Tag Archives: food

Visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame

Today I visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York for the first time since my eighth birthday. I don’t remember much about the museum itself from that visit, only that I had a milkshake for the first time ever. I loved them immediately and actually had three that day–two chocolate and one chocolate chocolate-chip. I also remember being surprised and disappointed that there were no fast food chains in town because I was wanting to have lunch at McDonald’s and supper at Wendy’s (how said that I had already been trained to assume that these chains were ubiquitous!). There are still no chain restaurants along Cooperstown’s main strip, which now makes me happy.

The "Jumbo Burger" and  chocolate milkshake from the Cooperstown Diner. I got a chocolate shake for old times' sake even though now I prefer vanilla when drinking one with a meal.

The “Jumbo Burger” and chocolate milkshake from the Cooperstown Diner. I got a chocolate shake for old times’ sake even though now I prefer vanilla when drinking one with a meal.

Anyway, it was good to get back to see the artifacts. Both Cooperstown and the Hall itself were packed because it is prime tourist season, and I saw many families with children who looked about the age I was on my first visit. It pleases me that the ritual of visiting is one that continues through the generations. Many people were wearing gear from their favorite teams, which was also neat. It gave the town a central meeting-place kind of vibe; we all had our individual allegiances, but ultimately we have our love of the game to unify us. I was planning to buy a new Mets cap, and was happy to find one for only $9.95 at one of the numerous shops selling sports memorabilia.

There are a number of players that I think deserve to be in the Hall of Fame that are not (Mike Piazza, Pete Rose [even if he did bet on baseball], Craig Biggio, Keith Hernandez…), and visiting did not make me change my mind about any of the players that I just mentioned, but reading through the amazing statistical achievements on the plaques of those who are members did make me feel that the Hall should be more exclusive than I’ve wanted it to be in the past.

Me in front of the Hall. I'm wearing my Keith Hernandez shirt because he should be a member.

Me in front of the Hall. I’m wearing my Keith Hernandez shirt because he should be a member.

Here are some of the photographs I took during my visit, most of them Mets-related:

An old Wrigley's gum ad. Who knew that chewing Wrigley's "gives an added firmness--a vigor, to the whole body"?

An old Wrigley’s gum ad. Who knew that chewing Wrigley’s “gives an added firmness–a vigor, to the whole body”?

Tom Seaver's plaque.

Tom Seaver’s plaque.

The Tom Seaver display.

The Tom Seaver display.

Nolan Ryan's plaque. Seven no-hitters! Unbelievable.

Nolan Ryan’s plaque. Seven no-hitters! Unbelievable.

Gary Carter's plaque. R.I.P.

Gary Carter’s plaque. R.I.P.

A close-up of Gary Carter's plaque detailing his importance to the 1986 Mets.

A close-up of Gary Carter’s plaque detailing his importance to the 1986 Mets.

Long-time Met broadcaster Bob Murphy's plaque in the broadcaster's wing.

Long-time Met broadcaster Bob Murphy’s plaque in the broadcaster’s wing.

Casey Stengel's retired number from Shea Stadium.

Casey Stengel’s retired number from Shea Stadium.

A portrait of Tom Seaver (as a Red, alas) by Andy Warhol.

A portrait of Tom Seaver (as a Red, alas) by Andy Warhol.

The Mets 1969 World Series ring.

The Mets 1969 World Series ring.

The Mets 1986 World Series ring.

The Mets 1986 World Series ring.

A sign celebrating Jesse Orosco's record for games pitched.

A sign celebrating Jesse Orosco’s record for games pitched.

Two members of the Mets current broadcasting team in the baseball card section.

Two members of the Mets current broadcasting team in the baseball card section.

A display celebrating Pete Rose's all-time hits record. At least the Hall acknowledges his existence.

A display celebrating Pete Rose’s all-time hits record. At least the Hall acknowledges his existence.

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Random Friday Thoughts

I taught my final class of the school year on Wednesday, and for the past two days have just been relaxing and letting my mind wander. It hasn’t hit me on a visceral level yet that I don’t have to teach another class until late August, but my brain is already going on all sorts of tangents. Here are a few that are rattling around this afternoon:

Sometimes I have dreams that people have statistics for their lives just like athletes have sports statistics. Usually these dreams center around me having a low “life average” (akin to a baseball batting average), somewhere below .250. I’m always very worried about this in the dream until I realize that there’s no such thing as life averages. But it would be kind of interesting if there were. It would be fascinating to compare oneself to other people numerically like it is possible to compare one athlete to another. For instance, basketball-reference.com has something called “Similarity Scores” on each player’s page (scroll down to the bottom to see Patrick Ewing’s) that compares the player to other players (past and present) with similar statistics. If it were possible to do this in real life, it would be helpful because then one could see if one’s life was headed in a good direction or not based on those with similar life arcs.

I bought a regular-sized candy bar at the college bookstore this afternoon that cost $1.25. I realize that the bookstore is not the cheapest place to buy such an item, but even so, it points to how candy bar prices have exploded over the past decade or so. For all of my teens and into my twenties it was common to be able to find candy bars on sale for $0.50, and sometimes even less. Nowadays it is hard to find one for less than $0.75 even at stores that claim to have “low prices” (at least in Salt Lake City, and this was the case when I lived in Illinois, too).

Conversely, I also bought a pack of two Bic red pens for $0.99. What a deal! A pleasing quality product for under a dollar. Good office supplies are always exciting. The way things are going, though, they are an endangered species.

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Some Random Sunday Thoughts

As I sit in front of my computer on this lazy Sunday morning that has now meandered into the afternoon, these are three of the things I am thinking about while I procrastinate working on revisions to an essay:

I am glad that Manchester United finally converted a penalty kick after missing their last three, with Robin van Persie scoring against Liverpool earlier today. I haven’t watched the match yet (it was on at 6.30 a.m. this morning and I was out celebrating a friend’s birthday until 1.30, so I didn’t get up for it), and thus haven’t seen the apparently controversial foul that led to the penalty, but it is a huge relief that the kick was converted whether it was deserved or not.

One of my favorite activities is looking at someone’s books when I visit their home for the first time because it reminds me how beautiful books are as objects, and it also teaches me something about the person–it is a window into their mind’s life. I got to do this at the aforementioned birthday party last night. My friend’s library was too small for my liking (We are friends even though she is an ereader adherent. She’s even a librarian! She should know better!), but I judged it favorably nevertheless because her literary tastes are similar to mine (ha!), and it was clear that the books she did have were treasured objects.

Fall is my favorite season; I love the cooler temperatures and the way the light changes. There is nothing better than sitting on the couch reading and looking out the window at the turning leaves while smelling a hearty fall meal cooking. This evening I am going to make a pork-and-vegetable roast, which should provide some delicious aromas to accompany the reading I will do once I finish my writing for the day.

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Thoughts on Yogurt

Yogurt fascinates me. I don’t like eating it because it is just too weird, a bizarre amalgamation of other dairy products: part liquid like milk, part flowing solid like ice cream, part fermentation like cheese. But I really enjoy watching other people eat it because I get to observe someone interacting with the above odd qualities, which are visually fascinating. There is something comforting about the way a metal spoon clicks on a plastic yogurt container as one is scraping up the last few bites. It entrances me.

The epitome of the satisfying nature of this yogurt voyeurism is present in a scene from Stranger Than Fiction, where Dustin Hoffman’s character (who is always eating—one of my favorite running gags ever) is finishing his yogurt and gets a drop on his lip, which he quickly scoops off with his finger and sucks into his mouth. It is so viscerally physical and uninhibited as to be sublime.

(Incidentally, the portrayal of Hoffman’s character, an English professor, drives me nuts! He claims he is swamped that semester because he is teaching four classes as well as directing several dissertations [three, I think]. It is clear from this statement that the movie’s writer has no clue how academia works. First off, no legitimate Ph.D.-granting institution [i.e., real universities, not counting online for-profit “universities” such as the University of Phoenix] would have professors teaching four courses per semester. Secondly, someone with as large of an office as Hoffman has [completely lined with bookshelves!] who has taught the highly-specialized courses that he mentions teaching would be a full professor teaching two courses maximum, with at least one if not both being graduate seminars. This misrepresentation of academia is a problem in television and film in general, with Ross Geller on Friends being perhaps the most egregious example. Good Will Hunting is one of the rare examples which gets it mostly right.)

Avocado is another food which I love to watch people eat because of its texture. I used to hate it, but then I watched a housemate make a batch of guacamole, and it looked so good that I was compelled to try it. Avocado is now one of my favorite foods; I’m having some for lunch today.

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In Praise of Street Food

Today there was an annual Independence Day street fair in my neighborhood. I love street fairs even though they are often hot and overcrowded because they always involve delicious street food! I grew up with high street food standards as a result of living in New York City, where the hot dogs are the best in the world and you could often get a lovely potato knish from the same vendor that sold you the hot dog, or maybe a smoky soft pretzel. Living in the midwest for much of the past decade, I grew used to its heavier, often deep-fried street food: foot-long Italian sausages, corn on the cob, pork chop sandwiches, funnel cakes.

I did not know what to expect today at my first Utah street fair, but I was not disappointed. There was a refreshingly cosmopolitan array of choices (hurray for cities!), including Greek food, Indian food, several panini stands, two taco trucks, a Belgian waffle cart, a sushi truck,  and American standbys like barbecued chicken, pulled pork, and hamburgers. There were so many tantalizing options that I found myself sampling from three vendors, beginning my lunch with a samosa, moving on to a grass-fed burger that was probably the best hamburger I’ve had in Utah, and finishing with a pork taco and part of a chicken quesadilla. All of this fantastic food only cost $14.50 total. I’m often cynical about America, but street food is something that we get right!

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