HUDS

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One of my favorite things about HUDS (Harvard University Dining Services) is that there is always dessert. Actually, dessert is only officially available with lunch and dinner. That being said, there are some really sugary cereals available during breakfast (think Lucky Charms, or rather Marshmallow Mateys), so I’m going to go ahead and count that as dessert.  The point is, if you are looking for a sweet treat after your meal you are well cared for.

Most importantly, there is no shortage of dessert diversity. HUDS lunches feature a variety of cookies. The flavors change from day to day and from House to House, so there’s pretty much something for everyone. Sometimes I am in the mood for a classic sugar cookie, but if I am feeling more adventurous I might prefer a peanut butter cookie. Thanks to HUDS, both flavors have the potential to be a part of my lunchtime reality, and that’s a beautiful thing. The dessert at dinner has even more variety to it, so it feels like more of a surprise. It could be bread pudding. It could be pie. There could even be a selection of whoopie pies. There really is just no telling.

Now, all of this dessert diversity is thrilling for someone with an adventurous sweet tooth (like me). However, HUDS also offers frozen yogurt at every meal for the student that appreciates a consistent dessert option.  There are typically two flavors available at each meal.  The featured flavors are usually vanilla and chocolate, since they are the classic choices, but every now and then HUDS surprises us with a less conventional option (dulce de leche, red velvet cake, etc.).  For example, the other day at dinner the dining hall in Currier introduced “Graham Cracker Pie” frozen yogurt, and it the best flavor yet. I wish I could share the experience with you, but you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. Think about it. It was so good that it inspired me to write an entire post about HUDS dessert. Honestly, just reflecting on the whole experience has put me in the best mood. It really is the little things…

Graham Cracker Pie Frozen Yogurt in Currier<3

Also, to be clear, some people do choose to treat themselves to healthier options (frozen yogurt without toppings, fruit, etc.) and some people choose to skip dessert altogether. I’m just not usually one of them.

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Gobble Gobble

We’re in the last few weeks of the semester – (unlucky) week number 13 (according to my Spanish class syllabus) to be exact. While sweet, sweet winter break is on the tip of our tongues, we all know that taking a bite into our well deserved vacation is like taking a bite into a plum – the skin sucks but it’s so deliciously juicy inside! Probably the weirdest metaphor ever used in my writing career, but y’all get the picture…and if you don’t:

Final psets (problem sets), papers, and projects (the P-trinity) are trickling in and as our minds wear down, we try to at least protect our bodies from the violent winds. Although winter solstice (my 21st birthday!!) hasn’t passed, it’s undeniably cold. It’s that time of year when Pandora/Songza not only reads our minds, but looks into our souls to play the Go-Go’s Vacation (All I Ever Wanted).

Thank goodness for Thanksgiving Break.

Harvard doesn’t hold class Wednesday-Friday of Thanksgiving week. (Yale has a full on one week vacation whereas a lot of California schools have only Thursday-Friday off, so I’ll take what I can get!) Harvard’s calendar has slightly changed during my time as an undergraduate student. We use to only have 2 days off at the end of the week, making it harder to travel and really wind down (read: catch up on TV). The whole Wednesday vacation business began last year and often encourages students to leave campus early (skipping Monday and Tuesday – this is college freedom!). Break is always the best because it gives your schedule more flexibility – whether you have tons of work to do or not. (Hats off to you if you’re actually academically productive during break!)

My freshman year, I went to my best friend’s house in Connecticut where I witnessed my first real snow fall and practically gained a beloved extended family. During my sophomore Thanksgiving, my roommate and I immersed our-little-Southern-Californian-selves in the pleasures of New York City: The Lion King on Broadway, ice skating in Central Park, FOOD and etc. This Thanksgiving was the first time I’ve been on campus.

I feel like staying on campus solicits a lot of pity, but this was a choice I made and I don’t regret it! I thought about going home, but I’ll be home all of winter break (J term/January term). A few friends invited me over – heck, my boss did too – but I really wanted a selfish break where I could do whatever I want, whenever I wanted – and that I did. My days off were filled with some quality friend time, quiet reading, ultra long distance running, cable television, and careless sleeping. I was living the dream. And this Thanksgiving, I’m so thankful that I live a dream-like life! I’m thankful for the time I have with others and I’m thankful for the time I have with myself. I normally find time as the enemy since it always passes too quickly without my consent, but I do appreciate how consistent – as well as how consistently kind – it’s been with me.

Quite a number of students stay on campus too – things definitely get quieter, but don’t imagine a ghost town! The college also does an amazingly phenomenal job at ensuring our stay is not only comfortable, but also nutritious! That’s if you consider over-eating as nutritious…

At least one dhall (dining hall) is always open at any given meal time and HUDS (Harvard University Dining Services) even provides a traditional Thanksgiving feast! I wish I had pictures, but I was too busy stuffing myself…

On the Thanksgiving menu was: turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, fruit salad, New England clam chowder, cheese & crackers, dried fruit (apricots, pineapple), and pumpkin/apple pie a la mode! (note: not an exhaustive list) We were eating for literally 3 hours, helping ourselves to multiple entrees :)

Some tutors (typically graduate students or faculty who live with us undergraduate students to help us keep the peace and the sanity / just to be confusing, these amazing people are called “proctors” if the undergraduates are freshman) stayed on campus as well and hosted a late night “study break” (always more break than study) where there was sushi, fried dumplings, naan + dip, chips + salsa, etc.! Study breaks are the best. I’ll miss these so much when I’m in the real world and expected to fend for myself.

After dinner (and post-dinner eating), I enjoyed the football game with some Charlie Brown, and planned to go shopping with one of my blockmates for Black Friday. (Blockmates are a group of friends that you form during your freshman spring semester in order to tell the college that you all want to live in the same upperclassman house/dorm for your remaining time as an undergraduate. For all you commitment-phobes out there, students can transfer from house to house if we wish to do so). From Scott’s blog, I guess Black Friday is a normal blockmate activity :)

My blockmate is a Boston local and took us to Wrenthem Outlets, about an hour outside of campus. We left school around 2 am, avoided the traffic jam and most of the lines to enter the store and checkout. It was the most ideal time. Sales were insane!! I found myself a little sleepy around 5 am until I was instantly energized by 50% off with a 15% student discount on top of that. I’m still feeling the happiness buzz from my purchases. We ended up coming back to campus by 7 am. Sadly, I set my alarm for 8:45 am because I checked out a library book and it was due at 9 am. Not to worry though because I was back in bed from 9:03 am to 5:58 pm. At which time, I went to dinner, watched a few episodes of dramatic TV, read a few chapters of The Bell Jar and was in bed by 10:30 pm until noon ish the next day. Yeah, I’m pretty impressed with myself too.

Let’s all hope that I can keep impressing myself academically…woohoo 1.5 more weeks of class!! Reading Period (the time when classes officially end, the prelude to Final Exam week) begins Dec. 5 and lasts until the 12th. Giving everything a date just now was a really scary thing – so many mixed emotions! I can’t wait to go home, see my family who I haven’t been with since Memorial Day, catch up with friends, and celebrate my birthday! Things I can wait for: final paper deadlines, math exam, being more than halfway done with college…EEEK

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Louisa Denison, Food Literacy Project Coordinator with Harvard University Dining Services

Harvard University Dining Services serves just shy of 3 million meals a year in the residential program (2,993,329 meals in 2011, to be exact). We serve meals to a student body with a range of food preferences and backgrounds: of Harvard undergraduates, 9% are vegetarian, 4% have food allergies, 10% are international students. We have global food cuisine night on Friday nights, but we also source locally when we can; currently, 21% of the products we source are locally grown or made. Pizza and red spiced chicken are popular entrees, but so is the new fruit bar.

July produce from E.L. Silvia Farm, at the Farmers’ Market at Harvard 2012

July produce from E.L. Silvia Farm, at the Farmers’ Market at Harvard 2012

Harvard University Dining Services established the Food Literacy Project in 2004, with a mission to educate students about their food choices and continue the conversation around nutrition, sustainability, food preparation, and community. Given the variety of tastes and backgrounds of the student body…and given that the new food environment is full to bursting with terms like localorganicfair-tradeGMO-free… we at Dining Services see education as vital to the dining experience.

Since 2004, the Food Literacy Project has gotten the conversation going; FLP runs a farmers’ market on campus, employs a student in every house to serve as a Food Literacy Project Rep, organizes cooking classes with each house chef and guest chefs, and hosts innumerable talks, movie screenings, and tastings.

Keerthi Reddy, Cabot FLP, demonstrating how to make sushi

Keerthi Reddy, Cabot FLP, demonstrating how to make sushi

Some of our events are about awareness (what is “seitan?”), some are about education (“Will eating local help the environment? Is the age of cooking dead?”), and some are just about eating (truffle making).
Some students sign up for every cooking class we offer; others are out to change the food system. We try to offer a variety of ways for students to become engaged in the food system.

Coming up this fall, the Food Literacy Project will continue a series of informal dinner conversations in dining halls, often with a professor or local food activist, on current food topics. Bring your dinner and stay for as long as you like. We’ll also be educating on new HUDS’ sustainability initiatives, so stay tuned for talks and panels on sustainable seafood and eating less meat. Plus, more cooking classes, talks on how “the food system” affects Harvard, and a few foraging tours!

Barton Seaver teaching sustainable seafood cooking techniques at FLP cooking class, spring 2012

Barton Seaver teaching sustainable seafood cooking techniques at FLP cooking class, spring 2012

We’re interested in supporting and connecting food efforts on campus, so get in touch if you’re doing something related to food.

To stay on top of the Food Literacy Project, check out our blog (www.foodliteracyproject.wordpress.com) and sign up for our weekly newsletter of Harvard food events by emailing louisa_denison@harvard.edu.

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There’s an overwhelmingly negative connotation associated with college Greek life, which fairly arises from the too frequently heard about news articles of hazing gone wrong. Although the behavior concomitant with such tragedies are inexcusable, it isn’t the defining factor of Greek life. The Greek system still exists nationally and I believe the reason it continues thriving lies in the fact that there are endless (literally! The alumni networks are as massive as whales!) positive influences it can have on a member’s life.

I can personally attest to these benefits – connecting to a new support group, feeling more connected to campus, and expanding study groups – and that’s why my involvement in Harvard Greek life progressively dives deeper. This semester, I’ve been transitioning into my new role of Panhellenic Council Vice President of Philanthropy! Although I hate admitting that I have a natural tendency to snap at good news, I love the new opportunities my role avails to me – like participating in Relay for Life, an incredibly inspiring and national event to support those fighting cancer.

Three male fraternities and three female sororities exist at Harvard (although not officially acknowledged due to the institution’s rule against recognizing single gender groups): Alpha Epsilon Pi, Sigma Chi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Delta Gamma, respectively. Over the course of these last few months, representatives from each group met with me to organize fundraising events for the annual Harvard Relay for Life. Each year the Harvard Greek Team raises thousands of dollars for the amazing cause through personal appeals as well as creative ways, some of them exemplified below:

Pie Cancer in the Face: AEPi (Alpha Epsilon Pi) held an event where people could purchase a pie to throw in a brother’s face. Who needs dignity when cancer is looming as a threat? Haha, the boys definitely took pies in the face like the manliest men I’ve ever seen and raised over $300 in the span of four hours! Bonus points for the pun too!!

Date Auction: The Cambridge Queen’s Head (a restaurant/pub) located in the basement of Annenberg (the freshman cafeteria commonly referenced to as the Great Hall from Harry Potter) graciously donated their stage to the Harvard Greek community to hold a date auction for two hours. Twenty generous and studly fraternity brothers of Harvard volunteered themselves to be auctioned. Girls across campus (even some graduate students!) came to bid for a magical hour with these men, 100% of proceeds going directly for Relay for Life. The “Date Contract” read that the men had to be at their utmost gentlemanly behavior…but we’ll just see how my two dates go before we get excited. Yes, I did buy two. Hey now, it was for charity!!

BBQ: HUDS (Harvard University Dining Services) has some of the best programs!! Check out the stellar grade HUDS (and Harvard in general) got! On weekdays from 11am-2pm, HUDS serves prepared sandwiches, hot entrees, fruit, etc. in the Cambridge Queen’s head for upperclassmen too lazy/too busy (usually the latter in our defense!) to return to their upperclassmen House (dorm) for lunch – this is colloquially termed “Fly-By.” You can also request a brown bag to be prepared from your own dining hall when you know you won’t have time in between lectures, sections, and meetings for lunch! Another way HUDS ensures students stay nourished is by providing cookout food. The philanthropy chairs of each fraternity and I wanted to hold a BBQ before and during the Relay for Life event so we gathered students’ ID numbers and submitted them into HUDS who then provided us hamburger patties, hotdogs, condiments, buns, fruit, chips, and basically everything else we could ever dream of asking for. The BBQ was a hit and people even donated money in exchange for some BBQ! Sorry for not having any pictures :( I was too busy grilling … or at least supervising the grill! :)

Overall, the events leading up to Relay and Relay for Life itself was successful! I had a blast working behind the scenes in my first Spring Philanthropy event and can’t wait for the one in the fall, which I’m hoping to organize with Cradles to Crayons. I can only hope that my last round of midterms (yes, I did have a midterm on the last day of class), presentations, papers, and final exams go just as well!!!

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I think something like 98 or 99% of students live in the awesome dormitories on campus, but there are a handful of people who choose not to. Two of my blockmates (a group of up to 8 people who you choose and are all put in the same upperclassmen House after freshmen year), Lauren and Wes, moved off campus last year, and they have a nice apartment about a 10 minute walk away from where I live in Quincy House. This weekend, they invited a group of us over for a Super Bowl party. Lauren and Wes had prepared wings, oatmeal cookies, brownies, chips and dip, and a lot of other delicious treats for the big game. I don’t really follow football (I’m more of a basketball guy–go Celtics!), but, born and raised in Massachusetts, my allegiance was to the Patriots, of course. I apparently fell asleep during Madonna’s halftime performance, and then dozed right through all the screaming and cheering until there were 4:00 minutes remaining in the last quarter. Oops?

Things have started to pick up a bit. The first few weeks on campus are always very social and lively since everyone is back and reuniting and talking about their breaks. I haven’t gotten into a routine, nor have I been too stressed out just yet, but I guess I shouldn’t be complaining. One new thing I’ve noticed since being here are all the new food choices from Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS)! While there are always multiple entrees available, a sandwich, soup, and salad bar every night, and a grille, the following new foods are just some of the specials on their schedule:

  • Monday – Peking chicken and tofu bar
  • Tuesday – fruit bar
  • Wednesday – Korean beef barbecue

Being Korean-American, I’ve become very used to my mother’s home cooking. Therefore, HUDS’ Korean food isn’t exactly authentic, but it’s definitely a great imitation. The students here love it. I’ve heard people talking about Korean BBQ night during the day on Wednesdays, as well as going up for seconds and thirds. Personally, my favorite HUDS initiative is the new line of frozen yogurt flavors, which they describe as tasting more like the flavor options at Berryline, a super popular frozen yogurt shop in Harvard Square. If you have a chance to go, Berryline is definitely a staple that you need to check out. I have friends who go once every week or two, even in the cold weather, because they love it so much. HUDS conducts a school-wide survey at the end of each semester, where students can voice their opinions online. The dining hall staff have told me that the Korean BBQ is the most popular and most demanded meal out of anything they offer. My one request? Cheesecake! It’s funny because I’m that person who begs for cheesecake on those surveys, regardless of what the comment box is actually asking for. If a survey question asks, “What are the most important aspects of your meal? (i.e. temperature, appearance, etc.)” or “What is your favorite breakfast offering?” or basically any question that includes a box for an open-ended answer, I usually dodge whatever the actual topic is supposed to be and just write something about cheesecake. I’m still hoping they’ll have it on a more regular basis, but I’ll make sure I keep you updated. I’ll probably take a picture of the cheesecake if they decide to put it in there. But I’m guessing I might have to recruit some more folks to fill out the survey in a similar, aggressive, cheesecake-minded manner. Cheesecake for all!

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