My wife Evie and I decided to check the validity of a complainant in the recently issued student manifesto regarding food in the cafeteria. Both Evie and I, up to two years ago, would eat in the cafeteria on random evenings when neither of us wanted to cook. The meals were uniformly excellent and the students serving them were as sweet and nice as anyone could expect. Health problems with both of us stopped us from frequenting the college cafeteria until last night, 30 January 2006. We were determined to eat in the cafeteria just to prove a point that the food had not decreased in quality or appearance. Unfortunately, we got a surprise.
The menu for the night consisted of three entrées; shepherd’s pie, sweet and sour pork and beef teriyaki stir fry. The student ahead of us got the last of the sweet and sour pork. The teriyaki stir fry looked unappealing and Evie leaned over to me suggesting she would try the shepherd’s pie. It took me several minutes to gather the courage to order the teriyaki stir fry. As far as choice of entrée to order, she won hands down.
But being an old scoutmaster who would throw all the uneaten food from summer camp into a Dutch oven and bake the mess for the last evening meal of summer camp, I realized taste was probably more important than looks. Ugh! I chose poorly. But let’s cover the positive first and then the negative last.
Evie’s shepherds’s pie was excellent. Texture was correct, taste every bit as good as that which we had while stationed with the Air Force in London, UK, for three years. The server was as cute as they come and was talkative to Evie as she served up the dish. Quantity was as good as the quality and Evie couldn’t eat all the food given her. Both of us gave this dish an A- overall. The teriyaki stir fry was another matter.
It was obvious that the stir fry had been prepared sometime earlier and it looked terrible and tasted the same. The vegetables were soggy (little cobs of corn and broccoli) and while the teriyaki taste was present, I would never guessed it was supposed to have a teriyaki taste. After eating three or four bites, I went back to the serving line and had the server scrape out all the remaining sauce from the sweet and sour pork and pour this on top of the stir fry dish.
Still no luck in improving the taste. I then asked the server in the Shepherds’s pie area if she could find me some sweet and sour sauce in little individual servers, and she did. Adding this to the stir fry made it more palatable and I didn’t have to resort to ketchup in order to eat it. Evie tasted it and agreed with me – we wouldn’t have fed it to our cat Snoozer ( Snoozer had given us her “ticked off” look when we left. Upon our return I told her she didn’t miss a thing). My suggestion is that in the future, the meat be prepared without the vegetables and the vegetables just blanched to retain color. When a customer came by, the meat and vegetables are thrown into a wok and heated. That way the entrée would retain color and not have soggy vegetables along with the meat and would be palatable. Evie and I gave this meal a failing grade.
So, what’s our conclusion. Two out of three meals were good as the sweet and sour meal had been consumed by the students entirely and Evie and I had rated the Shepherds’s pie as above average or even at the bottom of excellent . This is an over all grade of 66.6%; at best a D+. Coach Zollinger will also tell you that you don’t win basketball games with an overall free-throw average for the team of 66.6%. I am told that the food is even worse over the weekends when all the left overs are thrown into one pot. Evie and I will plan an unannounced visit during the evening meal on either a Saturday or Sunday evening and report on our “adventures.” The bottom line is, unfortunately, the food quality has declined over the past two years. We would also recommend the food servers be issued a CEU “T” shirt and red apron to make them look more uniform as they serve the meals. Their personalities however, are not in question as both Evie and I thought they were “cute as could be” and interested in serving the meals in as good of fashion as possible.
Dr. George Uhlig & Evelyn Uhlig