C/O Kojo Kwarteng, Unsplash

Without sounding like your Italian nonna, "mangia"

Due to the latest surge in COVID-19 cases across Ontario, McMaster University has closed all spaces that students were able to utilize during the fall semester.

On Jan. 14, McMaster Daily News shared a list of spaces that students would now be able to access until Jan. 31. It is important to note that these are subject to change based on provincial and municipal COVID-19 guidelines.

The provincial government has announced that starting Jan. 31, restaurant capacity will increase to 50% and indoor gatherings will be increased to 25 people in a space. At current, McMaster has not stated whether or not this will impact how campus will look.

Where to study:

McMaster has provided students with three places to study or hangout in between classes.

Peter George Centre for Living and Learning — PGCLL B138

PGCLL is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Students are able to utilize the basement room for studying and eating*.

Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Discovery and Learning — MDCL 1305

MDCL is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Students are able to utilize the lecture hall for studying and eating*.

Mills Learning Commons

Starting Monday, Jan. 31, Mills Learning Commons will update their hours.

Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

No food or drink is allowed in this space.

McMaster has also shared guidelines for those in shared office spaces. Those who have private, closed-door offices may take off their mask and eat. Those who work in open or shared spaces are socially distanced. The University has recommended having a rotation for each individual to be able to eat while others are masked.

"Please be considerate and rotate eating times to ensure everyone in your workspace is masked whenever possible," said McMaster Daily News.

This is a developing topic.

*Social distancing is required in all spaces where you can eat.

Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor

By Ember, Contributor

cw: fatphobia, disordered eating

Food is what fuels our bodies. So why is it that there is an ever increasing rise of popularity in dieting and diet culture? A movement that encourages us to deprive ourselves; to aspire to be thin. To put it plainly? A hatred for fat bodies that results in widespread disordered eating.

The way we frame different topics and discussions is very important. This especially applies to the way we talk about food, our bodies and other people’s bodies.

Caloric science is based on outdated Western scientific methods from the nineteenth century by Wilbur Atwater. It is the estimate of how much energy is contained in a portion of food by burning it in a tank submerged in water, and measuring how much burning the food increased the temperature of the surrounding water.

However, it is hard to accurately predict the energy stored in food; our bodies do not work as simply as a furnace burning fuel. There are many factors that influence the calories of the foods we eat, like how the food is prepared, if cellulose is present and how much energy it takes to digest the food.

Not to mention, there are additional factors that affect digestion, such as metabolism, age, gut bacteria and physical activity. Labels on food do not accurately represent what we’re putting into our body nor what we’re getting out of it.

Ever since Canada enforced the Healthy Menu Choices Act back in 2016, which requires food establishments to list the amount of calories in their products, there has also been an increasing number of discussions surrounding the negative impact of the addition of calories to menus.

Another measurement that is often used to determine how healthy we are is body mass index, even though it is an inaccurate measurement of “health” for multiple reasons. It was meant to analyze the weight of populations, not individuals, and doesn’t take into account whether mass is fat or muscle. As a result, BMI is a biased and harmful method to gauge health.

Along with measurements like calories and BMI, language surrounding food can also be dangerous. You may hear things like “carbs are bad”, or you may hear discourse on “healthy” versus “unhealthy” foods, “cheat days” and “clean eating”, to name some examples. This language can contribute to the notion that we should feel bad for eating food, when it simply is a way to nourish ourselves and additionally, something to enjoy.

Diet culture is so pervasive and present in society. It is encouraged by menus listing calorie amounts, peers, elders and healthcare professionals in various ways. Thoughts like “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” stem from conflating “health” and “weight”, which has roots in racism, classism and fatphobia.

Diet culture is so pervasive and present in society. It is encouraged by menus listing calorie amounts, peers, elders and healthcare professionals in various ways. Thoughts like “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” stem from conflating “health” and “weight”, which has roots in racism, classism and fatphobia.

Hannah Meier, a dietitian who contributed to a project tackling women’s health, writes about how society glorifies dieting. In Meier’s article titled A Dietitian’s Truth: Diet Culture Leads to Disordered Eating she writes, “I was half-functioning. I remember filling pages of journals with promises to myself that I wouldn’t eat. I planned out my week of arbitrary calorie restrictions that were shockingly low and wrote them all over my planner, my whiteboard, the foggy mirror in the bathroom.” 

For many of us, the mindset of diet culture swallows you whole, consumes your every thought and waking moment, then spits you out like rotten food.

Oftentimes, people aren’t advocating for diets because they want to be “healthy”. Instead, they often feel passionate about dieting because of their hate and disdain for fat people since they associate being “fat” with “unhealthy”, “unhappy” or “unlovable”.

It’s also important to note that views on fatness and fat bodies change depending on the time period and culture; renaissance paintings often depict fat women in angelic and celestial aesthetics. As well, certain cultures, both past and present, value fatness as a symbol of privilege, power, wealth and fertility.

Diet culture, eating disorders, and fatphobia are so tightly knit together that they are like an ill-fitting sweater woven by your grandmother that you didn’t want or ask for. Sometimes you think about wearing it, to make things easier or simpler. But it won’t. You will only become a shell of your former self; a husk that is barely scraping by.

Any joy derived from depriving yourself is temporary. A scale will weigh how much of you is there, but it won’t weigh how much of you has been lost to an eating disorder. It is a mental illness, a distortion of reality and external factors that influence how you think. You can’t just stop having an eating disorder on a whim.

Calorie counting isn’t healthy, demonizing certain foods isn’t healthy and having preconceived notions about someone’s health based on how their body looks isn’t “just caring about their health.” Stop calling food “unhealthy” or “healthy”, start calling it “nourishing” or “not/less nourishing. Eat food that makes you happy and makes you feel good. Bodies are so many things, including wonderful and complex. You only have one — so treat it with kindness.

 

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Photos by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor

By Gregory Lee, Contributor

Whether it be from the crowded lines at the MUSC Tim Hortons or to the pasta place inside Centro, hungry students are everywhere, looking for ways to satisfy their hunger on campus. 

McMaster Hospitality Services, which operates most eateries on campus, state that they aim to provide high quality food service, variety and value. Eating on campus a few times will show that in reality, these expectations are not always met.

Food at universities is notorious for being unhealthy. It is usually stereotyped as deep fried, greasy, frozen and/or unhealthy, which are all true statements. A quick look at the menu at many of the campus eateries shows that they’re mainly burgers, wraps and fries that are almost always frozen and low-quality in terms of taste — mediocre at best. 

Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with frozen deep-fried food but the fact that campus food is also notoriously expensive as well doesn’t help. For example, a slice of pepperoni pizza at the MUSC Pizza Pizza costs significantly more than a slice at any other Pizza Pizza location. A Mac Burger at Centro costs around $8.95 for the burger itself, plus an extra $2.99 for a combo, which includes a drink and fries. An order of onion rings which normally contains 5-7 rings will set you back around $4.

What really puts the prices of on-campus food into perspective is when it's compared to other locations off campus which offer better value for your money compared to the on-campus eateries. It’s worse for people who live on residence as the meal plans offered by Mac Hospitality are mandatory if you want to live on residence with few exceptions.

Although the meals plans allow students to save tax when buying food on campus, they still cost students at least $3000 upfront for even the lighter meal plans. 

It gets worse when Mac Hospitality takes away exactly half of the non-refundable portion of your meal plan in the beginning of the year for overhead costs, giving you a 50 per cent discount on all food. This discount is only for first year and disappears after the school year ends. The truth is, many students will not finish the non-refundable portion of their meal plan before first year ends. They will either have to go on spending sprees to finish their plans or cut their losses and use the money next school year, even if it technically means losing half of your money.

Health wise, the food on campus doesn’t fare well either. University eating is characterized by fears over the “freshman 15” and uncontrollable weight gain. While the freshman 15 is little more than just a myth, the health concerns of campus food are not. 

A quick look at the nutrition facts of campus food will be enough to give any health-conscious individual a heart attack. Calories, unhealthy fats, sodium, carbohydrates and bad cholesterol are high for most, if not all dishes. In addition, the foods on campus are often low in key nutrients such as fibre, protein and vitamins. The campus eateries do have their healthier options such as salad bars or select food from Bridges, but healthy options are almost always lacking on the menus around campus. 

Let’s not forget the fact that food options for vegetarians and vegans are limited on campus. While we do have Bridges serving vegetarian and vegan options, other eateries on campus are often lacking in vegetarian and vegan options. Halal and kosher options are also limited and just recently, McMaster Hospitality stopped offering halal beef burgers at their eateries.

The food at Mac is definitely not the worst, but it can be greatly improved upon both health-wise and cost-wise. The introduction of the new $5-dollar daily meals is a step in the right direction for food accessibility at Mac and the menu at the campus eateries is always changing. Hopefully, Mac continues to make improvements to the food on campus so that one day, it can be accessible for all.

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Photos C/O @forkinprogress

Rachel Katz often shares her cooking and baking with other people. After a time, people began to tell her that she should start a food blog. While Katz decided a blog would be too much to handle whilst being a full-time graduate student, she figured Instagram would be a manageable platform. So last summer while she was working one job and had relatively free evenings, she started her food Instagram, Fork in Progress.

On the account, Katz shares photos of the recipes that she’s tried. Unlike many other food accounts, her unfiltered photos project accessibility and make anyone scrolling feel like they could get in their kitchen and make the same meal.

The recipes that Katz tries are not necessarily easy, but she believes basic kitchen confidence can be applied to make more complicated recipes. She looks for recipes with very specific instructions that she can follow along with. She also looks for versatile recipes that she can add her own flavours to. In her captions, she highlights her innovations and provides tips.

One benefit to Instagram for her is the interactivity. It is easy for her followers to ask her questions and provide feedback. The platform also makes it possible for her to share step-by-step videos that break down the recipes into easier steps. This is to prove to people that anyone can learn how to cook delicious dishes.

“I was frustrated with a lot of students… saying ‘oh I have no time to cook’ or ‘I don't like cooking’… [But] food is so important, food is delicious and there's a kind of pride that you get from making your own food that you don't really get from anything else,” Katz said.

Katz understands how difficult balancing food with student life can be. The McMaster grad lived in residence in her first year where the meal plan limited the choice she had over what she ate. In her second year, she shared a six-person student house with a tiny kitchen. In both years, she didn’t feel like she had a fully functional space where she can cook her own meals.

For Katz, this resulted in patterns of disordered eating. In her second year, she committed to recognize these patterns in herself so she can create healthier eating habits. Preparing her own meals has been one tool in repairing Katz’s relationship with food.

In her third year, Katz moved into a two-person apartment with a nice kitchen. In her new kitchen, Katz explored cooking more. Working at the Silhouette also encouraged her as she began to regularly bake for the office. This practice allowed her to receive feedback on her food and grow as a baker.

 

“I don't use words like clean… or like detox, cleanse… [T]here are all of these other food bloggers out there who use those lines and a lot of recipe bloggers who have these crazy extravagant recipes. But there wasn't really anyone to fulfill the student niche for people who wanted to cook actual meals but didn't really know where to start,” Katz explained.

While developing a healthy relationship with food is important to Katz, food is also a tool that she uses in her relationships with others. Cooking is an activity that she likes to do with family and friends. Her food-related memories stretch all the way back to her childhood.

Katz grew up eating a lot of homemade meals. She is inspired by her mother, who is an accomplished home chef and baker. Not only does she adore the chocolate chip cookies that she grew up eating, but she also admires her mother’s diligence. Her mother can spend months trying to perfect a recipe.

 

Now an adult, Katz is making her own food memories, many of which include food she’s made for others. For her, cooking for people is a way of shaping their experiences for the better. By making a caramel corn cake for her partner’s birthday, she was able to make the day more memorable. When she makes her mother’s birthday cake this year, she will make that day more special.

However, as the name of her account indicates, Katz is still growing her skills in the kitchen. She wants her followers to continue learning, experimenting and trying new things.

“[H]aving a name that has associations of things that are not quite perfect, that I'm still learning but it doesn't mean that I don't know anything, I think… that embodies the mentality that I'm hoping I can encourage people to take with food and feeding themselves,” said Katz.

For this reason, Katz is not focused on monetizing Fork in Progress, as she and her followers operate within a student budget, she does not want to promote products that are inaccessible. While she would consider a column in a publication, she believes the account can only remain authentic by staying fairly small.

As long as she’s a student, Katz wants to continue spreading positive messages about food and cooking. She wants Fork in Progress to show students that they can make their own cakes and eat them too.

 

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Many of us don’t need to be reminded that there’s only a few days left before exam season starts, but we might need a reminder to make time for a nice home cooked meal. It’s easy to turn to buying lunch or dinner when you’re tight on time during these next few weeks, but there are ways to make cooking an enjoyable experience while relieving some stress too.

The Sil staff have compiled their favourite recipes that are easy to make, especially when you’re short on time. We encourage you to try them out, change up the ingredients and most importantly, take the time to take care of yourself this season.

 

Hands-off tomato sauce

Shared by Sasha Dhesi (Managing Editor)

Pasta is a staple batch recipe since it’s fairly easy, delicious and lasts the whole work week. While most people don’t have time to make homemade pasta, students don’t have to rely on jarred sauces and compromise their time. 

Making a sauce at home can seem challenging, but simple recipes like this one are great for students low on time and on a budget.

I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit’s Bucatini with Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce. I replaced a few of the more expensive ingredients with more accessible, easier kept items that make more sense for students to keep around in the house. The recipe should make about four servings and take about 40 minutes, but only 20 of those minutes are active! This is a great recipe to make while studying at home — just pop the sauce into the oven and you’ll have a great sauce in no time!

 

Ingredients

 

Steps

    1. Crush the garlic cloves, removing their skin. Cut the butter into small cubes. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
    2. Pour the can of tomatoes into a rectangular baking dish. With your hands, gently crush the tomatoes. Add garlic and butter cubes to baking dish alongside tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. roast for 20 minutes.
    3. Take the baking dish out of the oven and add the fish sauce and chili paste to the dish. If you don’t like heat, don’t add the chili paste! If you like it spicy, feel free to add more. Return dish to oven for another 20 minutes.
    4. While the sauce roasts for another 20 minutes, begin cooking the pasta. Boil four to five quarts of water, adding salt when the water starts to release steam. Once the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to the pasta’s instructions. Reserve one cup of pasta water, and drain the pasta.
    5. Once the sauce is done roasting, remove it from the oven and let it cool slightly. Using a fork or masher, crush the garlic and tomatoes into a jam-like texture. Add the pasta and sauce into one pot. Toss the pasta and sauce with tongs, slowly adding about ¼ cup of pasta water to thin the sauce.
    6. Serve while warm, garnished with parmesan.

 

Warm carrot and potato soup

Shared by Hannah Walters-Vida (Features Reporter)

In an effort to describe how good this soup is, the most a room full of Sil writers could come up with is “warm, warm soup, it hugs you from the inside”. Pretty much everyone in the office will agree that this is a great recipe for soup. I typically double the recipe and freeze the soup in mason jars for when I need a quick, filling meal.

This recipe is originally by Jennifer Segal and I made a few modifications to make it vegan friendly. This recipe yields 8 servings and takes about 45 minutes to make, but most of the time is spent letting the soup simmer. This soup can stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months, so it’s worth the investment in time. Just make sure to pop it into the fridge the day before wanting to reheat it!

 

Ingredients

 

Steps

    1. Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a large pot.
    2. Add chopped onions and stir for about ten minutes or until soft. Avoid letting the onions turn brown.
    3. Add the curry powder and cook for an additional minute.
    4. Add chopped carrots, sweet potatoes, vegetable broth and salt. Allow the vegetables to come to a boil.
    5. Cover the pot and allow the vegetables to simmer on low heat for about 25-30 minutes.
    6. Stir in the chopped apples and honey. If you have a stick blender, you can directly puree the soup in the pot until the consistency is smooth and creamy. If you have a blender, let the soup cool slightly and then puree it in batches. Segal recommends leaving the hole in the lid open and covering it with a kitchen towel while blending to allow the steam to escape.
    7. Season your soup to taste with salt, pepper, curry powder or honey if desired.

 

Black bean and chickpea salad

Shared by Razan Samara (Arts & Culture Editor)

This is my go-to recipe for dinner with friends and potlucks. It also makes for a perfect side dish alongside lunch or dinner, I personally think it pairs really well with chicken tawook tacos and panko-breaded fish. This recipe yields about 3-4 servings and was inspired by Cookie and Kate.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve found myself become quite reliant on this recipe. It requires minimal effort, which means I can throw a whole batch together pretty quickly the night before my early morning commutes. This recipe has filling ingredients, can easily travel and can be modified to meet your taste preferences. I encourage you to keep things new and interesting with every rendition of the dish!

 

Ingredients

 

Steps

    1. In a large bowl (like really large), combine all of your beans, corn, chickpeas and vegetables. Add in the lime or lemon juice, zest, olive oil and season with ground cumin, salt and black pepper to your taste! I tend to go heavy on the cumin.
    2. Mix all your ingredients.
    3. You can serve right away or cover the bowl and let it chill in the fridge for a couple hours to really enhance the flavours. This recipe can also last in the fridge for about 2-3 days, just make sure to replenish the flavours by adding in lemon or lime juice and giving it a quick stir before serving! I also like to add fresh tomatoes.
    4. Garnish with slices of lime, extra cilantro, avocados or even some tortilla chips!

 

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Rida Pasha

McMaster Hospitality Services offers meal express plans for purchase to all students, staff and faculty. Users can swipe their McMaster University ID card to easily access the range of food choices on-campus, as well as at participating restaurants off-campus.

While this may be a convenient solution for those that want to purchase food on-campus, it can pose a problem for many students living in residence.

Each student living on-campus is required to purchase a mandatory meal plan ranging from $2,975 to $4,735. For many students who are unable or don’t prefer to cook or store food, this meal plan can be a relief.

Meal plan options range from minimum, light, regular and varsity, each increasing in price, allowing students to choose the option that best suits their needs. Each plan is suggested based on how often the student is on campus, how much they regularly eat and how much they can afford.

Since the meal plan is paid in advance, many students and parents feel a sense of security knowing that they food is always available throughout the entire academic year.

With tuition and residence fees on the rise, forcing the purchase of a meal plan places an unnecessary financial strain on students. This can create a boundary against students being able to live on-campus.

Additionally, mandatory meal plans limit students’ options to eat as the plan restricts students’ to eating on-campus with only a few participating off-campus restaurants.

While McMaster does try to offer a variety of food options, eating at the same places daily can be tiring for many students, especially for those that are on campus during weekends and only go home during long breaks.

The meal plan becomes an unnecessary hassle for those that seek to try out new restaurants, prefer to eat off-campus or even just wish to eat out less.

Looking more deeply into the structure of meal plans, the money within the paid meal plans are divided into two categories: basic and freedom.

The basic account is nonrefundable and is used for most on-campus locations. The freedom account is fully refundable and is used for specific off-campus restaurants, confectionary, personal grooming items and convenience products.

There is more money allocated to the basic account than the freedom account since students are likely to be on-campus more.

However, when the freedom account money runs out, students can’t transfer money from the basic to the freedom account in order to take full advantage of their meal plan.

This means that when the freedom account is depleted, students either have to add additional money into that account or can no longer use their meal plan at participating off-campus restaurants.

Students are then left with only on-campus food options, limiting the variety of food available using their already-expensive meal plan.

At the very least, students living in Bates and Mary Keyes residences should be able to make the decision to opt-out of mandatory meal plans, since they have apartment and suite-style rooms equipped with kitchens.

Each kitchen includes a fridge, stove, an oven in Bates, a microwave in Mary Keyes and cupboard space to store food, as well as a full-sized fridge shared amongst the roommates.

Although Hospitality Services offers a reduced meal plan for students living in these residences, the amenities provided make it reasonable for students to live on-campus without requiring a meal plan. Reduced meal plan are still, at a minimum, an added $2,975 cost.

Unlike McMaster, the University of Waterloo allows students with a personal kitchen in their residence to choose whether they would like to purchase a meal plan or not.

Following suit, McMaster University needs to consider the circumstances and preference of students by making all meal plans optional.

 

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Photos by Kyle West

On Jan. 30, the annual Bell Let’s Talk Day, an advertising campaign created by Bell Canada, took the country by storm. In an effort to raise awareness and combat stigma surrounding mental health in Canada, Bell donated money to mental health funds for every social interaction with campaigns hashtag.

While the world tweeted, snapped and Instagram-ed away, The McMaster Women’s Athletic Leadership Committee took it one step further and hosted their first-ever Bell Let’s Talk event.

The event consisted of McMaster student-athletes sharing their personal stories in an open and safe environment that was open to the entire McMaster community. Five student-athletes, Sabrina Schindel, Allison Sippel, Aurora Zuraw, Nicolas Belliveau and Louis Sharland, took the floor and led discussions on depression, eating disorders, language and anxiety and men’s mental health.

http://www.instagram.com/p/BtRPDA0BkSb/

The event was a success with a great turn out that included open discussion and much-needed conversations on mental health and how it affects athletes, in addition to the right steps that need to be taken to combat different stigmas.

“At first, I was expecting it to be a small event with just members of WALC, but to have my teammates, friends and people I didn’t even know come out to support was so amazing and inspiring,” said Sippel, the initiator for the event.

The idea for the event came up after Sippel, a cross-country runner, wanted to be able to create an open space for people to be able to talk about their battles with mental health.

“I feel like if we are able to create a space where people are open to talking, there would be less of a stigma around it,” said Sippel.

She first wrote down her story after she got out of the hospital after suffering from an eating disorder. After reading it to her close friends and family members, she never really shared it with the public. But when the idea of creating an event for Bell Let’s Talk came up, the idea of the panel sharing personal stories came to mind.

Working with Claire Arsenault, McMaster’s Athlete Services Coordinator and WALC, the panel that would originally be a conversation for members of the committee grew to more.

“I was happy that male athletes joined in and it was really inspirational that the group of us could be able to share our stories,” said Sippel.

🗣️ #OneTeamForMentalHealth 🗣️

Ask someone how they are doing.

📸 @MPHcentral#WeAreONE | #BellLetsTalk pic.twitter.com/OlmEeBWH9r

— Ontario University Athletics (@OUAsport) January 31, 2019

Each speaker shared their story then opened up the floor for discussion, answering questions in regard to their experiences, advice for others and much more.

During the panel, Sippel shared her story about how her eating disorder led her to be hospitalized when she was 14 years old. After losing too much weight and no longer being allowed to run, her journey to bounce back was not easy.

“This illness had turned mind against body and person against person because nurses were trained to trust no one,” Sippel explained about her time in the hospital.

Eventually, Sippel showed signs of improvement and was allowed to leave the hospital and return to her everyday life. Fast-forward to today, and she is now running on the Mac cross-country team while trying her best to stay on top of her condition.

“It’s a lifetime of fighting against my mind so I never had to go back,” Sippel said.

For Sippel, having the student-athletes lead this conversation was important for a number of reasons.

“I feel like a lot of times, it is frowned upon to express our feelings. If we start the conversation, there is no better way to set an example for our fellow students,” said Sippel. “Hopefully five students sharing their stories can spiral into something bigger and start a movement.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BtREZWEh1QA/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Schindel, another one of the five student-athletes who shared their stories, is a lacrosse player who suffered from depression. Through the ups and downs of dealing with her battle, she eventually discovered that staying busy and active is what kept helped her out the most. This meant that when her lacrosse season was over, she would have to find something to keep her occupied so she did not fall down that dark hole again.

“Realizing that no one is beyond help and getting in front of my depression before it could do the same damage it used to,” Schindel explained as the steps she takes to keep herself from falling again.

Schindel’s story, though devastating, is more common amongst young people than one may think. This is why it is so important that these conversations are happening. Having the bravery to start the conversation, and sharing tips and resources with their fellow students is a great way for Marauders to do their part in helping end the stigma surrounding mental health.

 

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Photos C/O Kyle West

What it is

The Mexican Kitchen at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market recently underwent a major shift in flavor. While you may know the vendor for their homemade chocolate creations, the new owners are cooking up more savory classic Mexican dishes in the kitchen.

While Mexican cuisine is no stranger to Hamilton’s downtown restaurant scene, the tacos, quesadillas, corn tamales and pozole coming out of this tiny kitchen are worth paying a little extra attention to.

Housed in what has become my favourite spot in Hamilton over the years, the Mexican Kitchen is not only serving up fresh dishes at an affordable price but adds a little Mexican hospitality to the market’s tight knit community feel.

From the hanging glass hummingbirds on the tiki umbrella to the colourful handmade cups from the Tonalà Craft Market near Guadalajara, every single embellishment is a conversation starter to learn more about the owners’ stories and memories from Mexico.

At the Mexican Kitchen you’ll find great food at arguably the cutest vendor at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market, while also learning something new. It definitely hits all the sweet (or shall I say spicy) spots for me.

 

How to get there from Westdale/Ainslie Wood

There’s a couple ways you can get yourself downtown. Either take the 5, 51 or 1 Hamilton Street Railway bus from Sterling Street and University Avenue heading east, or take the 5 or 10 heading east from Main Street West and Emerson Street. Hop off at Main Street West and MacNab Street South.

You can cut through the MacNab Transit Terminal towards Jackson Square and make your way inside to the Hamilton Farmers’ Market mall entrance. If you prefer a slightly longer walk outdoors you can head west on Main Street West and turn right onto Summers Lane until you reach York Boulevard. Turn right on York Boulevard and the main entrance will be on your right.

The Mexican Kitchen is located on the lower level opposite from Slurp Ramen and Leslie’s European Deli.

 

How much

At the Mexican Kitchen you can easily get away with spending under $10 for a filling meal, but it is cash only. Delicious soft corn tortilla tacos or quesadillas go for $4.50 each or you can order three of the same kind for $11.50. Each taco or quesadilla comes with a side of home-made red or green salsa.

Four different kinds of Mexican tostadas are $7.50 each while corn tamales go for $6.50. A small warm traditional pozole soup is $8.50, while medium and large go for $10.50 and $12.50, respectively.

The simple menu also has a few tasteful extras, you can add fresh squeezed lemonade to your order for $1.00, a churro for $2.00, some extra avocado, cheese, sour cream and beans for $0.75 and salsa or meat for $0.95.  

What to get

If you’re dining solo or simply not up for up for sharing, I recommend the pozole soup with chicken topped with lettuce, radish, tortilla chips and lime. You can add fresh avocados or meat as an extra to the dish. Complete your meal with a glass of fresh lemonade and treat yourself to a churro for dessert.

If you’re like me and like to convince friends to tag along so you can try as much things as possible without breaking the bank then I’m proud to share with you my Mexican Kitchen game plan for three.

Start off with tacos, I recommend the spiced potatoes or grilled poblano peppers with onion and zucchini, sprinkled with roasted garlic, lettuce, pickled red onions and cilantro. Share a tostada, which is basically the flat version of a taco topped with a mountainous pile of fresh ingredients.

All tostadas come with a bed of homemade beans on a crunchy grilled tortilla and the option of sour cream and cheese. Your choice of filling includes slow cooked meat (chicken, beef, pork or chorizo and potato), veggie (avocado, sour cream and cheese), vegan (extra avocado), or cauliflower ceviche (cauliflower with onion, parsley, cucumber, avocado topped with spices and lime juice).

Don’t forget the lemonade and churros, and your meal will still be under $10.00 each!  

 

Why it’s great

While the menu at the Mexican Kitchen consists of five main dishes, each one is made from scratch, is gluten-free and can be customizable for meat, vegetarian and vegan diets.

You can also add an extra helping of their fresh ingredients and handmade beans and salsas for an incredibly affordable price, where else can you get extra avocado for less than a dollar?

The corner vendor has also utilized their space to maximize seating. There are bar stools spanning the entire length of the counter lining the vendor and several tables that seat four.

 

At the Mexican Kitchen there’s something for everybody and when doubt you can never go wrong with a taco.

 

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Hating your body is NOT normal

You do not have to hate yourself. It is not normal, even if it is common. Often, our negative thoughts about ourselves become habits and we don’t even notice how much they have taken over our lives. It is perfectly OK to love your body as it is, or even just to come to terms with it.  Disordered eating is pervasive, and bodily self-hate is everywhere, but it doesn’t have to be. The mantra of “every body is beautiful, including my own” is one that I repeat to myself constantly, and that I also tell those I love when they are struggling. Find your own mantra and use it wisely. You and your body are on the same team; cultivate a good relationship and you will be astonished what you can accomplish together.

Food is everywhere

And I don’t just mean physically, I mean socially. You don’t realize just how many events — religious, family, or friendly — revolve around food until you try to give it up. Swearing off food is nothing short of social death. In hindsight, the saddest moments in my life were those when I sat and ate my pitiful meals alone, picking at celery sticks and egg whites alone in the quiet confines of my room. Food was never meant to be a solitary activity, yet we spend too much time eating independently or in the company of Netflix. Treasure your communal meals, because the nourishment of company is just as important as what you are eating together.

Everyone is beautiful

A funny thing happened when I started being open about my body dysmorphia. The people I thought would be the happiest with their bodies — the slim and conventionally appealing — were no more satisfied with their appearance than the ordinary looking. What I discovered is that how you feel about your body has very little to do with your body itself. When I was a full 70 pounds heavier than my sickest weight, I was also happier with my body than I’d ever been (and the healthiest I’d ever been too). The best way I’ve found to begin healing your relationship with your body is to stop judging other people for their appearance. If you can learn to accept other people, it becomes a hell of a lot easier to coexist with your own “faults.”

Life is too short for diets

Remember what I said about food and social death? I was not kidding. A diet takes away your focus on the important things in life and replaces it with a cycle of guilt, self-hatred, and smug superiority. While not all diets are eating disorders, they have one important thing in common; they narrow your focus down to one thing and one thing only — the food you cannot eat. They also don’t work. Five years after a diet your chances of keeping the weight off is only five percent likely, and many people actually gain back more weight than they’ve lost. My — admittedly extreme — diet has even had permanent or semi-permanent negative effects on my body and mind. You are torturing yourself for nothing. Seriously, life is too short.

Relearn everything about your health

Thinness is not health. We all have that one skinny friend that eats terribly and does not exercise — and as an autonomous human being, that is their right — but why on earth would we assume that they are healthier than the fat person who exercises daily and enjoys wholesome food? More and more studies are showing that lifestyle has a much larger impact on health than size, and the two are not necessarily correlated. We accept the fact that some people can be naturally skinny, but we can’t accept that some people may be naturally larger, and that there is nothing wrong with that. Some people are naturally fat and they are not any less healthy, beautiful, or worthy of respect.

Photo Credit: Cicanevelde.hu

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By: Bina Patel

Living in Hamilton comes with many perks. Last month, having a delicious piece of cake delivered right to your door became one of them. Calvin Smith, a computer engineering student from the University of Sheffield in England, began delivering slices of cake to doorsteps all over the McMaster Area. “I only launched a week ago so if you can imagine me cycling around in my bike in minus 20 degrees, delivering cake to peoples door. That’s kind of how it all started,” he said.

The idea was born out of a conversation between Smith and his friends about circulating baked goods to students around McMaster University. Among the many options were brownies and cookies, but they ultimately agreed on a slice of cake.

“There’s not that many things around the Mac area that do this kind of thing so it would be great to offer it,” he explained.

news_cake2

The process is incredibly simple. A customer texts the phone number found on their website, between the hours of 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Saturdays and describe which slice of cake they want along with an address for delivery. Within a half hour, a slice of apple pie with cream, chocolate truffle or red velvet cake provided by a local bakery, will be delivered outside of your home.

The time range in which to place an order is small at the moment, but Smith hopes to expand to Thursdays and Fridays and to improve the efficiency of the service. “There are loads more things we want to put on the menu, with the amount of requests we’ve had for gluten-free cakes and vegan cakes and maybe even things like brownies.”

The personal touch of hand-delivered dessert has certainly had an effect, as the response from the public has been positive. Last week, Smith found himself biking around for four hours in the bitter cold delivering cakes, and business is expected to pick up as word continues to spread. Over 300 people have already shown interest on Facebook.

“There are loads more things we want to put on the menu, with the amount of requests we’ve had for gluten-free cakes and vegan cakes and maybe even things like brownies."

It remains to be seen whether expanding the service will be a piece of cake after all.

Photo Credit: Kareem Baassiri/ Photo Contributor

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