OPINION: Dear Dining Services, following a recipe can’t be that hard

Luci Schwarz

     Dear UCCS Dining Services, 

     These are trying times, I understand. Perhaps it would be unfair to judge your culinary expertise through a global pandemic. After all, short-staffing can also be quite an issue. 

     But wait — the cuisine on campus has been bland for years, long before the word “COVID” ever became common vocabulary on all of our lips. 

     At some point this week, I found myself asking my friend if they thought the dining hall pizza was pre-made and had just been frozen. He responded, “No. It would have been better if it was.” This certainly begs the question: How can you butcher a pizza? 

     I’m no chef and hate making food, but it might be an issue when, with my limited skills, I can make the same thing but better. It’s honestly sad to see people paying for these dining services and not truly enjoying the experience. 

     Maybe, you just don’t care. Which would be fine to admit, in my opinion. After all, lots of people believe college students should be having a miserable time at university. The taste and quality of our food should equate to the quality of our lives right now. 

     I probably wouldn’t mind all of this as much if the campus didn’t boast so much about their sustainably grown foods that are integrated into “many of the meals.” This could very well be true, though I would like to point out that these “healthier food choices” don’t necessarily equate to “better tasting.” In fact, in your case, I have to say that making both happen seems to be an impossibility. 

     Coming from a person who loves soup and loves vegetables, I was eager to try the garden vegetable soup which featured ingredients like tomatoes and squash. I imagined it would taste like minestrone and to your credit, I’d say it was in fact, a soup. However, most of it was tasteless with the only burst of flavor coming from the tomatoes (and there were only two of those despite trying to heap as many vegetables as possible into my bowl). 

     The smell of curry filled the air on another occasion at the Roaring Fork and I readied my empty plate as I neared the counter. After the curry glob and I engaged in a staring contest for a good five seconds, I didn’t even end up putting any on my plate. 

     Well, surely one could put out fresh ingredients for students to make sandwiches, right? After all, that doesn’t involve any cooking. Wrong. Wilted lettuce, crumbling bread and hardened cheese await you, but of course you’ll eat it because you’re already here and about to pass out. 

     To your credit, the shoe string fries are tolerable if smothered in cheese sauce and the white macadamia cookies are relatively dessert-like, if you don’t break a tooth on them first. The hamburger patties can also get a pass, though they are a bit dry. At least there’s a certain amount of consistency there. 

     On certain days when there are foods people are excited for, the lines stretch across the kitchen. (Hoagie rolls and taco days come to mind here.) It’s interesting to see that kind of reaction since even those foods are solidly mediocre, and yet these students are so desperate for something simply ‘adequate’ that they’ll stand in a ten minute line versus the empty one for the wilted greens at the salad station. 

     When it comes down to it, I guess there’s always cereal, right?