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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Dorms, Dishes and Delicacies: Houston Hall


Dinner cooked in Houston Hall is pictured.

While walking through the Res Quad during the past few months, you may have noticed the sticky note “H>M” and “M>H” signs displayed in the Houston Hall and Miller Hall windows, respectively. But which one is actually better?

To settle the debate between the twin halls, I headed over to the Lone Star Dorm (Houston Hall) this past week to cook up some Mediterranean pasta salad and decide which of the two dorms would prevail, at least from a culinary standpoint.

Armed with my kitchen kit and my green container of vegetables and feta cheese from Carm, I made my way over to the Houston kitchen on Thursday night to make a simple yet delicious meal.

Upon my arrival, I was impressed with the cleanliness of the space. Aside from a few dishes next to the sink (a common theme of dorm kitchens), the kitchen provided a stench-free and tidy place to prepare the dish. Miller did not compete with Houston’s level of cleanliness. It’s not a competition (except it totally is).

Furthermore, Houston’s trash can drawers below the island actually stayed closed, a nice change from the ones in Miller which are perpetually open. This led to a much easier cooking experience, as I was free from needing to contort my body just to utilize the counter space. (As I typed that sentence, I realized just how low my standards have become).

Functionality was good … or so it seemed, until I realized that there were no paper towels. Houston, we have a problem. How was I to clean the puddle of water around the sink? Unlike in Miller, which offered a loose roll of paper towels on the countertop, Houston gave me absolutely nothing. I resorted to stealing some from the adjacent gender-neutral bathroom.

In terms of supplies, Houston had slim pickings aside from the selection of dirty dishes by the sink. I would advise you not to rely on Houston to provide any cookware for future culinary undertakings.

Where Houston ultimately fell short, though, was in the vibes department. Despite sharing a name with the city nicknamed “Hustle Town,” it was absolutely deserted while I was cheffing up my meal. I wasn’t expecting a barbecue or rodeo in the lobby, but wow, it was really quiet.

Despite the lack of excitement, the resulting meal was still delicious. “It was so good,” one diner said. “I wish I didn’t eat dinner before this,” another remarked. Any qualms about the kitchen quickly evaporated as we enjoyed the salad.

Overall scores:

Functionality: 8/10

Cleanliness: 8/10

Supplies: 5/10

Vibes: 4/10

Recommendations: Bring a roll of paper towels. If you would like better vibes, bring a big group of people and a speaker (maybe to play some country music to match the Lone Star theme).

Despite the Miller/Houston rivalry, my experiences in both kitchens revealed that neither stands out from the other; instead, they offer unique strengths and weaknesses. Do I happen to prefer one over the other? Yes. But this column is about cooking, not my personal dorm biases, so I won’t disclose my opinion. Perhaps the signs in the windows should be updated to “H=M.”