I have tried in good faith to swallow it whole, to swallow it with streams of ketchup and to swallow it with a smile on my face. But, lately, I just can not swallow the food in our “student” cafeteria offered by Aramark. I did contemplate the possibility that I was letting recent labor negotiations and pompous letters from the Aramark Corporation seep from my cerebrum to my taste buds, but after an intellectually blind taste test I realized, no, the food just sucks.
What is a hard-working student to do? I entertained the notion that I could drink overpriced smoothies everyday, accompanied by those oat cakes crowned with apricots that are sold at the “student” store, the ones which expand in your stomach and accomplish the amazing gastronomical feat of satiation for several days (I think each contains 10 bowls of oatmeal).
However, after spending my whole allowance on one smoothie and not being able to, literally, stomach the oatmeal cake alternative, I threw my backpack over my shoulder and, with a huff, hit the streets with the hope that the “gathering” portion of my hunting and gathering evolution had not been lost.
The sight of a skinny, hungry student whimpering in front of Smith Memorial Center should be faxed to all Aramark executives, I thought. Yet, this was no time for pathetic civil disobedience because I was very hungry (the social sciences have rid my vocabulary of extreme verbiage like “starving”).
I walked to McDonald’s but the whole French fry, beef flavoring fiasco really disenchanted me, though realistically, anyone expecting a respect for bovines from McDonald’s is laughably shortsighted.
Walking up half a block, I rediscovered the row of cheap eateries that offered cheaper smoothies, better sandwiches, far better pizza and much more tender teriyaki than anything from Aramark’s mass production recipe box. Then, like a dream, was the tri-fecta of transnational delights:
Tandoori, Than Long and the venerable Cheerful Tortoise with their unassuming offerings of chicken curry, chicken fried steak or chicken with some wicked-spicy Vietnamese sauce.
I was feeling empowered by the choices that Aramark had denied me with their dried-out pizza and their exorbitantly-priced bananas. I kept walking and gathering the fruits of my courage in breaking away from Aramark’s Bermuda Triangle of terrible cuisine and that is when I discovered Ole Ole. Their stunningly economical and gratifying burritos and tacos were a slap in Ara-TacoBell-mark’s face.
I was tearful as I remembered the days of bad lighting, overheated coffee and nutritionally empty fried food. And with a flick of my napkin I wiped the deliciously smooth and un-Aramarked guacamole from my quivering lips, and next week, I thought, I walk the other direction.