An Edible Books Festival: Follow the Rules and Break Them Too

I think one of the main benefits that college life offers is the fact that college is a safe space to do whatever you want. At college, you can take advantage of resources and opportunities you’d seldom be afforded in regular life. I believe that if you have an opportunity to do something different and fun, take it. Maybe it’ll suck, and you’ll have a funny story, but maybe it’ll be great, and you’ll have a great time.  

So when I was invited by Greydon McGloon ‘21 to be one of the guest judges at an edible books festival in the library, I said to myself, “Well, when is this going to happen to me again?” 

They also used the term “celebrity judge” which appealed to my massive ego. So off I went to eat some books.

I’ve long been a member of the Bates Robinson Players in addition to having a job at the paper. So, when I do a club experience at Bates, it is often frantic and stressful, a bunch of brilliantly creative people trying their hardest to make the best product they can. I love it. But I was introduced to a softer side of the Bates experience last Friday. One that I can say that I enjoyed very much.

I walked into the library, where I was greeted with a smile and a cookie, to a calm room of people admiring the artistry of others. Plus, I got to eat, and we all know how I feel about eating.

I judged alongside Sun Journal Education writer and former Editor-in-Chief of The Student Vanessa Paollela ‘21 and Cheryl Lacey, the wizard behind Commons. My fellow judges and I tasted and admired all the works for both their creativity and flavor. To break down what we got to eat, here’s what we had: there was a spicy kale salad, White House shaped cookies, shortbread cookies shaped like mice with gingerbread shaped like men, Forage bagels with fondant designs on them, a cookie cake shaped like a mouse and a loaf of sourdough with a speaker plugged into it for the book “Speaker for the Bread.” 

After deliberating, we eventually crowned the shortbread cookies of mice and gingerbread cookies of men the winner for taste, based on the book “Of Mice and Men.” Making fun looking food is hard and making it taste good is even harder. And I’m a sucker for some shortbread. The White House cookies won the creativity award, because, I kid you not, they made an entire replica of the White House with cookies and frosting. It looked great, too.

It was also an amazing opportunity to appreciate a side of food I don’t quite gravitate toward. My palette leans savory for the most part. I suck at baking. Cooking is all about vibe for me; I just feel it out, experiment until I create something delicious. I don’t like to measure and follow someone’s rules because it’s a creative endeavor for me. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to make a cookie by vibe only, but it won’t really come out right.

But today I learned that you can follow the rules and break them, too. Sure, the ingredients themselves are somewhat predetermined, but outside of that, the world is yours.  Make a cookie shaped like a mouse, plug a speaker into your bread, do whatever you want. It’s an exercise in creativity and in freedom. Point is, I had a great time with some lovely people and ate some cool stuff, too.