Every year at the Polar Chef competition in Thorne Dining Hall, two teams–typically comprising students who work in the dining halls–compete for best dish. This year, students competed to make the best salsa. Julian Huertas ’16 has put together a video on this beloved tradition.
You may have seen them dotted around campus. About 25 maple trees with taps attached to the trunk, leading to a plastic bucket to collect the sap. Over Spring break Jeremy Tardif, the Bowdoin Organic Garden manager, is in the process of boiling down all that sap in the College kitchen to make maple syrup. He said is takes 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. The delicious, golden treat—all produced right here on campus—will be available for students to sample in tasting booths when they return to classes on March 28.
About 15 years ago, scientists in Mexico decided it was time to get rid of the goats on Isla Guadalupe, the country’s westernmost Island about 150 miles beyond the Baja peninsula. It’s a remote, volcanic, sparsely populated but sizeable island that was once lushly vegetated in parts. Then, in the mid-19th century, goats were introduced to the island by American and Russian sailors, fishing for whales and seals.
“The goats were seen as a way of establishing a reliable source of meat on an island that was regarded as otherwise fairly barren,” says Emily Wanderer, visiting assistant professor of anthropology. “The whalers thought, ‘we’ll leave some goats here, let them breed, then when we return, they’ll be a ready food supply.’ “
The problem with this, she says, is that goats are not native to the island and are voracious herbivores: “They’ll eat everything, so trees and forests started to disappear as the goats munched their way through all the vegetation, slowly turning island into a desert. Also this de-vegetation creates a lot of erosion.” Eventually, in a bid to restore the island’s ecology to its natural state, an NGO called Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas (with the support of the Mexican government), embarked on a successful campaign to wipe out Guadalupe’s goat population.
Wanderer spent time doing fieldwork and conducting research on the island when the eradication program was underway a few years ago, and it’s a subject she tackled in the recent faculty seminar “Slaughterhouse, Fieldsite, Laboratory: The Place of Science in Invasive Species Eradication in Mexico.”
Before they can exterminate Guadalupe’s 10,000 to 15,000 goats, the scientists have to locate them: a difficult task on this rugged island, which measures about 22 miles by six with very few humans on it. “To find the goats,” Wanderer explains, “they decided to recruit some members of the island goat population.” These animals, known as Judas goats for reasons that will become apparent, were captured, sterilized, tagged, then released back into the island’s wilderness.
“Goats are social animals with a strong herding instinct,” she says, “and they’re really good at finding one another.” So, in an unwitting act treachery, these goats led the animal control teams to where other goats could be found, and then killed. Once one herd is eliminated, she explains, the Judas goats are then released into the wild again to find and ‘betray’ more of their cloven-hoofed ‘friends.’
Wanderer describes the goat program as an incredible success: “About 10,000 goats have been eradicated and the island has made an incredible comeback in the last few years. Trees have grown back and plant species thought to be extinct have started to return more quickly than expected.”
Conservationists are using similar techniques to try to eradicate Guadaulpe’s mouse population, which was also introduced to the island by visiting ships, albeit unwittingly, unlike the goats. Wanderer says the mice are “problematic because they eat plant seeds and also bird eggs, which is bad news for the sea birds that nest there.” The mouse program, she says, is still ongoing.
Isla Guadalupe is home to a small fishing community, and Wanderer says there was some initial opposition from them to the goat eradication program because they liked to eat goat meat. “But later they accepted it and were excited by the rejuvenation of the island,” she says, adding that the island is now regarded as a better place to live. “For one thing,” she adds, “there are better water resources because there’s no run off anymore thanks to the increased plant growth.”
As an anthropologist, Wanderer says she’s interested in this kind of “multi-species ethnography” as it’s called. “Anthropology is the study of human lives,” she says, “but we also need to think about how the lives of humans are shaped by the animal and plant life around them.” Furthermore, she adds, “it’s important to note how increasing awareness of concepts like bio-diversity enable people to interact with the land in new ways: not just asking question like ‘can it yield productive meat for us?’ But accepting that a place can be simply valuable in itself, for what it is.”
Writer Meredith Goad for the Portland Press Herald finds much to be excited about in Bowdoin’s new collection of antique cookery books that were printed between 1772 and the 1960s. The 700 books in the Esta Kramer Collection of American Cookery, donated to the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives in the fall, offer up not just “odd recipes,” Goad writes, but also history, quirky words and phrases, and even helpful tips still applicable today.
The exhibit also caught the eye of Bangor Daily News journalist Kathleen Pierce, in her article “History of American Cookery Comes to Life at Bowdoin Exhibit.” She quotes antiquarian bookseller Don Lindgren. who catalogued the collection: ““Cookbooks are like auto repair manuals,” he says. “Both get under the hood and show how things really work.”
The collection features in an exhibit that opened last week at the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library. It will run through June 5, 2016.
On January 27, to mark the opening of the exhibit, Don Lindgren gave a talk titled click here to view/listen.
The new garden on Harpswell Road is producing a bounty of vegetables and flowers this year under the direction of Bowdoin Organic Garden manager Sara Cawthon and her crew. Earlier in the summer, the radishes were the size of plums, and were so abundant that the dining hall chefs had to be inventive in how they used them.
In this video, garden interns Elina Zhang ’16 and Tara Palnitkar ’16 give a brief tour of the plot, showing off the basil, lettuce, watermelon and other crops that the carefully amended and tended soil is producing. The 1/3-acre garden joins the Bowdoin gardens out on Pleasant Street and South Street, for a total of 1.5 acres.
Students were treated to tea and miso soup, followed by fresh sushi created by chef Shuji Oki. Oki provided a demonstration of his art, and students got the opportunity to roll their own sushi. Hiroo Aridome, senior lecturer in Japanese, delivered a short Japanese lesson to the guests with event organizer and Howell House resident Chan Tinsman ’16.
Last year, the Japanese department offered a sushi rolling night for Japanese students only. In an attempt to make its program more accessible, department faculty and students decided to open the event up to the campus. “This definitely turned out better than anything I could have hoped for,” Tinsman said. “We had to turn people away at the door — there just wasn’t enough room.”
Student cooking maestros recently faced off to see who could make the most gourmet — and tastiest — vegetarian meal in one hour. Every year at the annual Polar Chef Competition in Thorne Dining Hall, two teams of students who work in Bowdoin’s dining halls compete for best dish.
Judges this year included Karen Mills, former head of the Small Business Administration and wife of President Barry Mills, chemistry professor Richard Broene, One Card Coordinator Chris Bird ’07, and Shannon Grimes ’14. Team Thorne consisted of Captain Karla Olivares ’17, Winston Antoine ’16, Sivgech Chheng and Chandy Eng (the latter two are exchange students from Cambodia). Team Moulton was made up of Captain Hunter White ’17, Kevin Ma ’17, Victor Leos ’16 and Alex Osha ’14.
Both teams were told ahead of time that they would be tasked with incorporating seitan, tofu, and/or kelp in their meal. Team Thorne made a seitan taco with mango and cilantro, served with rice, and an arugula salad with tofu and avocado dressing (plus beautiful apple swans as a plate garnish). Team Moulton – ultimately deemed the winner – made a grilled seitan kebab with chimmichurri citrus-herb sauce, served with a cucumber noodle salad featuring Maine kelp.
Photos by Dennis Griggs
When they were students at Bowdoin, they shared a passion for cooking and beer making. A few years later, Michael Oxton ’07 and Rob Burns ’07 teamed up with third partner Mike O’Mara to co-found Night Shift Brewing in Everett, Mass. After a successful first two years of operation, Night Shift is now expanding from a 3,000-square-foot facility to a 16,000-square-foot building. A $700,000 MassDevelopment loan will finance equipment and renovations in the new space, which will house the brewing operations and taproom.
Night Shift’s craft beers, with ingredients that may include lemongrass, green tea, habanero peppers, dark chocolate, or hibiscus flowers, have drawn praise from Boston beer critics and beer drinkers. “The best thing we hear someone say after they’ve had one our beers is, ‘Wow, I’ve never tasted anything like that before,’” Burns told Bowdoin Magazine for a feature story in fall 2012.
“Our once tiny brewery is growing significantly, and we can’t wait to share the new taproom and brewing facility with all of our local supporters in just a few more weeks,” Oxton said in response to the loan announcement. “Our production will increase dramatically with this upgrade, too, so Boston should expect to see a lot more Night Shift on the shelves and on tap in 2014.”