Here is a crash course in understanding the strange food half the campus consumes on a daily basis and a preview of what you might be eating if you participate in table grace. Mennonite chow is a difficult thing to define in words. However, the discount section in Whole Foods is a fairly accurate example. And to promote Mennonite food, I believe the higher powers have hired Mose and Dwight Schrute to advertise these delicacies, just watch The Office. It has a lot to do with crock pots, grains with unusual names and produce from Amish farms. And guess what? Samples of these foods can be found without even leaving campus.
I have noticed an increase in Mennonite small group houses boasting about their ability to cook “Mennonite.” Eating together and making homemade food are good ideas, but there may be ulterior motives. To display one’s ability to prepare food and survive in front of potential mates is very common in the animal kingdom. This phenomenon is historically expected among Mennonite youth, as well as the act of taking snapchat stories and singing camp prayer songs around the table.
There are also unspoken guidelines for food. For example, junk food is only socially acceptable when from a dumpster on a Sunday night or secretly taken from a party. All prepared food is made from special shared books. The Mennonite cookbooks have attempted to consolidate all family and church cookbooks into something that resembles a bible, but with food. They have eloquent names like More with Less, Simply in Season and Moralistic Mush. I’m pretty sure I found every dish in the cookbooks twice at College Mennonite Church’s potluck. Don’t be surprised if you get one as a graduation gift.
I applaud the Rott (sorry AVI Fresh) for catering to both normal people and Mennonitians. They serve food universally recognized, as well as all kinds of salads without lettuce. They also include fancy labels to make everyone feel better like “garden,” “spicy,” “wild” and “vegetable.” Like the Dining Hall, it is now my hope that campus can find additional ways to accommodate to both people from all backgrounds: from eaters of whoopee pies to eaters of normal pies.