Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Thai Food in the Iowa Corn Fields

So tomorrow I’m off to give a talk at my Alma mater, Grinnell College. My wife will also be speaking with students and has been invited to eat in Grinnell’s new local ….. Thai Restaurant? For those of you not familiar with Grinnell College it is located half way between Des Moines and Iowa City in a town of roughly 9,000 residents.

What gives? When I graduated just under 6 years ago the only non-American food was one Chinese takeout place. There was some decent pizza, a good bar and grill, a great small restaurant called Café Phoenix, and of course the back alley deli home of the best sandwiches anywhere. One final shout out to the cinnamon rolls at Saints Rest still my favorite coffee shop.

It is not just Grinnell. In Columbus Ohio where I grew up my parents can now boast of their copious restaurant selection. America’s food tastes are changing. An increase is salaries and women in the work forces makes prepared food a more attractive option. A quick look at internet sources suggests Americans are eating half of their meals outside of the home. As we go out more we look for food variety, also our taste become more varied.

This trend is coming to college campuses too. This recent NY Times article highlights a wave of sophisticated menus sweeping across college campuses. Will Grinnell’s cafeteria compete with Virginia Tech’s steak house or Bowdin’s vegetable ragout over polenta?

I just hope they still make chicken patty parmesan like they used to.

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Jennie said...

Dude. The new Grinnell dining hall has an Asian noodle bar. And fire-baked pizza! And waffle bar at all 3 meals. It's a little overwhelming. There's also a new Chinese restaurant (with table service) and a ton of new cafes.

Ethnic food in small town America and grocery store sushi is my favorite part of globalization.

janeybee said...

When I was at Grinnell, pizza was the ethnic food. You could drive to Marshalltown for Chinese. For Mexican food, you could buy really awful canned tortillas or make your own. My senior year, frozen tortillas were available.

Janey Brunton-Munoz '76