The food post is finally here! Today (Sunday) has been pretty chill and I've amassed a number of food photos, so I figured it's a good day to do it. So without any further ado...:
Breakfast is at 6:10am on weekdays and 8:30am on weekends. As I discovered this morning, you really have to be there on time or else they'll run out of eggs (sad). This is the most casual meal, as people are generally still waking up and fairly subdued. It's also the most optional meal, and I tend to only go when I'm waking up anyways for assembly or early morning tutoring.
Sandwich materials (like ham and cheese) are on the left, and then there are bowls of cereal (either Rice Crispies or bran) or porridge, pieces of fruit (always pears, apples, bananas, or oranges), bowls of yogurt, a few loaves of white or multigrain bread, and butter, jam ("jelly" means Jell-o), and peanut butter at the end. There's also always hot water and cold milk for cereal or drinking.
Lunch is the busiest meal, as it's a combination or boarders and day scholars who pay to eat in the caf. Lines can get pretty long depending on what's being served. There's always some kind of starch, like pap, samp, rice, french fries ("chips"), or pasta; a meat, like chicken or beef stew; salad (which most students skip); and juice. Every now and then there are hot vegetables and it's like the best day ever. Ketchup and salt can be found at the end of every serving line (which are separate for boys and girls), though the fruit and Tuesday/Thursday desserts are only available in the boys' line, so girls have to wait in their own line and then cut into the boys' line in order to get to the good stuff. I usually ask for just the starch at lunch, fill my plate with salad, and then save a piece of fruit for future snacking.
Dinner is the heartiest meal. It has the same parts as lunch—starch, meat, salad—but tends to have better meat, in my opinion. My favorite dinners so far have been chicken pies and a make-your-own chicken sandwich, both of which happened once and which I hope every day will be brought back soon. At every dinner, there are also loaves of bread and little dishes of butter, peanut butter, and jam; and students make pb&j sandwiches to take back to their rooms as snacks for later in the night. (I usually make bread and butter sandwiches in the panini press just because it's comfort food.) There's also always hot chocolate that students mix with tons of extra sugar!
Basically the majority of what I consume here. There's the built-in 9am sandwich break, which is the best thing to ever happen to me, when there are pre-made sandwiches (tuna, cucumber and egg salad, cheese and tomato, or peanut butter) put out for TAs and loaves of bread and butter, jam, and peanut butter put out for students (I eat these, too). Whenever I miss breakfast I'll either make oatmeal in the annex or just make sure to attend sandwich break.
My snacking usually starts right before lunch and ends right before I go to sleep. I'm still trying to figure out how to be healthiest while I'm here, and now I'm wondering whether that doesn't include buying Oreos and cereal and nuts from Choppies since I just mindlessly eat them all before and after every meal. I think it's half a comfort thing, and half a craving for sweet or salty things since we have such rich meats for all of our meals. It's also nice to be able to share things with the other interns as we research for our trips, or watch Game of Thrones.
My most frequent snacks here include:
- Fruit stashed from an earlier meal (usually an apple, but sometimes a banana) with crunchy ShopRite peanut butter and raisins on top
- Rice Krispies or Honey Cheerios (which are NOT the same as Honey Nut Cheerios, and taste more like Captain Crunch that happened to be shaped like Cheerios—very confusing) straight out of the box, ever since my milk expired
- Plain yogurt with muesli and honey
- Oatmeal with raisins
- Sometimes packages of nuts or granola bars, but only when I'm in a rush and on the go
There's also a 9pm study break in each of the boarding houses, which provides—you guessed it—bread, butter, jam, and peanut butter. I rarely have the motivation to trek to the boarding house at night; but when I do, I take advantage of the fact that they have a toaster and make me some toast with butter and jam. Yum!
You can tell that I'm eating TONS of carbs, some protein from peanut butter and when I eat the meat at meals, a solid amount of sugar, but few fruits and veggies relative to what I like to eat and am used to eating at school. :( I don't crave them, but it makes me feel guilty for not consuming what I've been taught is a balanced diet.
I don't eat here very often, but just wanted to say that it exists: there's a food truck-type place that's located right at the front entrance of the school, called the Bean Bag Cafe, around which tons of students congregate. Here, people seem to most typically purchase "chips," though it also serves waffles in the morning, sandwiches all day, fudgy brownies for P10 ($0.10), smoothies, etc. I've only gotten one chicken-mayo sandwich and tried a bite of someone else's chicken wrap (made 110x more amazing by having LETTUCE in it), but I always mean to try other things. It seems like it has awesome food options; I just need to get over my hesitance of spending money here when there's free caf food available ten feet away.
I also want to include the process of how students clean up after meals. Everyone does their own dishes, which usually consists of a metal cup, a plate, and a fork and butter knife. Once students are done eating, they take their dishes to a room off the kitchen, dump any excess liquid into one bucket and scrape all extra food into another bucket, and get in one of three lines for a double sink. The left side of the divided sink is sudsy with soap, and students use a sponge to get off any sauces and sticky food. Then they dunk the dishes or utensils in the right side of the sink, which is just full of water, and put everything on drying racks for the women who work in the caf to dry off. The tap is never running (except in this one photo), so the same still water is reused for tons of people, which means it can get pretty icky. This was slightly alarming to me when we first got here, since we're eating off of dishes that were cleaned in dirty water, but someone reassured me that the caf women do something else behind-the-scenes to clean the dishes further.
And there you have it! I'm definitely still perfecting what works best for me in terms of feeling healthy, but I'm super settled into the groove of caf life here. If you have more questions about MaP food, or want to hear more about any other parts of MaP Life, let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!