On Ethnic Food

by Devon Green | 5/13/02 5:00am

To the Editor:

A full-time Dartmouth Dining Services worker recently brought Ryan Tan's May 8 column, "On Ethnic Food (Not Studies)," to my attention. This employee, who has worked hard to develop new and interesting sandwiches was genuinely hurt by the piece. After reading Ryan Tan's complaints about Chinese food on campus, I realized that while his column may have been an attempt at humor, it offended my co-workers and me.

Granted, DDS does not always serve up culinary masterpieces and I often find myself craving some hometown pizza or my grandmother's Eastern European cooking, but I realize that part of going away to college means accepting food that must be mass-produced in order to feed 4,000 people two or three times a day. When these figures are taken into account, it is amazing that potstickers/dumplings are even offered at all, even if they are a little overcooked once in a while.

In fact, I am surprised at the amount of effort DDS puts forth for the students. DDS tries to serve new and interesting dishes instead of the old staples of cheeseburgers and chicken like at most schools. It also puts on really wonderful theme nights complete with ice sculptures, music and terrific food. The employees on these nights do not get paid anything extra to make a tremendous number of desserts or put on wacky costumes in order to serve Dartmouth students. So I was dismayed to see Tan belittle this effort with the sentence, "the next thing you know, there might be a new culture night at Food Court where they serve up the latest poor renditions of Indian curry or Malay satay." As far as I know, there are few colleges with theme nights such as Dartmouth where so much time and effort is put into serving up "poor renditions."

There are 150 DDS full-time employees making Ryan Tan's food, serving his meals and washing his dishes. With a few unamusing sentences Tan managed to undermine a lot of their work -- unfortunately, this is something many of the employees have grown used to.

I believe that all of the hard-working employees at this College should be treated with respect, whether in the lunch line or in the newspaper. As a result, I would like to suggest to Ryan Tan that the next time he takes such a tone, he direct it towards something other than the all-important, and often overlooked, food service employees on this campus.