Posts tagged Cornell Dining
Pop sensation Rebecca Black did get one thing wrong: sometimes, I am not looking forward to the weekend.
It’s not that the idea of two days off (except, let’s get real: what with rehearsals, my internship, babysitting, and writing, when do I ever have an actual day off?) isn’t appealing to me. Rather, Friday marks the beginning of a time fraught with temptation and danger.
I always do my shopping on Sunday morning, and I recommend it: Sunday re-stocking means enough food to get through a week’s worth of crazy school nights. By Friday, though, Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard is probably less bare than mine. Somehow, all the fun foodstuffs I bought at the beginning of the week have disappeared, leaving me with nothing more than, for example, couscous (but no lentils, beans or anything with which to top it), tomato sauce (but no pasta), and tortillas (but no cheese).
During lean times like these–when the urge to call up Taste of Thai Express becomes almost unbearable–I almost miss being on the meal plan. In moderation, Cornell Dining can be absolutely brilliant. So, in order to make up for my crueler posts from yesteryear in regards to our on-campus dining program, here’s a list of five things that actually make a meal plan worthwhile.
(Not that I regret leaving mine behind, though. Just sayin’.)
5. Fancy dinners on the meal plan cost the same* as normal ones.
(*…which, when you do the math, is still overpriced, but I digress. That way lies negativity. )
Essentially, a Cornellian on a meal plan can go check out the special Indian dinner or Pumpkin Night or whatever beautiful madness the staff have cooked up without having to pay any extra money.
On the other hand, I would be expected to dole out upwards of $18 if I wanted to partake of these special feasts.
4. Dining together = the new ‘hanging out.’
Back in my sophomore year, my BFFs and I would frequently meet up for meals, which provided us with a good opportunity to catch up, giggle maniacally, and talk about recent episodes of My Little Pony.
Though I still see most of my friends for rehearsal and other a cappella-related activities, I have to admit that I’m spending less time being social because of my off-the-meal-plan status.
Still, being a solo diner has its perks. The process of bundling up, trekking to a dining hall, finding a table, and having a conversation with a friend while eating might be nice, but it does take a lot longer than stir-frying some tofu and sitting down in front of your homework. Productivity during dinnertime also gives me more of a chance to see my friends during weekends!
3. Speaking of stir-fry…
…the Risley Dining stir-fry bar alone is worth paying the exorbitant cost for admittance into the dining hall. Patrons can choose from a wide variety of stir-fry add-ons, including water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, tofu, spinach, pineapple–I have to stop or else I’ll get hungry and desperate and will probably end up dropping $13 at RisDining tonight, but you get the idea.
2. Dining halls provide the best people-watching on campus.
Some young social anthropologists (read: shy nerds) enjoy attending parties to observe the various bizarre rituals of the human species, but since I’m not quite ready for that sort of fieldwork, dining out offers the next best option. It’s impossible to eat in a dining hall without overhearing at least one ridiculous conversation.
Sometimes, an observer can even draw extensive conclusions about the herding tendencies of sororities or other organizations–I never thought I’d see ten girls wearing matching black boots, leggings, and pinnies in one place before, but there you go. Adding it to the case study for sure.
1. Unlimited soft-serve ice cream.
I don’t think I even need to explain this one. Sure, the Cornell ice cream–I mean, the stuff we bought from Perry’s–is pretty good, but nothing beats simple vanilla and chocolate swirl with sprinkles.
(Of course, the fact that I could happily eat soft-serve for dessert every single night is probably the best testament to why it’s good that I’m off the meal plan.)
Yo, current Cornellians: what do you like best (or hate most) about our lovely dining system? Leave a comment to let me know!
I’m excited to announce that I could be sunbathing on a more secluded part of Waikiki, playing my guitar on our lanai and otherwise diving back in to island lifestyle in less than a week. Isn’t that incredible? I’m extremely excited to return; I’d be there already if it weren’t for those silly little finals I have to take in the next four days.
I could blog about all the hours I’ve spent attempting to memorize 200+ years of Renaissance and Baroque art or slicing apart Post-Its to mark important passages for my open-book English final, but why would I want to relive my studying experiences? Instead, I’ll take a few moments to relax while relating some non-academic adventures that have taken place since classes ended.
Monday: Lasts & Lights
Although this weekend was more than sufficiently packed with performances for me, I still had the Sage Chapel Christmas Vespers service on Monday evening. As usual, we sang to an incredibly full house (which included, much to my delight, several of my superiors from the museum). Somehow, I also managed to keep from burning the building down while processing in with my candle–score!
Our repertoire included a few pieces from the Rachmaninoff Всенощное бдение (All-Night Vigil), one of my favorite choral works and the major joint piece for next semester. Though I won’t be around to rach out with the Glee Club and Chorus–for personal and academic reasons, I’ve chosen to deactivate in the spring– I enjoyed having a chance to perform a few gorgeous Russian snippets in my beloved Sage.
Tuesday & Wednesday: Sixth-Floor Shenanigans
Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the number of museum activities in which I participate (in case you’ve forgotten, those would be my internship, the Student Docent Program and the Student Advisory Committee), but a pair of end-of-the-semester lunches (both in the very classy sixth-floor Lynch Conference Room) rewarded my efforts quite well. The intern party on Tuesday was catered by Manndible (one of Cornell’s tastiest (and priciest) on-campus eateries), so I enjoyed a hummus, seitan and tomato sandwich instead of hitting up a dining hall for my midday meal. Moe’s Mexican restaurant, on the other hand, provided the food for Wednesday’s docent luncheon, which was also a nice change of pace. Because both interns and docents receive holiday treats, my status as the only intern/docent meant I collected a sizable amount of Johnson paraphernalia, including two refrigerator magnets, museum-themed notecards and a massive bar of Cadbury chocolate.
That bar has remained untouched, however, because Chocolate Mania at Appel’s North Star Dining killed my cravings for a little while. Terrified that we might see a repeat of the disappointments of Cupcake Night, “Pippin” and I dashed to North Star right at 5, and were lucky enough to grab some gourmet goodies before they were all consumed.
I’d make a little sub-heading for Thursday as well, except my day mostly involved art history cramming. Well, and drinking a mango smoothie at Risdining. And worshipping the RisMas Tree (a gorgeous tall fir that magically appeared in the rotunda a few days ago). And trying out for Waiting for Godot and study-breaks consisting of chatting and reading bad fanfiction with Pippin and my boyfriend (who really should have a Fellowship-based codename, but I don’t think any of them fit him). And drafting an email that might lead to a summer internship at the Honolulu Academy of the Arts.
Oh yeah, and procrastinating by writing my biweekly blog post. Time to return to Rembrandt!
All right, Cornell Dining. I forgive you.
Longtime readers (by which I mean people who’ve casually followed this for about a fortnight or so) might remember that I’ve had a few bad run-ins with the dining program this year, particularly in regards to their disturbingly deceptive special events. People who’ve read the “About Me” page of this blog also might be somewhat aware of my great love for Indian food. Let me assure you that this is actually an addiction. I was introduced to Indian cuisine at the age of twelve while visiting family friends in New York City, and the cravings haven’t stopped since. Fortunately Hawai’i has, in my opinion, one of the best Indian restaurants in America–Cafe Majarani.
(Of course, you might want to say “Oh, Keely, what are you talking about? You haven’t been everywhere in America! How would you know?” Well, my family loves good spicy food as much as I do, and during our travels we’ve sampled quite a bit of America’s Indian offerings. I think I was going to say something intelligent here but I’ll just conclude with “Hah!” instead.)
Imagine my immense joy, then, when I found out that in celebration of Diwali (the Festival of Lights), Hans Bethe House (note for non-Cornellians: it’s pronounced “Bay-tuh.” Not “Beth-y.” I know, I don’t understand it either. Just go with it.) was hosting a feast featuring all the best Indian delicacies. I’m talking naan! Palak paneer! Chana masala! The mysteriously-named “magic bars”!
Of course, I was also slightly terrified. The idea of Indian food had already worked me into an anticipatory frenzy, and I couldn’t bear to be disappointed again–and, as it turned out, I certainly wasn’t.
Okay, so maybe the palak paneer didn’t have much paneer and the samosas would’ve been better with some more spice, but I still salute Bethe for pulling off a fantastic spread that would make the Majarani proud. (Update: I also have to confess that even Appel earned my love today. While in the middle of a rather stressful emotional crisis, I decided to go to dinner at North Star with a friend and, lo and behold, they had Perry’s pumpkin-flavored ice cream, the cure for all ills! Apparently the way to my heart involves seasonal desserts.)
Trust me, I am well aware that Cornell’s dining facilities are quite fantastic compared to other college meal programs. I also sincerely appreciate the great effort that Cornell staff members put forth every day to feed massive crowds of hungry undergrads.
Now that that’s out of the way, prepare yourselves, dear readers, for a feast (so funny, I know) of food-related complaints.
When I first arrived at Cornell, I considered all-you-care-to-eat meals the best thing since serve-yourself fro-yo shops (By the way, is the latter just a West Coast thing? I haven’t run into any Yogurtland/Menchie’s/Orange Tree look-alikes since I moved to this side of the Mainland). Of course, I inevitably grew bored with the Cornell fare. I mean, nothing was ever terrible, just…not as phenomenal as it had been when my parents dropped me off.
That’s why I’m a big fan of Cornell Dining’s special events. Last semester, I enjoyed meals ranging from Thai, Japanese and “gourmet American” cuisine to dinners for holidays like St. Patrick’s Day (which had great soda bread, though I found the giant waterfall of green chocolate a little disturbing). However, I’ve noticed that this year’s offerings haven’t been of the same quality.
(Disclaimer II:As a vegetarian, my main complaint is not that these events have bad food but that there are fewer options for me and my fellow plant-eaters. Uninterested omnivores might want to skip the following passages and simply scroll down to the discussion of cupcakes that follows. (To any strict carnivores who might be reading–sorry, I got nothing for y’all. I’d recommend a less herbivorous blog to you except that’s impossible: though Life at the Hill boasts a diverse group of student bloggers, they’re not progressive enough to have a velociraptor on the team. Yet.))
Last night I dined with two friends (who are ostensibly the Merry and Pippin to my Frodo) at RPCC (Robert Purcell Community Center, one of three dining halls on North Campus). The menu, as you can see, was Octoberfest-themed, so I was particularly looking forward to potato dumplings and black cherry ice cream.
Much to my dismay, it’s apparently absolutely necessary to put pork in potato dumplings even when there are already four other meat-based main dishes available. Vegetarians who wanted more than a pretzel for dinner (although I’ll admit that those pretzels were pretty darn good) could choose between the generic RPCC cheese pizza or strudel. Sadly, that supposedly “special” strudel looked and tasted eerily similar to the same stuff Appel serves for Sunday brunch from time to time. The worst part of the evening, however, occurred when we found out that the black cherry ice cream was nowhere to be found.
This is the second time desserts have deserted me this month. Last week, “Pippin” and I went to Appel for the very highly-advertised ‘Gourmet Cupcake Night.’ (Guys, ‘highly-advertised’ is not an exaggeration: there were so many posters plastered all over Appel that you’d think a cupcake was running for president.)
Who wouldn’t want cupcakes and flavored milks after a tough day (I had two long classes followed by six hours of work)? Armed with our cameras and eagerly anticipating “lots to remember and share with [our] friends and family,” “Pippin” and I left the Johnson at around 6:30 and raced up to Appel as fast as our (fortunately non-hobbit-like) legs could carry us.
Except there were no cupcakes.
They were ALL GONE.
Because RPCC had closed early for fall break, hundreds of students had already swarmed North Star Dining and swallowed down those cupcakes like Templeton stuffing his rat-belly at the fair. (If you don’t understand that simile, please take the time to educate yourself with this clip from the essential movie of my childhood.) Still, the North Star folks should have suspected that they’d get a big crowd. Plus, it’s not like making cupcakes is a particularly time-consuming or difficult activity–how hard would it have been to mix up another batch?
Once it starts snowing I’ll probably start eating in RisDining all the time (so I never have to leave the building), which means my gripes with RPCC and North Star will become irrelevant. In the meantime, maybe I’ll pick up some Funfetti mix at Target to soothe my broken heart.