Confusion Corner: Campus dining tough to swallow

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February 23, 2012

11:19 PM

I was lucky enough to spend last semester in Paris, the gastronomic capital of the free world — although I hear North Korea has some phenomenal gruel. Freshly baked bread was less than a euro, and wine was cheaper than water. I grew accustomed to the bounty.

Then, this semester, I came back to the ’Burg and was slapped in the face by the Commons Dining Hall. Before I begin what is sure to be a rant, I want to qualify: This is not the Caf workers’ fault. They do the very best they can with the shit they’re given. Also, Curtis is the man. No, this rant is directed at the food, and presumably at whomever supplies it.

The Caf manages, on a regular basis, to ruin seemingly unruinable staples of chicken, tomato soup, and bread. How on God’s green earth do you ruin bread? Peasants hundreds of years ago, using only stone ovens and the fear of an angry sun managed to produce passable bread. Fast forward several millennia to the Caf impotently prodding a lump of dough, pleading, “Please, turn into bread! Why won’t you turn into bread, you witch?”

Every single meal, for an average price of $10 — do that math; that’s about what your meal plan works out to — I’m treated to a hospital bedpan of damp meat, burnt fruit and dry ice cream. I don’t even know how you manage to do the things I just said. Honestly, the physics behind the food production must be dizzying, but without fail, this is the brightly colored defecation we’re treated to night in and night out at the Caf.

I don’t expect culinary excellence. I don’t expect to have to get up from the table, mutter some sort of sheepish excuse and waddle away from the table, embarrassed about the fact that I just jizzed myself at how tasty the food was. I simply expect not to get violent diarrhea for the first two weeks of every semester as my body screams, “Lord, why have you forsaken me?” like Jesus on the cross.

I understand why the chicken marsala at lunch becomes the chicken sliders at dinner. Economy. Sure. Fine. I also understand why the soup has to be made in 55-gallon vats like it’s being imported from an Arab Emirate. I even understand that the comment cards are there to ameliorate some of the venomous ire that I’m spitting into this column. But for God’s sake, when I see a comment card, as I did last night, that just says, “A poor showing tonight. Get ’em next time,” like a peewee football coach consoling his Bad News Bears band of misfits, it pisses me off.

My girlfriend goes to Virginia Tech, which famously boasts “the best campus food in the nation.” She knows I hate the food here, and when she brings up Tech’s food, the only response that I ever have is, “Yeah, well, sometimes, we get oranges.”

I guess my point is this: The food at the Caf is not just bad, it’s unacceptable. The College has a lot of options for repairing this problem, too: lower the cost of meal plans, offer more Flex points options on campus, or just improve the food. Right now, every time I swipe my card at the entrance to the Caf, I feel like I’m buying back my old used car from the sleazy salesman I just sold it to: “Oh, you bought a meal plan, eh? Here’s a big plate of trash.”

I just hate feeling betrayed by a school that I otherwise love. I can almost feel myself getting screwed every time I eat at the Caf, and I’m starting to walk funny.

Oh, well. Chipotle, anyone?

Jason Rogers is a Confusion Corner columnist and he had a nightmare last night that he had to have all of his meals on campus.

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  • Jason Rogers