There’s something odd about a bunch of mature college students hunkering down to their meals in a cafeteria. It isn’t the food, though there are times when menu items take on the quality of the pale pink mystery meat and undercooked potatoes (always potatoes, every day, morning and night POTATOES!); And it isn’t the prescribed meal times and ate-night lock-down that prevents us from snacking on Lucky Charms or even getting hot water for tea.
But there are the long tables, and the anxiety with every meal of who are you gonna sit with, and why does every meal have to be a social occasion? Doesn’t it seem odd to have 30- and 40- and 50-something adults in a cafeteria, or is it natural because we all write for children? By that logic, doctors and nurses ought to eat what they serve their patients, no?
I don’t do breakfast, or if I do not first thing after waking up, and preferably after a workout and a shower. Waking up to drag my carcass into a shower and down to eat before 7:30 AM just doesn’t sit well with my artistic temperament. Okay, so maybe it’s just my constitution and art has nothing to do with it.
It’s gotten easier, the sitting with strangers thing, though it’s still weird to be eating in front of strangers all the time. It makes you miss the familiar faces of family across the table. Or, if you’re alone, the newspaper and TV in front of you. News? What is this word news? We have no idea what’s going on in the outside world.
The weirdest thing is that ours is a teaching kitchen, the entry level realm for the students at the New England Culinary Institute who are connected to the campus. It appears that if they’re good they can move downtown to the bistro and the restaurant where real local citizen actually pay to eat their culinary delights. There’s also a cafe featuring pastries from the students specializing as pastry chefs. Apparently they also teach restaurant and hospitality management, though customer service seems to be a bit lagging at the cafe according to scouts in the field.
tonight they served us on paper plates and plastic knives. Turns out the dishwasher (the machine, not the person) is on the blink and unless they can sanitize those dishes we use then they either have to use the disposable stuff or get shut down by the health department. And earlier, when i was in the basement doing my laundry, I overheard a class of Future Chefs of New England getting a lecture on E. coli and food-borne bacteria, and I actually heard student give wrong answers about the safety and refrigeration of shellfish. Nice. Good thing I skipped lunch today: shrimp wanton soup.
But it’s college, it’s a dorm, and it’s dorm food — what are you going to do?
Next time, I come stocked. Maybe I’ll even whip up something in my room. I could probably convert one of these meals into something fantastic.
Oh, wait. No I can’t. There’s only so much you can do with five varieties of potatoes.