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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Dining Hall Debate

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Burton: the choice is yours


If the amount of research on a given topic reflects how much our society cares about it, then what we eat really matters. When we eat would also be pretty important, though not nearly as much. But where we eat? You’d think it doesn’t matter at all. As a matter of fact, it does.

They say home is where the heart is. Well my heart is where my stomach is. And about 20 times a week, both are in Burton Dining Hall. Why would I go anywhere else? As a resident of Burton – one of nearly 200 – there is no greater feeling of relief than that of waking up to torrential rain or a severe blizzard and realizing that breakfast is just downstairs. So is lunch and dinner.

Even for the wonderful folks of Musser, and there are well over 100, Burton is just a few quick steps away, thanks to its location in the Complex. And speaking of the Complex, Davis and Sevy are home to another 150 Carls who have easy access to Burton. Even if you live on the other side of campus, Burton is accessible and probably, at times, your best option. What’s worse that having a 4a in Laird, Leighton, or even the Weitz, followed by a 5a? All of that without the option of a quick Burton lunch to get you through three solid hours of class. Trust me, I’ve been eating a 15-minute lunch and running to my English class for nine weeks now.

Every Burton fan must acknowledge that it’s not a perfect dining hall. Weekend brunch doesn’t open until 11:30, and weekday lunch closes at 1:30. Burton also doesn’t have Chopsticks and Woks, which can be a nice change of pace every so often. However, Burton’s dinner hours make far more sense than LDC’s. I understand wanting to eat at 4:45 pm (I always want to eat – why should 4:45 pm be any different?), but if I did, I’d be ready for second dinner before I started my homework.

Burton also features two kinds of dining experiences: the more intimate Burton side and the more dynamic Sevy side. Take your pick! You can even enter from the more convenient location. Don’t try to enter through the back door of LDC: you will get sent back. Finally, and most importantly, dining hall sources tell me that Burton Dining Hall simply has the best food. The research tells us that food matters. There’s a documentary film titled “Food Matters.” Even Mark Bittman’s book is called Food Matters. Could it be any clearer? Why would we settle for less than the very best?

The choice is yours, but the decision is clear. As the title of a 2008 cookbook tells us, “You are where you eat.” (The book is available on Amazon, but it’s $35 and seemingly has nothing to do with where we eat.) As for me, I’m going to eat where I can do so without a tray. Hey LDC, let me know when you’re ready.

LDC: a place to meditate


Before I get too deep into my explanation of why LDC is the superior dining hall on campus, I must preface it by saying that I enjoy eating at Burton too. I’ve experienced my fair share of meals in Burton, and I can’t deny that they have been enjoyable, quality meals. That’s the magic of Bon Appetite; the food is consistent no matter if you’re eating it in LDC, Burton, a tent on the Bald Spot, or from a compostable coffee cup in which you snuck out cinnamon sugar cereal.

Yet I hesitate to say Burton and LDC are equal. First, there is the issue that Burton is located in the basement of, well, Burton. Every time I walk up to Burton to enjoy a meal, my heart races a little bit. I feel as though I’m walking in to my neighbor’s house uninvited and helping myself to the food they labored to make all day. Burton is the turf of the Burton inhabitants—can I eat there if I’m not from the West side of campus? I mean, I know I theoretically can, but can I really? Won’t they just take one look at me and scoff, knowing I have no rightful claim to eat in Burton? I envy that the Burtonites could theoretically walk downstairs in their pajamas and eat breakfast, then walk back upstairs and proceed to take a three-hour nap or shower and start their day. If I want to eat at Burton, it has to be intentional and planned into my day, an epic journey for food, if you will.

The LDC, on the other hand, plays no favorites as to who can eat in their lovely, welcoming space. Connected to no dorm, the LDC is affiliated with the Language offices and classrooms on campus. The Tuesday and Thursday language lunch tables offer a chance for students to practice their foreign language speaking skills and connect with other students in their language departments while grabbing a bite to eat.

But the lack of connection to any one dorm is not the only thing that makes the LDC a welcoming dining hall. When you walk in, you are greeted by three nice sights: the chalkboard wall that informs you in an artistic, colorful manner about upcoming events on campus; the many cubbies to house your backpack or scooter; and, on most mornings and lunch times, Frenchy. A staple of the LDC dining hall experience, Frenchy is a kind, warm presence that will graciously scan your One Card and let you in to enjoy your much deserved breakfast or lunch with a simple “Enjoy your meal.” And, if you’re lucky enough to run into him in downtown Northfield and you need to snap a selfie with him, he’ll gladly oblige you. I speak from experience.

The quality of people at LDC doesn’t stop there. The student workers are people you know and love, as are the student workers in the LDC, but I have to say that the LDC workers have slightly brighter spirits during their shift. I have to attribute this to the fact that the LDC workers can actually see the sun during their work times. I have some serious reservations about eating in Burton because of the lack of windows. I feel as though I’m in a strange bunker that is preparing for the end of times when I eat on the Sevy side, and the heavy, clustered chairs with the Carleton insignia imprinted on the back of each chair on the Burton side just make me feel like I should have my life together more than I do in order to sit in those chairs graced by our college’s insignia.

Sometimes you just need to sit in a nondescript chair and eat raspberry yogurt at a bar stool while looking out over Lyman lakes and contemplating how you’re going to survive the next four hours. That option is really only available in the LDC. If you want to sit alone in Burton, you can, but what’s there to stare at? That random painting of the man with the clipboard on Sevy side whose name and existence has never been explained to me? Sorry, no thank you. I mean, you could stare at the cute West campus people, but their faces are more likely to derail your train of thought as you try to ponder life than help you actually focus on coming up with a mental life plan as you eat waffles and peanut butter for dinner.

Furthermore, the LDC is laid out in such a way that everything’s right where you want it. I like to think of the LDC as a wondrous circle of food. Yes, it can be a little crowded during common time lunch, but bumping shoulders with fellow students as you try to get cucumbers from the salad bar is just a reminder that you’re not alone in this thing we call the college experience; everyone else is hungry and busy, too.

So, the next time you need to grab a meal with friends, come on over to the LDC. There is a plethora of good food, and the atmosphere is conducive to much-needed lighthearted conversations to give your mind a break from studying. There’s a place for everyone at the LDC, whether you want to eat in solitude and soak in the beauty of nature or chat with a group of friends at the main tables.



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