Kenyon is founded on the concept of strong, tight-knit community, and what creates community better than a mouthwatering feast? On Thursday, Nov. 17, at 5 p.m. students will flock to Peirce Dining Hall for Peircegiving, the extraordinary annual Thanksgiving celebration.
The dinner, a tradition that has endured for at least the past decade, involves succulent turkey, tubs of mashed potatoes and turkey-shaped cakes. Students line up outside the Great Hall before dinner even starts. Once the doors open up, the hall fills with hungry, eager students who pile their plates with an array of Thanksgiving foods.
Peircegiving is no small task. Preparation began on nearly a week in advance, on Friday, Nov. 11. The day of the meal, it’s all hands on deck. Fifty people will work in the kitchen, and 25 will help set up and serve. Under the direction of executive chef Jeremy Fonner, the AVI staff will work with more than 140 turkeys that average 20 to 40 pounds each. They also will prepare 500 pounds of redskin potatoes, 2,000 servings of green bean casserole, 1,000 servings of scalloped corn, 2,000 servings of cornbread stuffing (a new addition to the menu), and, a special from Fonner himself, 300 pounds of Sriracha maple Brussels sprouts. Fonner estimates that 100 pounds of butter go into the feast.
And then dessert: from Miller’s Bakery, an Amish establishment in Millersburg, Ohio, 1,000 homemade rolls, 65 dozen molasses cookies, 100 pumpkin pies, 50 apple pies and 50 cherry pies. Pastry chef Bethany Fonner will produce 25 pumpkin rolls and, for the first time, 25 assorted cream pies. Peirce also will introduce a separate Peircegiving vegan and gluten-free area.
Much of the meal is locally sourced, with the turkeys provided by the Kenyon Farm. According to Kim Novak, AVI director, she orders baby turkeys, or poults, at the beginning of the year. The students at the farm raise them free range, and by Peircegiving the mature turkeys are ready to be prepared. For the first time, the Farm has raised both white turkey and heritage birds. While white turkey have been bred to have larger breasts, heritage birds more closely resemble wild turkey. The Brussels sprouts come from Baltic, Ohio, and the sweet potatoes come from Creekside Greenhouse in nearby Danville.
Peircegiving also serves as an introduction to Thanksgiving traditions for international students who did not grow up celebrating the holiday.
Szabi Simo ’17 moved to the Detroit area from Sighisoara, Romania, when he was five years old. All his extended family resides there and in Hungary, and his immediate family members have retained their Romanian traditions. Over break he returns home and his family will make a big dinner of Romanian food for family and friends. Until he came to Kenyon, he’d only ever seen traditional Thanksgiving meals on TV. The first time he tried the food, he realized it’s not his favorite, though he’ll always enjoy some turkey and mashed potatoes.
“I like the setup on Old Side,” he said, referring to the long tables covered in food. “And I enjoy the desserts.”
Isabella Bird-Munoz ’18 of San Juan, Puerto Rico, typically doesn’t go home for Thanksgiving break and uses the time to visit her girlfriend instead. She enjoys the potato dishes at Peircegiving, accompanied by turkey. When she does return home to Puerto Rico for Thanksgiving, her family will spend the day cooking and bonding. “It’s more of an excuse to get together and eat,” she said — echoing the sentiment of Peircegiving.
By Elana Spivack ’17