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College Cuisine

Going to college is a grand experience. It's the first time many young adults get the chance to begin taking care of themselves, no matter what the consequences. One of the main things that worries parents when their child heads out into the world of college is, of course, their diet. What are they going to eat if the cafeteria closes too early? What if they don't like the cafeteria food? What if they didn't even sign up for cafeteria meals? Parents needn't worry. College students today have developed their own underworld of cuisine, involving quite the array of foods, time-tested by students in the past, and catered specifically to college needs by clever manufacturers. The main staple of dorm life these days is, of course, the microwave.

College students take microwave food to a whole new level. The smell of microwave popcorn is right at home in a dorm, even at 3 am. I had a roommate at college who ate microwave popcorn for breakfast.

Quick, easy, cheap and filling- what more could you ask for? There is also the infamous instant Japanese noodles (the Japanese name for this product does in fact translate to "student cuisine"). One of the biggest things I learned at school was how many ways there are to eat this ubiquitous, 25 cent meal. There's the traditional method of boiling it into soup, of course. There's also the option of straining the water out before adding the seasoning, creating a haphazard pasta meal.

A friend of mine used to give away his seasoning packets to those who liked their soup extra salty, and then use the noodles mixed with cafeteria vegetables to create his own vegetable soup. There is, in fact, an entire culture devoted to forming recipes around these instant noodles. And college students might be the most creative consumers of all. But the need for so much creativity is not as dire as it once was. Nowadays microwaves are ridiculously cheap to own, and many college students don't think twice about having one in their dorm room.

This has caused manufacturers to cater to the college students' needs like never before. Macaroni and cheese that doesn't involve buying milk, and rice dinners in a bag that include all the seasonings, are a huge step forward for students living at school, where access to milk and butter (and having somewhere to keep them if you buy them) is not as easy as it looks. Sure, not all of this instant and easy food is healthy. Some of it is downright bad for you.

But parents needn't worry too much. Your child might spend a few semesters believing the food groups consist of salt, fake chicken, cheese in a pouch, and potato chips. but it will make them appreciate you all the more when they come home. .

By: Steve Wilcott

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