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blind date:
Furniture, walls and interior details that remind of the Soviet times.

A long table always served for the banquet.

A male cook in the kitchen.

Soft and nice music.

Special enclosed corridor for the queue. Very interesting thing.

Conveyer for dirty dishes.
Visually handicapped and deaf people work in the canteen.

Silence during lunch time.

The location is hard to find.

Big tables if you want to have lunch with a group.

A lot of artificial flowers.

Sincere concern of a cook: „How come you’re not eating soup? That is not healthy.
One won’t find two identical plates in the canteen.

If you are in a hurry, you can eat your quick lunch sitting at the bar.

If you are bored, you could try guessing the names of the plants at the windows of the canteen. I guess that would take you at least a week.

A coat rack.

A good location in a center of the city.

Air conditioning system (though, it was not working on my visit day).
Head spinning corridors with old squeaky floors.

Young diners.

Eating in the canteen felt like sitting in a sauna.

Painting on the wall and cleanliness.

Architecturally interesting building for a walk after lunch.

Impressive pink walls.
Disco for people over 30 on weekends and disco style attributes in the canteen.

Two huge palms near the window.

Enormous picture on the wall. Painted poppies could open a discussion about a landscape painting.

Background music (only Russian).

A corner bar with all facilities.

Lots of tables at the windows.
Very talkative canteen worker.

Most of the things in the canteen are marked with „Vilniaus degtinė“ logos.

Everything is new.

Canteen is full of flowers. Orchids included.

Various types of dishes, even after lunch time.

Cosy interior.
Vintage interior.

Long conveyer for dirty dishes.

The students in the canteen are open for discussions about physics, law, economics or communication science.

A microwave oven for heating food you brought from home (though heating your food is not allowed, but when the staff doesn't see...)

Radio announcing about the situation on the roads for drivers.

No queues in the canteen during lectures.
Microwave oven – you can use it to warm up your own food.

Company store selling sweets at the same place.

Easy to read sign of WC – you will never have to ask for the way.

A smell of chocolate and cheap candies (and somehow cheap portions of ice-cream too).

Fan-page on the Internet.

Sophisticated food that one won't find in other canteens (escalopes, Chicken Kiev, etc.).
Funny carved heart shaped chairs.

Great combination of colours! Yellow walls match blue artificial flowers.

Low door, so everyone has to lean over to enter the canteen.

Fresh coffee and an espresso machine!

A sink to wash hands.

A coatrack.
Enormous work of ceramics on the wall.

Red colour that makes a place look mysterious.

80’s style corner bar with glossy lamps and curved lines.

Flowers everywhere.

Students and quite intelectual discussions among them.

A worker with plates with lunch dishes running among tables.

Long, but quickly moving queue on lunchtime.

Barely heard music.

Freshly made carrot juices.

Examples of folk art (i.e. wicker lampshades).

No tray system – all dishes are served to your table.
Vintage interior.

A cash-lady using old school cash register.

Free art and fresh gossips.

A bar with nice service.

Talkative diners.

Unexpected location for a canteen – a dormitory between skyscrapers.

Colourful carpet on the wall.

Young diners.

Exceptional service for newcomers.

Food portions with a little bit extra.

School kids, who willingly show you the way to canteen.
Availability of alcohol.

Great window view.

Enormous mirror near the exit.

Lithuanian soap operas on LCD TV (it is also possible to see the view of the other canteen hall on the TV).

White tablecloths that enrich the dining experience.

Awarded a Diploma for good service.
Barred windows and interior.

Unique composition of daylight lamps.

Flower shop with a great variety of plants from all over the world. In addition, a great variety of wrapping paper.

Old-fashioned bar near the canteen with the same workers as in the canteen.

Old-fashioned russian samovar in case you want some tea on lunch.

Surprisingly pleasant smell of flowers mixed with freshly mashed potatoes.
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2009-09-14
Naujamiestis, Vilnius

no map
Tauro g. 20/7
GELEŽINKELININKŲ M-KLA
There are only a few remaining schools teaching railway specialists in Lithuania. If you would like to taste a bit of their everyday cuisine - feel free to visit the canteen. But you won't get food here in the summertime or unless you can prove that you are a student of this railway school.
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The boss Klaudija

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Head spinning corridors with old squeaky floors.

Young diners.

Eating in the canteen felt like sitting in a sauna.

Painting on the wall and cleanliness.

Architecturally interesting building for a walk after lunch.

Impressive pink walls.

Canteens in schools and colleges are always interesting places to eat. This time I decided to have my lunch at the Vilnius technology and design college next to the Tauras hill. An ugly, old building welcomed me with a wooden floor, split walls and a very suspicious receptionist.

After a few runs up and down the stairs and bumping into the gym door, I finally found the place where the local students eat. There was a note on the door announcing that only students of the college could eat here. It made me a bit anxious, but after a moment I felt like a real student who is learning how the trains function and went to have my lunch.
As I opened the door a wave of hot air came over me. There were only a few students in the canteen, so all eyes were on me. I might as well have had a post-it on my forehead saying "Stranger". I looked around: orange and pink coloured walls, the kitchen appliances matching in colour and large but elegant lady chefs. That's the way I imagine the everday school canteen, with low prices to match.

While I was drinking my compote, my eye caught a funny painting of dead fish. Oh, but I had to rush, to avoid the suspecting chefs calling the receptionist.

Compote:
It was still a bit warm and with a quite nice apple flavour.
Compote price: 0,53 Lt.




Virėja


How long have you been working here?
I have been working here for 31 years. I started working several years later than this canteen was opened. It was a technical school before, and I started working at this canteen in 1970.
What has changed during these years?
We have other staff members now, except the director. She has still been working here. Present staff have been working here for 10 years.
What about clients?
Nowadays elder men come here. Before younger ones used to come.
Did the dishes change?
Well, we make goulash all the time, vegetable stews, and hodge-podge. Today we are going to have pearl barley soup.
What dish do you cook everyday?
A cutlet called "Baltika" - it is like Chicken Kiev, only minced meat is in it.
What is your traditional dish here?
I think it's chicken croquettes. It's a simple dish, but the recipe is taken from the old books.
Can the taste of a dish depend on your mood?
Well, we are working in such a sphere, so we can not judge. Of course, there are always some bad days, but the clients are satisfied. No one ever has complained.
Do you know the recipes by heart?
Yes, I sometimes even know the weight of cutlets without measuring it. You remember everything after such a long time. It is so called "professionalism". 40 years, Jesus Christ!
Do you like making experiments while cooking?
Well, we don't experiment a lot. When you come in the morning, you have to prepare everything so fast, so there is no time left. We have conditions for trying out new dishes, but the clients rejected our experiments. It's too expensive. For example, there is an expensive cutlet "Vaidilutė"; it is made of the chicken breast, rusk, and eggs. Everything is put inside the cutlet. It would cost 9 litas, so the price would be like in a cafe. It's too expensive here. People come here for cheaper food. Milky soups are the cheapest dishes here.
Have you tried chinese cuisine, turkish kebabs, or something like that?
No, I haven't tried, and I don't want to. Cepelinai (a Lithuanian traditional dish, a type of dumpling made from grated potatoes and usually stuffed with minced meat) is the best for me up to date.
What is your favourite dish then?
Well, I have to think. I couldn't pick one dish, I like a lot of dishes.
What do you think the Dutch people eat?
Oh, we only had visitors from Poland and Germany. Well, I think they eat some cheese. In my opinion, cheese is the main ingredient.
Do you love your job?
Of course, we all do. We have been working here for so many years.
What would you like to be if not a cook?
I used to dream about becoming a surgeon. But the education system at that time was such that once you finished 8 classes, you had to choose what to study next. They offered me to become a tailor or a cook. And then I chose to learn to be a tailor. And I ended in a canteen later. I used to work in Vilnius modeling house, in cooperatives too. When everything was sold out, all the staff ran away. When I came to work in the canteen, the other cooks were already working for some time. I learned everything here.
What is the difference between the Sovietic period and these days?
There were advantages at that time, and there are advantages nowadays. It used to be more possibilities for all people earlier. And now the possibilities are for those who have money. Well, for example, my daughter was a good student, so she got a scholarship and she didn't have to pay tuition. As the tuitions now became bigger, and I see we will have less students in the canteen then. It will be a tough time for us.


Vedėja Klaudija

How many years have you been working here?
Since 1959. So 50 years in total.
Exactly in this canteen?
Yes, since the technical school was opened. 40 years in the same place. We have two cooks, a lady who eshes dishes, a cleaner, and a kitchen worker.
What has changed since the opening?
Oh, everything is old here. The interior was changed three years ago. It used to look like a basament, so we changed it. Well, people haven't changed a lot, we have old staff here. There are people who have been working here for 20 years. As there are no other places to work.
When does your work day start?
At 8 a.m. One cook comes at 7 a.m., she starts all the work, later other workers join. The cook that prepares cold snacks, salads, comes the first.
When do you decide what is going to be on the menu?
We do that in the evening. You can not decide these things in the morning. We have a menu in the evening, so everyone can plan the next day. The menu is the same every second day. Of course, dishes are different, we cook them in different ways.
Are there things that left the same over these 50 years?
I don't think so. Things are changing all the time. For example, now we have cepelinai with curd.
And what about visitors? Are there any changes?
Now we have less visitors. So we cook less. All students know that we don't advertise ourselves or we don't do any special promotions.
What about food in the canteen?
The food is good, dishes are made of fresh products.
And what is your favourite dish?
Potatoe pancakes with meat, it's a traditional Lithuanian dish.
Do you cook at home?
Of course, I do. I like homemade food. I used to go to chef summer meetings in Riga earlier. I even have some awards from the past. It is really difficult to decorate food. In this canteen we also decorate cold snacks.
Do you watch culinary shows on TV?
They don't cook anything special there. It just looks so at first glance. I don't need to watch it. Plus, you can not make everything they show on TV in this canteen.
Perhaps there are some stories from the daily work that you will never forget?
One student drank 20 glasses of compote once. I think that was a bet. Nothing more to remember.
Perhaps most guys come here to eat?
No, girls come to eat too. But men can take two or three portions of cepelinai and eat them. We are used to it here. Nowadays students don't have much money, so they take a soup and a side dish (potatoes with cabbage, usually). This lunch costs around 2 litas.
Do you organize banquets here?
No, we can not. This canteen belongs to school, so we are not allowed to do it.
But the prices are really low here...
Well, we have to adapt to students possibilities. Just like this school, we get some money from the ministry, so we set reasonable prices.
What was the begining of your career?
Well, I graduated from a technical school and came to work here as a cook. Later my chef retired and I became a new chief.
How do you spend your free time?
Well, I have a lot of work, so little time is left. I go to the theatre, well, maybe not so often nowadays. I used to go to the concerts earlier. I have a garden with lots of flowers. I love flowers. I also grow some vegetables such as tomatoes and letuce.

In your opinion, what advantages and disadvantages were livining in the Sovieti Union?
Well, now bad times are for our canteen. Also there is no job in Lithuania; for example, my grandchildren moved to England to work. People go shopping in Poland because the food is cheapre there.
What changes would you make if you were a politician?
Well, I think a politician should think about ordinary people first. A politician should create new working positions, because people are leaving the country. We get minimal wage here.
Would you like to have your own business?
I think no. I should pay a lot of money for the rent, so it's too much trouble.




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