Welcome to Pancake Blocks, where the gridiron meets cast-iron griddles. Wipe your cleats before entering the kitchen and be sure to keep the running back's lanes and arteries unclogged.
As I spent this past weekend in New York networking myself in quest of employing my B.A. Theatre degree after a diligent year post-commencement, I reflected upon the last USC game I had the privilege of attending...in New Jersey. I'm already purchasing Tums from Duane Reade.
Archived box scores of random September battles typically fail as recipes for nostalgic home-cooked meals. Nevertheless, one season later, there are three ingredients that stand out from this New York Classic that bridged a Southern California team ranked No. 2 in the nation and the then-Big East's secret Syracuse sauce:
2) The sea of warm juxtaposing colors huddled together, engulfing Rita's Italian Ices and Mrs. Fields' cookies during a stormy prolonged halftime that reminded everyone once again of the true intentions of sports, personally remains one of the few significantly positive snapshots from the Trojans' 2012-13 campaign.
3) Otto the Orange continues to give me acid reflux to this very day.
Apparently these guys can fall far from the Stanford tree after all. There's flamboyance in mascoting (Tommy Trojan and Traveler), and then there's an engorged auburn sphere of fruit spazzing out on the sidelines as if caught in the gears of a Ninja Professional 3-Speed Blender, distracting traveling Trojans from their skewered statistics and questionable fourth down portions.
I may be bitter due to gastritis' eradication of citrus from my diet, or an even stronger aftertaste of a particular USC dining experience.
EVK - Everybody's Kitchen - sustaining the life of countless little red peppers in absolutely every buffet option. Of course, they would've been welcomed cherry topping in light of the WTF macaroni and cheese that I everything but fumbled all over the cafeteria floor that fateful afternoon. You see, when the quarterback of my appetite reads an orange dish of pasta, my palate is anticipating pasta...preferably without oranges! Sure enough, Mark Sanchez wedged an interception into my mouth that I would eagerly give him back.
The Freshman 15 buried deep inside of me would've Krafted, say, a sanction-worthy contract with Panda Express' orange chicken. Hell, anything on the spectrum from sweet potato fries to ginger could have been executed more smoothly. Pasta and oranges, however, are as different as apples and...well, oranges. Jekyll and Hyde make a more appropriate pair of roommates.
It just so happens that they present their very own Restaurant & Bar here in the Big Apple.
This Doctor's established and audio-animatronic ambiance is tolerably cheesy at worst, and the authentic portrayal of the eerie yet family-oriented theme was entertaining and overall avoided an abundance of cheap modern gimmicks (minus a brief off-putting Britney Spears sing-along by the nighttime creatures). Now, rather than sitting there regretting four years of accumulated student loans for the sake of Los Angeles-based acting training and theory courses, I was in search of an overdue antidote for my aforementioned culinary woes.
Aided by the Transformation Cocktail ("a frozen concoction of strawberry and orange juices, blackberry brandy and rum"), I was certain I had unearthed a pasta entree both obscure and delectable enough to warrant a more annual coast-to-coast rivalry: Bucatini Al Amatriciana. You'd expect the Italian Trojan, though, would be able to assess this spaghetti roster featuring pancetta, red onion, garlic, and pecorino romano for its rightful translation: A Spiciness Hotter and More Unbearable Than Lane Kiffin's Seat.
I quickly benched the project for Penne Alla Vodka (with extra vodka, please), but such are the trials and tribulations of football and tailgating. You turn the ball over and possess a short enough memory to score on the following offensive drive, or else anyone not named Mark Sanchez gets released or traded. You confuse fruit to be vegetables, oral anguish to be flavor, or Otto to be aesthetically pleasing, and you endure the hangover, promise yourself you'll count calories throughout the ensuing week and then proceed to watch Paula Deen and Riley Cooper's newest Food Network installment of butter and banter.
Marqise Lee might be the only USC Trojan to garner brownie points in last year's play/cook book, but at least I can take solace in the ascertained knowledge of which pasta to eat exclusively from now on:
Put away the care packages of Raman and Pop-Tarts, because more orders of Pancake Blocks are on their way to the Coliseum.