Whether you tolerated it, despised it, cribbed about it or even acclaimed it – the mess food, despite the enormous ‘mess’ it was, remained an inevitable part of our hostel life. Watery sambar, rubbery bread loaves, half-burnt dosas, chapatis capable of cracking your teeth were all regulars at the mess hall. Amongst all the hullabaloo over food, the need and love for good food were what bonded the hostel inmates together. Let’s take a look at the different kind of foodies you would find in a hostel.
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The ones who religiously supply weekly veetile bhakshanam
After two days of binging on home cooked food during the weekend, Sunday evenings remain dreaded owing to the thought of returning to hostel and putting up with the bland and tasteless mess food. The only thing that can cheer you up that evening is the thought of those hostellers who get to the hostel with some homemade, delish kappa and meen curry. Soon enough the news would have spread like wildfire in the hostel, and there would arrive a dozen famished tummies screaming “Attaaaack!”. They’d be surrounding the aromatic nosh, ready to wipe and polish off the generous serving in a matter of just minutes.
The midnight foodies
Midnight snacking is what these foodies live for. I mean, pulling an all-nighter at the study hall the day before the exam is taxing, but when they pour some hot water into a mug and toss in some noodle strands into it and wait for the Maggi magic to brew, they know they are in good company. What they love the most is twirling their fork around the noodle and sucking it in with a slurp and saying “Aah, entha taste!”
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The ones who barter food
After a long, boring and tedious day at college, you pop into the mess hall hoping to munch on some puffs or pazhamporis (you wonder which one it is gonna be!). Much to your displeasure, it turns out to be sughiyan. “Aarku venam”, you grumble and mumble to yourself. You offer your sughiyan to that friend who thinks sughiyan is bae, and puffs is meh. She promises to return the favour on the day the mess serves puffs. So much for barter friends!
The complaint-box foodies
These kinds of foodies in a hostel open their mouth only for two things: 1. for eating (zero points for guessing that), 2. for cribbing. Right from the time they arrive at the line queuing up in front of the mess hall counter to the time they wash and stack their plates up on the rack, they’d be incessantly complaining about how unappetising the hostel food is. Ironically, their heaped plates suggest otherwise, and the mountains of rice on their plates are gobbled down in a jiffy, making us wonder if they really mean what they say.
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The ones who remember the canteen/mess hall menu by heart
Trust these foodies in the hostel to remember the list of mess hall items served daily for breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner, even if they forget that they have an exam the next day. When in doubt about skipping mess lunch and gorging on some canteen grub, which is a temporary solace from the messy mess, these foodies will be your go-to connoisseurs in terms of the menu at the mess. For the same reason, these guys are also the first to arrive in the mess on special days when they serve fried rice, chicken curry and ice-cream. Obviously, these foodies get an edge over others as the chicken leg pieces you had been eyeing from the door get plopped straight onto their plate. Sigh, athum poyi!
The advisor foodies
So, these are the foodies who remind you of your aunties back home. They have an issue right from the meagre quantity of food your plate holds to the mounds of food you shove into the bin on regular days. And on special days, when they see you reaching for your second ice cream scoop and gulping it down in one go, they’d be right there to give you a dose of food shaming saying, “Ingane kazhicha oru thadichi aayi marum tto.”
The ones with the essential appliances
There are days when the mess food gets so nightmarish and gag-reflex inducing that you have no choice but to boycott the food and leave the mess hall. When you gotta put up with a strict curfew of not stepping out or ordering food after 7PM, you’d be left with no option other than landing on the doorstep of those foodies who’ve got the perfect antidote to hunger – a mini electric rice cooker. Of course, such appliances were a no-no in the hostel, but what is fun without bending some rules? Everything from rice to hard-boiled eggs would be rustled up in this gem of a cooker, which circulates from room-to-room and plays hard to get.
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The ones who kaiyittu vaaralfy on everyone’s plates
These are the foodies in the hostel who have rented tanks for bellies. I’m not sure how, but these foodies sprint through the entire meal and then kaiyittu vaaralfy from everybody else’s plates. Their plates are ever ready to receive untouched dishes that pass on from every picky eater’s plate. They are also the first ones to say to the fussy dude sitting next to them, “Oh muttayude manja kazhikille? Ingottu ittekku!”
So, tell us, which of these categories do you belong to?