Monday, May 02, 2005

Dorm food.

A wise guy once said, "What does not destroy me, makes me stronger." For two years of my life in college, I lived and ate at the college dorms.

I heard a theory once that all the food in the cafeteria was created from only two substances. One of them was runny, drippy, fluid stuff, like water but more tasteless. The other was hard crunchy material, like chalk but harder. The recipes were nothing more than what proportions to mix, and what flavor and color to add. From the "steak nuggets" that were served at lunch, reheated at dinner, and paving roads the next day to the Jell-O that jiggled a little too much for me to think it was inanimate, it was all the same thing. It just looked like selection.

Not knowing what would be on the menu from day to day, it was important to have a backup plan. For a while, my plan was cereal in the little individual boxes. I dropped that plan when the winner of the daily "most expired cereal" contest was over two years old.

My other backup plan was rice. No matter what else was there, they always had plain white rice. Overcooked or undercooked, it was always approximately edible, and I ate some every night. On bad nights, I ate nothing else.

That stopped when I finally correlated the rice with certain unpleasant results in the bathroom.

Unidentifiable food was common. Sometimes there were labels; sometimes there were only puzzles. There was once a pan of brownish gray masses sitting in a bubbling ooze. Somebody must have spilled the food coloring. A friend of mine wrinkled his nose and asked the guy behind the counter, "What is that?"

The cafeteria worker answered, "Do you want any, or not?"
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