too guilty.
Tuesday meant another day of oatmeal for breakfast (you’re going to be hearing that a lot). Again, nothing special, but it helped me feel like I’d just missed the scrambled eggs and had to settle.
For lunch, I grabbed some leftover pizza and “attended” class. I tried to justify this by telling myself “You would have stayed in your room for at least one lunch period!” In reality, I’m just lazy and easily swayed by pizza. Dinner was a bit more authentic to my regular Peirce experience. My mom made roast beef, and so I made a salad. Nothing compares to the Peirce salad bar, but this came close. It didn’t hurt that I also had mashed potatoes, which I could have stolen from the Comfort line.
Wednesday started with, you guessed it, more oatmeal! Yes, I got sick of it too. Doesn’t matter, because it’s convenient and it gets me to class on time. For lunch, Wednesday had me stumped. I was out of leftover pizza to fall back on, and I couldn’t remember any iconic Wednesday meals. So, I made peanut butter toast.
Flashy? No. Tasty? Definitely. Luckily, dinner was a lot easier to figure out. We had pasta, and if I closed my eyes, I could see myself standing in line at the pasta bar, eagerly awaiting my turn to order. I would give anything to stand in that pasta line again.
Thursday morning meant more oatmeal, which I begrudgingly accepted as my lord and savior. At this point in the week, I was at least 33% oat. No, I’m not okay. Lunch came around, and I found myself tasked with making food for myself and my younger brother. The frozen pizza we ended up making was fairly similar in size and taste to the Peirce pizza, so I felt it was a fair substitute. Besides, I made it myself, so it felt like I earned the right to eat pizza that day.
Dinner was another night of my mom making meat for the main course (chicken this time) and me making a salad, Peirce-style. I even had roast chickpeas to add some crunch, like I would if I was actually at Peirce. Again, I imagined that I stole the potato side dish from the Comfort line, and felt happy with my faux-Peirce meal.
Friday was the last day I acted like I was eating on campus, because if I’m being realistic, I rarely go to Peirce Hall on the weekends. I sucked up one more day of oatmeal, which was my own fault at this point for being too lazy to make eggs instead. Once again, for lunch, I had no idea what Peirce would have offered, so I decided to try and recreate a vegetarian quesadilla. This idea was flawed for several reasons, the main one being I didn’t have many vegetables to put in said quesadillas, besides carrots or celery. Everything else we had was frozen. To make matters worse, I was out of black beans as well, which I knew for a fact went into our quesadillas. The result was a cheese quesadilla that, while good, missed the Peirce factor of having a random assortment of veggies housed within those crispy tortillas.
Not my greatest creation, but I was proud of myself for making some effort. Dinner, on the other hand, was yet another instance of breaking my own rules and eating something decidedly not from Peirce, which ended up being Kraft Mac and Cheese. I let it slide, since I ate at least two Annie’s White Cheddar Mac and Cheeses a week when I was on campus, typically on Friday nights.
Recreating Peirce food at home taught me a few important lessons. First, don’t try to recreate Peirce food without a menu on hand. Second, being vegetarian is really boring. Third, plan out meals ahead of time so you can get ingredients ahead of time. Last, but not least, I really miss Peirce desserts. I didn’t bother recreating any, since I knew I could never compare with perfection.
Overall, I can’t say I recommend trying to recreate Peirce food. All it did was make me miss that sacred hall more than I already did. But if you’re feeling especially nostalgic for AVI cuisine, you might as well give it a shot!