Sunday, October 19, 2008

On food...

I've eaten chips off the floor. I've eaten food left in the fridge so long it carmelized to the styrofoam take-out container. I've even resorted to Ramen.

But the most desperate attempt to stay fed I ever staged in college was at Village Inn.

It's no secret college students aren't picky. Fast food, frozen food, instant food ... as long as its food and its cheap it will do. But one night we needed sugar and we wanted something real. Ten of us packed into a corner booth at Village Inn, ordering pie. Only $15 among us, so we shared pieces, casting aside requests for key lime or anything with coconut and peanuts to improve the chances the three generic pieces of apple, chocolate and strawberry would find their way to someone's mouth without allergic reactions.

Someone broke the code. Pulling out a credit card from home, they gave into the tantalizing marketing and ordered a warm plate of breakfast food ... meaty goodness piled in crepes pulled right off from the vibrantly colored menu. Suddenly, I was starving.

I finished off the whip cream, scraping my fork against the plate for any lingering pie crumbs and looked longingly at Sarah.

"I'm hungry," I mouthed.

She nodded.

"But I'm cheap," I added.

She nodded again.

Just then she was bumped by the young man behind her leaving his table. He grabbed his girlfriend's coat, threw down a tip and the two of them headed for the door.

There on the table was a plate with an untouched pile of golden, seasoned, delicious looking french fries. The sandwich next to it was unsalvageable, but even the diluted pond of ketchup was on the opposite side of the plate. My eyes got big and met with Sarah's.

"We shouldn't," I said.

"We can't," she responded.

I looked back down at the pie plate. I could smell the fries, their warmth was nearly tangible. My mind raced through options at home. Certainly something there was better than second-hand potatoes ... nothing came to mind. Culinary genius though she is, even Sarah couldn't turn half a box of Honey Bunches of Oats and a can of cream of chicken soup into a meal. The waitress was piling plates from another table into her brown bin, sweeping delicious remnants of food into the garbage as she went. I felt like that poor kid in India standing outside a hotel restaurant. She was getting closer.

With one swift move, Sarah was sweeping fries onto my empty plate. A quick look around for the waitress and another blurred move, the plate was back on the home table. No one had seen anything.

"Hey! When did you order those?" Matt asked.

I was piling on ketchup and getting ready to devour.

"This is really disgusting," I added.

"Agreed. No one can know we did this," she responded salting our plunder.

But we were full. And happy. And the best part? We still had enough left over for a tip.

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