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MetsFan5

NYU Dining Hall Shame

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As a GRITS (Girl Raised in the South), I find nothing wrong with the meal at all, well except maybe the Kool aid. I would enjoy it all if well prepared, but not the collards, because I personally don't like them. The majority of folks down here, both white and black, love collards, and they must be a special part of holiday meals at the very least. Who doesn't like watermelon? I sprung for some of the expensive out of season fruit myself this winter. It wasn't as good as it is in summer, but a cheery reminder that Spring will spring again and the bounty of summer will follow. Also, the meal in question sounds like it was well balanced nutritionally with protein, carbs, fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. I don't understand why anyone would get their panties in such a bunch over it? Yeah, yeah, I know they said that it was because of unapproved deviation, but somehow, I don't think every balanced meal needed a specific sign off too. Maybe I'm wrong?

 

I found this linked article about Aramark's role in supplying prison food much more disturbing. I wouldn't be surprised if they had a hand in supplying the nursing home I recently was a prisoner in. That is cruel and unusual punishment, IMO, to subject a captive audience to day after grinding day of substandard food. It will really begin to work on people's minds in a very negative way, and not just people like us here at eG, although we might be the first affected by the horror of it.

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IMO- as a college student in the early 2000s the meal plan prices were not only insane and obligatory, they had hours that didn’t work for most students. 

 

  An issue here is serving out of season food. Which brings up the cost. 

  The Kool-Aid is the biggest offender. I find that blatantly racist and beyond unnecessary— all college dining rooms have their own automatic drink systems and no one NEEDS kook aid on top of the obvious soda options. Plus imagine how much they spent on sugar? And watermelon is NOT in season in the tristate area.  Hell, serve sweet tea and you’d bet better off. 

  To me, they missed the point. African American cuisine to me, has roots in the Geechee culture, so even grits (easily made in large batches) should have been a no brainer, same with biscuits. 

 

  That said I think companies like Aramark have NO business attempting to make “holiday” foods for the masses. They would never be able to properly prepare a Chinese New Years feast.  I sincerely doubt that anyone at NYU was enlightened about African American cuisine as a result of this messy meal. 

 

ETA- I did not read the linked article to completion but the quality of food for death row inmates is probably one of the last things I could care about. 


Edited by MetsFan5 (log)
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Erm, I can tell you have strong feelings about this.

 

I'm baffled at anyone associating African American cuisine with Kool aid. I've lived in the South most of my life, have a huge family heritage from here, and no one I know would ever put Kool aid on a list of soul food. Ever. I personally objected because it's an empty calorie "food" that has no association with the black (or the white one, for that matter) Southern culture that I am familiar with. 

 

And I do have to say that I love a good rendition of soul food. So does almost everyone else from around these parts. Perhaps I'm slow, but I have to wonder why that would offend anyone. I also wonder why anyone would get upset about holiday or thematic food occasionally to break up the monotony of in this instance, cafeteria food. I always revel in Shelby's willingness to celebrate with food at any old excuse at all and used to be just like that in my younger days.

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Kool-aid has a negative racial stereotype. So does watermelon. 

 

  They’re fairly widely recognized, hence the backlash. 

 

  Also, there is zero excuse for Ardamark to pay for such out of season things on a menu tinged with racism. 

 

  It’s not so much that I, personally, feel strongly— they literally fed the students stereotypes and as a result, people are losing their jobs. The menu offended a lot of students. And at the cost of college tuition, I don’t think students deserve to be disrespected in the cafeterias. Hell, even if it was free, no one deserves to feeel disrespected. 

 


Edited by MetsFan5 (log)
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6 hours ago, MetsFan5 said:

 

  The Kool-Aid is the biggest offender. I find that blatantly racist and beyond unnecessary— all college dining rooms have their own automatic drink systems and no one NEEDS kook aid on top of the obvious soda options. Plus imagine how much they spent on sugar? And watermelon is NOT in season in the tristate area.  Hell, serve sweet tea and you’d bet better off. 

 

 

Huh. Guess I didn't know that when I guzzled it by the pitcherful as a kid, or when my kids did. And of course, I will still occasionally buy KoolAid when I want Koolickles (you had to spend a LOT of time at the ballpark to appreciate those). 

 

I guess the point was to prepare an Afro-centric meal. I would have chosen pork chops, breaded and fried; fried chicken; tamales; white soup beans; cabbage or greens of some sort; rice and gravy or grits and gravy; fried okra; fried potatoes and onions. And sweet potato pie.

 

I'd quibble with your statement that Afro-American culture has Gullah-Geechee roots. Certainly that's part of the heritage, but there's also the Louisiana Creole influence, the Tidewater Virginia culture, and the upland Mid-South. All have quite distinct culinary cultures that derive in large part from the slave culture that once lived there. So you get peanut soup, neckbones and dressing, grits vs rice, and then you get gumbo, red beans and rice, meat pies, po'boys. Greens and okra, thankfully, are ubiquitous. 

 

I've never understood why watermelon carries such a racial connotation. If it's ever set up as a racial purity test, I'll have to stand with my brothers and sisters of color. I love the stuff and will eat it daily.

 

 

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14 minutes ago, SLB said:

Here's an article on the history of the derogatory association of watermelon with an irrationally negative view of African-Americans:

 

https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/12/how-watermelons-became-a-racist-trope/383529/

 

 

Exactly. You can't just ignore 100 years of minstrelsy and ridicule and disenfranchisement by saying "who doesn't like watermelon?"

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Interestingly, I grew up in the south during the Civil Rights years and have lived here all my life, and I never heard watermelon used as a derogatory or racist slur until the 80s or later. 

 

Actually, they'd be used as a derogatory slur toward young men of any race. Melons, both watermelon and cantaloupe, were a sizeable cash crop when I was growing up, and a young man who could not or would not hold a job was referred to as a "worthless watermelon-theiving" type.

 

As my birthday was at the end of June, about the time we'd harvest the first melons providing we hadn't had to replant due to a washout or late freeze. I generally asked for a birthday watermelon instead of a birthday cake.

 

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4 minutes ago, kayb said:

Interestingly, I grew up in the south during the Civil Rights years and have lived here all my life, and I never heard watermelon used as a derogatory or racist slur until the 80s or later. 

 

It's interesting because it illustrates how easy it is to remain oblivious to racist tropes when we're not on the receiving end of them. I doubt you'll find find any African Americans who grew up during the Civil Rights years who aren't intimately familiar with the implications of watermelons.

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2 minutes ago, paulraphael said:

 

 I doubt you'll find find any African Americans who grew up during the Civil Rights years who aren't intimately familiar with the implications of watermelons.

 

I know plenty of African-Americans who won't even eat watermelon in the company of white people, because they don't want to bring to anyone's mind anything even close to one of those horrible pictures.  This is old-school, for sure; but it persists.    

 

It's a trope that's left a pretty deeply felt sense of insult.    

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3 minutes ago, paulraphael said:

 

It's interesting because it illustrates how easy it is to remain oblivious to racist tropes when we're not on the receiving end of them.

I was looking through this thread and didn't feel compelled to respond. Not because I didn't have an opinion about it (of course), but I didn't have the energy to collect my thoughts. Then I was looking through the NY Times and came across this gem:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/17/world/asia/india-hitler-childrens-book.html?module=WatchingPortal&region=c-column-middle-span-region&pgType=Homepage&action=click&mediaId=thumb_square&state=standard&contentPlacement=4&version=internal&contentCollection=www.nytimes.com&contentId=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2018%2F03%2F17%2Fworld%2Fasia%2Findia-hitler-childrens-book.html&eventName=Watching-article-click

 

So yes, when we're on the receiving end, things look very, very different. I can remember all sorts of photos and pictures of blacks (children, adults, men, women) with big smiles and watermelons. Even as I kid I understood that an association was being made between black people and watermelon, and that it was intended to demean. It didn't stop me from loving watermelon, and I can't say I ever understood exactly how watermelon was intended to demean black people, but the intent of humiliation was there nevertheless. But the connecting thread is tenuous for most of us, and so we don't get it. And as with the article I linked to above, we are in trouble if we let ourselves forget these connecting threads. Then all we're left with is watermelon. And who doesn't like watermelon?

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12 minutes ago, paulraphael said:

 

It's interesting because it illustrates how easy it is to remain oblivious to racist tropes when we're not on the receiving end of them. I doubt you'll find find any African Americans who grew up during the Civil Rights years who aren't intimately familiar with the implications of watermelons.

I tend to think it had more to do with the area of the South in which I grew up. Pre-CW, it was only sparsely settled, and slavery never really took hold there, so the aftermath, up to and through Civil Rights, was not nearly as bad as in many areas. It was in the 70s when I moved to Memphis, which is a much, much different culture than where I grew up.

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