Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes
Eating with Eichholtz
It may seem obvious that universities need cafeterias, but it isn’t. An important part of a healthy lifestyle is regular physical activity, and a short walk from the faculty to a nearby eatery fits in perfectly. So while eating in your building is convenient, it’s not necessarily good for you.
Admittedly, this applies more to those of us who work in the buildings in the city centre than to our colleagues on the Randwyck Campus. They practically have to go on pilgrimage to reach a decent eating establishment from their culinary desert. This is fine from an exercise point of view, but it simply takes too much time. This article is dedicated to our unfortunate colleagues and students in the Randwyck area, who can’t choose their daily lunch from all the culinary riches Maastricht has to offer.
I’m trying out the various eateries on the Randwyck Campus with Leonardo Pimpini, a second-year PhD student at the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences. He’s Italian, which alone makes him a culinary expert. But he’s also in the obesity research group of Professor Psychology of Eating Disorders Anita Jansen, studying the extent to which food and the perception of food stimulate the brain and whether this differs between people who are overweight and people who are not. It would’ve been difficult to find a better companion.
Before embarking on our expedition, we discuss the decline of Italian lunch culture. The traditional three- or four-course pranzo has gradually been traded in for a slice of pizza or a plate of pasta. Big family lunches have been relegated to weekends and holidays. What hasn’t changed is the length of the standard lunch break in Italy, which is still a comfortable ninety minutes. Leonardo struggled to get used to the austere half-hour lunch break in the Netherlands.
Due to the limited time available, we focus on the sandwiches Randwyck has to offer. We start off at the large cafeteria on UNS 40.
Ideally, in-house catering should at least offer much daily variation to allow our people to have a varied lunch. This appears to be the case as far as hot meals are concerned, but there’s much room for improvement when it comes to the sandwiches. The cafeteria sells a fixed range of bread rolls and the fillings consist mainly of such classics as lunchmeat ham, cheese, minced meat, and tuna salad. The need for daily variation is met by the ‘Broodje van de Maand’, which has been internationalised to ‘Month Roll’ – is that even English? (Translator’s note: it isn’t.) Would it be too much to ask for a sandwich of the day instead?
Leonardo’s favourite sandwich at the university cafeteria is the Serrano ham sandwich, which is quite nice indeed. The ham is good, but the bread roll is dry and has no real crust. The lettuce – mainly rocket – is almost completely wilted, which makes sense, because the sandwiches are prepared well in advance. According to Leonardo, large trays of sandwiches start appearing before nine a.m. This might be unavoidable, considering the large number of people who come here to be fed every afternoon. That said, the sandwich costs €2.95, and there are plenty of establishments in the city centre that prepare freshly made sandwiches for this same price. Perhaps it’s a matter of organising things differently.
Our next stop is the Bakery Café between UNS40 and Randwyck railway station. The sandwiches look much better here. They look so good we have a hard time choosing between them. Eventually, we order the multigrain bread roll with grilled vegetables. It consists of the inevitable trinity of aubergine, bell pepper and courgette, combined with rocket and, surprisingly, pieces of potato. This is a good sandwich. The bread is tasty and has a good crust with grains on top, and the vegetables have different levels of doneness and crispness. My only comment is that they’re stored too cold, which weakens the flavours.
The last eatery we visit is also the best one: Banditos, all the way on the other side of UM Randwyck. Banditos sells only three different sandwiches, but this does allow them to be freshly made. We order the herb cheese sandwich and the hummus sandwich, both in ‘DeLuxe’ edition, which means they come with rocket, tomato and cucumber. The herb cheese sandwich is very good. The white bread roll is perfect in terms of taste and texture, with a great crust. The rocket is very fresh and crunchy and the various flavours are well balanced. You can taste all the fillings, and the tastes and textures complement each other. This is undoubtedly the best sandwich we’ve tried. Leonardo even thinks it’s as good as the sandwiches in Italy. And it comes with free water to boot.
Unfortunately, the hummus sandwich isn’t great. Good hummus is soft as silk; this one is dry and crumbly. It doesn’t contain enough oil and the chickpeas weren’t fully cooked when they went into the blender. We don’t finish our hummus sandwiches.
Finally, a note on atmosphere. The atmosphere of an eatery is an important part of the experience, but only Banditos scores well in this area. Leonardo and I agree that this should be the future of food at UM: small-scale, cosy, and with freshly made sandwiches. Banditos is a joy to visit.
Every three weeks, Professor Piet Eichholtz (Professor of Finance at SBE) trawls the streets of Maastricht in search of good food with a student or colleague and reports on his findings here