Sunday, March 11, 2012

The CERN Cafeteria

One section of the CERN cafeteria

Physicists have to eat.  So do the engineers, support staff, administrators, construction workers, and artisans who contribute to making CERN the world’s premiere physics laboratory.  CERN’s cafeteria is where they go, not just to refuel, but also to socialize and talk about their work.

Working in the cafeteria mid-morning

CERN has two cafeterias.  The smaller one, in the outlying area of CERN, sits inside a fence that separates CERN from the fields and vineyards of a Swiss farmer.  The other cafeteria, located in a more central part of the campus, is the principal venue for having meals, snacks, and coffee, and for relaxing with a beer in the late afternoon.  Cafeteria One, as it’s called, has several sections or rooms with different types of tables, as well as two outdoor patios where patrons eat their lunches under umbrellas in good weather.  That’s where the smokers go, since smoking is prohibited inside CERN’s buildings.

The patio on a rainy winter afternoon

CERN’s cafeteria, though, is not just for eating.  By mid-morning and after lunch, the cafeteria provides a workspace for physicists who want a venue other than their offices for thinking about and discussing their experiments.  Moreover, the cafeteria is used every so often by journalists who conduct interviews with CERN scientists

The cafeteria manager (right) at the long salad bar

What also draws the CERN workforce to the cafeteria is the food.  It’s really good.  People decide what they want to eat after looking at the selections in the cafeteria’s different sections: a trattoria and a grill; two salad bars (one round table with bowls of plain vegetables and legumes, the other - a long rectangular table - with assorted pre-made salads, a variety of olives and pickles, cut meats, poached salmon, quiches and sushi); and a long dessert table with tarts, pastries, fruit salads, and puddings.

Some prepared salads

 Quiches and breads at the salad bar

Fruit salads and puddings

Pastries on the dessert table
Daily options for hot meals include pizza, pasta, meat, and fish, which come with a choice of rice, beans, cooked vegetables, and French fries or other potatoes, as well as a small salad.  There are sandwiches, too.  Aside from water, which most CERN employees drink, people can buy beer, wine, soft drinks or juice.

Veal sausages and vegetables

Decisions, decisions

CERN cafeteria's wine and beer bar

Physicists at lunch
Lining up for espresso, ristretto, cappuccino, or plain coffee at one of the coffee bars is the final ritual of lunch.  Then it’s back to work, at the office, experimental site, or…at the cafeteria.

CERN cafeteria's coffee bar

A post-lunch meeting in the CERN cafeteria

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