Skip to main content

Food and Friends

Where Matthew talks about the wonders of the culture around meals at Carleton.

Where Matthew talks about the wonders of the culture around meals at Carleton.

I continue to look back at some of my favorite things about Carleton in hopes that thinking about it will make it happen again.

Speak it into existence, right?

Currently, I’ve been reflecting on how much I miss eating with my friends. I yearn for breakfast after a long night of studying. I want to return to lunch as a midday pick me up. And I’m anxious to spend WAY too much time chatting with friends at dinner. Whether surrounded by tons of conversations at LDC, in the close quarters of Burton, or the open floor of Sayles, meals hold a special place in my heart.

At Carleton, sharing meals means so much, even if people don’t realize it. I thought I’d share just a little bit of what meals at Carleton mean to me.

A Social Gathering

I know for a fact there have been tons of academic papers on how meals function as a part of society, but you don’t need to go researching to understand how food is a social tool. One of the most common ways to find time to socialize during a busy Carleton schedule is over a meal. 

“Wanna grab a meal later?”

“For sure, LDC or Burton?”

This exchange is heard at least once a day at Carleton. Your meals are a somewhat guaranteed free time where you focus on catching up or getting to know somebody! I’ve met a ton of my good friends through another friend bringing them to a meal. I mean the worst that can happen is it’s a bit awkward and then you can just eat; it’s a nice safety net. 

I’m afraid to try to add up the number of hours spent in the dining hall just chatting. There have been so many times that I go to eat with one friend at 5:30 p.m. to eat dinner. Then, at 6:00 p.m. another three friends show up. While I’m talking with them, another 4 friends show up at 6:30 p.m. At this point I’ve finished eating and the original friend I came with has left. This continues for another hour and so and suddenly I realize it’s 8:00 p.m. and I have way too much homework to do!

Yet I have never regretted this.

I’ve come to realize that these experiences are the things I’ll carry with me after college, the small things that tie me to the life long friends I’ve made. 

A Place for Intellectual Discourse

I couldn’t talk about meals without talking about the fact that Carleton students can’t help but share their intellectual curiosities at any given moment. This often leads to light-hearted arguments but more often, hilarious discourse. 

On a more organized note, every Tuesday and Thursday during lunch, multiple tables are reserved in LDC for specific language communities. There’s a table for Spanish, French, Latin (as much as that can be a thing), among many more. These language tables allow students to take what they learn in the classroom and use it elsewhere with the guidance of some faculty as they eat and interact. 

On a less organized note, I can think of many of my own conversations ranging from really serious topics to much less so. Conversations talking about the complexity of current events, politics, social theories, cultural unrest, the list goes on and on. BUT, I’ve had just as many conversations about how every type of dish (unless it is a base ingredient) can be classified as either: a soup, a salad, or a sandwich. 

If you don’t believe me or need more information on that theory, feel free to invite me to a meal if you’re ever on campus. 

In Conclusion

I tried to boil it down to a couple of simple points but I didn’t even mention making food with friends (maybe a soon to come post?). Food is such an amazing vehicle to bond with old and new friends alike. It’s something so important and yet people don’t tend to realize. In these times of isolation, it makes you really appreciate shared experiences. So, when it’s safe again, you bet I’m going to sit at meals for hours and never regret it.

Matthew is a junior Computer Science major from Oberlin, Ohio, but who also takes up residence in Walla Walla, WA. Most of his time is spent singing in the Carleton Choir or playing football for the Knights. When he has free time he loves to hang out with friends by either grabbing a meal, playing D&D, or lounging on the Bald Spot. He is currently trying to find a way to both eat amazing food and stay active, the eternal struggle.