It’s the Friday before Labor Day and I just found out that we can leave at 3 pm. This never happens in my office–this is a true treat. Needless to say, I have no motivation to concentrate and be productive, alas, I’m reading up on epicurious.com for some fun food reads.
I stumbled upon an interview with the young (and cute) Dave Lieberman, who authored “Young & Hungry” and another cookbook. Honestly, I don’t think his recipes are anything mind-blowing, but he’s nice eye candy as I eat my pb&j sandwich. After looking at his recipe for Drunken Sausages, I read one question that sort of irked me–
EPICURIOUS: Why do you think college kids are getting so interested in food?
Dave Lieberman: Dining-hall food all starts to taste the same after a while. It makes you feel weird, and the dining hall is not really a social place. Home-cooked food is much nicer, and you can taste the love. And you can have a fun, relaxed time with your friends in the comfort of your own home or even your dorm room.
The dining hall isn’t a social place? D Hall? Is he talking about my D Hall? Is he serious? At my college, the D Hall was a huge social place. During my freshman and sophomore year, it was the thing to do–figure out what time you would go and get a group of friends together, then you go to your usual table. The best was over the weekend when we would all exchange our funny (or horrifying) stories of our nights out. The food was terrible, but that only added to the D Hall’s charm.
I friggin’ loved the DHall–bad food included. Where else could you get stuffing every Thursday night (as part of the Turkey dinner) that was so mashed you couldn’t distinguish the mushrooms from the bread, topped with curly fries, or a side of a taco salad, finished off with a trip to the cookie counter or fro-yo? Unhealthy? Yes. Loaded with salt and grease to make it tasty? Yes. But that’s what made me bond with my friends–picking over the bad food and then secretly enjoying the fact that it wasn’t my fault if the only tasty food were the chicken fingers. It was a time in my life when I simply did not care.
And what is up with such a mission to get kids to cook in their dorm rooms with “gourmet” ingredients? These kids today with their microwaves in their rooms. I never stopped loving the finer foods in life, it’s just that cooking in my dorm room was impossible. We had one microwave in the communal kitchen in the hallway, and it was gross. Apart from the powdered, neon-orange cheese from “Easy Macs” gone awry that always dusted the countertops, the microwave had been used to burn hundreds of bags of popcorn, slices of pizza, and easy Ragu pasta and tomato sauce (one of my favs)…
Kids today in college are being force-fed brie-infused recipes to make in their dorm rooms. I only went to school not long ago at all, from 2002-2006, and in the dorms, when I wasn’t at DHall, my “cooking”/eating was made up of the following:
Twizzlers, animal crackers, reduced fat Oreos (like it mattered), pretzels and salsa, oatmeal, jelly packets stolen from the diner, sour peach rings, Nature’s Valley granola bars, tootsie rolls, and gallons of vanilla Diet Coke. I wasn’t a Ramen or easy Mac girl. But, I am amazed I didn’t contract scurvy. Or put on 20 pounds.
I love good food and I love to cook–don’t get me wrong. Maybe it’s because I have a good sense of humor, or maybe I’m a masochist, or perhaps it’s my writing background that allows me to experience sheer joy out of collecting interesting experiences to write about, but I would not trade in my culinary horrors of the dining hall for anything. Save being a chef until after college, or when you have a full operating kitchen. Believe me, no one will remember the souffle you took hours to prepare by yourself when you should have been having mischevious fun with your friends at the “Get Screwed” dorm party down the hall. That was the only type of “home-cooked” fun that my roomie and I provided–orange juice and vodka, and we didn’t even need a recipe.
I have to agree with you on this one. The dining hall was THE most social spot on campus. I spent so much time there at one sitting I could transition from breakfast to lunch without even changing my seat. Of course none of this had to do with the food. A Saturday was spent reliving the memories (or lack of memory) from the night before, and running into people that you think you drunkly spoke to. It was at all about the food – after all who could stomach it.
Save the cooking for a real kitchen. I’m lucky I could pop a bag of popcorn in my microwave without setting off the fire alarms!