A love letter to the Dining Hall

By Shannon Garrido, Editor-in-chief

As another school year comes to an end, it’s time that as a student body, we start acknowledging and appreciating one of the best features Emerson College has to offer—the Dining Hall. 

Moving to America comes with a lot of adjustments, a notable one being the striking realization that access to good home-cooked food is just about impossible unless you are willing to drill a hole in your wallet. However, if there is something that has made cold, bitter, Dunkin-ridden New England a little more palatable, it’s knowing that I can walk into the dining hall and find something worthwhile. 

Whether you’re coming from a night of pillaging the streets of Boston and need carbs, or just craving the feeling of hot food and well cooked meat—like Sunday’s beef stew—the DH always extends a kind and delicious hand. However, there is always the assumption that college dining food is made of some sort of radioactive poison, or is simply so gross it’s nearly inedible. For students who grew up in a Caribbean household, there is a fear that they will never run into their preferred food options so far from home. The Emerson College dining hall puts those negative expectations to rest. 

This year especially, as COVID restrictions loosen on campus, the dining hall has truly come into its own. From a wonderful Thanksgiving feast, for all those who choose to celebrate, to plantain and chicharron on a random Tuesday, it is clear that the staff work incredibly hard to provide delicious and different meals. Although I’m unable to speak for all students’ experiences, I know that there is something to be said about the effort our dining hall staff puts into providing some well cooked, well seasoned food. Not to mention the kind environment created by the staff once the food is prepared and served.  

Of course, there is no such thing as perfection. We have all found ourselves going up-and-down the dining hall stairs wondering if the food will start looking appetizing if we take a lap and try again. Making food for the entire student body means making a lot of food in bulk, for a three meal school day. It would be ridiculous to expect perfection from a school cafeteria where food has to be made around the clock. Nevertheless, the fact that we get served pork belly and crab cakes at a college cafeteria—where it would be easiest to just serve pizza and ground beef and call it a day—is something to be grateful for. 

So many students across the country prefer nearby businesses as food options because of the diverse palette they can offer. When it comes to Caribbean food though, it’s nice to see that the dining hall finds a way to sneak in some Cuban ropa vieja and Dominican pollo guisado more often than expected. It’s almost like a present to walk in starving and homesick to then find familiar options. And for those who aren’t familiar, you are introduced to new and delicious food options! 

Although there is always room for improvement, this is a public thank you to all dining hall staff who work hard to make those improvements. 

Thank you to the lovely staff of cooks and servers, who with a charismatic smile always give me a little more than I ask for—just in case. Thank you for those moments where my tired brain can’t translate chicken breast with Estofado, and I get a knowing smile that tells me I don’t have to apologize or repeat myself. Thank you to all the staff that take an extra minute to strike up a conversation or make sure the tables and floors are clean. Your work and effort shouldn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated, because without it our school wouldn’t run. 

The people who serve and cook our food are some of the most important people in our lives, and deserve a warm thank you from their student body.