Val to be Commended for Experimenting with Food Options
By The Executive Board
Complaining about the food Valentine serves is a popular pastime of the College. The cringing faces at the sight of scrod or the long sighs upon seeing the word “chicken” on the menu are part of the soundtrack of the College. After the treacherous removal of cereal during dinner last year and moving pesto to two to three times a week, many students lost hope, or worse, considered transferring (just kidding…kind of). Many of us came into school this year after last year’s budget cuts with the intentions of hating Val in all its glory. But this year, Valentine has taken many steps in the right direction, to improve the quality of the food we are served every day. Despite this, many still whine and they want good cheese with that whine. Haters will hate … don’t let it get to you Val employees. We appreciate your efforts.

One of the most noticeable changes has been the addition of the noodle bar. There has been mixed reaction regarding, in particular, the frequency of the food. At first, the noodle bar was hailed as a delicious, healthy addition. It was a welcome change to the monotony of the food choices; who wouldn’t want to try something new? The noodles could even be made to taste better after a pass through the stir-fry station. Of course, the noodle bar then showed up again. And again. The novelty has been lost, and now the bar has become a topic of complaint because it seems as if it’s there every day. When it replaced the lighter side, there was less grumbling, but when it is served as the traditional option, its drawbacks become more apparent. Nevertheless, it should be noted that Val is at least trying to give us something new to taste and enjoy and that the noodle bar itself is not disliked, just its repetition.

There have been numerous other indications of Val’s efforts to making Amherst’s one dining hall enjoyable. The omelet bar and smoothie blender that make appearances at Val’s breakfast (the best meal by far) are great additions, though the omelet bar could benefit from another cook to speed up the line. The pre-made wraps and sandwiches (usually accompanied with tomato soup) are other items that are generally popular and easy to make. Moreover, ingredients can be interchanged to provide some diversity in taste. In the same vein, we’ve noticed more pre-prepared pasta and rice dishes that provide alternatives to the regular meal. This means that Val-goers don’t have to stir fry or panini if the main meals don’t satisfy their palates. The details of what Val is trying does not matter as much as that Val is clearly attempting different combinations of options in order to please the widest range of students and responding to its customers’ needs. Val hasn’t had a complete overhaul, but an influx of new workers has infused the dining experience with much-needed novelty.

One shining example of Val’s new look is the pizza bar. Long ignored as the land of cardboard crusts, tasteless sauce and unoriginal ingredients, the pizza is now a hot commodity. We don’t know what they did exactly, but the experimentation, such as with the highly popular buffalo chicken and white pizzas, has made pizza a legitimate choice when Val lines are too long, or even when they’re not.

Val has a long way to go to satiate Amherst’s collective taste buds, but it is on the right path. We encourage the dining service to continue to surprise us and work off our feedback.

Issue 18, Submitted 2010-03-10 02:29:28