As many of my colleagues discussed in earlier posts, Bloomington definitely is a unique college town. There is a lot of tradition and great places to eat. I certainly have my favorite places to eat, which include Korean, Chinese, and burger restaurants! However, my comfort food is Vietnamese food, and I have some difficulty finding my favorite food items in B-town.
I grew up in the Maryland suburbs where I had easy access to fantastic Asian cuisine and Asian grocery stores. In Bloomington, I struggle to the comfort foods that I craze. So how do I get around that?
First there is an Asian fusion restaurant that serves spin-offs of Vietnamese food. If I am in a pinch, I usually stop here. The food is good and relatively cheap for a college student! Another way to get my comfort food fix is to visit the Asian grocery markets here in Bloomington. My favorite is Saraga Oriental Market because it has a good mix of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese food items and snacks. Sometimes they carry fresh produce that are key ingredients in some Vietnamese dishes.
Most of the time, I do have to cook my own dishes. It might sound time-consuming, but there are great ethnic food blogs (Korean and Vietnamese) that I shared earlier that are really easy to follow. I usually like to cook ethnic food with a group of friends as a way to show them my roots. Yes, cooking can be daunting, but I feel that I have become a better cook by trying to cook my comfort foods that I grew up with.
Graduate school is a time where students not only grow as a scholar but also as a person. We learn skills both inside and outside the classroom and that honestly make us a more well-rounded person. Not having access to my comfort foods have made me more appreciative of cooking and more knowledgeable of what goes into my food. Not having easy access to my comfort foods has made me more adventurous as I have tried new things and found even more comfort foods (burgers!).
Transitioning from a large city to a smaller college town has its ups and downs, but I have learned that you have to enjoy every minute of it!