Mabee… Mabee not…

Photo by Paul Cuclis.

I’ve heard many complaints about Mabee’s food from neighboring tables and passing conversations. Some of these complaints are surely the inevitable grumblings of those subjected to a repetitious diet, others might be motivated by misplaced student vs. administration angst, while others still are probably legitimate concerns. For this article, I attempted to set all of my non-culinary biases aside and see what Mabee’s kitchen is really cooking.

I started with Mabee’s Vegan Station and Salad Bar. They had a curry with rice, chick peas, raisins and a variety of vegetables to choose from. It was actually pretty good. I thought the assortment of crunchy vegetables, the saltiness of the curry, and the occasional bursts of sweetness from the raisins made it a well rounded dish.

Reasonably satisfied, I headed to the Southern Comfort and Carvery stations. Generally, I’m a fan of their risottos and a strata cheddar dish they sometimes serve. On occasion, I’ve also found that some of their dishes, though as creamy and cheesy as comfort food demands, are still a bit bland. On the day I went, they had Delmonico potatoes, brussels sprouts, boneless chicken thighs, and a slice of spiral ham. Overall, the food there didn’t impress me or repel me. It was just so-so.

My next stop was the International Grill. They were cooking up some grilled jerk chicken and orzo. The orzo, which is a pasta that looks a lot like giant grains of rice, was covered in tomato sauce, and layered with chicken and what looked to be tortilla chips. It was palatable, and I liked the varying textures between layers, but it didn’t strike me as very international. A lot of Italian food has been adopted in American cuisine, and the ingredients I listed above can be found in similar combinations in a lot of American dishes. I would have rather seen the International Grill dedicate its pursuits to more exotic foods, such as a Chinese fried duck or an Indian masala dosa. If the majority of Mabee is going to be devoted to comfort food, pizzas, hamburgers and sandwiches, it’s up to the International Grill to provide something really different.

The last station I visited was the Pizzeria. I’ve had mixed experiences with this station in the past. Some days, I thought the pizzas were as good as the mainstream pizzas of Domino’s Pizza or Pizza Hut, but on other days I’ve come across a few pizzas that were nearly inedible and made me long for the frozen brands they used to serve.

I tried a slice of the Chicken Fajita Pizza and the Pepperoni Pizza. Both were fresh out of the oven, and had excellent crust, cheese and toppings. Overall, it was a good day to go to the Pizzeria. The only criticism I have is that there seemed to be very little tomato sauce underneath the cheese.

By the time I finished my pizza, I was way too stuffed to even consider dessert, so I waddled out of Mabee with a protruded belly and considered whether or not my peers’ complaints were  justified. Admittedly, there’s a lot of room for improvement in the Mabee dining hall. The two main issues that need to be solved have to do with increasing the variety of the food and the consistency of its quality. Still, when I compare Mabee’s risottos, curries, and rotisserie chickens to the rubber hamburgers they served at my high school, I can’t help but think that maybe we don’t have it so bad after all.