Whether you are lying comatose at home watching Netflix and procrastinating summer job applications or at school desperately trying to get into enough classes to not get kicked out of school, the one constant is that we must continue eating. In this food fight, we tackle this question: which dining experience do you prefer, the one at home or the one at school?
In Favor of Staying Home and Chowing Down
By Emma Davis
Assistant Food Editor
One of the most compelling reasons to eat at home is the control you have over when and how much you eat. Unlike Usdan or Summerfields, your kitchen doesn’t have posted hours, and walking in to peruse your options won’t cost you a thing. You can make midnight snacks, mid-afternoon snacks, and even mid-morning mini-brunches; the timing and size of your meals are limited only by your supplies and by how lazy you are relative to your distance from the nearest grocery store. When it comes to actual portions, you can serve yourself or specify a quantity to a family member or friend (“just a half-slice of cake for me…but make it extra-large”), rather than having to grapple with the one-ladle-fits-all approach at Usdan.
Moreover, in terms of laxity of table manners, chilling on the couch at home is a whole different ball game than eating in a cafeteria or a restaurant. You can wear pajamas, ratty sweatpants, or just your underwear, and aside from your pet or your grossed-out family members, no one will shoot you any dirty looks. You also won’t have to feel overwhelmed by the number of buffet lines or menu items at your disposal; if you want a sandwich, dammit, you can make yourself a sandwich, and forget about being tempted by those chicken tenders!
Still, to address a common complaint made by college students, who can be bothered to make their own food? Unless your parents are professional chefs (in which case you are very, very lucky in my book), you’ll probably be tired of Mom and Dad’s home-cooked “specials” by the end of week two, and you may or may not have the culinary skills to produce something edible outside of the microwave. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to the above: takeout at home! With all the benefits of staying in—casual dining, no lines or hullaballoo around the cashier or server—plus the food quality of your favorite restaurant, there’s really nothing better than a nice box of chow mein or pizza on the couch. So, in the meantime, cheers to a new semester and new bills from Middletown deliveries!
In Favor of Feeding at School
By Jess Zalph
Although it feels uncomfortable to make this argument, I consider the dining experience at school to be preferable to that at home.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Home dining, at its best, has the potential to be better than anything available here. For example, you can go out to your favorite restaurant, shop at a fully stocked gourmet supermarket, or eat a delicious holiday meal prepared by a loved one. Moreover, home dining at its worst is never quite as pathetic as the lowest of lows at school. No matter how pinched for time or low on money I am at home, dinner has never consisted exclusively of an entire box of still-frozen Amy’s Pizza Snacks.
So, if I’m saying that home has the best food experiences and school has the worst, how can I prefer eating at Wes?
The answer lies in the middle ground. On an average day, I find it significantly easier to get a variety of foods on a regular basis and to eat more healthfully in a system that includes a dining hall. This is Wesleyan specific; as much as we complain on Saturday and Sunday nights, the food really is high quality, especially in comparison to the standard college dining hall grub.
From what I have seen, there is no easy way in the “real world” to get the variety in a single meal that we can at school. Sure, we could go to the supermarket and buy all of the ingredients for a complex salad, a pizza, a plate of stir-fry, and some cranberry white chocolate bars for dessert. But we would be left with $50 of expenses and a refrigerator full of leftovers that would spoil before we could get to them. Although your parents may stock your fridge at home for you, that does not make the food there “more free” than the food we have access to with a meal swipe. Home dining has to be smaller scale, and with that restriction comes less variety and less nutrition.
I concede that the dining experience at school is not perfect. Main Street, while surprisingly diverse, starts to seem limited as the semesters go by. For many, the meal plan provides less food than they would naturally wish to consume. In addition, Emma Davis is correct to point out that your kitchen does not have finite hours of operation or a long line of angry, hungry people elbowing each other over the last scoop of olives.
Nevertheless, it is easy to enjoy feeding here. Wesleyan provides a final opportunity to have others help you buy and prepare food, and it provides easy access to the variety you need for a healthy diet. Of course, don’t get too comfortable. There will come a time in your life when you will need to cook for yourself, and if you stop cooking altogether, then we at the Food Section will be out of jobs fast.