By Maya Thumpasery '21
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be humorous, and members of the NCS community infinitely appreciate all the work that the NCS cafeteria staff do to provide us with nourishing, healthy lunch options.
When one hears “NCS lunch”, it is only natural to think of one dish. Picture this scenario: it’s Monday, so your day is going poorly, especially since you had to sit through three to four classes already. As you enter the lunchroom, you cross your fingers and hope, please don’t be chicken and rice, please not chicken and rice. But, alas, it is, of course, the inevitable chicken and rice. Now, I try to be grateful, and I must give this food duo some credit for being a school-wide icon, a staple, if you will; I only request that our menu does not solely consist of chicken and rice.
Critics argue that NCS offers different types of rice, or various flavors of chicken. Don’t be fooled, folks. Changing that single herb used, or adding some gravy, does not automatically turn “Mediterranean” chicken into “Hula-hula” chicken, though I am not sure how Hula-hula chicken is even supposed to taste. On this same topic, do not be deceived by clever names like “Chef’s potluck” or “Vegetarian Special”; while these titles appear flashy and appealing, I have learned to not be too excited. Usually appearing on Fridays, these more ~ambiguous~ dishes are probably just a mix of Tuesday’s steamed carrots, Monday’s chicken and maybe — though hopefully not — last week’s pasta. However, I do have a pro-tip to improve your dining experience: Try spicing things up one of those Flik Dining hot sauces. While they do not actually serve the purpose of being spicy, I appreciate the effort to add more flavor options.
Perhaps I am the only person puzzled by certain lunches because of my own food preferences, but invariably I come across food in the lunch room that does not really make sense. The prime example would be ice cream: difficult to mess up because it is store-bought and happily consumed by many students, including myself. However, while I know they sit in that freezer for a while, why are they always rock hard? Last ice-cream day, I dropped my sandwich bar on the ground (wrapper still on, of course) and, I swear, not a dent was made. Even more concerning is the yellowish pudding served. Am I the only one confused about what flavor it is? Also, I love the efforts to serve dishes for students with allergies or who are vegetarian or vegan. So, maybe the brussels sprouts shouldn’t come with bacon bits, or the veggie burger with eggs. And could I possibly be the only NCS student who wonders why about half of an upper schooler’s diet consists of those bagels? I mean, anyone can agree that they are to die for, but I cannot remember when that line for the microwave to make “grilled cheese sandwiches”, became a crowd of vicious teens around the toasters. I, having been there in person, can say I have witnessed the bribery, physical aggression and even coercion of middle schoolers, just for first dibs on the blueberry bagels or control over toaster dials. While I cannot say I dislike this epidemic, nor do I miss the “grilled cheese”, I do hope Flik Dining comes out with a new line of bagel memes to replace last year’s grilled cheese ones.
Lastly, my biggest woe of NCS lunches is that the most delicious dishes they make seem to be the rarest. I am thankful of the healthy food we receive, but sometimes I appreciate the unhealthy options that we almost never have, like pizza or chicken tenders. Also, students love chicken noodle or tomato soup, and I love the tacos, so I wish they were offered more often.
Sometimes, usually after declining a friend’s offer to Open City and probably regretting doing so, I stare down at the soggy greens or dry meat on my plate, wishing I had not taken the food I knew I would waste. However, there are cooks and staff who work each day to put that food together so NCS students can enjoy warm, healthy lunches. All jokes aside, we are so lucky to have the food service we do. If you don’t like the hot food, make a sandwich or a salad, grab a bagel or some fruit, get some of the cold foods or some soup. You could even try some good old chicken and rice.