Monday, September 19, 2011

Blue Suite Bites

What do you get when you combine teenagers from New Orleans, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Alabama, Pakistan, Atlanta and New Jersey? Penn loves to remind us about the confluence of ideas, perspectives and languages on our diverse campus. While these things are well and good, I’m more concerned with culinary diversity.

Every day follows more or less the same pattern. We study, sleep and somehow find ourselves sitting around the same table, complaining about how much work we have, and without fail: eating. On Monday, Molly from New Jersey shares the homemade chocolate chip cookies her mom just dropped off. We all envy how close she is to home and savor the taste of non-institutional food. Tuesday requires an exotic twist courtesy of Parker from Kentucky who shares his favorite candy from Croatia. Although the product turns out to be glorified starbursts, it tastes better with foreign packaging. Yashar from Atlanta insists on keeping Craisins in the communal fridge, which is the exact same temperature as the ineffective freezer. James interrupts a late night of studying with the jellybeans he received and reluctantly shares. We readjust to weekend homework with a visit to Café Clave in University City, reading, sipping iced coffees and repeating. Our difficult first week of classes culminates in a sparkling apple cider toast, which we sip out of the wineglasses our GA, Keon, purchased for a steal at Ikea.

Nearly as notable as the omnipresent snacks are the absent foods; the ones constantly pined for. Lisa from Alabama misses her parents’ Chinese food. I long for a real New York bagel (if it’s not boiled, it doesn’t count). Some miss sushi; others even miss the distinctively crisp French fries of their high school cafeteria.

Eating together reminds us of what we have and what we left behind. We crave the comfort of a familiar meal and relish the taste of a new nibble. Friendships are formed over a mutual favorite chip or brand of pretzel. Many challenges lie ahead of us this freshmen year, but I know that my suite will never go hungry.

-Abigail Koffler

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