Thursday, September 13, 2007

Soup in the Cafeteria

As far as cafeterias go, we have a pretty nice one at work. There are quite a few choices for entrees, salads, sandwiches, etc. Often I’ll get some type of salad and a soup on the side – especially in the cooler months. There are usually a few soup choices available each day. I started out making my soup choice based purely on ingredients and my likes and dislikes. But sometimes the soup was pretty watery. Some behavioral observations of cafeteria patrons I call “soup sievers” have made me revise my soup selection strategy.

The soup sievers, as I call them, are apparently broth haters that dip the ladle into the soup pot but don’t immediately put their catch into their bowl. Instead they first put the ladle against the side of the crock, tilt it, and pour off as much broth as possible to concentrate the soup solids. I assume they’re trying to maximize the value of their soup dollar. This soup concentration procedure is especially problematic with thinner soups like a vegetarian vegetable. I’ve seen a couple proficient soup sievers stand at the soup area for a couple minutes in order to walk away with essentially a cup of boiled vegetables. Soup sieving is harder with a thicker soup like a cream of mushroom, but I’ve seen skilled soup sievers distill off the broth to enhance the mushroom slice content. Unfortunately, that leaves weak soup (broth or warm cream) for those that follow.

So now my trip to the cafeteria for soup involves a complex selection algorithm driven not only by the soup ingredient and my likes and dislikes but also on the type of soup (thin with solids, thick, or completely smooth like tomato), the size of the crowd (more people = more potential for sievers), and my arrival time. Sometimes, if luck is with me, a late arrival corresponds with a re-stocking of the soup station so I get first crack at a fresh pot. It’s almost like winning the lottery!

Yesterday I passed on the soup. The vegetarian vegetable had just a few pieces of stuff floating in it. And no, I’m not a siever. I like some broth so I can put crackers in to soak it up.

1 comment:

Erika said...

Oh yeah, I do that! lol