The Tomato

The McPicks Menu is a favourite. Photo: CC, Wikicommons.

Group doing lots with low funding, finding virtues in budget food

With club support becoming increasingly sparse, the University of Ottawa has experienced a rash of copy-cat Testing Restaurant clubs scraping by with little to no funding.

Along with the expected ultimate flying disc teams and several new student politics clubs is a restaurant-tasting club forced to forego the usual luxuries such an organization would expect in favour of more affordable cuisine.

Unlike their more well-funded counterpart, the upstart Trying Restaurants doesn’t quite benefit from exorbitant student levies. With club funding being a little short, the group has been forced to resort to sampling more economical fare, but they’ve worked hard to put a positive spin on the situation.

Last week, for example, the club took a trip to the renowned Chez Ninety9, where, among other delicacies, the group split a six-piece box of deep-fried chicken morsels that club president Geoff Stache described as “almost tapa-like.”

“The lack of funding isn’t too much of a problem,” said Stache. “Good food isn’t always in these fancy restaurants, you know the kinds with tablecloths and silverware. We here at Trying Restaurants believe that good food can come from anywhere, and that anyone can cook.”

Stache seemed ignorant of the fact that he was quoting Ratatouille. When asked whether their choice of food was a Marxist critique on the commodification of basic sustenance and a self-aware commentary on the working class, the group seemed equally befuddled.

“We just don’t have money,” explained the club’s vice president  of finance, Irene Garden, who hosts a popular food podcast called the Winter-Booted Baroness. The club, however, does not exclusively sample restaurants. They are frequent guests at local artisanal grocers that serve several choice selections using the latest in “cold-temperature molecular gastronomy techniques” aka, frozen food.

“These divine meals come in a box and are ready in two minutes in the microwave,” said Stache in visible awe. “It really is the latest in gastronomy—a biting commentary, surely, on our separation from what we eat.”

Added Stache, “This Monsieur Stouffer truly is a genius. I should like to visit his bistro in the Left Bank someday.”

As Garden points out, these are trying times for any club on campus, particularly of the fraudulent variety. While spending mysteriously large amounts of money at local restaurants is now deemed a suspicious activity, said Garden, it isn’t just the foodie clubs that have been affected.

“The ultimate clubs have taken to hanging out at the dog park,” said Garden. “Intercepting the discs before the dogs catch them is good practice for matches, and nothing conditions someone quite like wrestling a disc from a full-grown Malamute.”

Due to budgetary issues, even getting to some of these grocers and restaurants was becoming a problem, but Stache recently announced a joint initiative with the Sports Car Testing Club and the World Travelling Club.

“The Travelling Club, especially, has some great insights on getting others to foot the bill for your travel.” said Garden.

At press time, the club had just been introduced to a “revolutionary” $5 chicken-and-potato boxed dish from the local grocer.