Bloomington Day 1: Здравствуйте!
Yesterday (the first official day of class) was one of the longest days ever. I got lost a million times, both by bike and on foot, set up my IU ID card, bought my books, got my bike permit, bought groceries (and carried them on my back up a few steep hills)… in conclusion, my metabolism sped up and I worked up a humungous appetite.
I made my way to the dining hall for breakfast (with a jar of crunchy raw almond butter in my purse). That is the last time I’ll be doing that! It was expensive, far (kind of) away, and not nearly as good as the food I had brought for my dorm room. I ended up eating instant oatmeal, which I hadn’t had in years, and I nearly gagged from all the sugar. I ate it with a banana, some of my almond butter (which really made the breakfast), cottage cheese, fruit, and a thing of chocolate soy milk. It was a lot of food. And a lot of sugar. And I think it was 8 bucks. Not happening again.
We have cards for the dining hall, and we’re supposed to eat at the Russian language table at least twice a week, so we ate there for lunch too. The professors didn’t show up! No Russian language table. More dining hall food. I went straight to the salad bar, which was decent: spinach, tofu, HUMMUS, pita, beans, broccoli, etc. I didn’t take photos of any of this food. It really wasn’t worth it.
BUT…. I did bike downtown and get lost, then found my way back to the cafe I had stumbled across the day before, Soma. I HEART SOMA. It beats Istria by about a thousand times. Typical student hangout with smoothies (add spirulina or coconut butter if you want!) and coffee—blends, espresso drinks and insanely decadent-sounding creations. For example, two guys today were drinking Zombies, which, according to Wikipedia, exist only at Soma: Made with Cafe Bianco and white or dark chocolate. Cafe Bianco is a yellow barely roasted bean. The owner unfortunately is completely unwilling to sell this coffee in bulk to individuals who have espresso makers at home, but the drink can be enjoyed on site. Because of the limited roasting the bean retains much more of its caffeine than normal coffee. Maybe next time.
Anyways, I could hang out here all day. In the back are more tables and couches, where most people go to study, since it’s quieter. In the WAY back is a record store, and I read some signs that said it also serves as an all-ages music venue.
It was so hot that I just got a double iced latte. It was light on the milk, not foamy like at Istria, but also not just milk with two shots added, which drives me up the wall. I could taste the coffee, and it was strong.
The bathroom is also worth mentioning—I was in for a surprise when I went. First of all, the toilet is practically on a pedestal. It’s decked out like some kitchy contemporary art installation. The wall immediately to the left of the toilet is like a chalkboard, and chalk is generously provided for you to write on it.
After I had done my homework (10 pages of cursive… it took forever! Why bother to have a printed alphabet if Russians never print?), I was starving, and I mean STARVING. Thankfully, The Laughing Planet is upstairs, right above Soma, and they’re even under the same management, so you can bring food and drinks back and forth between them.
The Laughing Planet has a few other locations across the U.S. (one in Portland, or course). Think of it as Chipotle on acid. It’s organic, vegan-friendly, way more interesting, and in my opinion, just way more awesome! And cheap, talk about cheap! Everything here is probably cheaper than the dining hall, and obviously better quality. In addition to burritos, which you can customize or order “naked” (without a tortilla), they have veggie burgers, rice bowls, salads, quesadillas, and papaya juice to drink. They use brown rice and you pick either chicken or tofu.
Honestly, everything on the menu appealed to me. I decided to order the weekly special burrito, the Ethiopian burrito, since it would only be there temporarily and I knew I could always try the other burritos later (like the Cuban burrito with black beans, plantains, BBQ sauce, sweet potato and tropical fruit salsa).
The Ethiopian burrito had 3 different kinds of lentil dishes, sort of like Indian dal. It also had cabbage, green beans, potatoes, and a tomato salsa. It was amazing—first of all, the brown rice was perfectly chewy but not stale. Second of all, each of the lentil dishes was unique. Third of all, the vegetables weren’t overcooked either. It was just really hearty and the contrasting textures made it fun to eat. My only qualm is that it was a little bit bland, even with the salsa. That problem was easily fixed by grabbing some hot sauce!