These days, people are Instagramming their food almost as often as they are, well, eating it. I dare you to go out to any kind of restaurant, be it Al Forno or East Side Pockets, and not see at least one person pull out his/her smart phone during the meal to snap a pic of whatever food is on his/her plate. You might overhear such exclamations as, “Oh my god, this grilled chicken looks so much better in black and white,” or even, “Dude, just look how dank this burrito looks through the Toaster filter. SO DANK!”
Though food Instagrams have the potential to take a disastrous turn for the worst, two Brown students are hoping to provide us with some original nom-worthy shots… and some comedy, too. Rattygram is the newest Instagram brainchild of two Brown sophomores who snap pics under the pseudonyms of Alfred and Harrison. A feed of “semi-daily delicacies hand-picked by Harrison and Afred,” Rattygram is a depository of gastronomic images that showcases these two roomies’ escapades at the Ratty, and of course, at CFF, during which they gain some edible and artistic inspiration. I decided to sit down with them to better understand the origins of Rattygram. Learn what gets this pair’s culinary juices flowing after the jump.
The first and most essential question: How did they get the idea for Rattygram, and what motivated them to launch it? Alfred and Harrison can pinpoint this exact moment: there was one particular meal in the Ratty at the beginning of the year during which, Alfred described, “Harrison just got such an average plate of salad, such an average plate.” He continued, “with the trend of Instagramming as such a ‘thing’ lately, we decided that to post the most average looking Ratty meal with a very eloquent, five-star restaurant menu description would be really funny.” And so was born the first Rattygram: A artistically-arranged photo of a plate of salad from the salad bar with two chicken breasts; the caption read, “Pounded chicken atop seasonal market greens, vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh cucumbers and finished off with a balsamic drizzle.”
Similar antics have since ensued, including a rare CFF Special that documented, “A trio of chicken. First, fingers marinated in a hot sauce and ranch crème with a Lucky Charms dry rub. Second, a chicken-infused waffle, dusted with cinnamon and topped with a fudge dollop. Last, chicken a-la mode served in a homemade cone.” Sure, when you really think about these things, you might not want to eat them… but upon first impression they kind of sound delicious, right?
Both boys commented that the hardest part of running Rattygram is not only making sure it’s updated frequently, but also maintaining a rich food-centric vocabulary from which they can draw unique and fancy words to describe their dishes appropriately. Though Harrison noted that the duo’s all-time favorite is to “put one item of food on a ‘bed’ of another thing,” he knows that’s not always possible, and that it could get boring to Rattygram followers. “It just sounds so glamorous,” Alfred added, “but we have to keep it fresh.”
Harrison and Alfred hope that with time, people will post their own Rattygram images and tag them with “@rattygram,” so that they can be re-posted and integrated into a “community vibe.” They encourage people to send in ideas, post comments, and to feel free to contribute. “We’re always happy to give shout outs,” Alfred chimed in.
Ultimately, these two creative sophomores are trying to encourage students to appreciate what the Ratty has to offer, and not to necessarily judge the dining hall by its reputation. “So many people complain, even though it’s one of the best cafeterias ever,” Alfred noted. “Even though the ingredients may not always appear to be the most stellar, get a little creative and have a little fun.”