As a freshman at UMass, I lived in Van Meter. As far as freshmen dorms go, it was a pretty nice one. Central Residential Area, where Van Meter is located, was, in general, really nice; it had a lot of green space, lots of trees, and a pretty laid back vibe. It also had Frank. Otherwise known as Franklin Dining Common,
Frank is probably not the best DC on campus. Don’t get me wrong, I love Frank, but the title of best, in my opinion, belongs to Hampshire. However, there is one thing in particular that Frank does better than any other dining common: stir fry. Most DCs have a decent stir fry station, but Frank’s is just phenomenal. The selection of vegetables is fantastic, from staples like spinach, peppers, and onions, to strange but delicious things like pineapple or baby corn. You can choose from egg noodles, rice noodles, brown rice, and white rice. You can get chicken or tofu, or both if you’re confused about whether or not you’re a vegetarian. But the best part about Frank stir fry, by far, are the sauces that the chefs put on for you. There are a few basic sauces that they always put on, which are great, but then there are also three other sauces, of a spicier and sweeter variety, that they ask you about. I like to change things up every now and then, experimenting with different sauces and spices, and I’ve never been disappointed.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. I moved out of Central, and eventually moved off campus. This meant that I ended up in the Frank stir fry line a lot less than I would’ve liked. However, I refused to let this be the end of me and my stir fry. So I began to experiment with making my own stir fry. I was never a person who loved to cook. It has never been a hobby of mine, but I really wanted to get this right. However, the most important part of the Frank stir fry, the sauces, was also the hardest part. I didn’t know which sauces they used on their stir fries. A few times I tried to catch a glimpse of the labels in Frank, but there either were no labels, or the labels were in another language. I’m sure if I asked the chefs they would tell me, but honestly where is the fun in that? But I think that now, after a long time of searching, I’ve gotten pretty close to getting all of the right sauces figured out. As a result, I’ve been able to make myself some really great stir fries (like the one pictured above). The moral of this story, for all you prospective students out there, is that UMass dining is honestly so good that it inspired me to start cooking better for myself. And I’m glad that it did; cooking for myself has become something that I really enjoy, and it’s a healthy hobby to practice as well.