Sunday, June 29, 2008

The summer of no cooking

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.

On any given day, we have our choice of three to five main dishes, with at least one or two vegetarian versions. And we have yet to see sloppy joes. By "main dish," I mean things like grilled salmon, roast lamb, tofu vegetable stir-fry, etc. Besides that, there is always the choice of:
- 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.


JackJen said...

Oh, bridget. If Miriam is REALLY REALLY good, you should reward her with a peanut butter and FLUFF sandwich. Fluff is sort of a version of marshmallow cream...and, in limited amounts, is a delicious treat. Ian will get pb & fluff every once or a while as a special SPECIAL treat. It's terrific.

Can't help you with Maypo, though.

Jennifer said...

I'm not surprised Jen has already commented about Fluff...I remember hearing stories about it from her, back in the day :)

I have to say, I'm a little jealous that when 5:00 pm rolls around, you don't have to drag yourself into the kitchen and wonder what to throw together.

JackJen said...

Figures. Maple.

Mikael said...

I am so jelous!!!

Crys said...


karina said...

I'm jealous, too! I LOVE Ross Dining Hall. After four summers at Middlebury, I'm a pro. Let me tell you, you're lucky to be in Ross - their cooks are the best. The other dining halls aren't so good.

By the end of each summer, though, I did get a little tired of the menu. It rotates through and the variety seems to diminish slightly by the end. They're trying to get rid of all their food, so you get a lot of made up not-so-successful dishes. Instead of eating that, you make sandwiches (which are awesome).

Keep checking the hot cereals - sometimes they have "Vermont Morning" - I love it and covet it.

And, by the way, here's a link for the menu:

Bon Appetit!

shabba shabba said...

Maypo = short for "maybe potable." You might think the word "potable" only applies to water, but it applies to oatmeal too.

Given this fact that I just made up, I'd administer the Maypo to a stray cat first on any given day before you consume it, just in case it's not potable that day.

I like cats as much as the next guy, but I'd rather see a cat ralph than your daughter. That's just the kind of kind-hearted fellow I am.

The Palmer family said...

wow, It looks gorgeous where you're at! Lucky! The birthing center, the amazing did hit the jackpot. Nobody likes to cook when they're sweet is that! Hey our blog will be private soon. We would love to keep in touch, so please leave your email address so I can invite you to view our blog.

Bridget said...

Thank you so much for the info on Fluff, Jen. Miriam had a fluff/peanut butter sandwich the other night and it seemed to go down pretty well. And I was able to inform a few other students what that mystery white stuff is.

I have not get gathered the courage to try Maypo, in part thanks to Joey's interpretation. Yuck. Karina, I have seem Vermont Morning but only a couple of times. I'll keep an eye out for it.

And thanks for that menu link!


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