I have a complicated love affair with cooking.

My sophomore year, I lived in Harrison and, attempting to be crafty, I tried to make scrambled eggs in the microwave. That morning, my roommate awoke to the POP of my eggs exploding, bits of yolk and egg white flying out and coating the plastic of her microwave. When I cautiously opened the microwave, its inside looked like a Salvador Dali painting; I’ve never really lived that incident down.

Truthfully, I don’t cook a lot. To compensate, I’ve become well acquainted with the Philly food scene. Dining out is one of those little ways we can treat ourselves after a hard week. Eating out is a gustatory adventure: the first slide of melted cheese against your tongue, that delicious dichotomy of hot against cold metal; the glide of your teeth biting into a burger, rivers of juice running down your chin; the creamy decadence of a cheesecake, crumbly graham crackers clinging to the edge of your lips. There’s something intimate, almost magnetic, about the luxury of buying a meal for yourself. And honestly, does anyone in your life make you feel as excited as when you see the waiter gliding towards you with your food?

But, as I grow older and more fiscally responsible, I recognize the benefits of learning to cook. After a yearlong hiatus, I’ve been trying my hand at it again, this time without the threat of setting off the fire alarms. There is, admittedly, something quite special about sitting down to a meal and being able to say “Hey, I made this, from scratch. And I probably won’t die if I eat it.” For anyone who empathizes with that, Dining Guide also includes a variety of no–fuss, delicious recipes for the busy college student.

From fast food to five–star restaurant and from homemade to homegrown, there’s a page for every price point and culinary expertise in this edition of our Dining Guide. The weather is finally clearing up—take advantage of this chance to grab a meal, or drinks, with some friends.

But, hey, if you don’t want to—we won’t judge. When it comes to food, who really wants to share anyways?

We hear all the time that our undergraduate years are the best of our life. I’m not sure I’m convinced, but here’s one thing I’m sure of: if we’re here, we might as well make it tasty.

Much love,

Sabrina Qiao