2008-01-21

Food, glorious food!

We made it out of our study groups early tonight so I just treated myself to a snack before settling into readings for tomorrow. This snack was so good it inspired me to post a quick entry about the food here in Lausanne.

My morning nutrition is based on a fierce devotion to my staple in the US, cereal and milk. Satisfying this devotion isn't easy over here; most supermarkets carry only a few types of cereal and I had to scour the city to find skim milk. When I finally discovered the hidden cache of skim, I was surprised to learn that it comes in . . . a box. Naturally I have no idea how to open this box elegantly; instead I have found that cutting a hole in the top is functional enough for me.

So my day begins with cereal and milk, followed by second breakfast at school. One of the best "quality of life" features is that it keeps a fully stocked fruit basket outside our main classroom. It may not seem like much but this bottomless supply of fresh, organic produce supplies nutritional value and much needed energy before, during, and after classes. Bananas are the most popular; students swoop in before class and snatch them up. Most aren't consumed immediately so they become a kind of currency: "Can you help me balance these two accounts before class?" "That depends; how bad do you want your banana?"

Lunch is, nutritionally, the highlight of the day. There is a culinary institute just down the street and I suspect that IMD has worked out some arrangement with them. Every day the food at our restaurant is fresh, delicious, varied, and plentiful--oh, and included in the cost of tuition! I begin each lunch with the soup du jour, which, after two weeks, has only repeated once. Today was split pea; previously there has been pumpkin, butternut squash, tomato, vegetable, mushroom, carrot, and many others.

After soup, I move on to the main buffet. This includes several salads, organic fruits, vegetables, and nuts, fish, meats, starches, and vegetarian entrees. Sometimes the menu is themed; last week we had a Mexican day, for example. It was more "Swiss Mexican" than "Mexican" but it was delicious. Each buffet item has a label listing any meats in it and their countries of origin.

This course leaves me pretty stuffed, but the desserts look far too enticing to resist. Freshly made (I believe they're freshly made. The possibility remains that IMD has an external supplier, but, if they do, oh what a supplier!) tarts, custards, pies, cakes, pastries, and more fresh fruit are one one table; nuts and cheeses are on another. I really can't stress enough what a highlight lunch is for me each day; the quality, variety, and nutritional value really keep me going and the time with my classmates is an invaluable break. Despite all the work and so little sleep, I feel very healthy, which attribute significantly to IMD's food.

I spend the evenings munching on more fruit while I'm at school (Once there was a catered late-night event in our building and the leftovers were offered to us; you've never seen mammals descend on their prey so voraciously!), then I usually have a final snack once I return home. I've been cooking up batches of whole-grain pasta (with tons of garlic, of course) for quick snacks but sometimes I will go for bread/crackers and nutella as well. My most common snack by far, though, is yogurt, which accounts for a major percentage of shelf space at my supermarket. The yogurts here are almost all organic and much creamier than the Dannon to which I was accustomed in the US. Best of all, they come in funky flavors: chocolate, coffee, exotic fruits and berries, aloe, and hazlenut, just to name a few.

Labeling on prepackaged food here is incredibly detailed. In addition to being provided in several different languages, it includes the country of origin and exact percentage by weight of each ingredient. For example, the hazlenut yogurt I just finished included 10% cane sugar from latin America and 4% hazlenuts from Spain. As far as I'm concerned, it contained 100% awesomeness.

On that note, I'm off to start on homework. I'll try to write some "catch-up" posts about the first two weeks in the coming days. Au revoir!

3 comments:

Maex said...

Why is it that I feel so compelled to comment on the post about food? Sounds amazing! I've been trying to eat more local and organic lately...kinda scary when you stop to think about how much we eat without knowing what exactly it is.

Ashley said...

It's a good thing I'm not smart enough to go there, because I would probably come back weighing approximately 500 pounds :-)

drmiggy said...

wow, the emphasis on organic and local food sounds like heaven to me. I have a pathological need to know from where my food originates. Oh yeah, and cheese. I have a pathological need for cheese.