If there was ever a cafeteria specially engineered to provide for maximum food fight carnage it would have been MoCon. Unfortunately, although I secretly hoped every day that some idiot would throw a cupcake at the wrong person, nothing of the sort happened while I was there. We actually ate the food (most of the time) and my dreams of living a 90’s kid’s show life never came true. =(
But that’s not to say that procuring, eating, and digesting MoCon food weren’t magical experiences of their own. I had many a movie moment standing in the ice cream line bathed by the light of the setting sun and sitting in Fauver bathrooms as I stared aghast at the alien creature inside of me trying to escape.
For those of you who can’t imagine the romantic tension of staring across a table 10 ft in diameter at your crush who is desperately trying to maneuver an overstuffed sandwich, I’ll try to make it easier for you to imagine such a confusing emotion. And for those who are already familiar with the slight unease of reaching for a triangular (whaaaaat) pizza slice when all you knew was square, I hope to jog some of those repressed memories.
Tonight we dine in MoCon!!
Well, actually, before you go in (i.e., click “Read More”) we need to make sure you follow this fine establishment’s single rule…
After having your card swiped by Grandma or Neckbrace Guy (see previous post about the People of MoCon) you turn to the left and enter a TUNNEL OF FOOD. There is an amazing amount and variety of food crammed into this small space and many long lines to choose from. Here is a handy map of the options inside the TOF taken from the perspective of where you first enter looking in:
[This picture was taken at the Really, really free market a few weeks ago and as you can see, MoCon today looks like a dump/post-apocalyptic 70’s nightmare. For now let’s pretend that the place is bustling and all the people you know and love are standing behind the counters.]
The first thing you should do is grab a tray at your right. You’ll deal with drinks later if you aren’t too pissed off by the time you’re done with the food situation. First stop on Food Row is
BREAD AND SOUP
I had pretty much forgotten this existed, but I do remember the goldfish crackers they had in this section. There was also vegan chili that was served for Vegan Chili Month (every month). I’d recommend the goldfish and the surprisingly good bread (never had the soup) for anyone who gets line rage and likes eating stuff that is pretty easily identifiable. I should have gotten the goldfish more often instead of worrying that my food choices wouldn’t make me look mature enough for college. Instead, I got grilled cheese and French fries almost err’day at…
I’ve already sung Dave’s praises in the last installment, so I’ll try to focus on the food here more though it’s really hard to separate a GOD from his creation. It was Dave’s grilled cheese technique that first captivated me that fateful day in September of ’06. My eyes welled with tears at the sight of him gently brushing the bread with liquefied butter as if I were witnessing Michelangelo’s final strokes on the Sistine Chapel. After sizzling for a few minutes on the grill, the golden ticket to happiness was mine. I knew it was kinda clogging up my arteries but that’s how addiction works as I’ve learned from Dr. Drew. There were also hotdogs, hamburgers, and occasional surprises like muffuletta (yeah, I don’t know either). But for me it was always the grilled cheese that could make me mix my metaphors so criminally.
There were also French fries either right next to the grill or as part of it. Either way, grilled cheese and French fries were essential complementary parts of the mature college meal. Just bring Anna Karenina or Monopoly to keep you busy on the long lines.
This section clearly made no lasting impression on me because I can’t really remember it. I’m told that it was the usual penne with marinara type of deal. I guess this is the place to go if you’re not in the mood for uncertainty. I’m sure the pasta was good enough, just not too memorable.
Here you’ll find grammatical harassment along with standard entrée-type foods like rice, chicken, vegetables. If I remember correctly, this section was the biggest gamble in terms of how your bowels would fare. I’m pretty sure the food here would win the award for Way Greasier Than Makes Sense. Still, it was pretty tasty. It was probably in bringing the tasty that the food also brought on the undesirable aftermath that MoCon food was infamous for.
I hope you picked up a piece of bread way back in the beginning because now you can toast it in the toaster oven! Actually I can’t remember if the bagels were with the bread or near the toaster but I do recall the plexiglass box they were in. The plexiglass allows you to see that all of the bagels inside are in flavors you don’t want- like onion, or “everything.” But if you got there early then you got to have your pick and there was a pretty wide variety.
Right next to the toaster were the standard toppings- peanut butter, jelly, butter, margarine. I don’t think I made it up that they had both margarine AND butter. I distinctly remember being confronted with one of the first philosophical challenges of my time in college by having to choose between these two options. I think I ended up going with whichever was easiest to spread, which was… margarine?
More importantly, my year (2010 what what) survived the Great Salmonella Scare of ’07 when it was discovered that some of the peanut butter sold under Peter Pan was contaminated and DEADLY. I don’t think any of us ever got sick, but I’ve read that salmonella symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. I don’t know if we’d have recognized that we had salmonella as opposed to the good ol’ Mokes (more about that in the next installment).
Not good for people whose gag reflex is triggered by the sight of too much meat (HA!). No, but really, I know I wasn’t the only person who dry heaved at the sight of all that meat stuffed between two buns (god, I just thought of the Ray J sextape, what’s wrong with me?). I never got sandwiches myself but my friends always came back to our huge table and made mini mountains of meat pulled from their sandwiches. Ugh, the meat just SAT there for the duration of my meal daring me not to barf.
Besides the meat, the sandwiches seemed to be pretty popular. A sandwich-fiend friend tells me that you could choose between a wrap or bread and white, wheat, or rye. WHAT ABOUT LESS MEAT? If someone ever asks you if you want some mo’ meat always say no. Life lessons from MoCon.
Don’t get excited.
Listen, I have nothing against veganism, but the vegan desserts they served were TERRIBLE. The vegan desserts didn’t make me so much hate vegans but made me wonder if they have ANY tastebuds. (I’ve since learned that vegan desserts can be quite tasty, MoCon just effed up.) Unfortunately most of the cookies, brownies, and other small treats were vegan. They had some non-vegan stuff sometimes but the desserts weren’t always labelled so I had to learn to tell the difference by sight. I never got good at it. It was like deja vu every day when I sat down full of hope and took a bite out of my brownie only to feel a wave of oily disappointment wash over me. Fool me once, shame on MoCon; fool me a hundred times, dammit Aramark, invest in a labelmaker.
Or maybe it was best that the labels stayed exactly as they were. The desserts may not have been good for eating, but they were good for laughs. Whoever was in charge of the labels that did get written out, bless their heart, must have been absent on the day when the class learned how to use apostrophes. That’s how we ended up with labels like
The cookie’s what??
Now we’re talking. This is one area where I can definitively say that MoCon’s version was better than the stuff at Usdan. If for some reason you disagree, then you’re just dumb. I know my ice cream, OK?
It was regular ice cream that you scooped (no soft-serve) and they usually had about 4 tubs I think. They often had the normal flavors, sometimes with a little twist. By far the best flavor was Buck Tracks. It was vanilla ice cream with caramel swirls and mini peanut butter cups (and cookie dough chunks possibly). Oh god it was so good. I would looooooove to get some of that deliciousness again. It was made by some local ice cream producer, so I could potentially find it again. Anybody remember the company name?
The only downside to MoCon ice cream was that trying to scoop it was difficult for anyone not trained in the mining arts. For that reason the lines could get pretty long. It was actually kinda cute how everyone would pass their scoop to the next person with a half apologetic smile. And of course, you smile back because you’re about to get ice cream! The ice cream scoops were kinda gross though. In their downtime they would sit in a mix of water and residual ice cream from every previous scoop. It would start to look like a brown milky cesspool. But anything for Buck Tracks.
You’re now out of the TOF and facing the open space with all the big round tables. To your right, by the windows, is the pizza station.
So apparently they had toppings other than cheese and pepperoni as some commenters have informed me:
Erik– Peanut butter and jelly pizza. And that is all I have to say on that matter.
Hunter ’08– His sweet potato and marshmallow pizza was way tastier than I expected when I asked for it.
Well, Erik and Hunter ’08, I did not have as sophisticated a palate as ya’ll because I went straight for the only two toppings I liked and never ventured out of my pizza comfort zone. Maybe I was missing out, but the pizza I had was soooooo greasy and delicious. You don’t get that level of grease at Usdan. Health, whatever.
You know what else you don’t get at Usdan? SQUARE PIZZA SLICES. Anonymous put it well:
these damn kids don’t know what it is to cut a round pizza into squares.
Word. Actually I don’t what that’s like either ’cause I never cut it myself, but yeah I totally agree with the sentiment. I don’t know why it was cut into squares but it was fun! I remember thinking, “Oh man, I really go to such an alternative school. I am so cool.” The best part of eating square pizza slices was that I felt like I was eating some cool NEW food instead of regular pizza that I was used to. All the joys of pizza with about .6 of the bragging rights of eating weird food. Yessssssss.
A popular rumor my Frosh year was that MoCon had the longest salad bar in the world, or 2nd largest in North America, or the US, or Connecticut. I tried to find the US News & World Report’s Salad Bar Rankings but couldn’t find them to confirm this popular tour guide claim. Nonetheless, it actually was pretty long and had a lot of salad and salad stuff. If you could make it all the way the other end you would find a lot of yogurt and other stuff I didn’t eat. Here’s what one commenter had to say about these offerings:
miss mocon– And I REALLY MISS the section dedicated to yogurt and granola. A BIG vat of yogurt and an equally BIG bowl of granola. Miss that.
If you are a masochist and like stir fry you should make the line here. They also had specials like paella or tortellini. Sounds pretty good, but I was too afraid to get yelled at by the buxom woman. After all, that’s why I left home for college.
Yes, after all that you still haven’t gotten anything to drink. As you can see in the map above, the drinks are to the left as you walk down the TOF. They had the typical stuff- sodas, juices, milk, hot chocolate, coffee. If you wanted to develop a relationship with the person who handed their ice cream scoop to you the easiest way was to wait for them to try to get water and then get in line behind them. This way you could build off of the sparks in the scoop exchange and bond over how painfully slow the water was in coming out. By the time your cup filled up you’d have already begun your MoCon Romance.
I want your scooper, I want your Nalgene/ You and me have a MoCon romance
Just like Usdan, brunch at MoCon was a mix of breakfast foods and whatever they felt like leaving out from the week. The main differences- instead of specials they had waffles and there were eggs, pancakes, and bacon on the grill. And obviously, instead of entrees they had stuff like home fries (or was it tater tots?). Something about brunch at MoCon was really cozy and relaxing and really hard to replicate. Part of it may have been the sunlight that warmed everything inside and the slower pace everything took on the weekend. Good times.
Well, you’ve gotten your food and spent a long time eating it and talking with your hallmates/”friends”, and now it’s time to skip out together arm in arm up the hill to your dorm. Before you leave, though, make sure you get rid of your tray and all your crap at the door. There’s a whole ritual to throwing out the food, emptying out the cups, putting utensils in the right bin, and finally giving your tray to a stick figure. Pissing one of them off is required.
The 3rd and final part to this series will focus on MoCon traditions and other special events. If you have stories or pics (especially pics!) relating to the weirdness of things that happened in the spaceship, please send them in to staff[AT]wesleying[DOT]org with the subject “MoCon Retro” and they’ll be in the next post! [PS thanks to Xue Sun ’08, founding mama of Wesleying, for the pic of the girl who I hope is her friend!]