Section: Opinion

Peirce Dining Hall’s best offerings take the form of poultry

One of the many unique things about Kenyon is that all students gather together in one singular dining hall. Similarly, the lack of alternative food options in the surrounding area means Kenyon students are most likely eating at Peirce Dining Hall more often than not. Chances are, you’ve tried just about every Peirce dish at some point, so here are some of my personal favorites, all of which happen to include chicken. 

One of my go-to’s and all-time dinner favorites is the Peruvian chicken. Based on looks alone, the golden-brown skin garnished with cilantro-lime sauce is enough to gather a line out the doors. Once it’s finally time to dig in, the first bite does not disappoint. The chicken is well-seasoned, delivering a powerful, lasting burst of flavor. Moreover, delving beneath the skin reveals a tender inside that outshines many drier Peirce chicken entrees. What ties the whole dish together, however, is the sauce. Drizzled on top is a green cilantro-lime sauce that complements the savory chicken with a little bite and freshness that takes the meal beyond a typical dining hall dinner. If you’re looking for some protein after practice or just want a delicious dinner, I recommend the Peruvian chicken. 

A lunch that is tasty, fulfilling and often overlooked is the chicken and sausage gumbo. Now, I am not claiming that the dish is perfect. The dish swaps the typical darker stock found in gumbo with a lighter one. Unfortunately, I found this to diminish the presentation of the dish, giving it an unusually fatty and gelatinous look. Furthermore, while Peirce uses the traditional gumbo vegetables — onions, peppers and celery — I found them to be quite lacking in this rendition. Having been completely cooked down, they were quite tasteless and blended in with the soup as a whole. While they certainly did not take away from the gumbo, proper preparation of these vegetables is necessary to take this dish to the next level. However, if you’re able to make it past the looks, the broth provides a strong salty taste serving as a base for the chicken and sausage to shine. The chicken is unimpressive, but within the context of the entire dish, it fits in nicely and provides some necessary protein. It is the sausage that really shines in this dish. It absorbs the broth, creating juicy pieces of meat that deliver a salty burst followed by a strong-yet-subtle kick. While the spice may be underwhelming for more seasoned capsaicin cravers, it serves its purpose well for your average student. The sides serve to tie the meal together, with the cornbread providing a sweetness that pairs nicely with the salt and spice of the gumbo as well as dirty rice to bulk up the meal without interfering with the taste. If you’re looking to skip the long lunch lines, give the chicken and sausage gumbo a try. 

If you’re looking for an alternative to the more frequented stations, the pizza station is always reliable. My personal favorite pizza dish is the buffalo chicken pizza. The dough is fairly standard, providing a strong base for the rest of the dish. The sauce is buttery but not overwhelming, allowing the toppings to really shine. The main focus is, of course, the buffalo chicken. While some iterations of the pie are made with shredded chicken, Peirce uses whole pieces, which allow for each bite to be both tender and flavorful. In addition to the chicken, the pizza is topped with blue cheese and celery. The blue cheese boasts a simultaneous smoothness and sharpness, while the celery gives the pie a crunch and a more neutral flavor. These two add-ons strike a balance with the buffalo chicken to create a unique flavor profile and texture that makes you feel like Remi from “Ratatouille.” If you’re looking for a strong pizza dish, I recommend the buffalo chicken pizza. 

Whether you’re refueling after a long day, seeking comfort in a hearty bowl of gumbo or indulging in a slice of pizza with a twist, Peirce has something for everyone — especially if you like chicken. (Good luck, vegetarians.)

Owen Rodstrom ’26 is an undecided major from Cleveland. He can be reached at rodstrom1@kenyon.edu.

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