World Cuisine at Val


 I will begin with a shameful confession: I actually bookmarked the Valentine menu on my computer. I maybe one of the few students who check Val's menu on a daily basis. Granted I'm also probably one of the few students who know whether it's a pasta day versus a Schwemms day. By knowing what comes ahead, I hold a happier outlook on my dining experience at Amherst than many people I know. However, when you study the menu every day, you start to see a pattern. The menu resets every Sunday and it gets a bit disappointing when you don't see something new. You can, then imagine my surprise when I saw that this coming Thursday, the dinner section merely said World Cusine.


As a freshman, I am scared for two reasons. Reason number one: Valentine does not satisfy most people of an ethnicity when they prepare that ethnic cuisine. For example, I would say a good number of my friends who identify as Asian will grimace every Tuesday with the thought of Asian night. Val doesn't have a great track record of international cuisine. It feels like a bit of risk.


Reason number two: What in blooming dale does World mean? Of course, I know what world means literally, I did get into Amherst. I don't know how far Val is willing to stretch the term World. Are they going to pick one country or an entire continent? What basis will they choose the destination? Why on Earth doesn't it tell you on the menu?



Like any good Lady Jeff, I decided to look up what this World Cuisine usually encompasses. Dining services designed a webpage dedicated to the World Cuisine menus of the past. The page listed the date, the culture and a link to the menu of the cuisine. I clicked on a few and was pleasantly surprised. Most of the menus listed the foods over a culture related photo. This photo could be a scenic area popular in the country or the national flag. The menu would list each food item and a bit of history on that item as a meal within that culture. As a Caribbean-American, I clicked on the Jamaican menu to see if I recognized from the restaurants in my neighborhood.

To be fair, I'm not Jamaican (Barbados and Trinidad, if you were wondering), but I did recognize the food listed here and it looks scrumptious. The Coco bread in particular brought back fond memories of home, especially since I haven't eaten it in years. I also looked at the Indian menu, and found many of the things my grandmother makes at home like samosas and coconut chutney. Another shameful confession, I actually looked through most of the menus—even Canada—just to see what foods were unique to each country. I'm very curious of what Thursday will bring. Though Val has taught me not to in the past, I have high hopes.


I'm 90% sure that a someone will be dissatisfied with the food they serve on Thursday, regardless of the culture. However, I like to give credit where credit is due. Valentine Dining Hall does try to cater to our varying taste buds. We are the most diverse class at Amherst college in the school's history! That's plenty of mouths to feed and many opinions to hear. I think World Cuisine gives Valentine the opportunity to make us feel at home, because I genuinely believe they care. Remember, it also gives us the opportunity to give Val advice on preparing the food. If you think Val did a great job of representing a culture's food on Thursday or not, send them an email. You never know, we could be thanking you for the next best meal to enter Val from just a simple comment.


Author's Note:  Wednesday, February 26th, 2014-- It has been revealed that World Cuisine tomorrow will be Russian.  Look forward to it!