Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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We regularly have lunch at the university restaurant. Going there is a good way to meet your friends from other departments. And it gives you lunch for little money. Naturally the food you get there isn’t top notch. But it’s mostly edible and certainly much better than in other universities (like Heidelberg, say, which everybody seems to have a rather bad opinion of).

Sometimes things get out of hand, though. Whether they have an intern creating the menu or they just want to punish us is unknown. But managing to serve six different meals none of which sounds reasonable is just a bad day. Like today. Everybody was annoyed by the choices we got. And with me usually being more annoyed than others – ‘because I can’ – I was annoyed because things were ridiculous as well.

Like the offering of vegetarian pasta with bolognese sauce. So what exactly is the point of the ‘bolognese’ without the meat? How is it different from just noodles with red sauce? Then there was the fried chicken breast with a pepper and cranberry sauce, potato wedges and beetroot salad. Sounds fancy at the beginning, but think industrial style sauces and no discernible traces of cranberry, keep in mind that I hate potatoes and ask yourself who wants to eat beetroot salad. With a creamy sauce!

But creativity didn’t end there. They also had meatballs with sauce Hollandaise and Bratkartoffeln. Yikes – sauce Hollandaise is definitely on the disgusting side when its industrially made (and I just consider the whole concept to be somewhat questionable anyway) – so that’ll be all greasy. To top things off they offered a pork fillet covered with cheese and egg, joined by tomato sauce, spaghetti and salad. Which just sounds to difficult to turn out nice in this scale of food preparation.

But tomorrow will be better… there will be Milchreis (pudding rice) on offer. Good for my sweet teeth.

Another thing that’s quite funny about industrial food preparation are the names that go with it. At least it’s quite funny in German. There seem to be all sorts of laws (possibly EU laws) defining what exactly things like ‘juice’ are. The determine how little fruit you need to put into a drink to call it fruit juice and so on. But what about drinks that don’t match the standard defined by those rules? Well, we need new words for them. And German being German means that we need new long words for them.

As far as I can tell, one of terms for liquids which aren’t quite fruit juice but try is Fruchtsaftgetränk, i.e. a ‘fruit juice drink’. I assume that to the legal mind the word indicates that it’s only a generic ‘drink’ which just happens to taste like fruit juice while to the customer it suggests it actually is fruit juice.

Such terms, of course, render you rather sceptical vis-à-vis similar unnecessarily complicated terms. Whenever I see such terms, I tend to assume that the product carrying the name doesn’t match some quality standard and thus had to find a different name. I was reminded of that in the university restaurant recently, when they had Bohnengemüse as a side dish. You’d translate that word as bean vegetables. So what the hell should be the difference between bean vegetables and plain old beans? I have no idea. And perhaps I don’t really want to know…

March 22, 2006, 0:27

Tagged as food.

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