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The Difference Between French and American Cuisine


Written by Alexandra Gautier

When imagining fancy food and fine dining, the mental picture of sitting along the Seine river at a table with an array of large plates donning tiny food comes to mind. When thinking of fast food, the image morphs into one of drive-throughs and McDonald’s, an American specialty. Upon returning to America after a semester abroad in Lyon — the foodie capital of France (contrary to the popular belief that it is Paris) — I’m here to set the record straight.

I immediately noticed the quality of food was better in France because produce was sourced from local vendors who refrain from genetic modification and harsh chemicals. Therefore, the food is fresher and richer in flavor. Even home cooking was done this way. Each morning locals stroll past the French farmer’s markets sprinkled across the expansive city to retrieve fresh ingredients. In America, the only strolling I do is through the isles of the supermarket, picking up pre-made packaged meals and genetically modified fruit.

There were many fine dining options, like Chef Paul Bocuse’s Michelin star restaurant, but France wasn’t entirely free of fast food chains – there were plenty of Burger Kings and McDonald’s, merci to franchising. There were also taco kebab vendors every few blocks. Despite what the name may lead you to believe, there was nothing taco-y about taco kebab. It is basically a burrito stuffed with kebab meat, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and fries that has then been panini’d. Though I definitely miss my regular order of taco kebab, it was nothing compared to the cravings for Tex-Mex that I experienced across the pond. Never again will I take spicy food for granted, as the French are vehemently opposed to seasoning with a kick.

In America, we are encouraged to eat a large breakfast, followed be a smaller lunch and an even smaller dinner. In France, it’s the exact opposite. Breakfast is a quick espresso and croissant or slice of baguette with jam. Lunch usually takes the full hour to eat a decent spread. Dinner is more than just a meal; it is an excuse to eat well while in the company of family and friends. Depending on your host, this process can last a few hours starting with hors d’oeuvres, a salad, the entree, cheese platter and finally dessert. Not to mention the wines, aperitifs (spirit drank before the meal) and digestifs (spirit drank after the meal) served throughout the evening.

Though I dream about French baguette, cheese and macarons on a daily basis, at least I’m now on the same continent as Chic-Fil-A.

The Mentality Behind Loving your Body


Written by Aeryn McMurtry

It is a fact of human nature that a person’s physical appearance is the first thing that other people notice about them. People are prone to making judgements about other people based upon both their evolutionary fight or flight response and common social and societal preconceptions. In most cases, this phenomena is focused outward towards other people, but occasionally, it turns around and creates problems within a person’s own mind. Internalizing issues with your body is an understated aspect of body positivity. Most of the talk is about media and outward social stigmas, which completely glosses over deeper mental problems.

Generally, people know that what they are seeing in magazines and television about “perfect bodies” or “being the best you” is all digitally enhanced pictures of people who are already the standard. But knowing that at face value is different than absorbing it,which is where most people with body positivity issues fall short.

For the most part, the advertisements are targeted towards women. TV commercials boast about the newest Jenny Craig-type meal plan or show off only perfectly sculpted and airbrushed models wearing the latest fashions. Women are encouraged to lose “unsightly” parts of their bodies like fat, wrinkles, cellulite, and stretch marks. Instagram is filled with influencers who advertise Flat Tummy Tea and Teami, quick-fix methods to lose weight and get a flatter tummy. Women are told they always need to be smaller and smoother, getting rid of all of the ‘“imperfections” on the body, most of which are naturally occurring and unsolvable, like cellulite.

There has not been enough conversation about the kind of advertisement targeted at men, and that needs to change. While women are supposed to become smaller, men are supposed to get as big as possible.

Attitudes focused towards men are usually subtler, though not all the time. Commercials selling workout gear almost exclusively feature men with hyper-defined abdominal muscles and arms that look like they came out of an anatomy textbook. Muscle Milk protein products use the social media hashtag, #StrongFeelsGood to sell their powders and shakes to men.

The world of professional sports is also consumed with the biggest, fittest men. Athletes are often considered to be the peak of physicality, and they set an almost unattainable body type for the average working men. And even the athletes know that they can’t maintain their set standards. Just think about how every year there is an Olympic Games, there is some sort of scandal regarding steroids or doping.

The bottom line is that putting too much stock in the media and targeted advertising is unhealthy and only benefits corporations, not people. But it doesn’t feel that way, and that is the destructive part. Mental health is complex, but the one basic truth is that being constantly exposed to negativity causes you to be negative. Focusing on the campaigns that are size and race inclusive, as few and far between as they be, is the better way to go. Remember, above everything else, that there is nothing wrong with being human.

Blood and Plasma Donations in the Roanoke Area


Written by Jessica Shelburne

Many individuals take great pride in organ donation after death. This is an incredible contribution to make, as the average organ donor has the potential to save nearly 50 lives with their corporal offerings (UPMC Health Beat).

The only disadvantage to organ donation is that individuals in need typically only benefit from it once a donor has passed away. Thousands of people are awaiting a transplant they may never receive due to the time it takes to obtain viable organs.

In the meantime, a remarkable contribution that nearly anyone can make, without dying, is blood and plasma donation. It is estimated that over 4 million people die annually due to a lack of life saving blood transfusions. This number supersedes that of individuals who die needing organs, which is an average of 20/day or 7,300/year.

College students are young and mostly healthy, making them a target audience for blood and plasma donation. Blood regenerates in mere hours and not much is required to make a significant impact on someone in need. Also, plasma donors are compensated between $100-$400 for their rounds of donating. If saving a life is not fulfilling enough, the extra cash certainly will be.

The American Red Cross Blood Donation Center and Talecris Plasma Resource Center, both located in Roanoke, operate daily and welcome all who are willing to give of themselves for the benefit of another.

The Swipe Out: Take Me On A Date


Written by Shamira James

Let’s jump right into it: Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and we’re broke. I’d like to consider myself to be a low-maintenance and non-materialistic girl (but I’m a Capricorn, so we all know that’s a lie), but when I go to Walmart, my heart literally swells up with joy of getting a $30 stuffed animal, a $15 candy bouquet, a $3 card and a $1 Twix bar – but I’m willing to compromise for any and all RC bachelors who want to wine and dine me on a budget…or a swipe. But then comes the question from what every guy is dying to know: “where on Earth would Shamira, the prettiest, most stunning, most hilarious, most level-headed, most fashionable and most sweet girl on this campus want to go to eat, Commons or Cavern?” Well, let’s talk about it!

Commons has its pros for sure, when the meals are on the more gourmet side. If you want to sweep me off my feet, the food definitely has to do with it. While I love tendies or lo mein, they don’t exactly scream date food! Take ya girl to Commons when they’re having blackened chicken alfredo or Hidden Valley Ranch chicken BUT only with the baked potatoes, and that’s half of the date in the bag already. Commons is also full of people almost all the time. So, if you get to that part in the date where maybe the conversation stops and it gets too quiet, you can almost always count on a friend or two to come up and say hi.

Cavern might not have the gourmet restaurant scene Commons offers but don’t sleep on it. Quite personally, and this is me fully exposing myself: I like to “do homework” in Cavern and people-watch. And while I should be working on something for seminar, I’m usually taking mental notes of the duos that come into Cavern. They don’t sit exactly across from each other, it’s just close enough. When they tell jokes, they lean toward each other and laugh instead of throwing their heads back and cackling like my friends and I. IT’S SO CUTE AND I WANT IT. It’s comfort food + a cozy setting; the vibe and the conversation is bound to be magical with that special person.

So now I bet you’re wondering, “Wow, Shamira is so well-spoken and talented and I understood both of her beautifully-described points so well! But where, oh, where can I take her to profess my undying love for her?”

Honestly, I’m with Cavern on this. While in Commons, I can get a good meal served on a teal plate, it’s the lowkey vibes of Cavern that I love. I feel like the best conversations I’ve had with anyone, romantic or platonic, have happened in the basement of Colket, and that’s what it all comes down to. Can we talk and get to know each other in a setting that’s not too close for comfort, but just close enough?

It also comes down to you using a swipe to get me more sides, because a girl needs her carrots and ranch.

China Fresh: Local, Fast and Affordable


Written by Lorin Brice Hall

Commons is cool and all, but it gets repetitive. The meals aren’t bad but you can only really take so much Chicken Tendies or Generals Chicken or fish or etc. until you just need a real change of taste pace!

I personally love Chinese food. Its cheap, filling and feels comforting. You can be sad and eat Chinese food, but you can’t be sad while you are eating Chinese food. If you really need to get something besides Commons, go get Chinese. My personal favorite Chinese restaurant in this area is China Fresh. It is a sweet and simple hole in the wall. It is right next to the Kroger on Electric road. The cashier is a very efficient woman; she runs the best Chinese restaurant in the Salem area.

There are a few tables to sit at, nice fluorescent lighting and you can buy a sword for $10.

The food is spectacular and cheap. There are several vegetarian options. You can easily go to China Fresh and get a great filling meal for around $8. If you are looking to prioritize saving money then get a soup, its super cheap and filling. My favorite is the Hot and Sour soup.

They also have a special that is Beijing Style Milk Tea for $1.75. It is warm and creamy. It is incredibly calming to drink and was a staple of mine throughout the colder times of this and last year.

The majority of the food will cost less than $10, but if you go during lunch hours(11 Am-3 PM), you can get a full meal for 6 dollars. You seriously won’t have a bad time if you go there. Check out China Fresh!