Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 21, 2024

Most every student at Hopkins has experienced the wonder that is the Fresh Food Café (FFC). The FFC serves every freshman on a regular basis as well as the occasional athlete or die-hard fan. We'll look at a few ways for FFC diners to capitalize on their Hopkins meal-swiping experience.

We'll start with the one always reliable, undeniable and deadly delicious FFC food: cookies. The cookies range from Oreo, M&M, double chocolate, sugar and everyone's favorite: chocolate chip.

Author's Note: We have intentionally left out the oatmeal raisin because a) No one really considers that a real cookie and b) They are always the last cookies left on the tray and therefore the least popular.

A gathering of students can often be spotted waiting eagerly by the counter with wide eyes and outstretched hands. Tip: Ms. Ruthie is not opposed to giving cookies hot out of the oven as long as you approach the counter politely with a smile. . . and you serve yourself with the tongs.

If you don't eat cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner like some, don't fear. FFC pizza is almost as reliable as the cookies. The pesto chicken and white tomato options are noteworthy (and you can trust us— we hail from New York City).

The FFC has even ventured to create a caramel apple pizza. Although we've heard mixed reviews about this one, the mere endeavor is still quite impressive. On occasion, the pizza dough may be a bit on the raw side, but can you blame our chefs for taking pizzas out early when there is a line of starving students snaking around the panini station?

Paninis are a great healthy alternative to pizza, and they offer our more culinary-minded students the chance to choose their own ingredients and get creative. Roasted red peppers, feta cheese, tuna fish, artichoke slices, olives and "mockamole" are some of the offerings frequently available for your focaccia (or sliced bread) creation.

If you enjoy putting your own dishes together, the salad bar is for you. The ingredients are always fresh and span a wide variety: beets, blue cheese, olives, chickpeas, cucumbers, carrots, sprouts an sometimes even hummus. Delicious grilled veggies can also be found adjacent to the salad bar. The salad dressings are quite consistent and rotate between ranch, balsamic vinaigrette, blue cheese, red roasted pepper (try it!), honey dijon and hummus. Oil and vinegar is always available for purists. A great way to add some zing to boring greens is with some sliced grilled chicken. Either plain or with your salad, the grilled chicken is one of our favorite options at the FFC because of its versatility and tastiness. The chicken curry wraps at lunch are also a great compliment to a custom salad.

However, if you are a vegetarian or simply don't dig the chicken, the vegetarian station is extremely appetizing. Food there is made to order, like at the home-style station, but it's better because the line is rarely as long. The cheese quesadillas with sour cream and salsa as well as Asian noodle bowls are some of our favorite veggie offerings. The FFC serves vegetarian, kosher, gluten-free and vegan food, so be assured that there is something for everyone.

The cookies, pizza, paninis, salads and vegetarian meals can be found during the typical FFC lunch and dinner hours, but there are also some winners during late night. Late Night, occurring from 9 p.m.-12 a.m., features breakfast foods such as pancakes, French toast, eggs, bacon, sausage and hash browns. Although there is no omelet station at late night (which is a popular option in the morning), bacon and pancakes are great after-dinner or study-break delights. The bacon is crispy and the pancakes are perfectly golden. (Needless to say, these delicious options are also available at breakfast!)

In terms of beverages, we recommend the freshly squeezed orange juice. The FFC juicer machine is eternally delicious and one thing in the FFC that is absolutely guaranteed to be good for you.

Although it is often broken, take advantage of this vitamin C boost whenever you can because it is delicious, good for your immune system and a perfect start to the day. The "spa water" (flavored with sliced cucumber, lemons, apples, oranges or other fruit) is also a refreshing drink for a cleanse or to complement your pizza, cookie and French fry-filled stomachs.

These are our chosen highlights of the FFC, and there are surely many more delicious items, but there are some dishes we would strongly advise against scooping onto your brightly-colored plate. At the top of the list: the mystery meat.

Often found next to the make-it-yourself pasta station, this meat comes in different colors, different textures and with different sauces. Tip: If you have to guess what meat it is, it's not worth trying. The soup directly to the left of the home-style station is also not particularly our favorite due to its extra salty flavor and saliva-like texture (exception: Italian wedding soup).

We also caution you against the special pasta in the first station as you walk in. It is misleading because it always looks better than it is, and it's tempting because it's the first thing you see when you walk in ready to eat. Nevertheless, it rarely has much taste and is usually rather cold. Exception: the mac & cheese is to die for.

You can count on the food at the FFC every morning, afternoon, night and late night. It is reliable to say the least. However, we also know that its options can become repetitive very quickly. If you switch up your dining spots here and there, particularly if you are not on unlimited meal swipes, the all-you-can-eat option here is certainly a treat!

While the FFC is the place that nourishes all of Hopkins's hungry and hardworking students, it is also a great social scene. Whether you are there with a big group of friends or with your sports team post-practice, you are guaranteed to see familiar faces and have great conversations every visit. Even if you arrive at the FFC solo, sitting at the counter is a great spot for people watching or studying in the minutes before your next class.

A few tips we'd like to share with you for navigating the FFC: Remember to always use the tongs. The Dining Staff takes this rule very seriously, and it's important to keep those who feed you and take care of you daily on your good side. Next, it is hard, and nearly impossible, to visit the FFC and only get one plate of food.

We recommend small portions of many things to avoid overeating. Inevitably, when you sit down, you'll see your neighbor eating something delicious that you cannot live without. Taking smaller portions will allow you to indulge in multiple courses without feeling ill and having to roll yourself out of the building.

Happy dining!

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