Oh college campus food. It’s one of those things we all love to complain about, falling into the bucket with the likes of long lines at the airport and people who talk too loudly on their cell phones on public transportation. Even at Stanford, where I spent four sun-dappled years, we complained mercilessly.
Fresh sushi was prepared for us every day — our response. “I’m so sick of sushi that if I eat it one more time, soy sauce is going to squirt out of my nose,” we’d say. The mesclun salad greens were too wilted, the stir-fry station combinations too oily and the freshly sliced cantaloupe and watermelon wasn’t ripe enough.
So back to the drawing board the colleges go, adding sirloin steak and mineral “spa” waters with cucumber and lemon (that’s the Stanford addition), according to this New York Times article by Michael S. Sanders forwarded by Cynthia. (Wealthy) colleges across the nation are adding foodstuffs such as “vegetable ragout over polenta, spicy orange beef, Dijon-crusted chicken, cheese quesadillas, vegetarian pho —Vietnamese noodle soup — and spinach sautéed with garlic and olive oil.”
Will students stop complaining? Unlikely. Complaining about the food is just one of those things you do. And no matter how amazing the food is, it’ll never please everyone. It’ll be too healthy for some, too salty for others, too spicy for the timid tongues and not enough like home for all.
One thing the article points out is that the cost of these updated food plans is inevitably high. How else to afford organic arugula and grade A filet mignon for the college masses? Additionally, at many colleges (at least at Stanford), the meal plan was mandatory. Even if you picked at your food like a canary, you’d pay the entire quarter’s bill at the same price as the college linebacker. The dining halls experimented with “points,” which you could redeem for bottled juices and snack items to-go, but at the end of the quarter, when students with hundreds of leftover points found themselves dragging giant cases of Gatorade to make use of that extra currency, I wondered, would they have chosen to spend their money that way by choice?
So what if they made these meal plans a little more simple? And a lot cheaper.
Yes, the pasta station is novel the first few times around, the sushi is cool the first few weeks, the make-your-own wok bowl fantastic the first time, but eventually, you’ll get sick of it. So why not pare down the coolness factor, focus on simplifying the food and cut down on the pizzazz and show to lower the prices. Or at least find ways to offer smaller plans for people who don’t eat weight lifter-quantities of food.
But there I go, complaining again. What can I say, it’s college food. Wouldn’t be the same without a little whine.