Julia Abate ’24
Food is the best when it tastes of inexperience. One morning over the summer, my Dad and I went for bagels in East Hollywood. We ordered toasted bagels with butter called hotties. Each bite was like a step on the first walk I took alone through my neighborhood. I wondered whether I was brand new or if I’d never looked at the scenery closely. This bagel asked me questions about bread and butter that I couldn’t answer after the last bite. Or after my second bagel, even if I had a few more words for it.
The dining hall is a kitchen where watermelon is relentless. The sandwich station is decorative. Stick out a couple of lines at Malott Commons and balance a plate on your forearm. Taste variety at every meal.
Saturday morning, I headed to brunch in the tank top and shorts I slept in. The January day felt petal soft and yellow. I walk across campus, wave at the orange trees. Girls sit across the lawn in front of Malott. I see my friend playing solitaire.
The cantaloupe and honeydew and oatmeal are irrelevant at brunch. On Saturday, people fill the brim of their plates with chicken and waffles and sliced peaches and cream, acai bowls, and spinach frittatas. I make my plate: two chicken tenders, a neat Belgian waffle square, maple syrup and berry compote on the side. I grab an acai bowl.
The waffle feels as dense as my breasts. Pressing my fork into the waffle reminds me of pressing my fingers into my breast while in bed. Two of my friends on the men’s water polo team note that the waffle isn’t as dense as their breasts. At first, the waffle felt soft. I can only enjoy the taste of warm vanilla for a few seconds. The waffle is so chewy it starts to remind me of sand on my feet. I can’t figure out how to make it go away.
These chicken tenders hold their own. The meat is juicy. The batter is crispy. I chose pieces that looked more heavily battered. The chicken is the strongest element of the greasier tenders.
The key is to cut the waffle up into smaller bites. I pick out the blueberries from the berry compote, push them around with my chicken and waffles. The edge of bitterness in a blueberry can endure a sugar syrup bath. The waffle, the chicken, and the blueberries make a decent meal. I would go back for more chicken fingers if it weren’t eleven in the morning.
My acai bowl has chunks of frozen mango, chia seeds, cacao nibs, coconut flakes, and granola. The acai melts in my mouth like a snowflake on my tongue. The acai is sickly sweet. My mouth is stinging. The toppings nurse the sting, cut the sweetness and add a crunch. I eat a spoonful of granola and cacao nibs. I might as well have scrubbed my mouth with my exfoliant. I want to rinse the taste out, so I swallow another spoonful of acai. Sting. The acai taste sticks to my tongue like salt water dries on my skin.
Brunch ends with black coffee this morning. I’ll confess that I drink coffee I make in my room.
Image Source: Scripps College