College 101: Intro to Garbage Plates

Well, my second guest in a week has come and gone.  My roommate also left to spend a couple days in Richmond this afternoon and took the pup with her, so I’m currently experiencing some very rare and slightly unsettling silence here in the Palmetto Palace.  Even when Sarah travels for work, Irie usually stays with me, so at the very least I’m used to having his constantly wagging tail and puppy kisses to keep me company!  Ah well, I suppose I should try to appreciate the solitude.

My friend Meghan arrived the night before Mikaela left, which was another example of magical worlds colliding.  Two of my closest pals, one from college life in Geneseo and one from study abroad in New Zealand, sitting together in my living room on the Outer Banks?  Nutso ridiculous.

In the same way that my conversations with Mikaela frequently stray back to the afternoons spent exploring in Hagley Park or hanging out in our flat in Christchurch, my week with Meg was heavily peppered with reminiscences about our Geneseo days.  I met Meg the day I moved in to my freshman dorm, so we have a full four years of college experiences to talk about.

Foam Party (15)Kesha 082

(Foam party on the first weekend of freshman year to the Ke$ha concert during our senior spring semester… we’ve come a long way, baby!)

But something else we talked about, actually in relation to blogging, was that a single anecdote, fleshed out with details and dialogue, can sometimes be better than a general retelling of a long span of time and activity.  We have four years of Geneseo memories to talk about, but often found ourselves rehashing specific nights with our Steuben neighbors when we were sophomores, or the Easter “friend holiday” in Meg’s apartment last spring.  Similarly, though we had almost a week-long visit here, there was one instance in particular where we really brought Geneseo to life here on the beach.

The Anatomy of a Garbage Plate

For those of you unfamiliar with the region of western New York (I repeat: western.  Not upstate.), let me give you a taste of college life in Geneseo.  In every college town, there’s one grungy food joint that’s known for having the two main qualities that university students look for: it’s super cheap and open late.

Ours was called UHots.  It’s right on Main Street and open until 3 o’clock in the morning.  Its specialty?  Garbage plates.  Not Mama Kwan’s weird version made of lettuce and cabbage and an unholy amount of other vegetables, but the classic regional dish from Rochester: a bunch of mayo-based side dishes, topped with meat in any form, mixed together and covered in an obscene amount of ketchup.  Disgusting, right?  I know.  They’re amazing.


That was my first garbage plate ever, on the way back from the Rochester Lilac Festival in 2008.  I’m trying to decide which song I should’ve been singing to the plate in that picture: I’m torn between this, this, and this.  Okay, I wouldn’t sing that last one, but I would quote it dramatically as my garbage plate and I walk off into the mist.

ANYWAY.  Although we are now nearly nine months, hundreds of miles, and countless experiences removed from the last time we had a garbage plate in Geneseo together, Meg and I set out to recreate one of our favorite college dishes.  I thought I’d share the recipe:

1) Start with an evening of red wine and reminiscing.

2) Follow with a trip to the nearest 24-hour grocery store to stock up on the essential ingredients: mac salad, potato salad, hashbrowns, and some sort of meat.


3) Get that grub cookin’!


Helpful Hint: Recruiting a super cute chef will greatly enhance the final result.


4) Add spices, cheese, and onions to taste; mix it all together (Styrofoam containers are the most authentic, but actual bowls will do in a pinch).


5) Garnish with half a bottle of ketchup.  Serve hot and enjoy promptly!


And there you have it!  A real western New York garbage plate.  Are you incredibly grossed-out by me right now, or ready to go give it a go yourself?  Either would be reasonable, really.

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4 thoughts on “College 101: Intro to Garbage Plates

  1. I’ve just considered that my first comment might have sounded quite rude. Sorry about that, I may be losing my filter. The point is, I’m very glad you have a lovely visit with Meg and I very much enjoyed reading about it, and now I’m going to go sleep this off.

    1. Don’t worry, dear, garbage plates are most certainly not edible without a large dose of nostalgia – or having grown up or living in WNY. It took a year and a half before anybody could convince me to try one!

      Don’t worry, I rather like you without your filter (did you have one to begin with?). Always good for a laugh 🙂

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