Dear Freshmen: Ways To Spice Up Dhall Food Right Now

By Matthew J. Tyler

Though Harvard’s current dining options are certainly not the worst we’ve seen (looking at you NYU), you don’t want COVID-19 turning mealtime into yet another monotonous routine, so here are some ways to spice up dhall food. By the way, if you’re learning remotely and finding yourself totally inept in the kitchen, these tips are for you too!

You have a fridge for a reason.

Take advantage of the MicroFridge Harvard has provided to everyone free of charge for the fall semester. The 15-minute breaks between classes do not leave much time to consume a full meal, unless you want to be the person eating an entire plate of spaghetti with sauce dripping down your chin in lecture. It’s a better idea to keep some fresh fruit, yogurt, vegetables and hummus, lunchables if you want to throw it back to 4th grade (they’re sold at Broadway Market), and other snack items of your choosing on hand in the fridge. If you’re not sick of sandwiches already, stock up on bread, deli meats, and toppings of your choosing.

You also have a microwave.

It’s Friday, you’re feeling confident, and you’re ready to finally try your hand at making a microwave mug meal. A quick Google search will give you a ton of ideas, including instant mac and cheese, microwave mug pizza, a burrito in a mug, and even chocolate cake if you’ve fully embraced eating dessert for lunch.

Join our Trader Joe’s cult.

Unseasoned food is the enemy. An extra sprinkle of black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, or salt goes a long way. But if you want to move on from the basics, use your “time to experience sunshine so I don’t get seasonal depression” walk to go to Trader Joe’s. Pick up the Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend, a cult classic; I’ve yet to find something this doesn’t amp up the flavor of. If Top Ramen isn’t hitting the spot anymore after eating it seven days in a row, try the Mushroom and Company Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend or grab some soy sauce. If you’re trying to avoid overdosing on sodium, you can stick to salt-free spice blends that don’t sacrifice taste, like the 21 Seasoning Salute.

Or, if the walk is just too far...

Don’t feel like moving your legs after a day of literally sitting? Walgreens has a smaller selection of spices, but they have all the essential hot sauces: Sriracha, Cholula, Tapatio, Frank’s Red Hot, Valentina — and Tabasco too if you lack standards and class. If your favorite isn’t on this list, try HMart just one T stop away.

Everything on this list has been fairly healthy, but let’s be real: This semester has been rough, or at least more chaotic than usual, to say the least, and sometimes all you want to do is stress-eat your feelings. But instead of just devouring everything in your room, it might be more satisfying to break out of routine and treat yourself. So, worst comes to worst, ditch the bagged meals in your dorm room for some J.P. Licks or L.A. Burdick’s hot chocolate.

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