Fordham’s Cafeteria is a Little Corner of Home


The cafeteria is a place for friends to have meals together. (Rachel Gow/ The Fordham Ram)

On Sunday mornings my dad whipped up apple pancakes, my kitchen table blanketed in flour and newspaper pages — the comics hiding a galaxy of rimmed coffee stains.

For dinner, my family gathered around the same table for a magical thirty minutes of time right after my sister and I got home sweaty from sport practices and just prior to my brother dashing eagerly to a friend’s house.

It was at my kitchen table that events of the day were reminisced and plans for the following ones made. It was here that I, in many ways, grew up.
When I came to college, the absence of this familiar and communal space was disorientating. However, I soon found a new kitchen table in an unexpected place, one that has been equally influential in the growing up I’ve done at college: Fordham’s cafeteria.

While some, particularly my dad, may find the comparison of homemade apple pancakes and warm dinners to any food served at The Marketplace blasphemous, I would argue that oftentimes the food you are eating is less important that those you are eating with; meal time is more significant than the meal.

The cafeteria is a meeting place, the soft fluorescent lights and rows of cozy booths inviting students to hunker down in a way that the cramped standing area of Urban Kitchen and singular round table of P.O.D. cannot. The cafeteria is a place to eat, not simply a place to get food.

My friends found refuge in The Marketplace every Sunday morning, sharing a communal mound of tater tots while we recounted the hazy happenings of the prior night.

An abundance of everything bagels were inhaled, dozens of eggs devoured and gallons of cafeteria coffee drained, us convincing one another in turn that the next cup would be our last: “Just one more and then we’ll leave to start homework.”

We occupied a booth until our friend group spilled out into a round table almost every weeknight. Like home, dinner time occupied this miraculous pocket of the day between meetings and classes, gym sessions and bio labs.

Cumbersome backpacks were dropped, water bottles slammed and phones tucked, the day unloaded on the table before us.
Someone was always running from something and someone else to something, but, somehow there was time to recount our highs and lows of the day at each dinner, stress reduced by this unspoken yet mutual understanding that we all had to eat.

The cafeteria was where I got to really know my friends, not their Friday night selves dressed up and excited to go out, or the Wednesday night ones stressed and brooding in the library, but the liminal versions of them floating between work and fun.

Attempts to stay put together and be relatable acquiesced to authenticity and openness when we sat together to eat, time constraints and hunger taking precedence.
The cafeteria was weirdly one of the first places that felt like home on campus, providing stability when college felt anything but stable.

I came here not to grab a quick bite between classes or swipe my Tapingo bag before running hurriedly to my room, but to see people I cared about. At the cafeteria I sat and ate and exhaled, seeking a sustenance that can only be achieved by food shared with others.

For these reasons, and despite the magnitude of criticism it receives, I will always pick the Marketplace over other on campus eateries.

Something about a booth and friends makes cheesy bread and rice crispies taste better than any TBM or Beyond Burger ever could.