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Pesto pesto pesto: Where did it go?

Mary Claire O'Donnell | Tuesday, March 23, 2010

“Everybody likes pesto. You walk into a restaurant, that’s all you hear: pesto, pesto, pesto!” George Costanza once exclaimed in an episode of “Seinfeld.”

But where has all the winter pesto pasta gone? Last year it was a rarity, only making its appearance every few weeks and becoming even more infrequent as the year went on. This year, however, the delicious, carb-loaded food has yet to grace the dining halls with its presence.

Why is this happening? Pesto pasta is one of my favorite foods, and last year I eagerly anticipated the day there was winter pesto at the pasta station. In fact, the pasta station at South Dining Hall is the first place I check when I am picking out what I want for dinner. Many people I have talked to — complained to, really — also lament the loss of this pasta special.

What I really do not understand about this dearth of winter pesto is why there is always the choice of pesto sauce whenever I trek up to North Dining Hall for the “Make Your Own Pizza” station or at South, when the station is set up once every 12 days. Clearly, the problem does not lie in a lack of basil leaves or olive oil.

And so, if there is pesto sauce, why not throw it in a bowl of linguine and mix? Or even just put it out as a sauce choice next to the two different types of tomato sauce every once and a while? I did see it out there once, and I was extremely excited. My dinner that night was fantastic.

However, another time I looked at the menu online and read that pesto was a sauce choice at the pasta station so I arrived at the dining hall later that night all smiles, eagerly anticipating my long-awaited pesto pasta. My hopes were crushed, however, when I reached the pasta station and there was no mouthwatering green sauce staring back up at me from between the spaghetti and meat sauces. I ended up making a mediocre wrap, and my night was ruined.

All this is not to say I don’t appreciate the dining halls at Notre Dame. Having visited siblings and friends at various colleges, mostly in the Northeast, we have it pretty good here food-wise. Our food is not rubber, and we have a good amount of variety. Also, our dining hall workers could not be nicer.

I also don’t mind that we can’t eat meat in our dining halls on Fridays during Lent, a complaint many people have. I have always thoroughly enjoyed fish, and although I am somewhat suspect of some of the fish served in Indiana, I enjoy the grilled salmon that has been featured the past few Fridays. I also love that every Friday in Lent, South Dining Hall features pierogies and its own “Make Your Own Pizza” station.

I just do not understand some of the menu decisions. While we have not had winter pesto, the new pasta special of choice seems to have become orzo with butternut squash, making its appearance almost weekly. And while on weekday mornings there are often different types of French toast or pancakes, on weekend mornings there are no such options to be found.

I’m not asking for a total food revolution. All I’m asking for is some winter pesto and some French toast on the weekends for next year.

Mary Claire O’Donnell can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.