College Food Pro Tip

Today’s pro tip is: When you’re dining in the cafeteria, pay attention.
Watch for outliers:

  • What items haven’t you seen there before?
  • Which things would you expect to see at a nice restaurant, not in a college cafeteria?

Cruise through the salad bar, burger and sandwich stations to see what’s new.
You might find a nice treat.

When I was a kid growing up in the Midwest in the 70’s, olives and avocado and sprouts were considered “exotic” food, and saved for special occasions. Even coarse-grained whole wheat bread was only eaten by hippies and health-food weirdos.

Most of my friends had never tasted avocado, and were too weirded out by the black pebbly looking fruit to buy it.

Lucky for me, I got to eat lots of “exotic” food on my annual visit to Dad’s home in southern California. (My parents split up when I was 4, and mom & I left California to move to her Midwest hometown. Dad stayed behind.)

I still love the adventure of trying new food, but living $20 above the poverty line for decades made it impossible to justify the budget for a $4 pomegranate or to taste a $3 dragonfruit for the first time.

Blood oranges have fascinated me for quite some time – especially so after Dexter Morgan juiced one in the opening credits of his dark (but addictive) show. Could I justify the higher price of blood oranges over cheap winter navels? No. I’ve been trained to not bother wanting things because I was never allowed to have them. Why torture myself, right?

Today at the cafeteria, I was shocked to see blood oranges in the fruit bin. I recognized the rosy blush on the otherwise orange skin. Ooh! This is my chance to try one!

Turns out, they were delivered to the cafeteria by their vendor by mistake. The crate was mis-labeled, and assumed to be naval oranges. It happens.

My friends in the cafeteria say they get odd stuff now and then, either from an error or a special deal from their supplier. They told me to check each station at the cafeteria every time I have lunch there, in case there’s something new.

It was fun to enjoy this rare treat. They’re a little tart and challenging to peel, but yum.

So what’s the point of my story? It’s today’s pro tip:

Pay attention. Watch for unexpected treats. They’re there.

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