Use the Spice Rack
Grinnellians are experts at adapting to new situations and finding creative solutions. Fitsum “Fit” Getahun ’21, a biology and history double major from Addis Ababa, anticipated many differences between Ethiopian cuisine and the food served in Grinnell’s Marketplace Dining Hall but has since found the secret to balancing flavor and practicality — the spice rack.
Grinnell welcomes students from diverse food cultures. The D-Hall’s array of food stations offers many options, including ways for students to customize their meals.
“I come from a very food-heavy culture, and I cook and eat a lot,” he says. “And because I’m also halal [follows Islamic dietary laws], a lot of my dining is affected by the fact that what I’m eating might or may not contain pork. Considering how much of a staple it is in Western diets — Midwestern diets especially — it can be hard to kind of differentiate.”
Getahun adds, “I’m also very seasoning-heavy. I like to spice my food. I come from a culture [where] we do a lot with our food, we spend a lot of time cooking our food, and as a result our food is very … heavy in flavor and senses. Most people have a hard time enjoying our food if they’re from foreign cultures.”
Getahun has several different techniques for maximizing the flavor of his D-Hall meals while also accommodating his dietary restrictions.
“I just try to be as mindful as I can of what I eat. I utilize the spice rack a lot. I try to sauté my own food, or try to be as specific as I want about how I want my food sautéed, or cooked in general.”
While Getahun still relies on the D-Hall for most meals, he also takes advantage of opportunities to eat with his residential community.
“The dorm I live in right now has a lot of people who are good cooks, so we get together a lot and cook a lot [in the dorm kitchen]. So, I usually go [for] maybe 6 or 7 of the 12 meals in D-Hall, but I am very heavily reliant on the [Spencer] Grill because I like snacking and hot foods in general.”
D-Hall Hacks for Meals and Snacks
When asked about his No. 1 tip to enhance D-Hall meals, Getahun was adamantly clear.
“Spice! Rack! Spice! Rack! That is the biggest D-Hall hack. Whatever food you can get, you can make it better by a quick trip to the spice rack. Taking stuff from the spice rack to Sauté to get it sautéed, or to the Stir Fry to get it stir-fried. That is key if you like stuff that has a kick. That’ll definitely give you whatever you need. Don’t be afraid to mix it up.”
Whether you eat halal, vegan, or gluten-free, you can see what’s available for your dining needs through NetNutrition.