A taste of adventure

Betsey Dyer
Professor of Biology Betsey Dyer sniffs some edible greenery at her childhood farm in Rehoboth, Mass.

In the spring 2010 issue of the Quarterly, I wrote a story about “The Complete Amateur Naturalist” First Year Seminar, which was taught by Professor of Biology Betsey Dyer, in collaboration with Professor of Religion Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus. As part of my fact gathering, I eagerly accompanied the class and professors on a field trip to the Rehoboth farm where Dyer grew up.

It wasn’t enough for students to discuss and read about eating off the land in the classroom. Dyer and Brumberg-Kraus, two well-known campus foodies, wanted them to experience it. So Wheaton.

Orange mushroom
Orange mushroom

On a lovely day in September, reporter’s notebook in hand, I followed the group around the farm as they learned about various edible flowers and plants, including a really strange-looking orange mushroom growing from the side of a tree. (Brumberg-Kraus would later use one of those in a stew after a student discovered one on campus.)

At one point, as the group was sampling some sort of greenery from the ground and I was observing from my objective writer’s distance, Dyer suggested that I eat what they were eating. And faster than I could say, “Are you kidding me? No way,” she had popped the green whatever into my mouth! From what I remember (I’ve been trying to forget), she had a vague smile of satisfaction on her face as I munched in disbelief.

I consider myself an adventuresome diner. I eat raw fish and eel at sushi restaurants (of course, the eel is smoked and covered in a lovely sweet sauce). But Professor Dyer’s adventurous nature, both in and out of the classroom, is truly something to behold.

We get a glimpse of that in this issue of the Quarterly. Professor Dyer writes about her latest culinary experience during a summer symposium in England, where she got to advance her scholarship as well as entertain her taste buds with… well, you’ve got to read it for yourself.

Also in this issue is an essay by Professor of Psychology Gail Sahar, who reflects on her trip to Palestine last summer as part of a program for scholars that was co-sponsored by the U.S. State Department; a story by College Archivist Zephorene Stickney about the secret work of Wheaton students who helped the war effort in the 1940s; and a profile of Katharine Boyce ’71, one of the longest-serving female partners in a well-known Washington, D.C., firm, where she has become an expert in tribal law.

Bon appetit!