For two years, junior Max Miao has been rising early on Sunday morning to make congee for Moulton Dining Hall’s brunch. The process of cooking the rice and the different toppings — pork, chicken, tofu, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, etc. — takes several hours to make if the congee is to come out flavorful and authentic.
Rita Liao ’15, who recently wrote about Miao for Bowdoin in her piece, “Culinary Education: International Students Ease Homesickness With Cooking,” said Miao proposed the station during his first year at Bowdoin when he realized how difficult it was to find real Chinese food in this small New England town. “Congee, plain rice porridge, is a dish found across China and comforts the stomachs of millions of Chinese. It is what chicken noodle soup is to Americans. Other Asian countries also make a similar dish. Indonesians call it burbur and Koreans call it jook,” Liao writes.
The congee station has been a big hit with both Chinese students and other international students, as well as with some American students, according to Miao, who is majoring in economics and environmental studies. “Some are very cautious and say, ‘uh, maybe next time!’,” Miao says, when curious diners look over the congee station and ask him what it is. “But sme are really brave, they are willing to try it and see what is congee and what this Chinese student is making. And slowly, I start to see them every Sunday,” Miao said.