A Very Providence Thanksgiving

The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and the first major holiday, Thanksgiving, is almost here! Countless Brown students will travel home to have dinner with their families and face the inevitable questions of curious relatives (“How’s school going?”… “Have you made any friends?”… “Do you know what you want to study yet?”… “So, what do you want to do with your life?”). However, this break is a mere four days, meaning that many Brunonians (myself included) will be spending the holiday weekend right here in lovely Providence. Lucky for us, there are a multitude of activities to keep us occupied and content. Let’s explore a few possibilities!

  1. Thanksgiving Dinner at the Ratty!

Those of us who will miss home-cooked meals in our hometowns have nothing to fear… the Ratty will be open from 11:30am until 7pm, providing a traditional New England Thanksgiving experience with convenience and comfort. Don’t miss out on roasted turkey and all its trimmings, served for both lunch and dinner! The Ratty is one of the social epicenters of campus year-round, so it’s certain that the Ratty will be host to many different “Friendsgiving” meals this year!

2. Black Friday Shopping at Providence Place Mall

Ah, Black Friday, the hallmark of American consumerism. If your Thanksgiving meal has left you feeling guilty for consuming “too much food,” burn off those calories by taking a few laps around Providence Place Mall and checking out the best discounts you can find. While you’re there, check out the Holiday Market event located on Level 1 of the mall, which starts on November 20th and features holiday-themed vendors!

  1. Farmers & Artisans Market at the Providence Arcade

Support local businesses this season and do your holiday shopping at the Providence Arcade! This event has been occurring every Sunday from 11am until 3pm since November 5th, and don’t worry if you miss it this week, since it continues until December 17th. This is sure to be a very different (likely less chaotic) scene from Providence Place this weekend!

  1. Take a trip to Newport

You don’t have to leave the lovely state of Rhode Island to add a little adventure to your life (or if you just want to get away from Providence for a day trip)! Make use of your free RIPTA access and embark on a journey to Newport, and see all the holiday festivities this seaside town has to offer! The Museum of Newport History hosts Holiday Lantern Tours on Fridays and Saturdays starting on November 24th. November 24th is also the first day of performances of the Newport Nutcracker ballet at the Rosecliff Mansion, which is sure to be a special holiday treat!

  1. Spending time with your friends!

Thanksgiving will be a much-deserved break – in some ways, even more so for those of us remaining in Providence. We won’t have to worry about delayed flights or jet lag, and our living environments are sure to be far less chaotic with fewer people on campus for a few days. Although we can’t be with our loved ones back home during this time, our lives will slow down enough that we can actually cherish the friends who are right here with us. It’s easy to be dismayed about not returning home during this holiday, but rest assured that you are not alone! Take some time to play some board games, watch some movies, and just talk about life with those around you.

Whatever you do this Thanksgiving, make sure to take some time for yourselves and express your gratitude for the communities that mean the most to you. Finals may be just around the corner, but this break is all yours.

A Reflection on Family Weekend

College is a bubble, and it is easy to forget how strange this environment really is. That is, until you plunge back into the regular world, either because you’ve returned home for break or you’ve passed through the Van Wickle Gates as a college graduate. Think about how strange it is to be constantly surrounded by people within a few years of your age – from when you go to class, to when you eat your meals, to when you go back to your dorm to sleep.

One weekend each year, however, you are sure to see a middle-aged couple perusing wares at the Brown Bookstore, or a middle-school aged child strolling through the Main Green. Welcome to Family Weekend.

Family Weekend is an annual tradition here at Brown, giving families the chance to experience the best of what Brown has to offer for three eventful days. There could be no better time for this event than mid-October, when the leaves are starting to change color and fall to the ground, making Brown an exact rendering of the picturesque New England campus we’ve all come to love.

The joy of parents, siblings, grandparents, and students reuniting is palpable. Some family members show their affection through bear hugs and embraces, while others show their love by bringing their students countless items to store in their dorm rooms for any possible situation that might arise. Seriously though, the number of suitcases and storage boxes being unloaded from cars parked behind my dorm building was staggering. This, coupled with family members curiously wandering through the dorm hallways and exploring the lounges or common areas, was more than a little reminiscent of move-in day and orientation week.

Furthermore, the amount of Brown apparel present on campus during this time increases exponentially. Parents proudly don their Brown University baseball caps or jackets, showing us that school spirit is not as nonexistent as we are led to believe based on a typical weekend on campus. Family Weekend, remember, is no typical weekend. Continue Reading

Yan’s Cuisine

As we entered, the first thing we noticed about Yan’s Cuisine was the wonderfully familiar smell that wafted through our noses. We were instantly comforted by the aroma that almost all Chinese restaurants share – the hot and sticky scent of garlic, ginger, and sesame oil was reminiscent of family dinners at large, round tables with countless steaming-hot dishes scattered upon a Lazy Susan turntable. While the atmosphere at Yan’s is definitely more modern (they even have their own personalized plates!), due to its college-town setting and young clientele, the environment still gave me a sense of nostalgia, and I knew immediately that we were in for a treat.

My friends and I made the decision to go to Yan’s the day before as part of our quest to add some variety to our diets – and we really needed variety, since we’d been surviving on Andrews poké bowls and Ratty entreés for far too long. While we had originally intended to try their hot pot, we eventually decided to go for their regular menu, promising ourselves that we would return sometime to try the hot pot. (If you’re itching to try it out, it’s located on the restaurant’s upstairs floor and has its own separate menu.)

Hearing glowing accounts of Yan’s Americanized dishes left us more than a little cautious, but we soon learned that their menu is vast and can suit almost any taste. If you usually go for General Tso’s chicken or crab rangoons, I am in no way qualified to judge your decisions, but I encourage you to branch out a bit and try something else, because there are so many enticing dishes on the menu. A special shoutout goes to the China Tongue section of the menu, which features more authentic Chinese dishes for experienced diners and adventurous novices alike.

Chinese style dry green beans ($9.95) and eggplant in garlic sauce ($10.95)

The hardest part of the experience was choosing what to order – but, honestly, when you put four indecisive people at a table with a menu as extensive as Yan’s, what can you expect? After much deliberation, we opted for several classics: scallion pancakes, eggplant in garlic sauce, double cooked pork, Chinese style dry string beans, and (of course) a large bowl of white rice to share.

Scallion Pancake ($5.25)

While these were all delicious and satisfying, a clear favorite (the eggplant) emerged among us. We were all especially fond of its thick, sweet sauce, which had just a hint of spice, and noted how tasty it was over white rice. The Chinese style dry string beans were also a hit. While this is usually cooked with shredded pork, beef, or chicken, we chose to go meatless, and the dish was wonderfully flavorful even without the meat. These dishes were all served in sizable portions, and we left feeling content – and so very full.

Double-cooked pork ($11.25)

If you go to Yan’s, or any Chinese restaurant really, I recommend that you go with friends or family. In my opinion, while eating Chinese food from a takeout box in your own dorm room is nothing to be ashamed of (we all need some alone time, right?), eating Chinese food with others is so much better. After all, dim sum, hot pot, and Chinese set dinners are fundamentally group activities, and why should your weekend dinner at Yan’s be any different?

Debating with your friends about the differences in Chinese restaurant rice containers on the East and West Coasts over bites of scallion pancake is an experience not to be missed out on (side note: clearly the red plastic rice container is superior). Thanks for a great dinner, Yan’s – we’ll be sure to come back soon!