September 1st, 2011
Yesterday afternoon’s convocation marked the official beginning of the 2011-2012 school year. After first-year students and a smattering of upperclassmen, faculty, and staff listened to speeches given by President Mills, Professor Thompson, and Dean Foster, the student body traveled to Farley Fields for one of the greatest meals of the year–the annual campus-wide lobster bake. Instead of attending convocation, however, I became one of many behind-the-scenes players for making the logistically-complicated lobster bake event a reality. Long lines of tables spread across the green topped with buckets, napkins, and lobster-eating instructions to help everyone from the experienced coastal lobster eaters to mountain people, like myself, who’ve grown up rarely even seeing lobsters. Come 4:45 the first of the students began to trickle in, and it only got busier from there.
Of course, while the lobster is the spotlighted feature of this meal, earning a spot in the event’s title, there was much more to be offered. For those people less inclined to get intimate with their food by tearing apart a recognizable large marine crustacean, there was sirloin steak, grilled chicken breast, and grilled eggplant to fill in as a main dish. Additionally, guests were offered tossed salad, tangy coleslaw (the best around in my opinion), corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, fish chowder, drawn butter (for the lobster), cornbread, watermelon, lemonade, and Maine blueberry cake. Did your mouth just drop open in surprise at the length and variety of that list? Yeah, I thought so. No worries–all the easier to lift that fork of deliciousness into your mouth.
Speaking of forks, one of the first thing that comes to mind for a big outdoor event like this is: “ahh! what about the waste produced by paper plates and disposable utensils?!?” It’s true that feeding the student body such a meal on athletic fields requires changes to how students are served and dishes are washed in in the dining hall, but props to Bowdoin Dining because the utensils, cups, plates, bowls, napkins, and tablecloths used for the lobster bake were compostable, so a hard-working crew bagged up those items and the leftover food scraps in compostable bags, and I carried them to a big bin that will eventually be taken to a composting pile. Much better than amassing that volume of used paper products, is it not? Although I think dining has done this in the past, this was the first time I’d learned about just how much of the waste being produced was able to be composted.
In any case, the event seemed successful, thanks in no small part to both the supervisors who communicated through radios where more food was needed and so on and the chefs, line servers, waitstaff, salad room prep crew, and many more who carried out all the vital tasks for a smoothly-run function. While I jumped around a bit doing a variety of odd jobs from serving to hauling trash bags, I had the pleasure of getting to watch people as they went through the lines with exclamations of awe and excitement for such a meal and as they met up with people they hadn’t seen for the whole summer. Bowdoin Dining brings happiness to students yet again. Welcome back everyone and let’s look forward to an amazing school year fueled by fantastic food and effort from our beloved dining services.