What the pho!?

April 10, 2008

Remember the "Freshman 20"? That's how many pounds you'd supposedly gain your freshman year of college after eating at the dormitory cafeteria. One meal comes to mind: Turkey (of the processed variety pressed into a big roll), stuffing and mashed potatoes. The potatoes were so starchy and heavy they resembled glue. In fact, one night we did an experiment. Could the gluey taters hold a heavy diner-style plate? We put a normal-sized serving of potatoes on a plate and smashed down on them with a bowl. Carefully the bowl was lifted the bowl off the table and the plate remained firmly adhered to the bottom. I even gave it a little shake and it didn't budge. That is an example of the food our bodies were trying to digest.

Fortunately we had a kitchen at our dorm, so after a few less-than-palatable meals at the dining hall we started preparing our own meals. Not that those meals were gourmet by any means, but at least we could control our fat and starch intake. No more glue. Usually our meals were Top Ramen-based because it was so cheap - you could buy about 10 packets for a buck! Then we'd "healthy it up" by adding chicken and vegetables.  

In a recent New York Times article I read about what some universities are serving in their cafeterias. Curried butternut squash soup, Dijon-crusted chicken, mussels,  pho (pronounced fuh), gourmet pizzas fresh out the Italian-style wood-fired oven...Seriously!? 

According to the article, "...as palates grow more sophisticated and admissions become more competitive, many top colleges are paying attention to dining rooms as well as classrooms." My palate was anything but sophisticated my freshman year.

What ever happened to "the starving college student"? Isn't starving through college a rite of passage? 



KC's picture

This is wonderful. You present the most special food ideas that seem so nostalgic. You have a wonderful way to say the least - a rare gift of presenting food communities as well as highlighing impressionable moments we so often forget existed. Thank you very much for contributing your talent. I wish you all the success, as your grow