Cal’s location in Berkeley, CA affords the campus good weather most days of the year. However, as a native southern Californian, I don’t care for the number of rainy days we do encounter. This past Saturday was one of those days. As such, the prospect of some warm, hearty food was certainly appealing. Given that it was the weekend, I could take more liberties with my time and venture of Berkeley to make it happen.
Two of my freshman floormates suggested Homeroom Mac + Cheese, a small shack on the ground floor of an apartment building in neighboring Oakland. Growing up, I had severe allergies to a variety of foods; any time my family went out to eat, Kraft Mac and Cheese from the kids menu was a staple. With age and treatment many of my allergies subsided, but my love for macaroni did not. We took AC Transit’s 1R bus line south down Telegraph Avenue from campus and after a 10 minute walk from the stop, there we were. In typical Homeroom fashion, there was a 45 minute to an hour wait: just the right amount of time to explore, according to my friends; I grudgingly went along.
A cursory glance at google maps revealed that Mosswood Park was just a couple of blocks south. Although the inclement weather meant the park was empty save for a few adventurous joggers, jumping around on a playground in the drizzling rain was something the three of us could get behind. After passing the time and drumming up our appetite, we took our seats.
We’d originally planned for lunch, and in anticipation I didn’t eat all day. Lunch rolled into to late lunch which turned into an early dinner by the time we sat down around 6 p.m. It’s safe to say I was ravenous. I wasted no time, indulging in not one but two plates: a classic mac with chorizo and broccoli and a white cheddar mac with chicken and mushrooms. My friends were more exotic as one got a jalapeno mac and the other a sriracha mac with additional toppings. As is typical of when I’m extremely hungry, I overestimated my hunger, ate just about half of each and had some for the next day.
An interesting facet of the Homeroom experience is that to accommodate as many people as possible, seating is done at community tables so multiple parties sit together. Ignoring this fact, one of my friends, in typical Berkeley fashion, launched into a detailed conversation about the canvassing he did that morning with his professor across the bay in Marin County, with regards to chlorine and fluorine water treatment regulation. Soon he found himself in a conversation with the gentleman across the table who happened to work at the local water district and after some discussion, they concurred that chlorine and fluorine treatments were indeed a necessary measure to remove lead from water.
We bid Oakland farewell and returned back in time to get some studying in. The paucity of fun activities for a release from the routine of student life in Berkeley and the surrounding area is remarkable. The proximity and diversity of options means that often prior planning isn’t needed: simply an appetite for new experiences. Best of all, I’ve found that on this campus, whenever you want to try something, there’s bound to be someone just as enthusiastic about it. In the end, I’d left campus to treat myself to a hearty meal and came back completely full from the food, physical activity and a stimulating discussion packed into one evening.