I get the impression that it's generally accepted that cafeteria food tastes bad. It's constantly alluded to in writing or dialogue. The only time I've heard anything positive about it is on Jim O'Connor's Cafeteria Food feature in his The Secret Life of... series where it's described as "home-style cooking".
I have never understood the negativity around cafeteria food. I've always quite liked cafeteria food. I wasn't given an allowance growing up, so I rarely had any... it's probably a good thing I didn't, come to think of it.
But I think I now know why I feel differently than everyone else about caf grub.
See, I ate mostly Chinese food growing up. It was either my Mom's cooking or dim sum and dinner at Chinese restaurants. My parents don't mind Western cuisine, but we wouldn't have it very often.
So, caf food was enough of a novelty to me that I thought it actually tasted pretty good.
In English "dim sum" refers to the lunch/brunch experience at a Chinese restaurant. But in Chinese, the same term refers to the food itself... or rather, in Cantonese, 點心 (dim sum) is small packets of food. In Mandarin, it exclusively means "dessert".
Husband Guy's family says "yam cha" in a mispronounced Cantonese. XD My Mother-In-Law's family is KeJia (Hakka). But her father was once in the Japanese military during the occupation and was deployed to Guangzhou (the irony), so he brought the Cantonese term home.
There is no equivalent term in Mandarin for it in Taiwan though, because they don't have a morning tea brunch thing. The closest thing would be just the term for "lunch". =)