Yale University Shared Food Experiences:

Smells and tastes are powerful activators of memories.   Remember the scene in the animated film Ratatouille where the food critic Anton Ego has a flashback to his childhood after he tastes the vegetarian dish Remy has prepared for him.

1) Yale College students eat hundreds of meals in Commons and the residential college dining halls.  What were your favorite and least favorite foods served by the Yale dining halls?  Are there any dishes you wish you could cook yourself?  If YaleCooks develops a Yale College cookbook which "copy cat" recipes should we include?  Please let us know via the YaleCooks online food-cooking survey.

According to a "Yale Daily News" article (2007-12-19) the recipes used by Yale University Dining Services are always evolving (and adapting to student tastes and requests).  In February 2010 the Yale Dining uploaded PDFs describing recent special menus and special events (such as the 2011 Lunar New Year dinners, special emergency fundraisers, the Final Cut "Iron Chef", the Chili Throwdown, etc.) to their website archive.  Unfortunately, most files listed on the YUDS website do not have descriptive names.

2) Late night trips to Durfees Sweet Shop or Cross Campus Library (CCL) "machine city" for snacks.

3) In December, 2012, a search of the Yale University Library system located a collection of over three hundred cookbooks (mainly in English, but a few in other languages).

4) In the Yale Alumni Magazine the words food, cooking, recipes, and restaurants appear over 40,000 times!

5) Tailgating at the Yale Bowl (an external link to a "Yale Alumni Magazine" article; 2012-01).

6) During the renovation of the Yale residential colleges (1989 - 2010) the student kitchens were modernized.  How are Yale students using their residential college and graduate & professional school student kitchens (and how are these kitchens equipped)?  Also see our list of local YaleCooks groups for "away from campus" cooking options.

7) Yale guest chefs develop new dining hall menus, discuss food related topics at "Master's Teas", and give cooking demonstrations!

8) Chefs and food writers-authors speak at conferences and support Yale food programs (some also give cooking demos).

9) In 2008 an annual Yale "Final Cut" culinary competition (modeled on the "Iron Chef" program) was started between undergraduate teams representing the twelve residential colleges at Yale.

10) In 2009 (approximately) students from the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies started the "Veggie Dinner" eating club, which became a big success

11) In 2009 an annual Yale "Chili Throwdown" culinary competition was started between members of the Yale residential college dining hall staffs.  This event is also a fundraiser.

12) In 2011 the Yale Law School held its first "Top Vegetarian Chef" competition.

13) In 2012 Yale University Dining Services started a popular series of food and etiquette seminars for Yale College seniors called "Reality Bites".

14) For recent students and alumni there is the Aramark decade (1998 - 2008).

15) Do not forget the labor strike (1984 - 1985) which affected the Yale dining halls and forced many Yale College students to learn about food, shopping, cooking, and washing pots-dishes.

Off-Campus Food:

Where do (did) you eat (eg. New Haven food carts, coffee bars, snacks, late night study breaks, local restaurants, spending vacations at Yale, living off-campus, etc.)?  What are your favorite off-campus eating memories?

1) Trips to Mory's (with its "British" menu) for rarebit, Baker's soup, cream of tomato curry soup, Yorkshire pudding, and the cups.

2) New Haven "Wooster Square-style" brick oven pizza (Pepe's, Sally's, Modern, and now Bar) is tasty.  Learn to make pizza at home or in the comfort of your residential college student kitchen!  Why walk to Wooster Square, State Street, or Crown?

3) The Lithuanian Coffee Cake baked at Claire's Corner Copia (and served either with or without a buttercream frosting) is a favorite on the Yale campus.  YaleCooks can help you understand and compare different recipes.

4) Trips to Louis' Lunch for burgers (of course, hold the ketchup) and clam chowder (on Fridays?).  YaleCooks can help you learn to make "New England-style" (Boston) clam chowder.

5) Trips to diners such as the Copper Kitchen and the Yankee Doodle for breakfast or brunchMaking "home-fried" potatoes is part of the YaleCooks "Cooking 101: Basics" program.

Yale University Campus Programs:

1) Many generations of Yale students have served different New Haven communities by volunteering in soup kitchens and food pantries.  Many of these efforts have been coordinated through Dwight Hall.

2) The formal proposal for an organic "Yale Farm" (currently managed by the "Yale Sustainable Food Project") was submitted in 2003.  Organic vegetables grown on the Yale Farm are sold at the weekend green market in Wooster Square.

During the school year, on most Fridays, Yale Farm volunteers are treated to homemade pizza baked in the farm's wood-fired ovens using ingredients grown on the Yale Farm.

Between 2003 and 2008 the Yale Sustainable Food Project and the Yale Dining Halls worked together to develop a menu which includes many more "sustainable food options".

3) The Yale Office of Sustainability was established in 2005.  The Yale dining halls now compost (although the nutrient rich compost does not return to the campus).

4) Yale Dining sponsors the weekly "Uncommon Market" in Beinecke Plaza (June to August, 2012).

Yale Study Abroad and (Closer) Off-Campus Programs:

1) Yale Harvest: As a "pre-orientation" experience small groups of incoming freshman spend five days in late August at different organic farms in Connecticut, where they immerse themselves in different aspects of farm life (eg. harvesting vegetables, caring for animals, and baking bread).

2) It is doubtful that any Yale student who travels abroad to study has a neutral food experience.  At one extreme they will miss American cooking and need recipes and suggestions for adapting the local ingredients to food which is more familar.  At the othe extreme they will find enjoyment by totally immersing themselves in the local markets and food culture.

YaleCooks wants to engage students having all types of culinary experiences during their trips abroad.

AYA-Alumni Community Improvement Initiatives and YaleCooks Origins:

Through our mutual interest in food the Yale community can make the world a better place.

1) Yale Blue Green, a national Yale SIG, created its Facebook page in November 2011 (although the group's earliest Facebook entries are now from "January 2012").

2) Several potluck meals were organized by the Association of Yale Alumni in the spring of 2011 during the organizational development of the YaleWomen SIG.  Another potluck meal was co-hosted by Yale Blue Green and YaleWomen on June 17, 2012.

3) After a May 14, 2011 "Yale Day of Service" (YDOS) activity at the Harbor School on Governor's Island, in New York City, several Yale alumni walked from the South Street Seaport to Chinatown for a quick tour before enjoying a meal of hot tea and tasty "dim sum" dumplings.

4) Karen Pearl, the executive director of "God's Love We Deliver" the NYC nonprofit which provides free nutritious meals to people who are too sick to shop or prepare meals for themselves and their families, spoke during the September 23-24, 2011 AYA Global Volunteer Service Leadership Forum.  There was a volunteer opportunity for alumni to prepare food in the GLWD kitchen.  Every year GLWD is a site during the "Yale Day of Service."

There are many food-related events during the annual "Yale Day of Service" (sponsored every May by the AYA and every October by the Yale GSAS).

5) During the May, 2012 AYA Class Reunions an activity at the Yale Farm where alumni harvested lettuce, two types of radish, snow white turnips, young green onions, and tender pea shoots was organized by Dwight Hall.  Some alumni discussed vermiposting (composting accelerated using worms), urban agriculture, growing cilantro (Chinese parsley), food allergies, and how the food we eat influences our health.

Conclusion: With only a little more effort some of these YDOS activities can be easily replicated in different communities.  By sharing food and family recipes members of YaleCooks can improve their communities and change the world.

6) When and how did the YaleCooks group get started?  A Frequently Asked Question (FAQ).


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