My colleagues have been telling me for several weeks that come the first three weeks of school, I would be as fed and feted as a preChristian sacrificial harvest king, without the inevitable letdown of sacrafice.* Especially as new faculty, I was told, free food opportunities would abound.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all about the free food and the feting. But I wasn’t particularly concerned about the possibility of my own gastronomical overindulgence and diet wrecking. I mean, I’m pretty familiar with institutional food. Four years at BGSU, 16 years at UNR, which comprised the beginning and end of countless dining service contracts, and 6 years of fundraising and political action lunches and dinners at various of Reno’s casinos when I worked with Planned Parenthood Northern Nevada. I’ve eaten mass-produced chicken in all its possible sauced and lettuce-bedded and noodled permutations.
Or so I thought. And then yesterday I experienced one — one, mind you — day of institutional party food here.
Oh. My. God.
Breakfast at 9 a.m. was a typical collation of muffins and bagels. Good coffee, though, and the spreads available for the bagels rivaled Panera’s. The butter rose should have been a clue though. At 10, a basket of cookies, yummy, soft, fresh cookies, was added to the table, just in case 1 hour of meeting time had proved wearing. At noon, we adjourned for lunch, which was a chicken breast on a bed of lettuce, surrounded by generous chuncks of watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, and strawberries, drizzled with honey-mustard dressing. The chicken had been very, very, very lightly coated in flour and spices and was fantastic. Okay, I know one can get only so excited about a chicken breast, but on a scale of chicken breast yumminess, this rated ten clucks, some fireworks, and a quick smooch from George Clooney. It came with a breadstick and cheesecake, just in case there was any dire possibility of us having to wait more than 3 hours for our next meal. So you can see how we almost died of hunger waiting for 3:30 and the reception for new faculty (that’s me) to roll around. There, I met many lovely people whose names I cannot now remember, but I bear a deep and abiding regard for the just-barely-pickled cucumber slices wrapped in horseradish creme and shaved corn beef. And the seafood dip. And the cocktail weenies,** which appeared ordinary but were in a lovely sauce. And the chocolate-dipped strawberries. I didn’t get a chance to sample the meatballs because I’m a lady and I can eat only so many lbs. of food in 6-hour period.
When I came home, beyond sated and still licking horseradish creme off my fingers, I could barely bring myself to feed the cats and the bird.
*Yeah, talk to me about that in a few weeks, when I’m grading papers for 4 classes. I might be begging for a nice, restful blood sacrafice….
**No, not the guests.