East Lansing, Michigan

Hello dear readers,

I am writing to you live from the metropolis of East Lansing, which is the home of Michigan State University. I’m here at a conference – an awesome one, where people talk about food all day. It’s amazing.

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I wasn’t sure if I’d have time to write anything whilst I was here, but I’ve found a minute. Food wise, things have been interesting so far. It seems I am really bad at eating whilst travelling – I’m better once I’ve gotten to my destination so my eating experience in the US started at Atlanta airport (which was spectacularly efficient). I got all excited about the different M&M flavours they have – almond, pretzel, peanut butter (small dance). I bought the pretzel ones. I’m not convinced. I also bought crisps. I did actually have enough time to seek out proper food but I just didn’t feel like eating.

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My first night in Chicago wasn’t much better – we were delayed in Atlanta on the runway for 2 hours whilst we waited for a storm to pass so by the time I got to my hotel I was anxious to get showered and go walking. It got to half 9 and I suddenly realised I hadn’t eaten and was totally in need of sleep so I found this tea place that served chickpea salad and had that with this weird chocolate mint drink that they made with white tea. It was odd but addictive all at once.

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The next morning I got an early Amtrak train over to Michigan. I didn’t have time to eat or get coffee before  getting on the train so I ate on board. Everything was pre-packaged and the coffee was almost undrinkable but I persevered with a bagel and cream cheese. It’s one of the few photos I’ve taken of food on this trip.

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The conference food has been pretty good – it is a food conference after all and MSU are very into using local. There’s lots of fruit and bagels and yogurts for breakfast and we had really good chargrilled chicken at lunch. But my highlight so far was dinner this evening. I’m staying in a residence hall and they have a central dining hall which, in term time, serves 2400 students a day. I went up this evening for dinner and for $10 you can have as much as you want. There’s a variety of drinks – juice, coffees, colas. You can get cereals if you really want. There’s a whole selection of food stations – you can get sushi or burgers or pizza or vegetarian, roast chicken or pasta. You can have it all! It’s mind blowing. There was a salad bar with like 15 different things on it, plus seeds and dried fruit. You could get fresh fruit too. And ice cream! (I had the cake batter flavour and another one which was green swirl which was a bit like cream soda in ice cream form. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t convinced by either.)

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I made several trips to various stations. I started with the roast chicken, which they were roasting whole and then portioning to order, with mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. It came from the ‘homemade’ station and it was exactly like the food you read about in Southern stories. (I think it’s possible that I read too much about food.) Then I got miso soup with tofu from the veggie station and some fruit (melon and strawberries). Then I thought I’d try the salad bar – the pasta salad with broccoli was the best, the baby mielies were questionable –  before being completely ridiculous and having the ice cream. It was awesome. And so relaxed – there were students, parents, people with small children. There were a variety of eating areas, spaced all around the food service area. And the chefs, as it started to wind down, were eating too. Totally awesome dining experience. It makes our service pale in comparison in terms of choice. I may have to go again before I leave and take photos.

That’s all for now! The pictures are all of Chicago and the places I passed on the train trip. I’ll take more of where I actually am soon!

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