CHRYSTAL: Stocking up for the siege

Hunger pangs with hours to go before bed? Check. Sudden hankering for coffee — but Blue State feels miles away? I feel ya. Ready for your usual late-night ice cream run, but the buttery’s out of food? All too familiar. Such was the scene for much of the five-day Nemo tempest, which saw students more interested in finding food than that overprotected Pixar clownfish. Yes, dining hall workers showed incredible dedication to the Yale community by braving the weather to come feed us. But the merciless tyrant that is the stomach continued its reign of terror. With spring break approaching, a lot of us will be facing a similar challenge of how to feed ourselves sans dining hall.

Many will resort to junk food like those shiny, crinkly packages of Chips Ahoy, the always-better-in-theory cookies whose sandy texture gives me the mild impression of eating sugary clay. This is unfortunate, not only for health reasons (I suppose), but also because you can get tastier, more filling food with just a smidge of preparation. After all, these kind of breaks, weather-imposed or otherwise, can also be a perfect time to slow down a bit and eat something delicious with friends, instead of grabbing a prepackaged sandwich on the run. Below, some tips. You don’t even have to cook.

First of all, stock your pantry — by pantry, I mean the shelf above your fireplace. Or your bookcase. Or that spot on your windowsill next to last semester’s books. This process becomes more fun if you develop a proper faux siege mentality, with remnants of high school European history running through your head. (The siege of Paris in 1870, part of the Franco-Prussian War, is a good place to start.) Anywhere is a good spot to stash some staples: a loaf of good bread, some nuts, a couple of those weird-but-wonderful chocolate bars from GHeav. Cereal, whether surreptitiously stashed in a Tupperware from the dining hall or bought at Durfee’s exorbitant prices, is also a good bet.  Oatmeal, if you have one of those Heating Apparatuses Not Quite Ordained by the Fire Marshal (some know it as a “microwave”), is also a nice thing. If you want to pretend the guys in the suite across the hall are invading Prussians, I certainly won’t object.

The minifridge, however, is a girl’s (and guy’s) best friend. Sure, right now it may hold nothing except a few sad bottles of seltzer and the remains of last night’s Chinese food run, but like your freshman self, it has immense potential. Let it skip the beer, however, and buy it some cheese. You don’t have to trek to Caseus and get something schmancy, although it’s certainly not a bad idea. If you failed to nab something from the latest corporate presentation at the Omni, you can start with something simple from the grocery store: goat cheese, cheddar, Brie and Swiss are all good bets. Next, consider a little meat: salami or prosciutto for the more gourmet-minded; sliced turkey for the timid. If you want to make your mother happy (and you should), add some fruit. Honey, peanut butter and banana make an incredible late-night snack. Toss some blueberries in your oatmeal and remember that they really do taste better when they’re not frozen into pellets at Commons. And it should go without saying that this is the time to indulge in a dessert richer than the Sultan of Brunei would. Clear out the shelf of Ben & Jerry’s. Buy up the whipped cream like a Wall Street commodities trader. Breaks only come five or six times a year, people.

Last step: sips. If your life will end without your morning latte, this might be a good time to invest in a French press. It’s simpler than filling out your schedule form and will give you major foodie cred when you can name your favorite single-origin roast. For those of age, a good bottle of wine or liquor can make things more pleasant. When else are you going to nail down the perfect ratio of ingredients in a hot toddy?

Spring break is a great excuse for serious eating, and more than a dash of self-indulgence. Don’t let the opportunity pass.

Elizabeth Chrystal is a senior in Davenport College. Contact her at elizabeth.chrystal@yale.edu .

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