Some of you may be wondering how that whole "I won't have to cook for the whole summer because we all have three meals a day provided for us at the cafeteria" thing worked out. Ladies and gentlemen, we hit the jackpot, big time.
I was ready for a campus cafeteria like the one I went to occasionally back at the BYU. My dorm apartment had a kitchen but I had the option of one meal a day at the Morris Center, which I sometimes took advantage of. The food was good, I guess. There was one hot food line with one main entree and maybe a hot side or two, slopped out onto your plate by a hairnet-and-plastic-gloves-ensconced dining employee. Then there was always a fruit/salad bar and my personal favorite, soft frozen yogurt on tap (or whatever those machines are called). Nothing special, but not too shabby, either.
So then we came to Middlebury, ready for our mediocre, but paid-for, three meals a day in the cafeteria. And I was so, so very pleasantly surprised. In fact, it doesn't really deserve to be called a cafeteria. In Arabic, we all call it مطعم - "restaurant" - and that really is a better description.
- one or two soups
- full salad bar with a myriad of toppings, dressings, oils, and seasonings
- sandwich bar with cold cuts
- fresh baked bread
- English muffins, bread, and bagels with a toaster oven and various spreads (including Fluff, whatever that is)
- cold pasta/egg/sandwich filling salad bar
- fresh fruit bar
- canned fruit bar with cottage cheese, yogurt, hummus, granola, grape nuts, etc.
- one or two baked desserts
- soft frozen yogurt on tap and four different (rotating) kinds of ice cream
- do-it-yourself fresh juice with oranges and grapefruits
- beverages, hot chocolate, coffee, tea selection (herbal varieties, too), milk, soy milk
Is there any way we could not be satisfied with all that selection? Basically, whatever you feel like having, they've got it or something like it.
Breakfast is slightly more limited, but they do have half a dozen cereals, some kind of griddle product (pancakes, waffles, or french toast), some kind of hash brown/potato, some kind of egg, and two kinds of hot cereal (oatmeal and Maypo. If you know what Maypo is, please inform us all).
All of the dishes are labeled, with their ingredients listed, with potential allergens highlighted. Also, if something contains pork (forbidden in both Islam and Judaism), the label includes a large cartoon picture of a pig, which I think is a fantastically insensitive way of being sensitive.
My favorite labeling quirk is that Monday through Friday, we are offered imitation maple syrup, and it is labeled as such. But on Saturdays and Sundays, we get Real Vermont Maple Syrup, also labeled as such. Heaven forbid we non-Vermont-natives should think we were getting the real thing when in fact, it was only imitation!
There is a small outdoor dining balcony, and this is a smidgen of the view.
We are so glad to have all our food provided for us this summer. It has been great - no, awesome - to not have to cook or do dishes or, sometimes worst of all, have to consider, "What's for dinner tonight?" Except in the passive sense, of course - more like, "What will they make for us for dinner tonight?" I look forward to the answer every day.