It’s a familiar lunch-time scene in the Silhouette office. Someone walks in with a white, Styrofoam take-out container, plops down on the couch and before they can even open their lunch, someone will always ask, “butter chicken or shawarma?”
It should come as no surprise that the student newspaper staff, damned to the student centre basement, rely on the neighbouring halal food and bubble tea shop, Taro. Their prices are reasonable, the portions are generous and they make sure that we can avoid the crowded lines of La Piazza above.
Nestled between the Student Wellness and Education Lower Lounge and the CFMU office, Taro has been keeping the Silhouette staff fed with hearty plates of butter chicken, shawarma, vegetable curry, lentil soup, crispy samosas and addictive Jamaican patties.
Now Taro is such a staple part of my own campus food experience, my memories of its absence are hazy. I have no idea what that space was before Taro. Was that slot machine always there? Was it part of the old student centre arcade and game room? I think it was empty in my first year but I can’t be sure.
I remember the staff tradition of communal patty-runs starting and people relieved to know that even if they forgot their lunch on a busy afternoon, a filling meal wasn’t too far.
The only thing I clearly remember during Taro’s first few days was entering the office for the first with container filled with piping hot butter chicken and a bubble tea shortly after the shop opened. I remember the staff tradition of communal patty-runs starting and people relieved to know that even if they forgot their lunch on a busy afternoon, a filling meal wasn’t too far.
This year, if you owe Tim a couple of bucks, he will ask that you buy him a patty instead. When Rachel forgets to bring something to dip into her hummus, she’ll quickly grab a piece of naan. On long production days, I can throw back their strawberry, banana and blueberry protein shake in five minutes.
One of the Arts & Culture section’s goals was to make consistent food coverage a central part of the section. Whether that be exciting new restaurants or some under-discussed staples that can be found throughout the city, and that we genuinely provide readers with a great experience for a range of budgets.
But after all, we are students.
We have a full day of class to attend, often multiple jobs to work at, there isn’t always time in the day to bus to a new restaurant. That, if anything, unites our collective experience with food at the Silhouette’s office.
We love food, we love exchanging recipes and making plans to grab lunch or dinner together, but finishing the newspaper has to come first. Catching up on our studies often comes next. The office this year shares baked goods and snack foods every other week, and this is partially because it is easier to make time to do something you love when you can share the results with others.
In a similar fashion, acknowledging this shared experience with the halal and bubble tea shop down the hall does this too. Not because it is an act that we do for each other, but acknowledging the staff’s shared experience with Taro reinforces how much we can bond over a trivial relationship with campus food. Even if just amounts to in-jokes on the surface, being familiar with your cohorts go-to orders, speculating over recipe changes and buying each other an occasional snack just exemplifies how much we look to food to be a source of common ground.
While we often have to put our dinner plans together on hold, the Silhouette will always have this. I have a feeling that even five years from now, the staff of the future will still be laughing over their take-out from Taro.