• October 1, 2020 |

    quiet period meals

    a tribute to the free food of quiet period

    article by , illustrated by

    Whether or not you were on a meal plan, the quiet period inevitably gave us all the opportunity to indulge in what we college students love the most: free food. While there definitely were some meals tastier than others, and some noticeable food changes from the first quiet period to the second, it is undeniable that many of us were grateful for these meals as we adjusted to the weirdness of online classes and the odd feeling of not being able to socialize like we once could. Compiled below is a tribute to the most memorable of the quiet period meals. 


    Chicken Parmesan

    This meal was not the best by any standard unless you were lucky enough to score a big hunk of garlic bread, but it deserves a tribute for one reason and one reason only: Brown Dining’s obsession with it. This meal was just a container of boiled pasta topped with overcooked chicken parmesan and red sauce, a wilted kale salad, and a side of broccoli or cauliflower. You never looked at the menu and exclaimed, “Duuuude! They have chicken parmesan again!” Instead, you would sigh, decide between the chicken parmesan or roasted eggplant bowl (sometimes opting for the latter), and wonder aloud to yourself, “Didn’t we just have this like… two days ago?” I’m convinced that Brown accidentally ordered ingredients for a million chicken parmesan meals. Why else would this meal be offered so often during the quiet period and at Verney-Woolley as a grab-and-go option AND at Andrews as a pizza sandwich??


    Chicken Salad Sandwich and Chips 

    What made this a meal to remember was surprisingly not the titular item (the chicken salad sandwich) but instead the chips that came with it (sometimes the only part of the meal that came). The chicken salad sandwich itself did not obtain any variation of “wow” from me; it was just a very dry sandwich that claimed to have flavorful spices in it (sriracha-flavored during the first quiet period and curry-flavored during the second). All it did for the taste buds was leave you longing for a tall glass of water. The chips, though? Wow. They were house-made potato chips, so full of flavor. Like, easily way more flavorful than the chicken salad sandwich itself. You could quite possibly eat all of the chips for lunch, and if you did, you were guaranteed to not feel malnourished. Instead, you would feel at peace with the world. Content. And full of love. 


    Chili Bowl

    Satisfactory. That is the word that describes the beef chili bowl. The only word. Really, there was nothing remarkable about the chili bowl. It was just a container of chili with either beef or some odd form of soy, decorated with a bit of queso and topped with a pathetically small bag of tortilla chips. However, in comparison to some of the other meals that were obviously attempts to turn a gourmet dish into a mass-producible college dining hall meal, this chili stood out as a sigh of relief: “Ah, the chili. No need to deconstruct my meal today.” 


    Buffalo Mac and Cheese

    It’s undeniable: the buffalo mac and cheese was the best meal of the first quiet period. During the first half of September, you had three variations: buffalo chicken mac N’ cheese, buffalo cauliflower mac ‘n cheeze, and buffalo cauliflower mac N’ cheese. (Yes, they really spell the “n” that many ways.) Quiet period two, however, only gave you the option of “mac ‘n cheeze with buffalo cauliflower,” so this meal was probably not a popular favorite by any means during the second half of September. But ignoring quiet period two’s unfortunate buffalo mac and cheese situation, it has to be said again: buffalo mac and cheese was the BEST meal of the quiet period. (Period!) Unlike its pasta relative, chicken parmesan, the buffalo mac and cheese was full of flavor, full of comfort, and full of desire—the desire to  c o n s u m e  that could only come from a body that’s been desperately craving gourmet food and accepted the buffalo mac and cheese as such.



    Oh, to instead be an oatmeal cup in the breakfast bag! Let’s be honest: nobody was ever yearning to get their hands on one of these oatmeal cups (flavors ranging from the typical maple and brown sugar to the rare berry-flavored cup or the “fancier” non-Quaker version of apple cinnamon). Whenever you opened your breakfast bag, the first thing you did was quickly take out the oatmeal cup, place it on an ever-growing pile of oatmeal cups, and dive right back in to the rest of the bag in hopes of finding some delicious pastry (or the hard-boiled eggs that you were inevitably going to throw out). However, as someone who has been out of quiet period for almost two weeks, I have to admit that those oatmeal cups have become the most convenient breakfast. Just fill the cup with boiling water, stir, and ta-dah! You have a nice, filling breakfast as you’re in limbo between sleep and waking states during your first morning class. 



    These aren’t meals, I know. But they were probably the most reliable item in your quiet period meal bag. There wasn’t that much variation: red, purple, and the infamous blue. And like the oatmeal, I stockpiled these in my room. But slowly, the stockpile has become almost completely blue. The red is perfect for rehydration at 3 a.m. The purple is great when paired with a very dry lunch. But the blue? It’s good for nothing. Whenever you got a blue in your meal bag, you moaned in distress. The blue is a zero sugar Powerade, and therefore, tastes like packets of Splenda poured straight into your mouth. There is probably a decent number of humans out there who feel joy seeing blue Powerades in their meal bag, but these humans are living in a society quite different from the one we’re in—one that favors high fructose corn syrup to sweeten our drinks over zero-calorie sweeteners.


    Quiet period was full of a variety of meals, some good and some subpar, and as it comes to a close we can look forward to more gourmet options (although Brown isn’t really known for its food, so cooking might be a worthwhile effort).