Molly Wraight ’13 and her mother Kate Wraight were recently featured in The Boston Globe in an article about college students’ preferences for home cooking – which meals they request when they see their families over break and what foods mothers pack to send to students as care packages.
In Molly’s case, the article quotes her mother as identifying the care packages as, “mostly baked goods.” These can include “blondies, chocolate chip cookies, cowboy cookies (oatmeal with chocolate and butterscotch chips), and pumpkin bread.”
While on campus, Molly works for Athletic Communications at field hockey and ice hockey games.
The full article follows.
The Boston Globe
Mother knows (cooking) best
Returning collegians get a taste of home
Lisa Zwirn Globe • Correspondent • January 5, 2011
WAYLAND – A few days before Joyce Schwartz’s son Matthew returned home from college for winter break, she made a big pot of meatballs, knowing he’d want them for dinner. Simmered in thick tomato sauce, the meaty rounds are one of his and his brother Mark’s favorite meals. For a filling lunch, Matthew tucks the meatballs, topped with melted provolone, into a sub roll. Before the senior leaves to go back to Champlain College in Burlington, Vt., his indulgent mom whips up another batch for him to freeze in his off-campus apartment at school. The meatballs, says Matthew, “taste like home.”
Most often the foods we grew up eating taste best. It doesn’t matter whether those meals were lavish or simple. It’s their familiarity that’s comforting. These are the foods college students crave when they return to the family table. “It’s nice to come home and there’s good food,” says Matthew. He doesn’t cook much, he says, because “my kitchen’s small, the stove isn’t very good, and there’s no dishwasher.” He also acknowledges that, “My mom buys better ingredients and everything of hers tastes better.”
Mom, are you listening?
Matthew banks some of the frozen meatballs. “I try to save one or two containers for when I’m in dire need,” he says. “But the rest are gone in a couple days.” If he’s lucky he might also land a dish of his mother’s lasagna, a batch of cranberry-pistachio biscotti, and a loaf each of pumpkin and banana bread. The breads are for breakfast and, as the reed-thin 22-year-old puts it, “whenever I’m hungry, which is all hours of the day.”
Some college students dream about their favorite home-cooked meals well before vacation. In early December, when Ellen Jarrett visited her son Tim, a sophomore at Connecticut College in New London, Conn., she says, “He told me the three meals he wanted when he got home.” The 19-year-old asked for macaroni and cheese, chicken drumsticks coated with Corn Flakes, and turkey tetrazzini. For her mac and cheese, Jarrett uses cheddar and Parmesan and bakes the casserole with wheat germ sprinkled on top. “My mother used to make something like this,” says Jarrett, who grew up in Indianapolis.
“These are the meals that resonate with my childhood,” says Tim. He admits that by the end of high school he took them for granted. “About a month after I’m away, I start missing them,” he says. “At home the food’s awesome and it’s free,” he adds. “You learn in college how expensive everything is.”
Care packages can be salvation. Jarrett, who lives in Arlington, mails her son homemade hermits, the chewy, rich molasses cookies with raisins. A sour cream coffee cake she brought him in December lasted two hours, says Tim.
Kate Wraight of Southborough sends daughter Molly, 19, care packages every two or three weeks. “It’s mostly baked goods,” says Wraight, who ships off blondies, chocolate chip cookies, cowboy cookies (oatmeal with chocolate and butterscotch chips), and pumpkin bread. “She sends me a lot of stuff,” says Molly, a sophomore at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y. During final exams last month, Wraight mailed her daughter a box of treats, including molasses cookies and chocolate-covered peanut butter-Rice Krispies balls, along with holiday decorations.
This mom extends her generosity to her daughter’s friends. On a recent visit, she brought pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting and oatmeal raisin cookies that Molly’s friends had requested. “They’re pretty excited when a package comes,” says Molly.
Over winter break, Wraight will cook her daughter’s favorite meals, including tortilla soup, butternut squash bisque, spaghetti and meatballs, and a baked casserole of chicken and stuffing that was Molly’s grandmother’s recipe. “It’s warm and hearty food, and what I remember from my childhood,” says Molly. The tortilla soup, in particular, is a family favorite, made with chicken broth, canned tomatoes, taco seasoning, and chicken chunks, topped with corn tortillas and grated cheddar.
Another comfort of home is a well-stocked refrigerator. “It’s great to open the fridge and see vegetables that aren’t part of a salad bar and more fruits than apples, oranges, bananas and grapefruits,” Molly says.
Despite most college students’ longing for independence, home-cooked meals can draw them back. “It makes me feel good to know that she’s gone out of her way to cook for me,” says Matthew Schwartz about his mother.
Mom, now you really have to listen.
Lisa Zwirn can be reached at email@example.com.
© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.