CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — As one of many Harvard students who remained in Cambridge this summer (woot woot, job market!), I soon learned that there are three types of Harvard affiliates on campus during the warmer months: those who eat in Annenberg, those who take their meals in Dudley, and those who make do with neither (generally subsisting on stale bread and a single jar of peanut butter over the course of three months).

Since I managed to finagle my way into a proctor position, I fell into Category 1. And I was not alone: The ‘Berg served a legion of high schoolers, here to get a taste of the Ivy League; international college students, sampling the U.S. collegiate scene; Summer School Program proctors, who relished the opportunity to catch up with their young charges at meals (in addition to every other minute of the day); Activities Office proctors, like myself; Philips Brookes House volunteers, only allowed to partake twice a week; and a smattering of other diners who contributed to the stampede. As we all remember from freshman year, eating in Annenberg is rarely a calming experience. And, I am here to tell you that this summer, it got a heck of a lot less calm.

Dudley Café, on the other hand, was home to a very different scene. Daily, it fed dinner to members of the Harvard College Program for Researching in Science and Engineering (better known as PRISE).

After seven weeks of less-than-excellent ‘Berg fare, and circulating rumors about Dudley House’s stellar dining services, my curiosity got the better of me. I decided to sneak in, and taste it for myself.

Since every real criminal needs an accomplice, I convinced my friend and PRISE participant Kenneth Gotlieb ’10 (also an inactive member of the Crimson IT board) to serve as my right-hand man. He showed little to no hesitation when I informed him of my very dangerous and risky plan.

Together, we infiltrated Dudley House—a complicated process that involved avoiding eye contact with Harvard University Dining Services staff as I paused in front of the unmanned card swiper, and pretended to produce my ID.

Once inside the servery, I was floored. Perfectly-crisped onion rings, lightly steamed vegetables, beer-battered cod. A salad bar showcasing chilled salmon, cherry tomatoes, olives and mushrooms in brine, tabule, baby corn, tortellini, a variety of meats. A dessert section complete with sliced peaches from the can, grapefruit wedges, fresh fruit salad (at dinner!), a humongous tub of Richardson’s chocolate ice cream (which Kenny said was nearly a nightly standard). He added that, for a while, the dining hall boasted strawberry and blueberry smoothies. As he spoke, Kenny was drinking Dudley House coffee—also known as Starbucks Sumatra, Extra Bold (he said it was—extra bold, that is). Apparently the salad dressing is also a crowd pleaser: When I arrived at our table, plate laden, my accomplice lost no time in telling me, “Get your ass back up there and try that raspberry vinaigrette.”

At first, I felt betrayed: This high-quality bounty had been close at hand all along. Instead, I’d been stuck where they served turkey cold cuts—straight from the sandwich bar, but topped with a little garnish—as an entrée.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled and grateful that I spent the summer eating free, relatively healthful food, especially after witnessing members of Category 3 scrounge around for frozen pizza at 7/11. And, considering the University’s current budget crisis, it doesn’t surprise me that the ‘Berg tries its best to economize in June, July, and August. In fact, anything else would be irresponsible. And, according to HUDS spokeswoman Crista Martin, PRISE arranges for its own food, which explains the quality difference. Still, all that being said, I couldn’t help but envy those lucky, soon-to-be scientists and engineers. I suppose the grass is always greener, especially when that grass is covered in strawberry and blueberry smoothies.

Molly M. Strauss ’11, a Crimson associate editorial editor, is a social studies concentrator in Winthrop House. She formally apologies to anyone who caught her mid-Annenberg-rant—it probably wasn’t pretty.



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