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Sharples voted as the best restaurant on campus

in Columns/Opinions/Satire by

For the 53rd year, Sharples Dining Hall won the Best Cafeteria Award on Swarthmore’s campus. From food quality to sanitation, Sharples won first place in every category of judgment, easily beating out its competitors, a streak that has not been broken since 1964.

“We are so proud of our achievement,” Sharples staff, Sadie McDelu said. “I think what really sets us apart from our competitors is that we have menus that change on a daily basis, and the student response is usually really good. Our signature pasta bar especially is a signature menu that gives a meal at Sharples its reputation as a world-famous, top-quality dining experience.”

Critics largely attributed Sharples’ high rank to its customers’ loyalty to the restaurant. According to Anton Ego, food critic, after dining three times at Sharples, he noticed a remarkable repetition of the faces he saw at the dining hall. Excluding summer, when students are unable to eat at Sharples due to its closure, the dining hall is always full of people.

“You know a restaurant is good when you see that its customers keep coming back on a regular basis,” Ego said. “This is something that not every restaurant can easily achieved, and I applaud Sharples for being able to do what many restaurant owners only dream of.”

The announcement of the achievement came to no surprise for many students, who were ecstatic about Sharples’ record-breaking achievement.

“Sharples deserves this more than any other dining hall on our campus,” Elisa Nakayama ’19 said. “You don’t know how happy and amazed we are that Sharples has, for five decades, been able to clinch the top spot every single year despite such fierce competition. Once again, Sharples proved that it is second to none on our campus, and there is nobody who can deny that fact.”

In addition to the students, various Swarthmore alumni sent congratulatory messages as well via the alumni newsletter.

“Sharples is a blessing for Swarthmore,” Michael McMickey ’16 said. “During my time there, I loved Sharples so much that I ate all three of my meals there every day. In fact, it was so good that I always cried every time I ate there, even though I’ve been there so many times. I’ve even sharplifted several times and secretly stole food whenever it was so good. If there is one thing I really miss about Swarthmore, it is Sharples, especially its amazing pasta bar.”

In addition to its popularity, critics also cited Sharples’ gracious dining coupons for its customers. Named OneCard, in reference to the coupons’ reputation for always holding the top spot in its category, the system has been very customer friendly, even allowing for an option for customers to eat unlimited amount of times in the hall, if they wish to do so.

“Thanks to the unlimited meal plan, I can have Sharples whenever I want, however many times I want,” Nakayama said. “We didn’t have that last year and I was always so sad, because I would always be forced to eat at places like Bamboo Bistro to save up my meals. Bamboo is nothing compared to Sharples, and now that I am on the unlimited plan, I can have Sharples all day, every day!”

In the meantime, Sharples has once again been nominated for the Best Cafeteria award for 2018.

The Freshman Fifteen

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

It was a college reality, as ubiquitous as sexile, your first all-nighter, or the inevitable awkward encounter with your Screw date. And yet, as I entered Sharples, it was the only one that was real for me.

In the previous six months, I had lost over 20 pounds. My legs were sore from  hunching over the toilet in the only single-stall bathroom at work, watching bile and tears form swirling eddies that brought a strange sense of satisfaction and control to a girl who felt like everything was falling apart. I had refused rides home in favor of hours spent walking up and down and up and down grocery store aisles, examining labels on foods I had forbidden myself from eating and feeling a quiet power and also no power at all as the calories per serving marked double, triple what I was eating. My food log became my Bible. I watched meals diminish – from two eggs, to one egg, to an egg white, to a cup of coffee and a stick of gum (10 calories, if you buy Sugar-Free Extra and drink your coffee black). I had reveled in cold showers, because shivering burns more calories, and watched with mild fascination as my hair began to fall out and my image in the mirror began to distort. I had passed out in the middle of the work day.

In recovery, they tell you to give your eating disorder a name, an identity, to give the voices in your head a will of their own and separate them from the thoughts that are authentically yours. You sit through group therapy and individual therapy and art therapy and you sit at group meals and drink PediaSure if you can’t finish everything on your plate and you document your meals and watch a number of calories on the left side of the low end of the recommended range that to you seems astronomically, earth-shatteringly large enter your body and you talk about Ed. Ed, the voice inside your head that directs you to order salad, dressing on the side and sneers as you step off the treadmill. You quickly learn that he is much more difficult to quell than your hunger.

Through months of treatment, I learned to make his voice much, much softer. I learned that the signals of my body are more powerful and more important than the twisted, perverted dictator in my head. I learned that Ed is strong, but I am stronger.

But I also learned that Ed never really goes away. During my years in support group I watched women recover, finally having quelled Ed’s manipulative prohibitions, go off to college ready to kick ass and take names … and return, a few months later, having relapsed again.

As I stood in Sharples on that first day, I felt Ed stirring. I eyed pasta bar and limitless cereal and ice cream at every meal, and so did he. After years of meals regimented first by me and Ed and weight loss, and then by nutritionists and therapists and weight gain, I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it.

So I should just have a salad, dressing on the side…right?

Recovery is always described as a journey. Most of the time, it feels like a battle. Ed is still here. Sometimes he is a whisper; sometimes, he is almost screaming. As the stress mounts (and, along with it, the stress eating), he becomes harder and harder to tune out. My relationship with food is still distorted. The difference is that now I recognize the warning signs. I know that Ed is not my friend — that his voice is not my voice. My first semester at Swarthmore has not been marked by a battle with the Freshman Fifteen, but by my battle with Ed.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, you are not alone. 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States will develop an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. Eating disorders are not about weight loss: they are intrinsically linked to control, perfection, and mental health. They are most likely to arise, or reemerge, in environments of stress, confusion, and intensity; the longer you wait, the harder it is to stop. If you feel yourself going down this path, I urge you to reach out. Make an appointment at CAPS, or find someone else you trust to talk to. The National Eating Disorder Association (www.nationaleatingdisorders.org) has 24/7 hotlines and additional information on treatment and recovery. Recovery is not easy, but it is possible. This month, during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, marks one year since I left intensive treatment, since I recovered. I am grateful every day to wake up in a community as supportive as Swarthmore, and to know that even when Ed’s voice feels louder than my own, I am supported and I am not alone. I am far from perfect, but I am healthy, and I am here.

Philly Beat: treat yo self edition

in Campus Journal/Philly Beat by

Hello friends, spring break is coming up. It’s so crazy to me how simultaneously fast and slow time passes here. Another few weeks, another spring break, another few weeks, another Worthstock, another finals period, another graduating class, and the cycle repeats itself (give or take a few bitterly cold months).

Excuse my half-hearted, semi-bitter sentimentality — spring break is EXCITING because it means the SUN is coming back. If you know me, you know that the return to constant sunshine is the pinnacle of my year. It’s time to treat yourself — believe me you deserve it. This is perhaps geared more towards those staying on campus, but there are some things in here you can indulge in from afar, or later on after you return.

  1. COLOURPOP.com (or Colorpop, honestly don’t even start) – For all you lipstick lovers, colourpop is discontinuing some of their products and so they are selling at reduced prices right now for $4. Just go (but also hurry because they’re selling out.)
  2. On 212 Arch street in the Old City, there is a little pink stand alone bakery called Tartes. It’s cute, ~aesthetically pleasing for the ‘gram~, and has the best key lime pie I have ever tasted. Honestly treat yourself to this one, it’s a good find.
  3. I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO – Please please please take yourself, take your family, take your friends, your partners and go watch this. It is so incredibly VITAL whether you’re familiar with James Baldwin or a generally decent person. There is no shortage of conversations to be had on the subjects that plague our society.
  4. The Faimount Park Horticultural Center – I could spend all day in here. Humble, open space, calming greenery, all the dappled sunlight and none of the cold. There are benches for you to sit on, and you can read, take pictures, or walk around. I find it very soul-soothing. I’ve also decided I could/probably should, live in a greenhouse.
  5. Take a day trip to Baltimore! A $15 bus will get you there. I love this city, it reminds me of Atlanta in so many ways. For those of you who don’t know me, my dad is half American and from there, so I visit often. Go to Maryland Institute of the Arts (MICA) campus and walk around. The art and architecture, bookstores, and the abandoned railway station are beautiful. There is also a place I discovered called R House. It’s an “industrial-chic” food court in an old warehouse and is run by 10 chefs who are looking to start restaurants. The space is for them to try their hand at it and, honestly, it’s so incredible. There’s Korean food, Arepas, Poke, smoothies, vegetarian and vegan options and desserts. I’m still dreaming about it.
  6. Back to Philly now: Menagerie Coffee — is a hip little place on 18 S 3rd St, also in the Old City. The tea is good; the vibes are better. The front of the shop has communal tables against a red brick wall, which are ideal for doing work. The last time I was in there, they were playing Solange’s album and it was warm and quiet. Get off campus, even if you feel drowned in work. You definitely don’t have to stay on campus to get it done.
  7. Take a trip to the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philly. I haven’t personally been here yet but it’s the top of my list, and I’ve been dying to go. Admissions is by donation and there are tours every 45 minutes (I believe). The gift store also has beautiful prints, many of which decorate my walls.

So friends, that is all I have for you today before we head into our well-deserved spring break. I hope your weekend is restful and next week passes fast. Happy spring (and maybe a passive aggressive reminder that global warming is not a myth).

Deliciously Yours, Just Bring OneCard

in Campus Journal by

Over last semester, eating in the Ville for my reviews has become one of my favorite things to do. As a self-proclaimed homebody, I’m far more likely to go to Sharples for its convenience and comfort than I am to venture out to try a new restaurant in the Ville. Every other week, I have discovered something new in the town of Swarthmore that has enhanced my experience as a first-year student. On my trip to Occasionally Yours, I considered that this meal was likely to be the last one I ate in the Ville with the purpose of writing a Phoenix review. The stakes were high for the restaurant, and I was yet to be disappointed by a meal in the Ville.

The restaurant is bright, and the natural light let in by the large storefront window is enhanced by the white furniture inside. The walls are painted a similar bright white on the bottom two-thirds, but a shelf serves as a bold transition to deep-green. As I sat in Occasionally Yours and looked around the room, I felt as if I was not in a restaurant, but rather having meal in someone’s home. The deep hue of the top portion creates the same cozy vibe as the living room in my grandparent’s home, and the items sitting on the shelf made me feel as if I had been transported back to a childhood memory. The family photos displayed next to vintage-appearing appliances created a warm ambiance found at the intersection of an old farmhouse and modern design. The home-ish atmosphere was amplified by the ease at which patrons held conversations across the small dining room, which holds two rows of tables on the sides of the restaurant that were too close together. Despite the annoyance of bumping into the tables while getting in and out of my seat, I appreciated the cozy atmosphere that the furniture arrangement provided. A basket of children’s books in the window indicated that children were welcome in the restaurant, and seeing my sister’s favorite titles reminded me of home. Casual yet classic, crowded and comfortable, the contradictions in Occasionally Yours provide an ambiance that is inviting as well as informal.

Food is at the core of any dining experience, and Occasionally Yours delivers on the unwritten but universal promise to serve a good meal that is at the nexus of the food service industry. Its menu features both basic staples as well as certain adventurous specials, from grilled cheese to meatloaf to lasagna, many will find that Occasionally Yours has their favorite meal from growing up, but that it takes few culinary risks as well. The Carolina pulled pork sandwich, a popular special, was a pleasant surprise. My expectations for barbeque decrease as the latitude increases, but the sandwich was warm and tender. Sweet flavors permeated the meat as I had my preconceived notions of northern pulled pork gently shattered. The French bun that enveloped the pork was crispy on the outside but was fluffy and soft on the inside, adding additional textures that made the sandwich a multidimensional dish. I had potato salad on the side, but its cool flavors and tangy undertones turned it into a main event. Celery intermingled with the soft chunks of potato and provided a much needed crunch. The potato salad was a perfect companion to the pulled pork as its savory flavors complimented the sandwich but its cool temperature and flavor notes made it a unique part of the meal.  

To complete my meal, I drank lemonade and had a pastry for dessert. The lemonade was sweet and light, but was almost underwhelming. The close border between refreshing and boring was just enough to remind me of summer, but the flavors were not powerful enough to make me yearn to have hot weather again. A strawberry crumb bar was the last part of the meal, and the soft doughy bottom overpowered the strawberry that peeked its way out from under the crumb top. The dessert had good flavors that were overpowered by an amount of bar that was not balanced by a fair proportion of strawberry and crumb. The meal served at Occasionally Yours was well made, and delivered on my expectation of a hearty meal.

The experience provided by Occasionally Yours is slightly cramped but is welcoming and a good place to take friends to get comfort food at the end of a long week. Their meals are tasty, and the individual dishes provide a range of flavors that are both appetizing and interesting. Just a short walk past the train station, the restaurant is an inviting way to add more variety into one’s dining choices while staying in one’s culinary comfort zone. Occasionally Yours has good food and a comfortable atmosphere and is a great spot to get a meal, but is the restaurant version of your childhood bedroom: you would be missing out if you stayed there your whole life and never branched out, but it’s really good to go back occasionally.

Walnut Hill and Knafeh are good for your soul

in Campus Journal/Philly Beat/Uncategorized by

This past weekend we took a train ride down to 49th street and made our way to this little treasure I discovered with my roommate my freshman year. It’s an Ethiopian restaurant called Abyssinia that is warm, unassuming, and depending on what time you go, is either calming and quiet, or packed and alive with groups of people anywhere from 2 to 10. This is the kind of food that is meant for sharing. It’s also an incredible amount of food for an extremely reasonable price; I have never been there with anyone who has left still hungry. This is not a restaurant review (although I guess it kind of is), but the point I want to make is that this is one of many beautiful little places in Philly that you can escape to. Take your friends, leave your work, don’t think about this place. You are more than a student and you DO deserve a break and you DEFINITELY deserve good food (but no shade because let’s be real, Donnie is the only reason most of us come to school).  After leaving the restaurant, we took a walk around the corner and realized that there is a multitude of Ethiopian restaurants all clustered in that area; so if Abyssinia doesn’t do it for you – you have options.

Dusk is one of my favourite times to walk around a city. Things start to quiet down and come alive at the same time, the energy shifts and the light changes, and if I’m surrounded by good people, I always settle myself into nostalgic contentedness. We walked in and out of thrift stores boasting old board games and fake corn and what appeared to be a plastic jar of honey filled with dirt and rocks(?).

At home (the U.A.E.), large dinners are typically followed by sitting around and drinking Moroccan tea, smoking shisha and eating Arabic sweets. As we wandered the streets I started to feel homesick for familiarity and we walked into another wonderful place called Manakeesh Café Bakery. We ordered two pots of Moroccan tea and a plate of Knafeh (if you haven’t had Knafeh you’re not living, I can honestly devour BOXES of it). We sat at a little round table under string lights and ate, talked and poured tea and it felt good; we didn’t want to leave. So here’s my little plug again – there a
re so many magical, obscure, low key things to do in Philly and I love sharing them with you, and you deserve to take time off and experience them. Don’t let school take over your life. Fall break is so close friends! You survived half a semester! Celebrate it – that’s a lot, and you are resilient.

 

Finding authentic food and community in Philadelphia

in Campus Journal/Philly Beat by

 

Swarthmore is home to students from a diverse range of backgrounds extending far beyond the swat bubble. Swarthmore is an incredible community to be apart of, but often we miss the ones we come from, whether that community is an old high school, religious, cultural or interest based community. Often we also tend to forget that in our own vicinity, there are endless places to go that can make us feel completely at home. After growing up in a multicultural household and a cosmopolitan city, not only do I miss the comfort of my own communities but also experiencing others and discovering the similarities. In my own household, everything was done over food; meeting new people, having family discussions, socializing, and family bonding often entailed us cooking together and trying out a new recipe. I guess this appreciation for gastronomy has followed me throughout college, whether I use cuisine as a way to find comfort in a familiar community or to explore a new one.

Aloosh, Abyssinia and Amada are three restaurants I visited recently that offer an authentic and local dining experience. Aloosh is a Middle Eastern restaurant and hookah lounge in the heart of University City that attracts a mixed crowd, including university students along with Middle Eastern natives. As you walk into Aloosh, the décor is incredibly authentic to the region. The interior is decorated with different shades of red, brown and gold with lanterns all over, along with mirrors on the walls in varied geometric shapes. There is an open seating plan that includes a cushioned seating area extending around the perimeter of the lounge, something very common to the Middle East. Walking into Aloosh definitely makes me feel like I am at home in Dubai for an evening. The smell of a standard grape-mint shisha (hookah) in the restaurant, the music choices, and the food specifically their shawarma has been my own microcosm of Dubai in Philadelphia. On weekends, there is a belly-dancer who even interacts with the customers by pulling them up to dance to traditional Arabic music — her bustier may even display the tips she has received that night. Aloosh has a special where you can order four appetizers for twenty dollars, along with an entire menu of a la carte Pan-Arab and American food.

Abyssinia was my first experience with Ethiopian food, and I absolutely loved it. The restaurant is budget friendly and authentic with delicious food. I had never eaten Ethiopian food and was relatively stuck on what to order, so I asked the waiter to recommend the most popular dishes and went from there. I enjoyed the Injera, beef tibs and the meat combination platter. Their menu also has a separate section of vegetarian and vegan dishes – I tried the Ye’Misir Wot, which is split lentils in berbere sauce, simmered in basil, fresh crushed garlic, onions, and herb spices. As someone who does not particularly like vegetables, I surprisingly enjoyed it!

Classy yet cozy, Amada is an incredible Spanish tapas restaurant that also partakes in restaurant week. The restaurant has an incredibly fun and Hispanic atmosphere. There is a wall that is lined with lanterns along with seating that has pebbles under the tables. Since Amada is tapas style, the restaurant week menu allows you to order two appetizers, two entrees and one dessert. It can often be hard to find a place for restaurant week that is vegetarian friendly; I visited Amada with three vegetarian friends who had absolutely no problem with variety or choice, and who thoroughly enjoyed their meal. At Amada, you can order tapas as you go, and your food is served a few plates at a time, instead of making you decide absolutely everything you want at the start of the meal. Amada is famous for its tinto sangria, and I personally enjoyed the grilled scallops, lamb and shrimp. Their menu features charcuterie with the most amazing cheeses, meats and spreads. Overall, the service is fantastic and the waiters are more than willing to give you recommendations, especially in regard to dietary restrictions.

 

Whether it is the Middle Eastern feel of Aloosh, the authentic Ethiopian cuisine of Abyssinia or the vibrant Spanish atmosphere of Amada, Philadelphia offers incredible dining experiences that extend far beyond what the Swat bubble is able to provide. Take the time to go explore something new this weekend!

 

Baseball Teams Bolster Their Menus, Not Lineups

in Columns by
burger
The Burgerizza, Atlanta’s new menu addition

It’s finally springtime, which means all the baseball-minded people of the world rejoice in the ending of the cold, indoor sport-oriented months of winter. Baseball has officially awakened from its yearly hibernation. High school and college teams across the country are halfway through their seasons, and baseball at the professional level has just begun.

Baseball makes springtime that much more beautiful. It adds culture and excitement to the warm, sunny days of the year when plants and trees re-bloom after the harsh winter. Seeing the flowers in the ground blossom and the trees fill with leaves are pleasant sights. Some regard spring as the artistic work of God, while others regard spring as the earth’s gift to humans. I personally have seen some pretty impressive and mesmerizing works of nature during the springtime in my life. Baseball season is one of them. There are many aspects of baseball that parallel the grandiose and magnificent art that is nature during the spring. Perhaps the most prominent aspect of the game must be the stadiums where the games themselves are played.

Baseball stadiums are some of the most overlooked pieces of art in America. There’s something indescribably special about the crisp air on a gorgeous day, the roar of 50,000 fans cheering their hearts out, the sound of the bat hitting the ball, and the smell of heart-clogging food that can only be found in a baseball stadium. Overall, going to a baseball game can be a positive experience for anyone.

This year, Major League organizations wanted to kick it up a notch and make visiting their work of art an even greater experience. Ball clubs all around the country bolstered their ballpark menus by adding some of the most delicious, yet unhealthy items the mind can conceive.

The most intriguing item is easily the Sweet Potato Waffle Chicken Sandwich. This sandwich, a grilled chicken breast with greek yogurt wrapped in a thick, fluffy sweet potato waffle, can only be found at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. It’s definitely worth a try for everyone.

The award for the unhealthiest ballpark addition goes to none other than the Champions Alley Hot Dog, unique to Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. This deep-fried, foot-long hot dog has been tightly wrapped in bacon and sinfully battered in tempura, all while drowned in coleslaw and ketchup. In case that didn’t take 10 years off your life, it’s also served on a salty pretzel bun.

The most creative work of culinary art that can be found in a major league park is the Hill Meatball Cone.  A native of Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, this dish is exactly what it sounds like. Here, Italian bread is carefully crafted to take the shape of an ice cream cone, and is then stuffed with Italian sauce, parmesan, and hearty meatballs.

The best American dish, and my personal favorite, that can be found at a ballpark is the Burgerizza. This combination of a burger and pizza can be devoured only at Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves. The Burgerizza is a scrumptious burger that goes beyond the basics. Stuffed between two eight-inch pepperoni pizzas is not only a 20-ounce patty, but sizzling bacon and cheddar cheese as well. Athletes should probably refrain from consuming this monster.

Although one would think baseball teams focus solely on bolstering their lineup card, many teams this year showed the work they put into bolstering their menus.  Even though it may seem like this change is minuscule to the game, these additions make enjoying the atmosphere of a baseball game and appreciating the artwork of a baseball stadium that much more amazing. The new entrees have not only broken the stereotype that baseball fans can only be found with a hot dog, nachos, and cracker jacks, but have added a creative twist that helps make springtime beautiful.

Celebrating the cuisine of Philly women

in Campus Journal/Philly Beat by

As most of you know by now, my favorite thing to do is restaurant hop and exploring different cuisines, and today we are going to celebrate two women who are both business and life partners and have significantly contributed to Philadelphia’s restaurant scene: Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran. 

These women are responsible for some of Philly’s most eclectic restaurants including spots like Barbuzzo, Little Nonna’s and Lolita. Although slightly on the pricier side, all three of these restaurants will allow for a gastronomical experience that will showcase the intricate flavors mastered by Turney. Safran handles front-of-house, and Turney masterminds their menus. These two have helped transform their once isolated neighborhood into one that is vibrant and chic.

 

Barbuzzo:

Barbuzzo is a Mediterranean kitchen and bar, and definitely one of my favorite restaurants in Philadelphia. The restaurant is relatively small, but has a great ambiance, and is not overcrowded. You can choose to sit on a table or at the kitchen bar where you can see the chef prepare your meal. I would highly recommend the pan seared gnocchi and the and the sheep’s milk ricotta, which I’ve ordered twice now and is one of my favorite dishes.The food is well paired, as the ricotta is served with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and crispy bread, which go well with the creamy and rich cheese. Barbuzzo is also known for its famous Budino dessert that is tasty but incredibly rich. I do not have an incredible sweet tooth, but for dessert-lovers, it is a fantastic option.

Little Nonna’s

To eat at Little Nonna’s, you must make a reservation ahead of time otherwise you may get a shared table, or get turned away entirely. They have a decent lunch tasting menu – 3 items (appetizer, entree, and dessert) for $20 – essentially a restaurant week special all year long. The restaurant is cozy and charming, with rustic ornaments and European teacups as decorations. It’s perfect for a romantic dinner or intimate meal with close friends. Like at Barbuzzo, sitting at the counter allows you to watch the chefs perform their magic. Everything looks delicious and it is tempting to order much more than you can actually eat. Again, the pan seared gnocchi is a huge hit, along with the stracciatella, meatballs and lasagna.

Lolita

This restaurant is number one on my bucket list for places to eat in Philadelphia. Delicious dishes inspired by Mexican street food paired with reasonably priced drinks, though in a tight space seated very close to other people. The cucumber jalapeno margarita is a huge hit, and for dessert the Tres leches cake seems to be a good option. I have walked past Lolita a number of times, and forever seems full but with a great vibe. The location is prime and their menu seems ideal: varied yet not too large so that you are lost with what to order. It seems like the chefs dip, tostadas and tacos are quite popular dishes, but the whole menu is so appealing that I feel like whatever you are in the mood for should be a good option.

 

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