Chew On This: The Canteen

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Whether it’s a quick coffee on the way to a lecture or a long lunch during endless free periods, food is an inevitable part of student life. Every fortnight, John A. Navarro dishes up the latest on the eateries on and around the university campus. We’ll start with the obvious: the canteen.

Though students stuck in the middle of a two-hour lecture may be inclined to disagree, time tends to pass quite quickly, at least for an excited first year student. Almost one month in, most  university students have by now settled back into their winter routines, and freshers like me have finally familiarized themselves with the campus well enough to get to lectures without too much trouble. However, besides the halls we all know (and love), a staple of university life definitely has to be the quadrangle and canteen.

Like it or not, students spend a large amount of time there, whether it is to grab a quick bite to eat, pop down to the bookshop for that textbook that never seems to be in stock, or simply to meet up with friends.

A month is more than enough time to get familiar with the fare on offer at the canteen, and after having gradually tasted a selection of it, I can say with confidence that I was pleasantly surprised.

Always one to start off gingerly, the first thing I tasted was a chicken wrap, which was toasted by a polite and helpful lady behind the counter. The wrap was a definite winner as the meat inside was tender, the greens were a far cry from the sad, limp lettuce often found in wraps, and just the right amount of mayonnaise had been added to the mix. The baguettes are just as good, especially since the fillings are generous and the bread satisfactory.

Though I haven’t heard especially great things about the pasta and rice dishes on offer, I cannot say this definitively as I have yet to try any of them. On the other hand, my friends and I are for once unanimously in agreement about the pizza: the mozzarella-laden cheesy crust makes it hard to beat. Recently, after an action-packed day, my famished friends and I headed straight to the canteen during one of our free lectures and bought a whole pizza, which we then shared. The taste was fantastic, and the pizza was so filling that most of us were content with just two slices. I would definitely recommend sharing a whole one as opposed to buying individual slices, since apart from it being better value, it is less likely to have been sitting under the display for a long period of time.

Despite preconceived ideas many have about canteen food (mediocre at best, inedible at worst) I must admit that after a week or two of trying a little of this and a whole lot of that, my opinion has changed somewhat. The university canteen exceeded my expectations as it is well lit and relatively clean and the staff is friendly. For cheap, no-frills food, the university canteen should not be overlooked.

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