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bop_frontera

Tortas Frontera

Credit: Jenny Lu

11,616 feet. That’s how many feet the closest 24-hour diner is to my current location in the 39th street Starbucks, which is already 4,752 feet away from my apartment. Wouldn’t you rather the closest 24-hour diner be a mere 1,584 feet away? 

Stressed out students on Penn’s campus already have a plethora of healthy options at their fingertips. The newly-renovated Houston Market offers freshly made salads, wood-fired fresh flatbreads, and sushi options galore. But when it’s three in the morning, almost everywhere except Fresh Grocer has shut its doors for the night, and the only thing that will save you from exhaustion is a milkshake that reminds you of home, students don’t care about the health benefits of avocados. They want sugar, grease, and comfort food. That’s why Tortas Frontera needs to be replaced with a 24-hour diner. 

One thing college campuses tend to lack is comfort; they are chasms full to the brim with diverse people, backgrounds, and stories, but they don’t always radiate the feelings of warmth and support that people need. Food obviously isn't the only way to feel reassured, but it is a quick fix that brightens moods, and when you need a little slice of comfort, a diner on your very own campus would be a great place to go. 

Of course, what counts as comfort food is different for each person. As someone who has never tried bacon in my life, the thought of bacon cheese fries doesn't sound appealing or bring about nostalgic memories. Does that mean I wouldn’t appreciate a place on Penn’s campus where I could go with friends who actually enjoy bacon cheese fries and share some laughs with them over some regular fries? Not at all.

Comfort food is as much about nostalgia as it is about its good taste. Many people make associations in their heads with the smell of a food they were eating during a particularly happy meal, and crave that food in moments of crises or unhappiness. This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Giving Penn students a diner on campus that could turn into a hub of happy moments with friends over shared milkshakes and laughs could forge new moments of happiness and a break from stress, while giving other students the comfort food they already crave and associate with their childhood. 

We’re growing up. That’s an unavoidable side effect of going to college. But even adults crave foods that make them feel secure and warm inside. There’s much contestation over whether or not comfort foods actually comfort your body through some neurological signals, or just your mind through use of internal justification, but either way, a temporary relief from stress is welcome reprieve in the whirlwind that is our daily lives. 

The social side effect of having a diner would similarly comfort in the same way the foods could. Sharing a meal with a friend and talking to another person instead of pouring your body into yet another book in the library can be just as reassuring as the meal you’re sharing. A 24-hour diner would not only give us good food, but a good place to decompress, laugh, and feel comforted. Who doesn’t need that from time to time?

SOPHIA DUROSE is a College sophomore from Orlando, Fla. studying English. Her email address is sdurose@sas.upenn.edu. 

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