austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Our hamburger steaks are a riot

Along the meandering and apparently directionless journey through the middle of Pennsylvania we were brought into State College, home of Penn State. This was modestly exciting: if I'm not mistaken Penn State is one of the many colleges and universities which have decided they don't need me to work for them. My father suggested that I could drop in the mathematics department and give them my resume, apparently unaware that I'd probably already sent them one and they didn't want it, and that I didn't have any copies printed out, and that they might not have much of an office presence in early afternoon the day before a midsummer holiday. Maybe he was joking.

Our assumption, though, was that there'd be somewhere to eat on or around campus. While this is reasonable the problem is that the Penn State campus is enormous and seems to consist mostly of the stadium and supporting buildings. Presumably there's a town surrounding it, but we weren't able to escape the cytoplasm of campus guarding the stadium. Eventually we found a campus building with a glass overhang and tables set up outside in the rain, which we assumed to be evidence of a restaurant of some class.

And it was: a small, oddly designed cafeteria for which to enter we had to take magnetic swipe cards. At each station we had to turn over the card to the cafe staff for swiping, except when they forgot because it turns out there was a conference in the building and people from that had prepaid, and it wasn't obvious whether we were with them or not. The several food lines were helpfully arranged in a pattern like a sloppily unfolded lawn chair's profile, so that people couldn't attempt to move without intersecting other lines. Oh, you don't pay at the end of the food lines either, but on the way out instead by going back in to the soda machine and paying there. Plus there's a pizza nook hidden behind the corner on the far side. The food was good, but actually getting it was a mess.

On the way out we noticed the building was for the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management (and something else I forget now). Apparently, we were there the first week of people doing their summer make-up courses.

Trivia: The first confectioners in Edinburgh, Scotland, are listed in the city records of 1503, as ``sukkermen''. Source: Sweets: A History of Temptation, Tim Richardson.

Currently Reading: The House That Roone Built: The Inside Story of ABC News, Marc Gunther.


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