Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Alive and well...

It's official: I am a college girl. Better yet, I'm a soulful college girl. Culinary memoirs are hard to come by during your first week of college. However, as I'm sure you are so curious, here's the low-down on my current "adventures" in food.

Depending on whether it's a Monday/Wednesday (MW) or Tuesday/Thursday (TR), I wake up at either 8 or 8:30, as my Calculus 2 class starts at 9 and 9:30 on MW and TR, respectively. Having woken up at 6 for the past four years, this is absolutely awesome. I find that a solid hour is enough to get ready for class, get dressed, check Facebook and email, etc. I'm looking forward to Friday, though, when my first (and only) class isn't until noon.

As for food, I have so far been grabbing an apple and crackers or a granola bar. I'll eat the granola bar on the way to class (or during it) and save the apple for after. I'm usually a pretty light breakfast eater anyway, but I must have some sort of fuel to get me through Calc. As far as caffeinated beverages go, I successfully set up the coffee maker today and brewed my first pot. Those who know my coffee-drinking habits can testify that I actually prefer coffee that's been sitting around for a while (up to a day, really), so it had that fresh-brewed taste that's not exactly my fave. But you have to start with something, right?

After my Calculus class is over (either 10 or 11), I enjoy my apple. Today I went back to my dorm and ate it there, but yesterday I enjoyed it on the way to and back from the bookstore to buy textbooks.

Lunch so far has been at around the 12 and 1 o'clock hours, which is very early for me, as I've been a lady who lunches around 4 for the past few months. I'm sure everyone is dying to know how the dining hall food is. My answer: I haven't really been straying too far from the salad and sandwich stations.

Georgia Tech actually has very healthy options in its dining halls and food courts. There's ample fruits and vegetables and the salad bar is always set up. They also have two soups daily that I've been meaning to try but haven't (It's just so hot here!). Mostly I've been making a tomato sandwich and a salad, supplemented with a piece of fruit. The fruits can be either hit or miss. Today, there were lots of peaches and nectarines (not exactly ripe, but I didn't mind), some kiwis, plums, pluots, and starfruit. I think I might have been the only person in the whole dining hall who knew that they had starfruits there. ("What a strange-looking garnish," they must have thought.) The pluot I had yesterday was excellent, but, again, I bet I was the only person who knew what the hybrid fruit was.

Of course, there are other options available at the dining hall, too. One of the stations rotates between a nacho and burrito bar, where you can pick and choose your toppings or fillings. There is a Southern-type cuisine station, which has actually featured a wide array of dishes. There have been sweet potato fries, fried okra, steamed broccoli, buffalo chicken legs, and pasta bakes, but I've yet to sample any of the offerings.

Another station is a pasta bar, where you can also select the sauce and add-ins that you want in your pasta, and the cook prepares it right in front of you. My friends have tried it and really liked it, so I think I may go that route eventually.

Finally, the "encore" bar has some special dish. Today it was meatball subs, but there have been hot dogs and hamburgers before, too. I've steered clear of it so far. The cereals are also always open. They have dozens of different kinds, so the possibilities are truly endless. I haven't yet been in the mood for cereal at lunch or dinner, but many have said that it's necessary to switch things up or else you get bored with the food. Somehow I don't think this should be a problem since I've been known to eat oatmeal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the past.

And there are tons (tons!) of drink options, everything from sodas and sweet tea (which I heard was awful, but I don't care for it anyway) to milk, coffee, and slushees. There are also fruit smoothies every day and those are really popular.

The desserts are always enticing, but I've only satisfied my sweet tooth once, when they had the most gorgeous little cupcakes the first day the dining hall was open. The red velvet was delicious, although I would have preferred cream cheese frosting over the buttercream. (I was at a loss to describe the flavor of red velvet cupcakes to one of my friends sitting at the table: "It tastes... I don't know... red?" How does one accurately describe the flavor of red velvet? Saying it tastes like a vanilla cupcake is a little off-base, but it certainly does not have cocoa notes (ahem, mom).) The desserts rotate on a daily basis as well, from cakes and pies to cookies and other pastry goodies.

But I think one of the most popular features of the dining hall is the soft-serve station. Everyone loves a good sugar cone, and there is even a freezer case full of ice cream novelty treats like cookie cones and ice cream sandwiches.

Like I said, though, I've mostly been keeping to my salad/sandwich/fruit combo. The sandwich offerings are really diverse. They have many types of bread, a few cold cut options, lettuce, tomato, pasta/chicken/tuna salad, and some sort of vegetable salad (today it was a marinated cucumber and red onion salad that was really tasty and not "whoa, onion!" at all). The salad bar is also stocked with various toppings (shredded carrots, garbanzo beans, cucumbers, even diced tofu), but I stick to cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and broccoli for the most part. I top it with some salsa for a bit of heat.

The other day I was happy to discover that there is an entirely different sandwich station that is more breakfast-focused. There are bagels and cinnamon swirl bread, plus cream cheese, peanut butter and jelly, honey, butter, and what I assume is margarine. Of course, there are no labels, so it's nearly impossible to distinguish the butter from the margarine, but I saw one guy take a taste today, which is definitely more efficient than just guessing.

One thing I definitely cannot leave out about the dining hall is likely its most appealing characteristic: the all-you-can-eat feature. Both guys and girls seem to be utilizing it equally, but then again the girls usually take smaller beginning plates while the guys will start with two hamburgers and french fries and later go back for seconds, a bowl of cereal, and a slushee.

I've only had dinner at the dining hall once, but I think the offerings are pretty much the same. I'm looking forward to heading to the Student Center for dinner tonight, where they have retail options like Einstein's Bagels, among others (Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, and cafes featuring cuisines as far-ranging as Mexican, Indian, and American Southern).

My dinner so far has been very diverse. Last night I met up with Katie's friends and had dinner with them (a very tasty meal of grilled chicken, salad with plums and balsamic vinaigrette, and garlic bread). Other nights I had dinner at fraternity houses or not at all. One dinner consisted of the very diverse spread of lime jello, lemonade, apple, peanut butter crackers, and almonds. Ah, the life of a college student.

Hopefully as I get more settled into life here at Tech I will be able to actually cook more, but the beauty of this blog is that the memoirs are anything food-related. My dorm has a respectably-equipped kitchen, and the PLs (peer leaders, or the GT version of an RA) on my floor have encouraged us to bake or cook if we please. All that late-night studying can really get you hungry.

The one thing I haven't eaten yet? Ramen or boxed macaroni and cheese. But I'm not making any promises, because I have an unexplainable weakness for Velveeta shells....


  1. Reading this post made me feel like I was back in college, but your food options sound much better than mine did. I do remember eating from the salad bar quite a bit. My favorite concoction was cottage cheese topped with tomatoes and French dressing. Enjoy your Student Center dinner tonight!

  2. LOVE this! I am so glad the dining hall options have improved since I was there!

  3. whew, i was worried about the food options-if you ever need a ride to whole foods during the week, let me know-