Feb. 18, 2015
Cinnamon toast. Plain white bread toasted with butter, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Not very fancy, but for a part of my childhood I was kind of obsessed with it. I wanted it for breakfast and lunch. I’m guessing I probably wanted it for dinner too, but my wise mother nixed that.
I wasn’t exactly what you would call an adventurous eater as a kid. I had some other favorites – macaroni and cheese, but not the boxed kind. I preferred seashell pasta with melted Velveeta cheese sauce. I used to request it for my birthday meal every year. I ate basic things like spaghetti (without sauce), chicken, hamburgers and actually a fair amount of fruits and vegetables. But there were a lot of things I didn’t eat – chili, fish, mushrooms, anything with ketchup, onions, peppers or mustard, and pretty much anything that was new or different.
When I was a kid, there really wasn’t much ethnic food to choose from. I remember having my first taco at my aunt’s house in California. Now there’s some sort of Mexican food on almost every corner. Chinese food was available, but it was pretty Americanized.
Times have certainly changed. Luckily, so have I. As I type this, I’m eating leftover chicken tikka masala for lunch. I regularly eat hummus, Pad Thai, gyros, sushi and other global foods. Just in my town I’ve had Indian, Ethiopian, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Greek, Cuban and French cuisine. Not to mention I’ve traveled to a bunch of countries around the world and tried all sorts of regional delicacies (within reason…I’m still a little picky). Yet, everywhere we went we could still find pizza. It’s pretty incredible how our food options really reflect our changing and more diverse world.
Paul B. Thompson, who holds the W. K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at MSU, wonders just how our food fads reflect our changing world and wonders if we mark time by them. Read his FACULTY VOICE: From Sanka to Sushi to find out what he thinks. By the way, I absolutely remember my parents ordering Sanka back in the day.
Today’s college students grow up with more options to expand their horizons. They’ve often traveled abroad or at least have met others from different cultures and tasted various cuisines. Now, with gorgeous revamped dining facilities all over MSU's campus, they can still expand their palates. Dining hall chefs cook up all sorts of interesting and delicious options for students. This is not your father’s campus dining hall. When I went here, sushi, vegan and global cuisine were not on the menu, but today you can get those and a whole lot more simply by eating at Brody Square, which offers 10 different “restaurants” for students to order from. Check out Eat at State menus just to see the variety. It’s pretty incredible.
Elaine Chu, an Honors College senior, went on a study abroad to London last summer and got a different kind of taste – a taste of what a forensic anthropologist does every day. Before the trip, she hadn’t thought of the field as something she might pursue professionally, but she soon found it to be a passion. Read her STUDENT VIEW: Unearthing New Interests, to learn how trying something new can open up a new future.
As I finish up my delicious lunch, I’m pretty grateful that I stopped eating only cinnamon toast. I mean, I still love it, but think of all the great meals I would have missed out on if I only stuck to one thing. Now, I love to explore as many different kinds of food as I can. Some I love and some, not so much. But it really is all about expanding your view.
The world is made up of endless flavors. Don’t just sit at your table eating cinnamon toast. Get out there and get a taste of something new, you never know when you might find something you really love.
Photo of students eating at The Vista at Shaw Hall by Derrick L. Turner