Young Jewish boys and girls often spend time away from home for the first time studying in Israel, and they usually have no idea how to survive.

Don’t worry. I am here to help you. With over twenty years of institutional eating experience, I have remained chubby. Here are some of my methods for tactical eating in Jewish institutional environments.

Condimenting Method

Sometimes you just need to add a little something.

Each food, according to its nationality, is meant to be eaten with its respective condiments. Middle Eastern food is meant to be enjoyed with chummus, matchbukah, and any liquidy salad you can find.

The condiments are the catalyst that connects the cook’s vision to the Sabra. One can eat falafel without the chummus, but is it really falafel? Are you eating a tortilla if you do not have guacamole? Is it white bread, if there is no mayonnaise? Is it Chinese food without MSG?

Sometimes there seems to be no hope. Don’t give up. Sometimes you just need to pile the condiments real high. If you put enough mayonnaise on anything, it will taste good. For desserts, this method is likewise known as Whipped Creaming.

Dieting Method

Just think of your Jewish institutional food as a diet. Intermittent fasting is extremely popular nowadays. Now, you are fasting from the last holiday you went home for until spring break.

Homogenizing Method

Sometimes the cook tries a little too hard; says to herself, "Maybe the paprika will cover that stench." We know all too well, that is not true. Paprika never helped anything.

Through the process of homogenizing, we try to revitalize the food back to its original form. The chicken was fine before the cook thought to cook it. It was fine before it got attacked by paprika.

Take a knife and scrape the first level. Shedding the first level of paprika may not be enough. You may need to skin it. Sometimes, shedding the top layers is not enough. The funky cook taste has become part of the beast. In that case, you can always resort to Mayonnaising, as seen in the Condimenting section.

Blending Method

Time to dust off that Cuisinart. This is the era of the fruit Smoothies, so why not try juicing the pumpkin pie with some split pea soup. Also known as Splitpeaing, you can turn any solid into a liquid in seconds.

Acquiring a blender may be difficult, so I suggest to purchase, or to steal mom’s. For those with no blender access, I suggest you use the third pocket in the split cafeteria plate to take the measured amount of each concoction to mix- old school style, mashing with your fork. Remember, you are not trying to make friends here. You are trying to stay alive.

Cerealing Method

This is where you eat cereal for every meal for the next four years.

Oiling Method

It works in cars, it works with doors, it works for Chanukah food. If the food doesn’t taste good, why not add oil? This is known as the Oiling Method. Add olive oil, canola oil, chicken fat, random strips of fried liver, butter, margarine, beef stock, whatever layer of stuff left on the top of your soup after you cooled it down. Health is found in happiness and my heart has been affected by the top layer of white chocolate looking stuff in the soup.

Purchasing Method

A hard method to pull off when you don’t have a credit card that is not yours.

The Purchasing Method may be substituted with Bringing Method, where you take stuff from your parents’ pantry, loading up your suitcase with condiments, spices and Wacky Mac. Known as the Wacky Macking Method, this is where you use the Water Boiling Method to make food in your room. You may even have the blessing of getting kicked out of school for this, by ignoring the institutional rules of no cooking in your room. I don’t suggest the Kicked Out of School Method for most. However, that method did score me many excellent meals, even if I did get yelled at.

Salting Method

It brings out the taste of good food and covers the taste of Jewish institutional food. Disclaimer: Salting does not help with most dessert pastries. However, it will ensure that all of your foods are kosher.

Tabascoing Method

If Jewish institutional food has dulled your taste buds to the point where they are hibernating, my suggestion is to carry Tabasco and load it on. Wake up taste buds! Load on the Tobasco and you will have no idea what you are eating.

Whiskeying Method

Used at Kiddush a lot. This makes anything you eat after shul tasty. I know this works, because I see people drinking whiskey and then enjoying pickled herring.

Warning: Do not use this method if you are underage, an alcoholic, around anybody, have a job, hope to have a career in the future.

Leftovering Method

You are going someplace for Shabbat. They have great food. They will offer you food to take with you. They will expect you to say “no.” They are just trying to be nice. Take it. This is basic survival. You don’t have the right to be classy. You are a student. You have been wearing the same shirt for the past six months. You need food you can eat. Take it and run. If you have to eat chulent all week, so be it.

The proverbial doggie bag is man’s best friend. Who cares if they think you are a dog?! Dogs like good food too.

Many of these methods of tactical eating are also helpful when visiting friends who do not know how to cook. Next time we will discuss methods for how to leave somebody’s home without actually eating Shabbat dinner. This is accomplished through the use of the Food Spreading on the Plate and the This Food Tastes Great Complimenting Method of not eating.

We are all affected by what we eat, so always remember to carry the mayonnaise and hot sauce with you. All food can be saved with Condimenting.

Don’t give up. And remember. No matter what they make you eat, you still have to make a Bracha.