Scavenging for Sustenance: Tales from Fall Break
I’m out of points. Yes, it’s only been a month and a half since school started, and yes, Usdan is only a field away from me, but frankly, I’m lazy. I’d rather snack on cereal and microwaved burritos in the sanctuary of my room than chow on a salad in the hustle and bustle of a dining hall. Of course, I didn’t think much of the consequences of having no points, as I regularly traveled to Weshop to buy snacks and ordered late night take-out. It was midterms. I had a valid excuse.
Until fall break. During those five days, my patience and appetite, like those of many other students on campus, were tried and tested. I was forced to not only find sustenance, but also to plan ahead for where I was going to get my next meal, given that my go-to Weshop and Usdan Café were both unavailable at the hours I wanted them. I was not alone in this challenge.
“It was unbelievably frustrating considering the only place that was open was Red and Black and they charge $10 for a panini,” said Zacko Brint ’16. “Food is easy to get in Middletown, but it is expensive. We needed campus alternatives. There were a lot of people on campus, and cereal and ramen are not nutritious enough.”
Essentially, the source of every student’s menu boiled down to one of four categories: cooking, snacking, hunting, or scavenging. For some students, the former was the plan of choice if they had access to kitchens and ingredients.
“I survived fall break by cooking with friends at my house on campus. Fortunately, Weshop was open a little bit so we did not starve,” said Raphael Diallo ’14. “Unfortunately, there were few other options.”
Yet, even then, there was a small range of dishes.
“[I ate] pancakes and omelets. And more pancakes,” Diallo admitted.
Many students went a more dinner-inspired route and relied on canned pasta sauces to spice up their repetitive spaghetti-and-fettuccine-based meals.
“[I ate] lots of pasta. Marinara, alfredo sauce,” said Madeline Nelson ’16.
Others stocked up, especially those without easy access to transportation during the break, and wiped out Weshop in preparation for the extended weekend. Still others raided Usdan.
“I have a bunch of empty containers—like four including the eco-to-go container,” explained Amarachi Asonye ’16. “And I took it to Usdan and just filled it with food and put it in my fridge [before break].”
Some found the challenge of finding food exciting and relished the opportunity to think outside the Usdan to-go box.
“I actually didn’t really mind,” said Chris Caines ’16. “I felt like I was on some Little House on the Prairie-ish adventure.”
My personal method of choice for sustenance was the scavenging route, supplemented by hunting for Middletown offerings. Essentially, I had to mooch, which is one of my few talents. Indeed, as a veteran of dorm living, I have had my fair share of picking and pillaging my way through the grossest of refrigerators and drawers to find some kind of mediocre meal. I understand how to beg for food from roommates and hallmates, fixing my sad stare into their eyes as they munch on a bag of chips or grab a cookie from a tin.
This break was no different; indeed, I was able to put my talents to good use.
The highlight of my scavenging was the delicious baked goods that one of my roommates, Emily Weinstock-Collins ’16, conjured over the course of two days. Getting up at six in the morning, she made—from scratch—her own sticky buns. With a light sugar glaze, each bun melted in my mouth, exploding with the taste of warm cinnamon. Truly getting into the season, she also baked delightfully warm pumpkin bread. Each bite had the perfect hint of spice. I was in heaven.
My other meals were less delicious. They mostly consisted of depressing take-out. Already on a small budget, I had to order the simplest of Asian food. I opened up my pre-wrapped chopsticks each night to chow down on plain white rice, dreaming longingly of the Usdan dining hall. Food cartons began to pile up on my desk, and the days fell into an endless cycle that repeated itself for the entirety of break. Mornings were the best, as I started each day with my roommate’s delicious bread or buns, but then I resorted to snacking on left-over stale cereal. The depressing finale was my nightly ritual of calling in for delivery some blend of pseudo-Asian cuisine.
Thus, my Fall Break wasn’t the most appetizing of long weekends. Instead, I spent more time trying to find something to eat than I did actually eating. Perhaps next year I’ll take the smarter route, getting the right supplies and saving non-perishables.
Or, even better, I could just save my points.