Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I am the food fiend

Home. In just a week and a half, that's where I'll be. With a warm queen-sized bed and a television with full satellite service, a kitchen with enough pasta to last through the nuclear winter and two lovely cats that I can't wait to see. Oh yeah, and my dad. But he's not the point of this essay.

Let's step back, shall we? Before my dad. Before the cats. Oh, there we go, food. The food of home. La nourriture de la maison. C'est magnifique, non?

When I got to school I thought eating at a buffet style dining hall for every meal of every day would be the greatest experience of my life. Before I was on campus, I would go to the website which listed the cafeteria menus and sigh over all the options. Curry, stir fry, meat alternatives, the list goes on. And when I ran out of inventive options, or just felt like retreating to a fail-safe meal, there was always pasta.

The first week of college is always an interesting experience in freshman year. You take any chance you can get to meet new people, introducing yourself in the hallway, sitting with them in the suite, joining them at meals. And perhaps you bond over the excitement of new experiences: higher level classes, relative freedom and the abundance of food.

It was during this first week of living on campus, I think, when I was in the dining hall and decided to sit down with the first person I saw. He was hoarding milk and exclaiming over the sheer quantity of the stuff at his disposal. He could fill a whole reusable bottle with it if he wanted to. What a luxury!

I shared in his enthusiasm and was glad to meet someone who was willing to exude enthusiasm for the dining hall food that I'd spent hours thinking about at home.

But the enthusiasm waned pretty quickly.

After a few weeks, I saw the same meals repeated over and over. I realized most of the food was not all that tasty. Even the pasta had failed me. I figured out that the reason the milk was such a draw was because there was little else to get excited over.

When I came home from college for the first time, I ate up a storm. My dad treated me to In-N-Out and real pizza (not deep dish, however I do enjoy it). By the time winter break was over, I looked like an inflated balloon. Whatever weight I'd lost on my weak dining hall diet had been replaced by my several week-long inhalation of junk food.

You would think, especially after my rambling argument about the terrible nature of school food that coming home would be a healthier culinary venture, but when I'm home I have a fully stocked kitchen, a grocery store (that isn't an unreasonably overpriced Whole Foods) a few blocks away and all the accoutrements to bake to my heart's content. Health is not even a consideration.

Whereas here I have set meal times, at home I can eat whenever I want. Snack food may be available in my room here, but I don't overindulge like I do at home.

So I could complain in both senses really. On one end is the too terrible food that discourages anyone from overeating in the dining halls. I return to a healthy weight because I have no desire for seconds. On the other end is the too terrific food of my home: the pasta, the take out, the sheets of fresh cookies and pans of brownies and cupcakes. It's here that I become like Violet Beauregarde before she goes to the Juicing Room.

I really can't win.

In a week and a half I'm going home. I will have a full-sized fridge in a full-sized kitchen with a full-sized car ready to take me to the full-sized grocery store whenever I want to buy anything.

I'm lucky, right? There are children starving in all corners of the globe and all I have to complain about is that there's too much food.

Home is going to be great. For the queen-sized bed, the satellite television, the cats, my dad...

And all the food.

Yes - All the food.

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