When I was 12 years old, my parents toured Europe for a year. They put me in boarding school in Switzerland. It was the perfect background for teaching at an obviously multi-ethnic university such as Fresno State. (Please, no sheep-fucking jokes today.)I learned that a good way to make friends with anyone is to talk about food, since it's one of the few universals. Another one of the few universals is complaining about food: Alice in Wonderland has digs at the quality of the food at Oxford colleges.
At my undergrad school, we joked, "Flush twice, it's a long way to the dining hall."
That's actually a part of our university that shines. Our cafeteria staff care that people are fed and watered quickly with tasty food. There's a vegan alternative every day. They are friendly, and will give the poor, tall guys a little extra noodles or rice for no extra charge. And the chef knows how to use spices. Have I mentioned that the outdoor area is on the water and we actually have a beach? It's the best place in school, which is why it is so damn hard to find a seat to eat, as the students are camping out there when they don't have class...
The illustration (as well as the one currently in the background) is one of those that has me squinting and thinking "now where on campus is that? it looks familiar." Campuses really do look very much alike. I visited one of the newer student dining facilities on campus for the first time lately. Fancy, with so many choices it was a bit bewildering. Maybe the students are complaining anyway, but it's hard to see why.
Our food service (at a commuter college) used to do in-house catering, overseen by a jolly Kiwi whose fantastic baking had us faculty placing personal orders for Thanksgiving rolls and pies. Now we have Burger Wurger and Coffee R Us, competent but not delicious, overseen by the international conglorporation SoddingRetch-Oh.SO, which boasts profits in the billions, recently convinced the Board that its exclusive contract prohibits competition from bake sales by cash-strapped student clubs. Thus our food service encapsulates all that is wrong with the New Economy in general and the business model of colleges in particular.
Most Thursdays at noon, our instructor who does teacher education and public outreach hosts a barbecue, just outside our physics department. One doesn't need to be a physics major or faculty to stop by and get a hot dog, so it does a nice job of softening the image of physics, notorious for being socially maladjusted. (Hi, Hiram! Hi, Kimmie!) Our university food service has fought this tooth and nail, of course. I'm still a little surprised, since they don't have a monopoly on campus: we also have a Taco Wowo, a Pandemonium Express, a Booger Fling, a Chik-Unfelicitous-to-Lifestyles-to-Which-We-Don't-Approve, in addition to the Starfucks IN the library.
Wonderful brand names, especially Booger Fling! That BBQing instructor is worth hir salt.