42nd Street bizarre?

I will admit to having gone into today’s Conde Nast cafeteria expedition hoping for sensationalist material.  Until today, the sum total of my interaction with Conde has been through the lens of Gawker (i.e. semi-fictional).  Obviously I was hoping for some kind of ridiculous Wintour posse sighting or to at least see clones of Mary Kate and Ashley pecking at side salads while complaining about their investment banker boyfriends’ taste in jewelry.  Instead, I found a fairly typical (if Gehry-designed) corporate cafeteria that, other than its funky layout and slightly reduced grease factor, does little to differentiate itself from a college dining hall.

Outrageous, you say?  I beg to differ.  You’ve got your salad bar, you’ve got your fryer and griddle, and you’ve got your mysterious international specialty food (this week: Moroccan!) and dessert.  All stations are manned by white-clad staff rather more polite than the customers – the concession to being in New York is the addition of a salad assembly technician.  You ‘pay’ for your meal with your ID card, though this time it won’t be your parents that get the bill (the machines to put cash on the cards are immediately outside the cafeteria).  The food is cheap because it’s subsidized, there is Mountain Dew on tap, and trying to find a seat during the lunch rush ensures that you’ll make ‘new friends’ (just like mom and dad promised!).  I bet they even have financial aid students scrubbing dishes behind the conveyor belt – those NYU kids will do anything for an internship.

I had a burger, which may not qualify as the most adventurous possible meal, but it fit within my budget.  For a fiver, I had a burger that was only slightly overcooked (to be fair, it was a thin patty), some lettuce and tomato, and a roll that could have been more on the spongy side – the five dollar deal included fries that had been sitting out for a little while and a 20-ounce soda.  

But, yeah, no ridiculousness.  I guess that’s okay.

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