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Meat? Idk her: A tier list

| Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Since mid-February, I’ve been doing two things at least every day: abstaining from meat and watching “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” (the first of these being a Lenten promise, the second of these being out of an intrinsic, near-compulsive love for Guy Fieri). As a function of these two things, I’ve been thinking very deeply about the food I’ve been eating lately. While I don’t possess the extensive knowledge of the mayor of Flavortown, I’ve done my best to provide you with a ranking of the pescatarian options that this campus has to offer.

S Tier

Smashburger fish sandwich: The first time I ordered this, I was skeptical. One needs to have seen but one grilled chicken sandwich from Smash to know that their non-burger options can be a bit suspect. But I took the gamble, and oh my god. The crispiness of the fried fish, the tang of the tartar sauce, the softness of the bun — absolutely stellar. Just crunchy and moist enough. Add some fries and a Coke Zero and you’re golden.

SDH Indian food: Usually the dining hall food is good. Sometimes it’s pretty good. Fewer times it’s great. It’s a very rare and special moment when the DH knocks something out of the park, and that’s how I’ve been feeling about the dining hall Indian food. The other night I had the vegetable pakora with khatte meethe baingan and I think I transcended to another plane of existence. The subtle tartness of the curry with the crunchy outside and soft veggie inside of the fritter, all atop a base of basmati rice? Spectacular.

A Tier

Star Ginger spicy Thai pho with tofu and veggie broth: This is one of those meals that has so much to appreciate. Few events reach the zenith of anticipatory delight that is checking the “Everything, please!” box on the Grubhub pre-order screen. The broth isn’t just the vehicle for the bean sprouts, tofu and slices of jalapeño, it’s the star of the show. And I swear, something about the pho spoons enhances the eating experience.

Modern Market blueberry pesto sandwich: A paragon of lunchtime innovation. The creamy freshness of the mozzarella combined with the bright notes of blueberry makes for a sandwich like no other. To quote a dear friend, “Whoever looked at a caprese sandwich and thought ‘let’s add some blueberry jam to that’ thereby creating the blueberry pesto sandwich should be running the country.”

B Tier

Einstein’s bagel: Sometimes simplicity is key, and I would brave the 11 a.m. Sunday Einstein’s line again and again for this delightfully simple meal. A toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with strawberry cream cheese and an iced coffee? That’s heaven. An everything bagel with cheddar cheese and a fried egg plus a strawberry-banana smoothie? Heaven times two.

C, D and E Tier

DH General Tso’s cauliflower: General-ly good. A day with this in the dining hall is better than a day without it. The sauce and breading intermingle to improve upon an ultimately unremarkable vegetable. (I hold that cauliflower is only as good as its preparation.)

DH grilled cheese and tomato soup: It’s a square with cheese and a red sauce. Ever-present and reliable. The hard, stale crunch of the crust is mitigated only by a satisfactory dunk in the soup. After that, it goes down smooth.

DH Malibu garden veggie burger: The texture is best described as a hodgepodge, and it benefits from copious amounts of ketchup. Like the grilled cheese, it’s best eaten quickly, and without much thought.

F Tier

Subway Veggie Delight sandwich with guacamole: This isn’t something I’ve tried, but a fellow Lenten pescatarian has described the experience of eating such a sandwich to me in excruciating detail. He spoke of the guacamole’s “goopy,” gag-inducing consistency that “inhabited every single particle of the sandwich.” Thus, even for the sake of journalistic integrity, I could not bring myself to sample this dish, and will hope that his commentary will suffice for the purposes of this column. A side note of partial redemption: it would be remiss if I did mention that my meatless informant considers the Veggie Delight without guacamole to be a solid C-tier vegetarian meal. 

A container of loose tofu and wet edamame: Strangely wet, undoubtedly disappointing, straddling the line between meal and punishment. The bottom of the barrel. A meal not served but brought upon oneself. 

Ella Wisniewski is a junior studying English and Economics. She tries her best not to take herself too seriously. You can reach her at [email protected] or @ellawisn on Twitter.

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

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