I love food. I mean, who doesn’t? From savory to sweet, coffees to smoothies, snack foods to desserts, I love it all. With the serious inclination I have towards this concept of food, something we literally cannot live without, I’ve found a way to utilize this love of mine in a somewhat productive manner.
Something you should know (if you are planning on pursuing a degree in the Olin School of Business) is that beyond the fall semester of your first year, there are no classes held in the business school on Fridays. Amazing, right? The reasoning behind this is to provide students the opportunity to schedule interviews and get ahead professionally. In theory, this sounds great. At first, as an eager first year student, I was determined to utilize each and every Friday to either go for interviews, visit the Career Center to get my resume reviewed, or hit up one on the many local coffee shops (Kaldi’s, Kayak, or Starbucks to name the most frequented in my case) to peruse LinkedIn, Career Link, and the various other professional networking sites that get me way too excited about future opportunities. However, this drive didn’t last. I mean, it did. It definitely did. I still enjoy the occasional evening making an absurd amount of new connections on LinkedIn. Realistically, though, this isn’t how I wanted to spend my Fridays. I ended up finding alternative times such as 2am in my bed, in between classes, and sometimes even during classes (shhhh. my professors do not need to know this!) to carry out the aforementioned career preparation tasks that I was given one day per week to complete.
You may be wondering then, “how, Emma, did you spend your Fridays?” Great question! Most Fridays I would spend sleeping in, definitely. The most satisfying feeling is going to bed on a Thursday night without having set an alarm. Seriously. That feeling comes surprisingly close to the feeling you get after turning in your final, final exam. Honestly, there is nothing better. After waking up around 11:30am (sometimes later) I was ready for, you guessed it, FOOD!
Luckily, quite a few of my friends just so happened to be in the business school as well. We would oftentimes utilize our time off on Fridays to go off campus for brunch. Eventually, however, I realized that I was doing more than just indulging in delicious food: I was exploring the greater St. Louis area and learning about the various cultures, neighborhoods, and people that make up St. Louis as we know it. In other words, I was getting to know St. Louis through my love of food.
I’ve always been curious about what makes St. Louis the city that it is. Who lives here? Where are they from? What do they stand for? What is their story? What better way to find the answers to these questions than through doing something that you love?
Here are a few instances:
Teatopia — A tiny, brand new, tea shop on Cherokee Street. I went here because, as you can probably guess, I wanted some tea! However, I got much more than a cup of sweetened iced tea. I had the opportunity to talk to the store owner, Reo, who had opened the shop no more than a couple of months prior. I learned that he had lost both parents and a sibling at an unfathomably young age, that he had given up his pursuits of in the health care field to follow his true passions, and that opening this shop was a dream come true for him. His story was heart wrenching, unimaginable, yet nothing short of inspiring. Read about it here.
City Coffeehouse + Creperie, Half & Half, and First Watch – These three brunch places introduced me to Clayton, a suburb just west of Wash U. Through dining at these places (too frequently than I’d like to admit), I was able to get a great sense of the demographics of Clayton and the overall vibe of the city. I would tell you my findings here but it’d be way more fun (& delicious) if you would go brunch for yourself and find out!
MoKaBe’s Coffeehouse – A progressive self-proclaimed Coffeehouse on the corner of South Grand and Arsenal Street, MoKaBe’s is a must-try. Here, I saw a very different side of the Tower Grove South neighborhood I never really knew existed. After spending over an hour and a half speaking with the owner, Mo Costello, out on the patio one Wednesday afternoon, I got to learn about where and how the coffeehouse started, how it’s evolved, its various demographics, it’s political leanings, it’s context within St. Louis, and the different communities it’s served etc.
This list isn’t anywhere near exhaustive, either.
Rooster // Drunken Fish // Blueberry Hill // Lona’s Lil Eats // Seoul Taco // Winslow’s Home // Dewey’s // Kayak’s // Benton Park Café and Coffee Bar // Corner 17 // Fork and Stix // Sushi Ai // Crushed Red // Doughocracy // Pastaria // Sardella // Mission Taco // Ted Drewes
Just to name a few…
As you can see, food can be more than just a way to satisfy your own personal cravings. Exploring St. Louis through food (and coffee) has proved to be a productive way for me to get to know the real St. Louis. I’ve met people who I never would’ve come across had I stayed on campus and eaten every meal in Bear’s Den or the DUC. What is a city, anyway? In my humble opinion, a city is more than the streets than run through it and it’s more than its buildings and structures. At the heart of a city are the people who call it home. I challenge you to get out, grab some food, and strike up a conversation. Here are some questions to get you started…
How did you end up in (insert name of city here)?
What is your favorite thing about (insert name of city here)?
From past experience, questions like these can lead to a conversation you may never forget. So log off, find a café, and take the time to really get to know the people and places around you. Bon appétit, my friends!