I have never eaten at a residence dining hall, so I decided to try food from every residence to understand what I’ve been missing. The plan was to have a meal at Totem Park, a meal at Place Vanier and a meal at Orchard Commons.
The night before I began my challenge, I vigorously Googled my concerns. “Can I eat in a residence dining hall if I don’t live in residence UBC” and “do residence dining halls take debit UBC” were two of my searches, which I realize now are bad questions.
I got to campus and walked to the dining hall hall at Totem called Feast. When I got there, this so-called feast was sparsely populated and promised me blueberry pancakes, but they were all out of blueberry so I got normal pancakes. I found the coffee and poured myself a cup.
The two pancakes I had covered in just enough maple syrup to be wet sat flaccid on my plate. I took my first bite, and they were better than I expected. I remembered that pancakes make me feel sick after a while, but I kept eating. My coffee was still too hot to drink, so I figured I’d just take it with me when I’m done.
As I looked around trying to figure out where to return my plate, I looked to the place where the water and cutlery was and saw a sign that said “spa water.” Does it taste like soap? Minerals? The sweat of hundreds of other people? I filled my plastic cup 1/8 of the way full. The water tasted like a wrung-out cucumber, with the whisper of lemon rind.
I tried the coffee after it cooled down a bit and when it was hot it was alright. A medium-dark roast, acidic and still too hot to really taste. Once it cooled down a lot more, I could not keep going.
I decided to have lunch at Open Kitchen. I wandered around until I decided on the day’s feature poutine: pulled pork. The item was described as “pulled pork, crispy fries, gravy, cheese curds, gravy.” If the gravy is listed twice, that’s got to be a good sign.
I got my bowl of “crispy” fries and headed to the cashier. While I was paying, the person behind me in line asked me, “what is that?,” to which the cashier responded before me, “pulled pork poutine.” He gave a disgusted look and I asked him to wish me luck.
The fries were not crispy. The pork was regular pulled pork — it was not a good pairing with poutine. I remembered that I tend to feel sick after I eat pulled pork. I couldn’t finish the last quarter of it. It was just too many fries.
The closer it gets to dinner, the more I didn’t want to get more food on res. I felt sweaty and tired, and all I wanted to eat at that point was fruit and water.
I got to Place Vanier and had a hard time locating Gather, the dining hall that I learned is upstairs. I decided to get an al pastor taco. The person building my taco piled on the 'slaw on top of my taco. I poured myself a Coke and spilled half of it on my tray and hand. I paid for my food and I sat down to eat, spilling more coke on my hand. At first I was impressed by the presence of spice in the food, but the spice I initially experienced faded away. I downed my Coke and left as soon as I could.
At the end of the day, eating only res food was a masochistic success. I now understand everyone’s issues with the dining halls. First years: I understand and I’m sorry.