Bagel Envy: Getting Creative in the Dining Halls

By Nelia Perry ’24

Everyone arrives at Pomona with a different expectation for the food. Some people’s parents are avid cooks, so they are destined to miss home-cooked meals. Some people are avid cooks themselves and are sad to no longer be cooking (they luckily have the advantage of using Pomona’s residence halls kitchens). Other students are eager to try being vegan for the first time. Others have dietary restrictions and are nervous to navigate the dining halls. Whatever position they are coming from, everyone hopes for variety. While the food might be on a rotation, and similar dishes will pop up with frequency, I have learned that the key to success is getting creative.

During the first weeks on campus, I would grab a plate, wait in the main line, fill it up with the options, and my meals were set. But I got bagel sandwich envy very quickly! I know, that sounds random. But hear me out: It was a Sunday morning, I was at Frank brunch eating scrambled eggs, a few pieces of bacon, and some melon. It tasted great, but, as I got up to get coffee, I spotted the most amazing looking bagel: an everything bagel with cream cheese, lox, cucumber, lettuce, onion, and capers. It was then that I realized I was doing everything wrong.

From then on, I started to see how many other things I was missing. Frary has English muffins? There are panini presses? Frank has fresh berries at brunch? It might seem obvious to pay attention to all of this, but it was like I had my blinders on. I had no idea that so many culinary possibilities existed.

bowl of noodles, tofu and more
A yummy bowl of kale salad, sweet potato, wild rice, tofu, crunch noodles and sesame ginger dressing!

In the last few weeks, after discovering all the possibilities, I have learned a few ways to get creative in the dining hall, and I thought I should share! So, here are my top 5 ways to make the most of Frank and Frary.

  1. Have fun with your coffee! I like to experiment and make different lattes in the dining halls. The espresso machine has a mocha latte, but I am convinced it doesn’t have enough coffee in it. Instead, my favorite treat has been to get a double espresso and add a hot chocolate, and a bit of half and half! When fall started, Frank and Frary added pumpkin spiced latte syrup and powder, and there is always honey and other flavored syrups available, as well as every kind of milk you can imagine.
  2. The panini press is your best friend! Well, it is mine at least. On burrito day you can take tortillas and make quesadilla. Or, when there is tomato soup, make a delicious grilled cheese to go with it. And when the toasters are acting up (a common occurrence if I’m being honest) it is a great way to toast your bread or bagels (for those delicious sandwiches of course).
  3. Danny holding bowl
    Fellow tour guide Danny DeBare made trail mix!

    Grab a bowl from the cereal station. I love to eat out of bowls. I think it is the perfect way to let everything mix, and it is way less messy than a plate. But the dining halls sometimes hide the big bowls that are perfect for an entire meal. Where do they hide them, you ask? At the cereal station! Cereal is set out at every meal (which is my personal favorite dessert) and so too are the big bowls.

  4. Do a big loop around the dining hall before deciding what to eat. When I was in the rut of always just grabbing whatever was on the main line, I realized I was missing out because I never fully looked around before grabbing food. While it might take a little more time up front to peruse all the options before choosing, it pays off in the long run! In fact, I often thought I knew exactly what the sandwich and salad bar had, for example, and so I didn’t look around. I quickly learned that they often put things out that aren’t part of the regular spread—like chicken salad or sweet potato (two of the hidden gems I was happy to catch!).
  5. Don’t forget about dessert! There are lots of ways to end your meal with a little treat. Personally, I like to get a decaf coffee. But one of the best things to do is to mix and match. I have seen people get the vanilla ice cream and put a shot of espresso over it, like an Or maybe ice cream on top of a cookie or brownie. Why not put cereal on top of your ice cream too! (Clearly all dessert revolves around ice cream in my world).
chalkboard with fruit selections
There’s always fruit!

While these may not be the most groundbreaking suggestions for making the most of Pomona dining, I believe these simple tricks truly transformed my dining hall experience!

Beyond getting creative on a day to day basis, it is also fun to explore the themed meals and special options. For example, Frary Potter, Franksgiving, and Farm to Frary/Frank. I also love to spend Flex dollars at Café 47, the Coop Fountain, and the Coop store for other fun treats. And if none of that suffices, you can get creative in the common room kitchens with a group a friends!