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Soup, Salad, & Soul

A Report by Sofia Walker '11

Soup, Salad, & Soul is a program that began last year as a place to eat good food and share your thoughts. It meets every Friday at noon in the Bodman Lounge, in the basement of the Chapel.

The quickest way to a woman's heart is through her stomach. Or is it the quickest way to her soul? A new version of the old adage was proved true at this Friday's Soup, Salad and Soul, an event held by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.

Dean Jennifer Walters began the weekly lunches last semester, inspired by a similar tradition at her college. She said the goal was to "come together on a Friday, when we're not as stressed, and talk about anything." Attendees included staff, alumnae, students, and even dogs. Conversation this Friday was informal, touching on the frustrations of Five College transport, the importance of a global education, the challenges of studying abroad, and the charms of the Massachusetts winter. Sometimes, however, students lead off the discussion on topics that are important to them, such as a trip to Ghana or a spring break voyage to West Virginia to learn about mountain top removal.

The menu included bread and hummus, salad, and a delicious tortilla soup. Nafeza Kingston, '11, and Marianna Ballou, '11, have only been in charge of the cooking for Soup, Salad and Soul for the semester, but they've already learned from their experiences. "We had so much left over last time," said Nafeza, "we said we had to do better this time."

Both Nafeza and Marianna iterated the importance of communal partaking of food to spiritual communities. "Food is something you can partake of without criticism," said Marianna. The community of Soup, Salad and Soul is something they both appreciate. "Even if I wasn't cooking for it," affirmed Nafeza, "I would still come."

Nafeza learned to cook from watching Julia Child on television, an experience she later wrote about in her college entrance essay. "It was my escape, it was dependable and always fun." But communal food sharing had always been a part of her life: her Caribbean family made sure to always have enough food for whoever might show up, a tradition she continues in her dorm room.

Marianna came to cooking later, when she started working in the kosher kitchen at Smith. Now she studies the connections between religious communities and their food.

But what they most value about Soup, Salad and Soul has nothing to do with religion. It's a safe space, they say, where you can say anything and just chill out. Anyone wanting to try out such delicious relaxation now knows where to find it: Fridays at noon in the Chapel's Bodman Lounge.