Vary your diet with Franklin specials

By Morning Wood Staff

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The Franklin D.C Garden Salad is a popular vegetarian choice. (liz west/Flickr)

The Franklin D.C Garden Salad is a popular vegetarian choice. (liz west/Flickr)

By Cranston Barry

Entering junior year at UMass, many students find themselves choosing meal plans which offer YCMP swipes. YCMP allows upperclassmen to eat at more dining locations than the four residential dining commons, and for many who have spent the last two years living off Worcester and Franklin or Berkshire and Hampshire, the upgrade in options can be a nice change of pace.

YCMP swipes are accepted at a variety of locations such as Pita Pit, the Procrastination Station, many on-campus cafes, and, of course, Blue Wall. However, despite the increase of location options, many students on YCMP plans can fall into a cycle of repetition. Walking between classes and being close to the center of campus, it’s often convenient and tempting to grab lunch at Blue Wall rather than walking over to a dining commons.

Yet what many students will find after a few months at Blue Wall is that eating the same wrap or sandwich day in and day out can get old quickly, and this is where the dining commons come back to the rescue. The dining commons at UMass offer a diverse, delicious selection of different daily specials that can be a great opportunity to change up your lunch and dinner each week.

At Franklin D.C, the week often kicks off with oven-fried chicken, topped with cranberries and served with a side of grilled carrots and rice. For healthy and tasty drink options, the ice water dispenser with added cranberries is the perfect companion to this meal.

The week continues with many inventive and spontaneous recipes from UMass Dining. Tuesday night frequently features the indispensable taco bar, your choice of chicken or beef with lettuce, shredded cheese, black beans, cranberries, olives, tomato, sour cream, and cranberry blend guacamole. Franklin will also sets up its freshly squeezed cranberry juice and cranberry smoothie bar on Tuesdays for a great drink to grab on the go as you head out after eating.

Sick of having regular meals for dinner? Franklin changes it up on Wednesdays with breakfast for dinner. Cranberry pancakes with cranberry syrup and omelets with cranberries in them make for a fun meal that tastes great at the end of a long day with a small cup of coffee or hot cranberry tea. A gluten free option is even available which includes cranberry muffins and cranberry bread.

The lunch specials at Franklin throughout the week offer many surprises for students including recipes many people may have never even thought to try before coming to UMass. When picking up a regular old hot dog with fries, most people wouldn’t expect to find cranberries in the meat of the hot dog after taking that first bite, but Franklin never fails to throw a curveball into your stomach. For another back to the basics lunch item that isn’t at Blue Wall, the grilled cheese sandwich with cranberries is a Franklin classic available every day of the week during lunch and dinner hours.

Franklin Around the World is another event that never fails to bring in crowds of students each month, and is definitely worth trying out when you’re looking for something new and exciting to eat. Often featuring special international guest chefs on a Friday evening, last month’s dinner entrée featured dinde au canneberge with grilled vegetables on the side. Past specials have also included stromboli salsiccia con mirtillo rosso, a delicious Italian calzone special served with pasta, cerdo arándano rojo, a Mexican pork dish served with rice, and the Kuranberi Sushi featured in a sushi night last January.

But sometimes it’s nice to kick back with something simple, especially on weekend afternoons. Thinking outside the box on Saturdays, Franklin is often known to break out the twelve-foot long food troughs to line each counter for dinner, filled to the brim with cranberry sauce for all students to enjoy in family-style dining, no utensils required.

With all these great options available at Franklin, it’s good to remember to switch it up every so often when you have some extra time to eat lunch or dinner at the dinning commons rather than getting the same Pita or salad wrap with your swipes each week. The variety of Franklin specials is a value that can’t be beat, and the best part is that even if you miss your chance to try one, you need not worry as it is surely going to be there next week, too.

Cranston Barry is a Collegian columnist and can’t be reached by email because he lives in a bog.