Brunch With the Nuns Outside Terre Haute

12 Apr
2012
Posted in: Food, Indiana
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Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is a peaceful Catholic woman’s college located in the wilds of southern Indiana, about five miles from Terre Haute. It’s home to a sisterhood of nuns, who, among other things, raise alpacas and sell alpaca wool creations to benefit their Center for Eco-Justice. It’s also home to the remains of one of only ten US saints (though only two of the ten were actually born here), Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

It’s also home to a sinful brunch buffet.

If I went to school here, the freshman 15 would have been a dim memory attained in the first week. More like the freshman 150. The dining hall at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, also open to the public, makes up for the lack of dining options in the area by providing an unholy smorgasbord of buffet extravagance. It’s a bargain at $13/person. And it’s all delicious.

Let me just list some of the things I remember seeing and/or eating:

  • French toast, Belgian waffles, and associated toppings
  • Eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, biscuits and gravy
  • Salad bar and prepared cold salad bar (fruit salad, taco salad, pasta salad, bean salad)
  • Carved roast, roasted chicken, turkey, corn, mashed potatoes and a different kind of gravy, green beans, stuffed shells
  • Multiple flavors of hard and soft ice creams and associated toppings
  • Cherry crumble, pies (maybe ten kinds?), Rice Krispies treats, cookies, eclairs, brownies
  • Water, iced tea, coffee, lemonade, juice, soda, milk, chocolate milk

At some point, my senses became overloaded and I couldn’t take any more in –visually or orally. Maybe there was an omelet station, maybe there were more desserts. I can’t remember.

After brunch we strolled the grounds, checking out various grottos, chapels, and the alpacas. Then we went into the church, where we were chatted up by the docent. For a very long time. She, and all the nuns, were sweet, calm, and serene. And they really wanted to chat. Inconveniently, I had just eaten twenty pounds of food and had an unholy case of gas. I wandered away to check out the stained glass windows and perfume the air by myself.

As a general non-believer, I really enjoy visiting a variety of religious places and learning about their history in a pressure-free setting. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods strikes the perfect balance between education and tolerance. There’s a comfort derived from interacting with a group of people who are so comfortable in and happy with their life choices. I left with a sense of peace, and a food baby (it was not an immaculate conception, though — I put it there).

This is basically my ideal meal, course one.

This is basically my ideal meal, course one.

Paul and Ben walking the labyrinth.

Paul and Ben walking the labyrinth.

A mural in the shell chapel.

A mural in the shell chapel.

My favorite stained glass window.

My favorite stained glass window.

My favorite alpaca. Look at that face!

My favorite alpaca. Look at that face!

The church.

The church.