Dressing up the dining hall

“Fancy Friday” is a regular event at Boston University.

Typically, college is not fondly remembered for culinary experiences, as students shuffle between the cafeteria and campus pizza joint. But there are plenty of students and administrators alike who are pushing for more creative forms of nourishment. Here are three of the best campus culinary ideas taking hold at schools across the country in 2012.

1. Michigan Technological University’s ‘Khana Khazana’

What started as a fundraiser for Haitian relief is now a thriving weekly tradition at MTU. Each Friday, a different international student plays guest chef at the university cafeteria, sharing a favorite dish with fellow students. With scarce ethnic cuisine available on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, “Khana Khazana” (Hindi for “food treasure”) attempts to open the minds of MTU students while filling their bellies along the way.

2. University of California, Riverside’s ‘Culinary Chameleon’

While food trucks are deeply ingrained in the culture of urban Northeast campuses, they’re still largely an experiment at West Coast schools. Rather than contracting vendors, this month UC Riverside is attempting to launch a truck owned and operated by the university. The Chameleon promises to adjust its location and menu at the whims of the student body. Will this lone lizard catch on in a Cali campus? Check back next year.

3. Boston University’s ‘Fancy Fridays’

With plenty of ironic flair, every Friday BU students flaunt their very finest attire at Shelton Hall. The cuisine is still 100 percent BU dining services — grilled cheese (fromage grille, perhaps?) and pizza — but the speeches are high-brow, as founding student Thomas Unger often leads sparkling cider toasts extolling the virtues of cufflinks and other accoutrement.

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In 2011, the University of Pennsylvania was recognized by PETA for offering a variety of vegan options, including Vegan Daiya cheese pizzas, cranberry scones, Indian dishes and carob-chip banana squares. Last semester, the school’s dining program teamed up with the Penn Vegan Society for a baked goods potluck to educate students on plant-based goodies.


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