The article which follows shall be inherently subjective, despite continued insistence the opinions presented are inarguable fact. Which they are. As a man with an exquisite palate, I can think of nobody more qualified to discuss the culinary offerings of North Carolina State University student dining. Those dissenting viewpoints from the aforementioned inarguable facts which are to follow (what a timeline) are encouraged to substantiate such distinctions in the comments. Without further ado, this article will discuss Fountain Dining Hall.
Everyone remembers their first time. Orientation, a sweltering July day, and swamp ass so bad I had to change my shorts. Yet there she was, the shining city on the hill, a glistening beacon of hope for those weary and moist of draws. Fountain Dining Hall.
For all the hate Fountain received, it was pretty well earned. The bacon at breakfast was wafer thin and waxy, the gravy offensively starchy. Could you get cereal, yogurt, granola, and fruit? Sure. You can also drink rose and wear light blue at tailgates, doesn’t mean we do that either. Lunch and dinner may have been an improvement, but a kick to the pure groin is only so much better than said foot catching some sack. Your first bite of any meat was well done. The second was medium. The third you could still hear gentle moos. Were cardboard pizza and french fries always an option? Sure. So is Type 2 diabetes. Regardless of the cast of culinary characters, the greatest aspect of Fountain was Miss Mary.
I have no idea how old Miss Mary was, when she began her career with University Dining, and whether or not she still works with UD. She brought a smile with her every day, an infectious laugh, and a joy for life that few possess. She would read off the menu as new groups of students walked in, each time adding her own commentary. My personal favorite was when she took over the grill, because she would offer to make custom burgers for any hungry student who asked. She would turn back and yell “This aint Burger King y’all, but you can have it your own way!” Miss Mary may have been my favorite, but the entire staff were lovely, and it was disappointing that more students did not take the time to get to know and appreciate the women who took care of and fed them.
Back to food. The best meal at Fountain was the beef stroganoff, and if you disagree you either did not experience it, or I will engage you in fisticuffs. Typically served on Stroganoff Saturdays, there was no better way to kick off a night of debauchery and irresponsible drinking than loading up on a good base of ‘noff. Unlike the other meats, this was always tender. I hate mushrooms (texture thing, not flavor) and there were never any to be found. Those egg noodles? Buddy, they were like little corkscrews of gold. You could see your reflection because of how much butter was put on em. I never ate less than three helpings per Stroganoff Saturday, and so many students wouldn’t even touch it! It was like when they used to feed lobsters to French prisoners because they were looked down upon as bottom feeding ocean spider creatures (the lobsters), but this was stroganoff, and the guy eating it was the bottom feeder.
How have we reached this point and not mentioned the Howling Cow milk? I want to take a bathe in it. Whole milk with meals, chocolate milk for desert. Not “with” desert, I already shared the potential hazards of Type 2 ‘beetus, just a frosty glass of choco moo juice by itself. If you go in for ice cream, great, they got that. Pretty sure there were cookies and such too. Honestly never looked. Can you imagine Admiral Tom O’Brien eating cookies or ice cream? Neither can his ghost.
The ambiance was great until they pulled the damn Jedi mind trick of opening up the other side. The right side was always open. For some reason unbeknownst to me, in September they opened the left side. Strong side. Left side. On a Saturday morning I put on my best Sanuk’s and a dapper sweatshirt to make my way to breakfast. Upon entering Fountain, I noticed something amiss. People were walking to the other side. Acting natural and falling in with the crowd, I made my way into whatever you call the area where they served the food. My two friends are not challenged in the same way I am, so they quickly assembled their breakfast and headed out to the dining room. After struggling to gather myself, I meekly put together a plate. Disaster soon struck.
At this point I find it prudent to make it known I was/am not an engineer, nor an architect. Geometry was my lowest grade in high school. Numbers are fine, but the whole “shapes” thing makes me wonder if my pre-school teachers need to be audited or not. From a fundamental standpoint, I could not grasp that the left side was a mirror image of the right. I stood in the entrance to the dining room like a lost child at Wal-Mart. Despite asking my friends not to sit down before I was ready, they had. Sensing an imminent child-like breakdown, a stunning elementary education major came to my rescue. Thick brown hair, electric green eyes, and for some reason speaking to me. We talked about baseball and I fell in love. Unfortunately we did not go on to get married, likely due to me having the charm of a wet donkey paired with the ego of a wild mustang, but she did help me find my friends.
What a detour. Apologies, but that is the first thing that comes to mind for me when I think of Fountain. I heavily digress. After visiting friends at other schools and experiencing the offerings, I can say that Fountain is not the worst in the South. What I can confidently say is it was the worst at State. If I had to give it a grade, I would say 2002 Honda Accord with a broken A/C and for some reason a cassette deck. It will serve its purpose and there will be a lot of gas mileage (ew), and despite feigned interest and appreciation, you do find yourself lusting after that 2008 Nissan Maxima, which will be our next discussion: Clark Dining Hall.