Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Someone's Got to Do It

As part of my project of being a stellar campus citizen during my visiting professorship at DePauw, I responded to an emailed call-for-volunteers and offered my services as a judge for one of the four cooking competitions staged for the students in the Winter Term "Sweet and Savory Science" food class. Competitions will be held over the course of the month in four categories: Childhood Favorites, British Pub Food, Vegetarian, and "Chopped" (in imitation of the Food Network show). Guess which category I signed up for? Yes, indeed: Childhood Favorites.

So at 11:30 yesterday I arrived at one of the residence halls with my fellow two judges and was served two different meals by two rival teams, each to be judged on four dimensions: adherence to the theme, menu (attractiveness and informativeness of the written menu given to us), presentation (including table setting), and of course, taste. The first team served: mozzarella sticks with marina sauce for dipping, Roman pizza, side green salad, and a dessert creation of their own called Puppy Chow Pie. The second team served: pigs and blankets, tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, and funfetti cake balls for dessert.

Boy, was it close! All three judges thought that the second team was the clear winner in terms of their interpretation of the category theme and their over-the-top beautiful menu (with a cheery kidlike cover and delightful information provided in a lively attractive way). All three judges thought the first team won more points on taste, which is, after all, a not-inconsiderable part of an eating experience. The overall verdict, when all was tabulated: the second team. I was the judge who put them over the top with my raptures over the menu they produced. I guess I just don't care that much about how food tastes; it's the IDEA of food that I love most. (Hmm: maybe something to think about as I proceed on my new year slimnastic plans.)

So: when there is a job that needs to be done, I offer my services. Someone's got to judge an amazingly fun student cooking contest. Oh, heck, it might as well be me.

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