(Photo courtesy of: Savannah Baker) “Tater tots from McGauvran Hall.”
When eating at the UMass Lowell dining halls, Mary Duggan, a sophomore English major says, “table fries are a necessity between me and my friends.”
Duggan’s participation in potato culture is hardly rare—both the Fox and McGauvran dining commons offer a variety of forms of potatoes. The grill station rotates different types of French fries each day. Common French fry options include shoestring, curly, crinkle, waffle, sweet potato and steak fries.
Potato alternatives at the campus dining commons do not end there. Tater tots can be found in place of fries at the grill station some days, and mashed, baked or grilled potatoes can occasionally be seen at the allergy-friendly station, True Balance.
Students with food allergies are not limited to the types of potatoes True Balance offers as many of the French fries served at the dining halls are allergy-friendly. Aramark, the food service provider for the UMass Lowell dining commons, say they use canola oil when cooking their French fries.
“I try to eat mostly at True Balance because of my allergy, but I get fries a lot,” said Morgan Mylon, a junior graphic design major.
The amount of different potatoes might reflect the array of opinions associated with different forms of the potato. Duggan is not a huge fan of mashed potatoes as they were a household staple in her home, but she has come to appreciate the dining hall mashed potatoes at True Balance. “I like them because they have the skin in it. I always think that is a little different,” she said.
Brian Moreira, a sophomore business major, says his favorite form of potato at the dining hall are the grilled potatoes at True Balance.
Duggan says she equally loves baked potatoes and French fries. She says she enjoys it when True Balance offers baked potatoes; but, when it comes down to it, French fries are her go-to. “My favorite are the waffle fries or the crinkle cut,” Duggan says.
Celia Hoffman, a sophomore English major, also says waffle fries are her favorite type of fry at the dining hall. But Mylon says that her favorite fries are curly and shoestring fries. On the other hand, Moreira says shoestrings are his least favorite.
Duggan splits the difference of opinion on shoestrings, saying, “the shoestrings are okay every once in a while, … [but], shoestring is not always the best because they are soggy.”
Hoffman’s least favorite type of fry differs from others: “I don’t like sweet potato fries; they are gross,” she says.
Condiment choices accompanying the fries differ almost as much as the potato choices. When it comes to dipping sauces for French fries, Hoffman likes to stick to classic ketchup, while Mylon says her preferred condiment is nothing.
Unlike Hoffman and Mylon, Duggan uses a wide array of dipping sauces: “I like ranch, mustard, [and] BBQ sauce,” she said. The final answer to Duggan’s preferred condiment for French fry dipping is “D: all of the above,” she said.
When it comes to potato chips, Duggan says, “I am more of a dip than chip girly.” But she would like to see more chip options at the sandwich station in the dining hall. “Maybe switch it up; get me some salt and vinegar or sour cream and onion chips,” Duggan said.
Overall, the potato options at the campus dining halls are a hit among students, especially the French fries. Duggan even recommends that the dining hall put out two buckets of fries instead of one because they vanish so quickly during busy hours.
An area the dining hall could improve on when it comes to their French fries is their cooking time. Duggan says, “stop over cooking [the fries], please,” a comment directed at Aramark.