Homecoming is a time for traditional beverages as breakfast, undercooked meat and general charity towards all. There is nothing like a game and free food to draw students out from their Sawyer nooks, and this year’s tailgates did not fail to impress. For everyone from the neighborhoods to the BSU, food and a victory over Wesleyan remain two aspects of the College that help us overcome the cold and isolation of being an Eph.
Stationed near the entrance, close to the menacing presence of security officers with their breathalyzers, was the Wesleyan tailgate. Stretching three tables, the Wes parents certainly made up in scale what they lacked in discrimination.
“We serve what the boys want to eat,” said Wesleyan parent. I asked what the boys eat. “Everything,” he said.
They eyed me suspiciously, as I tried to peer behind the aluminum foil covers. Feeling that the probability of good and free food here was dim, I left the Wesleyan tent and their futile hopes of success, whether football or culinary.
The atmosphere was cheerier at the Williams Alumni Tent, where I was immediately offered a sugar cookie decorated with yellow frosting and purple sprinkles. The cookie had all the elements of a perfect sugar cookie: soft, chewy and highly cholesterol-inducing. It tasted of Dining Services – and in fact, the whole alumni tailgate was underwritten by our Dining Services, from the cookies to the vegetarian and non-vegetarian chili to the vegetable and cheese platters.
Never a fan of chili, I was nonetheless impressed by the freshness and crisp of the cut vegetables. Lina Khan ’10 agreed. “I try to get my veggies in,” she said, stabbing her chili with a stalk of broccoli.
Clustered in the muddy lawn were the four neighborhood tailgates.
I found Chris Liu ’11, treasurer of Spencer Neighborhood, pulling packets of Taco Bell quesadillas and tacos from a cardboard box. The tacos looked lonely and cold on the bare table. The texture of the melted cheese evoked the mud below.
“We like Taco Bell. We order them for all our events,” Liu said, mentioning that Spencer had spent $500 on the order.
Wood Neighborhood next door was more festive, with Charles Cao ’13 busy grilling sausages, vegetables and teriyaki chicken. A friend had already pointed me towards the mango-pineapple salsa, which could be more accurately described as mango-pineapple-red-pepper-green-pepper-jalapeno-cilantro-lime-juice-etc. salsa. Cao had extrapolated the ingredients from a picture online. While the skill of the fine chopping was evident, the salsa lacked a dominant flavor to contrast with the tang of the tortilla chips. The sausages, however, were as plentiful as the displays of the Ephs’ athletic prowess, and they disappeared before you could say “trichinosis.”
Dodd Neighborhood was grilling next door on a slightly smaller scale. “We have the classics,” the mystery Dodd griller said, shrugging at his modest tailgate. “Hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers.”
On the other hand, the sweet tooth of some members of Currier Neighborhood prevailed this year, manifest in their platters of baklava, cheesecake squares, cookies and cupcakes. The highlight of the Currier tailgate was the tiramisu portions made by Sa-Kiera Hudson ’11. Unwrapping the tinfoil from the individual portions felt a bit like peeling a very ripe, very small banana. The mascarpone or mascarpone substitute was light and fluffy; the biscuits were light and fluffy. The baklava provided a good respite from the lightness; after peeling back the phyllo dough, the bottom layer of honey and nuts was heavy enough to kill a few of the mice haunting Garfield.
BSU/Griffin Society/SoCA, CASO/AASIA/KOW, Other
Next to the neighborhoods and the institutional players, the Black Student Union/Griffin Society/Students of Caribbean Ancestry had the largest spread, with jerk chicken, curry chicken, rice and beans, fried fish, banana fritters and other items in shiny metal pans. The fried fish was highly recommended, and the pale and flaky flesh was only slightly offset by the mildly damp batter. The banana fritters were less soggy, and a bite revealed a gush of something warm and soft. Whether that was the frying oil or the banana is a matter of interpretation and imagination, but either brought a hint of warmth to an increasingly chilly and overcast day.
Over at the AASIA/CASO/KOW tailgate, Rob Kim ’11 and Frank Zheng ’14 were dishing up spicy pork and sweet Korean beef, complemented by Calpis drinks. The Calpis, a Go-gurt-like drink, is something of an acquired taste, perhaps acquired after not burning one’s tongue on the not-so-spicy pork. Tender and flavorful, the spicy pork was a welcome addition to the AASIA/CASO/KOW’s traditional Korean beef. There were rumors of samosas from SASA in a discreetly forwarded e-mail, but the presence of these, unfortunately, was not confirmed.
Chips were overall a theme in this year’s tailgates, with Kyle Victor ’11 accosting me at one point with a large bag of BBQ chips.
“These are so good,” Victor said. “BBQ chips.” I looked at him dubiously while he chanted “BBQ chips” a few more times. Despite a full platter of various tailgate food, I was momentarily tempted by his enthusiasm. But before one could say “bon appétit” or “go Ephs” Victor disappeared before offering me any. And so my one gustatory regret from Homecoming.