Hawkward Thoughts-Week 2

Date: 
Saturday, September 9th, 2017

Global Grounds

 

To anybody who knows me or has ever talked to me in the vicinity of MTCC while the subject is on my mind, it wouldn’t be too surprising to hear me say once again that I am not the biggest fan of the food around here. However, today I will avoid delving too deeply into my standard rant of hyperboles - though it will be difficult for me - in order to offer up some bitter-sweet praise.

Day in and day out, the Global Grounds coffee kiosk in MTCC is consistently decent. It may seem like an odd concept for what would be justifiable as a compliment, but honestly, it’s a mediocre coffee stand and that’s all it needs to be. It’s not flashy, it’s not special, it just is. The prices are a little bit high for some of their standard mixed drinks, but compared to the ridiculous convenience taxes that places like Center Court and 7/11 like to charge, it’s a non-issue. The coffee is always at least lukewarm, the drinks menu concise but practiced, and the counters kept reasonably clean. As well, it’s easy to get to, the line’s rarely too long, and the baristas are quick, attentive, and knowledgeable about their stations. It, in my mind, is the perfect college coffeehouse. It doesn’t beat you down with some straight-out-of-the-90’s poetry or decorum that some greying genius thought would be hip with the kids, it doesn’t have hundreds of kinds of equally noxious herbal teas, and it isn’t just straight up trying to be Starbucks; it just serves their beans. The only things that feel out of place are the smoothies. Yes, they’re good and no, there’s nowhere else to get them on campus, but it is very uncommon to see someone order one. They take twice if not three times as long to make, the station takes up a lot of real estate, and compared to everything else on the board they feel expensive as hell. Luckily, said squeezed fruit is all I really have to winge about. I greatly appreciate the Global Grounds kiosk and its numerously rotated employees for the perfectly tolerable amount of mediocrity that comes standard with everything they do and in everything they serve.

 

What is Gluten Free?

Wm. Stefan Herzing

 

Over the past few years I’ve heard from many of my friends working in the food industry that one of the only things more annoying than constantly having to whip out the soy milk for a triple-whip, lactose-free, fuzzy boots, and pumpkin spice-laced Frappuccino, shaken not stirred, is having to accommodate anybody who is gluten free. Just like asking for "whole grains," "low-fat," "cruelty free," or especially soy milk, using the term “gluten free” just seems to be another one of the fads that’s only mission is to make your local waiter want to tear their hair out. However, I’ve been gluten free for over 16 years now – what a braggart am I - and most of what I can say on the topic is that it’s a double-edged sword at its finest.

Just to get it out of the way, the only reason I’ve been gluten free for so long is because of a genetically inherited autoimmune disease known as Celiac; I didn’t choose to not be able to eat all of the best foods in life. As well for anyone who doesn’t really understand what gluten is, it’s a set of proteins that’s most commonly found in wheat, barely, malt, yeast, and rye. Not in rice or potatoes; for the millionth and last time, not in rice or potatoes.

There are perks to being gluten-free (GF), most of which consist of the idea that while a GF diet is not inherently healthier - though a lot of brands that sell GF options would try to have you believe otherwise - it can help build a wall between yourself and the nearest deep fryer or pizza oven, leading you instead towards healthier options. Otherwise, much like soy milk, which I personally find inconsumable and have never once seen an actual person with lactose intolerance drink, it is at its finest a marketed fad latching onto the "organic lifestyle" trend like a tick drinking up that sweet, sweet hipster money. Later on, I will get into why I both hate and love the GF Lifestyle’s recent popularity, but for the moment I would just like to leave an honest apology to all the baristas and restaurateurs of the world who have to tolerate all the intolerance; your life is hard and I salute you for your patience.

Being Gluten Free

Wm. Stefan Herzing

 

I’ll have you know that being a little kid at a classmate’s birthday party and having to try to explain to them why you couldn’t eat their pizza or birthday cake was not an easy feat; for some reason, they would always seem personally offended. It isn’t any more pleasant getting dragged along to a fancy Italian restaurant and having to order a salad which will inevitably come with croutons in it; there are always croutons. However, my personal favorite is at any fast food joint when the person sitting across the table from you has splurged a little on how long it will be before they’ll get their next heart attack and starts guzzling down that week’s burger special: The Jumbo Deluxe Artery-Clogger Supreme, which comes at a standard weigh-in of around three to four pounds. Hey, those medium unseasoned fries you ordered still look pretty good though.

The Gluten Free diet, unlike a more serious restriction like peanuts, is more annoying than anything. You wouldn’t exactly die if you cheated a little, because holy hell those Portillo’s cake-shakes are tempting, but your stomach and head for the next couple of days would not forgive you. This little balancing act of “I could but shouldn’t” is what makes dealing with Gluten allergies and disorders like Celiac a day-in and day-out pain in the ass.

Nowadays, however, there is a new dichotomy in the GF world: being grateful for all the new options for food that weren’t around ten years ago, or getting thoroughly annoyed when you’re accused of just going along with the fad that’s made all those new choices a reality. I personally feel like an old man on the subject since it’s such a normalized way of life for me, but now every time I get to bite into my own Gluten Free Jumbo Deluxe Artery-Clogger Supreme it is sure to come to my table with a side order or rolled-eyes and mild stigma. If I were to leave any real opinion on the matter, it would be simply this, spoken like a true grumpy old man: leave me alone about what I eat and why I eat it, stop taking my Gluten Free bread that I fought so hard to get from Talons and the Commons, and get the hell off of my lawn.