All Hail: Stir fry surprise

There’s something delicious about Stetson West Eatery:’ the stir fry.
That is why no matter how psyched we get for the brick oven pizza, the plasma TVs and the quirky cool Xhibition Kitchen, everyone knows the real appeal of Northeastern’s late-to-open, early-to-close dining destination is four feet left of the grape, bread and hummus display. It’s two parts simmering vegetables, one part tangy teriyaki and two parts your preferred protein. It’s stir fry, and that’s what drew me across campus on a recent Tuesday.
Shortly after 7 p.m., a colleague and I took to the dining hall’s rear to find no line and, to my personal dismay, no tofu. Good news, bad news. The usual. So I mixed my medley of greens, selected a sauce and politely requested, ‘No meat, please.’
Then came the awkward 15 minutes or so when one tries to subdue hunger by grabbing a slice from the pizza bar or a bowl of fruit salad. This is when it’s appropriate to settle down at a table and pretend not to stare at the stir fry numbers obsessively. Fifteen minutes passed. My plates were clean. Twenty-five minutes elapsed. All pretending stopped. My friend and I stared at the numbers. I refilled my drink.
Thirty-five minutes. We twittered about it. Finally, after much staring, cursing and praying, our numbers were illuminated. We exploded from the table and arrived at the stir fry pickup only to … wait. Again. After five more minutes, I was presented with a plate full of burnt pineapple, squash, onions, zucchini and little charred pieces of black. I’m going to guess that was the spinach.
My friend’s meal, which contained beef, was ready at the same time, and equally burnt.
Mixed with rice and starvation, my well done stir fry was occasionally edible. Pineapple was good. Onions added flavor. Spinach was unrecognizable.
The next flavor in my mouth was quite familiar, if not passionately loathed. It was animal, beef to be exact, and my stomach lurched upon recognition. I kept my cool, signaling the urgency of a napkin before my vegetarian sensibilities imploded and, eventually, ejected the carcass from my mouth.
At this point, I was defeated. My go-to comfort meal after a long day at work had turned into a nauseating catastrophe. Cue violin. I consider myself a reasonable Bostonian, someone accustomed to long waits and the occasional surprise. I can stomach the 40 minutes, charred food or rogue slab of beef. But all of them? At once? My Profiler Plan can do better.
And that’s just the thing. Like some other upperclassmen, I have a meal plan to call my own despite the well-equipped kitchen in my West Village apartment. It’s for those nights when I’m on edge about finances, frustrated with my refrigerator or just plain too tired to cook. It’s for those nights when $590 for 50 meals ‘- that’s $11.80 a meal ‘- is a godsend.
It’s not for those nights when a screwed up stir fry becomes the frosting on my burnt-out cupcake.
But like most exorbitantly foul experiences at a usually above-par service, this over fried fiasco will soon be brushed aside. I’ll probably spend the required time away. A week. Two. Maybe I’ll frequent Outtakes or Levine Marketplace instead. But as sure as spaghetti, I’ll soon get bored with the veggie burgers and other elaborate offerings at those two places and wander west. There’s still hope for stir fry in my stars. After all, I’ve got 17 meals and counting.

‘- Julie Balise is a junior journalism major and member of The News staff.

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