With the sweltering summer days behind us, the arrival of fall is a welcome one — a lingering chill, showers of red and gold fluttering down from the trees, the crunch of leaves underfoot — autumn is in the air.
With the sweltering summer days behind us, the arrival of fall is a welcome one — a lingering chill, showers of red and gold fluttering down from the trees, the crunch of leaves underfoot — autumn is in the air. Perhaps what truly distinguishes these next few months from any other, however, is the unique flavors that the season brings with it — that is, fall comfort foods.
To celebrate the arrival of the new season, we asked members of the Hopkins community to share with us some of their favorite fall delicacies, as well as some of the memories behind them that make these foods so special.
Pies, a classic fall dessert in most households across the country, hold a special place in Beyla Ridky’s ’24 heart. She says that her favorite fall comfort foods are her mom’s apple and cranberry-apple pies. “My mom makes both pies for our Thanksgiving dinner,” Ridky says, “and apple pie a few times more during the fall.” Eating the pies has become a ritual of sorts within the family. For Ridky, it also evokes fond memories of “mixing the dough with my hands as my mom poured ice water on (to keep it flaky).” She goes on to describe how the shared effort in preparing the dish felt “like friendship.” Her story serves as a reminder that sharing a meal has the power to bring people together.
Though pies are typically the star of the fall season, Amaya Flores-Montero ’29 looks forward to molasses cookies each time September rolls around. She associates the cookies with the fall because “they really only start selling them in stores around fall.” She adds that the cookies have a similar flavor profile to those of many other autumn staples, distinguishing them as a dessert fit for the season. For Flores-Montero, molasses cookies evoke feelings of comfort, as she usually gets them when she’s “with her family, so that feeling of being with loved ones definitely accompanies it.” The cookies also remind her of “going fall shopping with my mom” for “Halloween decorations and ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner.”
On the more savory side of fall treats, a fall go-to for Kyle Zhang ’25 is a “pot with lamb slices it.” Traditionally, the dish contains “green leafy vegetables, rice noodles, radishes,” and more. “When the temperature drops, we start having [pot with lamb slices] every few days, maybe more during the weekends when we have more time available,” Zhang says. The fall dish reminds Zhang of many “good-natured arguments about the amount of sauce we can eat with it.”
Matthew Vinci ’29 names pumpkin ravioli as his number-one fall food. The dish reminds Vinci of fall because the meal is “the epitome of pumpkins.” Vinci notes that pumpkin ravioli is “the definition of happiness,” as
“it can have you in a good mood no matter what your day was like.” He says that it “brings back memories of many, many Thanksgivings at my grandmother’s house.” His grandmother “always made this meal for me.” He fondly remembers “smelling the amazing aromas and waiting patiently for my meal to be finished cooking.”
For Director of Service Learning and English teacher Alissa Davis, a favorite fall comfort food is French onion soup. “As the weather gets cooler and there’s that little edge in the air,” she says, “I just love a hot bowl of soup.” She associates the dish with her grandmother, whom she remembers as an authentic home cook who hardly ever referred to recipes. Davis says that her grandmother’s culinary prowess was un- matched, as she was able to conjure up dishes using the most simple ingredients. She adds, “When you think of the humble onion, it’s such a versatile workhorse, but in French onion soup it becomes the star of the show!”
Fall brings with it not only change, but memories. People start baking or buying foods that they save for this specific time of year, and each food evokes different feelings. Though pies are traditional, pumpkin ravioli, molasses cookies and french onion soup, among many others, hold a special place in different people’s hearts. Here’s hoping you and your family and friends make some time to enjoy your favorite comfort food this fall.