Archive for the ‘Rutgers’ category

An Evening with Michael Pollan

October 9, 2010

Hahahah never heard that one before....

Back in September of 2001, I was a nerdy, overweight freshman at Rutgers.  During that first semester, I took Expository Writing 101 (AKA Ex-Pos), the dreaded freshman writing course.  The first assignment for that class was to read an essay about genetically engineered potatoes and write a paper about it.  The author of that essay was a certain Michael Pollan, a fact I only remember because I thought how funny it was that a guy named Pollan wrote about plants.

Before the teacher handed back those first assignments, she said most of the class did pretty poorly.  She explained how that can be expected on our first papers and that we shouldn’t get too discouraged; we can only get better.  When she handed my paper back, I was shocked by my grade.  It was a B+.  That’s when it happened.  It was at this point, dear reader, that your humble narrator realized he could write.  Since then, I’ve pursued writing educationally, personally, professionally, and blogally.

So where am I going with all this?

Nine years (holy shit) after that fateful day, I heard that Michael Pollan was giving a talk at Rutgers.  I couldn’t pass up the chance to hear the guy who indirectly launched my writing career at the place where it started.  So, this past Wednesday, I headed up to the College Ave gym, where the talk was being held.  On the way, I passed the Rutgers Student Center.  There was a big sign in front of the building saying there was going to be a memorial for Tyler Clementi that night.  The sign also said that both New Jersey senators, Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez, were going to be there.  I thought about ditching Pollan and going to this event for no other reason than the remote chance that I could convince one of the senators to sit down for an in-depth interview for this little old blog.  But they clearly had something more important to do that night. (more…)

Rutgers Day / Ag Field Day

April 29, 2010

This past Saturday was a very special day for Rutgers University students and alumni alike. To those who weren’t privileged enough to attend the State University of New Jersey (although about half of the state did go there), I’m talking about Ag Field Day…or is it Rutgers Day? Whatever you wanna call it, it’s a day full of food, fun, and farmy stuff.

Rutgers: the official university of the Armpit of America

The reason for the confusion in the name? Well, it’s probably even more confusing to explain. Ag Field Day (the Ag part standing for Agricultural) had been held each year since 1906. For much of that time, it took place on the Cook Campus of Rutgers University. Starting last year, the powers that be decided to make the event a university-wide festival called Rutgers Day. But over 100 years of history doesn’t just get absorbed, so the day is still referred to by its original name. (more…)

The Grease Trucks

October 11, 2009

We all do stupid things in college. Whether drinking yourself to oblivion, experimenting with new drugs, getting pregnant, or getting someone else pregnant, college is a time to expand your horizons and endanger your health. Rutgers University, my alma mater, provides its students with a unique impetus for self destruction – the Grease Trucks.

The menu of a Grease Truck.  Note the absense of little red hearts indicating the health-friendly items.

The menu of a Grease Truck. Note the absense of little red hearts indicating the health-friendly items.

While they may not be as dangerous or life altering as some of the other things you can do in college, buying low-quality fried foods made in the back of a truck by creepy Middle-Eastern men isn’t the most sensible option either. Still, this hasn’t stopped the infinite number of Rutgers students, alumni, and New Brunswick locals who can’t quit the habit.

The Grease Trucks serve a wide selection of foods, including such Middle Eastern standards as falafel, hummus, grape leaves, and spinach pie. However, these healthier options take a back seat to the trucks’ main draw – the “fat sandwiches.” The trucks have a variety of fat sandwiches, consisting of some type of meat, cheese, sauce, and fries, all served on a giant roll.

The five trucks, though each owned and operated independently, have pretty much the same sandwiches on each of their menus. Some of the standards include:

  • Fat Cat – The first fat sandwich invented, and the first one I ever ate, consists of two hamburger patties, cheese, fries, ketchup, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and onion.
  • Fat Bitch – No, this one doesn’t include Rosie O’Donnell meat. Instead, it is made of cheesesteak, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, and fries. This is one of the most popular sandwiches, if for no other reason than the name.
  • Fat Moon – The Fat Moon contains eggs, bacon, cheese, and fries. Though this one was my favorite for a while, I ditched it once I realized that the “chefs” leave their eggs sitting out all day.
  • Fat Darrel – This sandwich is made up of chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, fries, and marinara sauce. Though I don’t see what the big deal about this one is, it was declared the best sandwich in America by Maxim Magazine for reasons still unclear.
  • Fat Filipino – The Fat Filipino, along with the Fat Bitch, was at the center of an ethical dispute several years ago. I’m not even sure if they still make it these days. However, it is worth including on this list for being the fattest of the fat sandwiches. It was made of cheesesteak AND gyro meat, accompanied by fries and covered in yogurt sauce.

The inside of a Fat Bitch.  Incidentally, fries, mozzarella sticks, and cheesesteaks can be found inside of most fat bitches.

The inside of a Fat Bitch. Of course, fries, mozzarella sticks, and cheesesteaks can be found inside many fat bitches.

To be honest, the fat sandwiches aren’t even that good. While they are certainly delicious at 2:00 am after a night of drinking, any other time of day they are just alright. When you take a bunch of greasy foods and shove them into a giant roll, each item tends to take on the flavors of everything surrounding it.

Fries, which are usually the best part of any meal, just make things worse. The fries at the Grease Trucks are, appropriately enough, really greasy, and they don’t have any salt. If they were crispy, they would at least give the sandwiches some much needed texture. Instead, they just blend in with everything else.

Despite my culinary critiques, the Grease Trucks provide for a fun, filling, and cheap meal. They are also a cornerstone of Rutgers and New Brunswick culture. Four years after graduating, my friends and I still frequent the Grease Trucks after a night of New Brunswick barhopping. The Grease Trucks are definitely an interesting place. I guarantee there isn’t any other location on Earth where you could clog your arteries, pick up drunk college chicks, and see scenes like this:

My fellow Jews dancing around with a Torah at the Grease Trucks.  Something isn't quote kosher about this.

My fellow Jews dancing around with a Torah at the Grease Trucks. Something isn't quote kosher about this scene.