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Jim’s Deli and the Nostalgia of Hope

Maybe it was Eddie Money shouting Take. Me. Home. TONIGHT. on the speakers, or the clinking of metal spatulas on a 4-person griddle. Maybe it was the abundance of green vinyl booths in the absence of tables, or the cafeteria trays whereon the jocular line cooks with slicked-back hair will place your chosen sandwich. 

Was it the Reuben I ordered, a fortress of crisp, dark rye bread housing the precarious load of sauerkraut, pastrami, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing that, for some reason, reminded me of When Harry Met Sally? Or, maybe it was the absolute lack of signage denoting a pandemic that made me feel, for a brief and beautiful meal, that I wasn’t in 2020 but in 1989.

I, of course, wasn’t alive in the ‘80s. All I have to go off of are the action movies my father’s shown me and a recent revival of ‘80s nostalgia. The sleek boxiness of an ’88 Quattro, big windbreakers and even bigger hair, and optimism—that sweet, sweet optimism. To feel on top of the world, Reuben in hand, is a unique elation. So, it didn’t surprise me at all to learn that Jim’s Deli, a Brighton cultural institution, was opened by brothers Jim and Nick Tziavas in 1985. 

Jim, fittingly, is the first person you see upon entering. He’ll take a break from slicing some steak, pouring some pancakes, or building a burger and ask what he can get for you. You’ll say anything from eggs and bacon to a Pu pu platter, and he’ll oblige.

You wait, and as you in your patience look around the restaurant, you’ll see a large mural depicting old Brighton, with a pair of anachronous train tracks rolling down the middle. The road to Jim’s was long and flanked by history turned nostalgic as time floats lazily by. Your thoughts are interrupted by Jim calling out the name of whatever you ordered, and you put it on your green tray and make your way to the register. 

Nick Tziavas is probably the last person you’ll interact with during your lunchtime odyssey. He’ll ask if you want anything to drink—coffee, soda, water, tea—and he’ll give it to you in an opaque pebbled tumbler, red, the kind you only see at a restaurant. You’ll find a booth that fits your preference and mood: by the window, closer to the kitchen, by the line, by the mural. You’ll carry your abundance there, sit down with your sandwich and fries and single pickle. The low winter sunlight streams in through the window, casting a sharp angular shadow on your adjacent wall. You take in the warmth from all around you, and take a bite. That was my experience, anyways.

There was a brief feeling, somewhere after the last bite of the first half of the Reuben, where Every Breath You Take by The Police was playing, and I felt excited for the future. It wasn’t the foreboding, COVID-abundant winter, or the special, Dustin Hoffman-type terror of graduation. I had the other half of the Reuben and my pickle to finish, and I felt genuinely happy about the small joys that were yet to come. 

I was able to abstract this feeling into my whole life on the walk back. With the synth-fueled optimism of Rick Springfield and Laura Branigan coursing through my veins alongside the Thousand Island dressing, I felt energized for the trials ahead.

The Jim’s Deli experience is a beloved one because it’s the feeling of a pat on the back. It’s the feeling of reward after a tribulation passed, and the feeling of invigoration that comes from reaching a view on your journey upwards. 

Jim and Nick are restaurateurs indebted to the era in which they began, an era home to much of the over-the-top optimism that we need nowadays. Some may call it kitsch, some may even call it camp; I’ll call it the feeling of doing 80 in your red Chevy Camaro, not a care in the world, on the road towards your uncertainly happy future, Eddie Money blasting carelessly on the radio.

Cover photo courtesy of Yelp.

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Farm Fresh is No Fad

On Friday afternoons, a line is seen wrapping around Corcoran Commons, sometimes even touching the entrance of Robsham Theater. It’s not the lunch rush or an insanely large cluster of people waiting for their coffee GET orders—it’s the first wave of customers waiting for BC’s very own farmers market. As COVID-19 restrictions limit dining hall options, more and more people are turning to cooking in their kitchens, whether it’s on or off campus. Some underclassmen have even taken the plunge to get hot plates (don’t tell Res Life) as a way to supplement their cooking. The question many are asking themselves is, “What do I cook?” but the real question is, “What and where should I be buying things to cook?” They don’t have to look much further than Lower Campus.

image courtesy of The Heights

The BC Farmers Market has now blossomed into a vital part of the food landscape of Boston College and local farming communities. What started in 2009 as selling a couple of apples has flourished into “more than just a fruit stand; to selling cheeses from Vermont Creamery to fresh loaves of bread from Pain D’Avignon, and baked pies and fruit loaves from BC Bakery. We are much more than fruit and produce,” according to Natalie Sill, CSOM ’23, BC Dining’s Sustainability Intern. Along with selling fresh produce and baked goods, the market promotes food education and the importance of having a seasonal diet for the local economy and farms.

While Boston and the surrounding towns have amazing farmer’s markets, BC’s has the luxury of being right on campus and bringing local food close to the students who don’t want to leave Chestnut Hill. “The Farmers Market on campus is for educational experiences such as placing the veggies together by the farm, like Ward’s Farm in Sharon. You know it’s coming from right down the road. As BC students also working there, we foster an open conversation on diversifying diets and food culture. The point of it is to educate students and get them to try different things,” says Sill. 

image courtesy of the Henry P. Kendall Foundation

There are no berries in the later fall and winter months because berries aren’t local to the New England climate, which is why there are so many different types of squashes and gourds on the stands and winter root vegetables. Not only does eating seasonally incorporate different items into a diet, it also helps reduce the carbon footprint associated with food transportation. By supporting local farms such as Czajkowski Farm and Ward’s Berry Farm, the market is supporting local farmers and charging more than the average corporate supermarket price. “A lot of the farms that we work with are multi-generational farms. They are worker-owned farms and have equal equity and use regenerative farming. Aurora Mills uses a stone mill that preserves nutrients. The entire supply chain is ethical. From workers to packaging, everything is fair,” says Sill.  

By supporting local farming instead of buying out of season commercialized farming, it also cuts down on the amount of food waste that is generated per year. Local farms have been hurting more and more trying to compete with commercial farms for a fair share of the food market. As American consumption climbs, the conversation needs to be shifted to buying smart instead of buying it all. Farmers markets are the perfect place to do this while trying out new things and not wasting any produce. Most markets are the farmers selling straight to the consumer, but the BC Farmer’s Market replicates this by placing all of the products from one farm together so that the consumer knows where their food is coming from. 

As the weather begins to turn and Governor Baker’s new COVID-19 rules for the Commonwealth went into effect last Friday, the world is getting ready to hibernate again for winter. Cooking brought back comfort and a sense of security during the first wave, and it will again when the second wave hits. It is going to be too cold for outdoor markets soon, so the BC Farmer’s Market is planning on doing another CSA (community supported agriculture) farm share box in February and March to continue supporting local farmers. 

The market, which has been extended to be open until Thanksgiving break, is open on Friday afternoons from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Shopping smart and eating local has never mattered more than at this moment. 

Cover photo courtesy of Small Moves Vancouver

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A Growing Dependence: Diners and Servers

Restaurants have opened, steadily increasing their indoor capacity. Simultaneously, consumers have decreased their to-go orders, choosing to dine-in more and more. What sort of relationship has been created between diners and servers? And what does this mean for restaurants as winter approaches?

As you make your way down Newbury Street, there is a growing crowd. In April, the sidewalks were empty as stores and restaurants had virtually no customers. Today, there is more and more foot traffic. You see the usual holiday decorations, as twinkling lights begin to twirl up the trees which have slowly lost their colored leaves. They are joined by orange roadblocks and furnaces that surround a smattering of metal chairs and small tables. You squeeze by the lines of people waiting to be seated and dodge servers bringing out food. The street feels more crowded than it should, and with this comes a daunting sense of normalcy. 

Photo courtesy of The Boston Herald

This sense of normalcy has led to an increase in the amount of people choosing to dine-in, rather than carry out. As quarantine fatigue continues to uptick, more and more people are spending time outside, before the reality of winter settles in and keeps people in. The transition through Phases III and IV of the Massachusetts plan has facilitated this. Following the decline in the COVID-19 positivity rate, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker loosened restrictions across the state. An executive order was signed not only to increase the restaurant reservation group number to ten people, but it also extended the time frame for outdoor dining. Additional financial assistance has provided relief for restaurants in an attempt to keep them open. Boston’s Reopening fund plan offers grants to businesses, covering the costs of equipment to stay open throughout the winter. These policies and efforts have allowed individuals to step outside more, using restaurants as a break from the indoors. But how does this impact servers, restaurant workers, and restaurants themselves?

Photo courtesy of Morgan Stanley

As restrictions have loosened, Boston has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases, raising concerns for restaurants who fear joining the 20% that have already closed during the pandemic. In anticipation of a second spike, there is a greater concern of what the winter will look like. 

Restaurants can no longer depend on their own protocols to ensure their safety and the safety of the community. They must work together with customers, encouraging a mutual of responsibility to uphold safe COVID-19 practices. Restaurants and their workers have faced the pressures of a shift in responsibility. Not only do they continue to offer food & drinks and practice strong customer service skills, they must now shift their logistics work to account for COVID-19 guidelines. Restaurant workers must be trained in these guidelines and protocols, essentially becoming “public health guardians,” as noted by a New York Times Article

Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe

The heightened responsibility and clear dependency in the diner and restaurant worker dynamic has brought mixed-feelings. Some servers have felt the added stress in the riskiness of their tasks. Others understand the significance of this new role. Lucas Gatz, MCAS ‘23, notes that customer interactions while working as a Boston College Dining employee “makes a shift worthwhile.” Noting that some people only leave their dorm to eat, he wants to make the dining experience as normal as possible. Yet he, like many others, longs to return to a time where interactions between servers and diners were light-hearted. Working at The Circle Pizza, Scottie Crockett, MCAS ‘23, has felt the effects of this added pressure of responsibility. During the pandemic, the restaurant itself lost its identity as a bar scene for Boston College students. Now, Scottie notes that, while students have followed restaurant protocols for the most part, the potential of unsafe practices affecting The Circle Pizza has “added an unnecessary amount of stress on us servers and our bosses.”

So what does all of this mean? There is a growing dependence. Restaurant goers also rely on restaurants to stay open throughout the winter holiday season to ease the fatigue of quarantine, especially as Massachusetts guidelines and restrictions remain. To do so however, restaurants rely on their customers to follow these guidelines, keeping the restaurant afloat and their workers safe and employed. This means people should continue to support local businesses, rather than using COVID-19 as an excuse to avoid dining altogether. When you dine-in, take a second to recognize the role you play. If you do so, while also following restaurant and COVID-19 practices, this strongly intertwined dynamic can protect the restaurant industry with the hopes of normalcy in the future.

Cover photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times

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An Apple and An Apple Cider Donut a Day

As the leaves change from green to orange to red, and as safety and social distancing stay at the forefront of our thoughts, Bostonians look for appropriate fun, festive, fall activities. Some turn to pumpkin picking, pumpkin carving, and pumpkin spice lattes; some turn to hiking. However, for many, apple picking and all of the aesthetics associated with it will always hold a special place in their hearts.

The pandemic put a lot of pressure on agriculture as purchasing patterns changed, with people purchasing food with a longer shelf life, and corporations, like restaurants, purchasing less food. While many farms have been hurt, some small farms have actually been experiencing an increase in demand this fall. It seems as if the farms that fared better were the small farms that catered to the few, producing an abundance of crops, instead of the factory farms that catered to the masses, producing a single, solitary crop. It seems the farms that fared better were those that were more accessible to their communities.

The pandemic also put a lot of pressure on agrotourism, as people stayed home and stayed away from planning gigantic gatherings, like weddings. Pick-your-own-fruit/vegetable patches have been experiencing an increase in demand, or at least a different kind of demand, this fall. It appears pick-your-own patches are flourishing despite being limited in their accommodation of substantial events and sizable groups and gatherings. The big, busy days full of corporate and student trips have been replaced with days full of required small-group reservations. The local customers have been joined with more out-of-town customers. The lines are longer, even if only to allow for more space, and masks are abundant. Pick-your-own patches have proven to have all of the proper precautions in place for a perfect day.

Photo courtesy of RCAP Solutions

Honey Pot Hill Orchards is notorious for its popular pick-your-own patch. It is a fourth generation family farm in Stow, Mass, easily accessed from the four neighboring towns. It is located past numerous twists and turns through the beautiful New England fall foliage. At arrival, the farm animals welcome the wondrous visitors with a “baa” and an “oink oink.” The farm is extremely expansive, sitting with its store above rows upon rows of trees and ladders. The farm even has a hayride that can be taken to travel to the apples. A couple of conversations with two of Honey Pot Hill’s “apple ambassadors,” situated along the apple picking trail, revealed that the 200 acre orchard boasts of over 10,000 apple trees, with over 10 apple types, ranging from Gravensteins to Ginger Golds. It also revealed how Honey Pot Hill has adapted to the pandemic: with hand-washing and hand-sanitizing stations, social distancing standards, and more.

Honey Pot Hill is as bright and bubbly as ever. The orchard offers all of the apple necessities, like apple cider, apple cider donuts, and caramel apples, along with hayrides, hedge mazes, and more. “There’s something there for everyone,” said Peyton Wilson, MCAS ‘22, in a recent interview. “There’s no entry fee, and there’s lots of free, fun activities!” The orchard offers a true taste of autumn. Honey Pot Hill Orchards, as well as other orchards, provide a great way for Bostonians to get their apple a day, even if it is in the form of an apple cider donut.

Photo courtesy of Taste of Home

The pandemic has certainly put a lot of pressure on agriculture, and even on agrotourism. With limited indoor activities, apple picking is an outdoor activity that can provide a sense of safety, coupled with some adventure, for everyone.

Cover photo courtesy of The Boston Globe

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Finding Family in Family Units

From March to August, a large majority of Boston College students grudgingly traded late night at Lower for early mornings in Mom and Dad’s kitchen. But despite the isolation from college friends, the extra time inspired many to learn new cooking skills and recipes that they could carry back to BC. And what good is a new homemade bread recipe with nobody to try it? Since parties are no more, many college students have repurposed their beer pong tables into dining tables. Hence the revival of the dinner party as a way to bond with what few friends they are legally allowed to host. This is the first year that BC has experienced such a surge in Instagram content featuring charcuterie boards and homemade mimosas. Quarantine produced a cherished desire for closeness and family, which reflects itself in many forms on our college campus.

One Rubenstein six-man has taken the beloved Italian tradition of pasta nights and turned them into a weekly celebration of friendship. Ben Errichetti MCAS ‘21 was one of the roommates who spearheaded the efforts. “After a summer of apartness and staying in the home and isolation, my good buddy Jeremy and I were like, ‘You know what we should do? We should bring a little warmth into our dorms, and every Sunday we can invite people over and have a nice meal.’ And instead of just inviting people over to eat we can make it a real familial type thing, which is why we invested in a tablecloth to go that small extra mile.” 

This idea of the “extra mile” began with a bright red tablecloth (to hide inevitable sauce stains) and a candle centerpiece, but they did not stop there. With each week came a different dish, side, and theme. According to Errichetti, it began as a way to celebrate and reflect on his and some of his roommates’ Italian roots. The first several main dishes included shrimp scampi, carbonara, and chicken parmesan. From there, they began to expand into more themed occasions, such as sausages and Bavarian pretzels in honor of Oktoberfest and pork chops with applesauce for the beginning of fall. Jeremy Harris MCAS ‘21, another one of the roommates explained how his upbringing influences his ideas for the Sunday Gravy meals.

“A big part of my childhood was getting the extended family together for holidays like Easter and Thanksgiving. When I was young I looked forward to these events because the food was always so unique and delicious. Being around my family for an extended period of time over quarantine made me realize that the delicious food was there to emphasize the importance of family bonding, not just eating rich food. I wanted to make Sunday Gravy a staple in college because food is what brings us together, and the people that we care about is what we stay for.”

For other family units, the food itself is not the centerpiece of the gathering, but it remains an essential component nonetheless. Mary Stenerson CSOM ‘21 explains how her roommates in 2150 have been trying out new recipes to complement their themed nights, which typically revolve around a movie or board game. “We’ve done a fair amount of movie nights where we make a lot of movie-themed food and drinks and some of us will even dress up as characters from the movie. We’ve had some nights where we just play games and make food altogether. I like finding foods I think my roommates will enjoy and making it for us to share.”

One of these particular nights consisted of a Twilight movie marathon, featuring blood-red velvet cupcakes, garlic bread, and their patented “werewolves in a blanket.” Naturally, a vampire-themed spread wouldn’t be complete without homemade red sangria. Another story that Stenerson recounts involved an apple-themed baking spree resulting from the prior week’s apple picking trip. “I made apple crisp, I made apple puff pastry cups, and I made apple cake. And even after that we still have a giant thing of apples on the table!”

When asked what they personally get out of these family unit experiences, a few keywords consistently jumped out: providing, thanking, and bonding. It’s strangely beautiful to see roommates who are usually no more than a year apart in age take on the roles of provider and beneficiary in these family scenarios. Everyone who gets to eat the food is grateful and in return contributes to the jovial atmosphere. But the people preparing the food, like Stenerson, find their own satisfaction from not just the meal, but the process of preparation.

“What do I personally get out of the experience? I think I view it as a way to give back to everyone. To say thank you for being such amazing roommates, here’s a little gift. And it’s also fun because I enjoy baking, so it’s a way I can make other people happy while still having fun myself.”

Cover photo courtesy of Marcelo Kenne Vicente

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A Thank You Letter to Cooking

Dear cooking, 

We’re going into yet another month of COVID-19 restrictions and this “new normal.” We grab our masks before our keys, and we douse our hands in Germ-X. We’re facing greater fatigue, stress, and uncertainty than ever before. Thankfully, we have you as a much needed outlet. In fact, you have become something to look forward to for many. The prime of quarantine this summer brought with it new skills, shared recipes, and way too many hours of the Food Network Channel (at least on my part). While these trends were used to fill the endless hours of the time spent indoors, the results of them remain important to many, even as social interaction increases. From providing a much needed break to creating conversation topics, you have done much to deserve a thank you. 

Photo courtesy of our Spring 2019 Issue

In a recent food study by Hunter, 54% of respondents reported that they are using you more than they did prior to the pandemic. In the same study, it was noted that over 40% of the respondents enjoy you now more than ever. It took a pandemic for individuals to realize their potential in mastering one of life’s most basic skills, you. Nearly everyone is making an effort, amounting to a “tremendous public health opportunity” noted Hans Taparia. Not only do you provide immediate gratification and opportunities for increased physical health, but you also act as an asset for improved mental health.

Photo courtesy of our Spring 2019 Issue

This surge in your use has not simply been to fill time, but it has acted as a productive and mindful outlet. So much remains out of our control. Except for you. You’ve taken on a role beyond functionality. You have allowed so many people to channel their uncertainties and anxieties. Rather than sitting in front of a screen mindlessly for another hour, people have turned you into a creative and entertaining activity. Our kitchens have turned into a competitive stage as our friends, kids, and siblings grab a random assortment of ingredients from the pantry and create dishes from Pinterest recipes we’ve been collecting for years. You’ve given all of us the opportunity to feel like all-star chefs. All of this is in hopes to take a break from the stressors of COVID-19.

You give us a feeling of normalcy. You distract us from the sobering reality that lessened restrictions does not mean there is an end in sight. Unfortunately, this is an especially hard truth for college students, who face a demanding workload along with the other anxieties, frustrations, and fears caused by the pandemic. With all of this, you have been notably mentioned for your impact. “I am especially grateful because cooking instills some kind of normalcy amidst such a chaotic time,” said Kayleen Italia, CSON ‘22. In Kayleen’s reality, like many others, you remain enjoyable amidst the global backdrop filled with fears. 

With no resolution in the foreseeable future, you remain a constant source of entertainment, enjoyment, and certainty. If you have no idea what you have been able to do for us, just take a look here, and you’ll see what we’ve accomplished. Whether it be cheffing up brunch with a group of friends on what would be a football game day or making dinner for one after a stressful round of back-to-back Zoom meetings, we can always count on you.

Needless to say, thank you.

Sincerely,

All of us at home

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The Foretold Future of Farming

How often do you wonder where your food comes from? This question is rarely at the forefront of our minds simply because it doesn’t have to be. As a population that shops primarily at local supermarkets, we largely consume food that travels from monocrops across the country and the world. But the environment is changing quickly, and agricultural practices will be forced, for better or worse, to change alongside it. 

In the United States alone, farming utilizes approximately 922 million acres of land. While small, family-owned farms account for a portion of this land, they are being crowded out by larger operations at alarming rates. Larger operations and the growth of a single crop on the same land year after year, or monocropping, bring higher yields and increased efficiency in both planting and harvesting. This contributes to the lower prices and a seemingly unlimited supply found in supermarkets, but it comes at a great environmental and social cost.

“In the rush to industrialize farming, we’ve lost the understanding, implicit since the beginning of agriculture, that food is a process, a web of relationships, not an individual ingredient or commodity,” wrote chef and activist Dan Barber in his book The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food. Large-scale monoculture farming eliminates mutualistic relationships necessary to the health of a plant and the environment that supports it. Soil depletion, a lack of resilience in the face of environmental extremes, decreased plant diversity, and a loss of livelihood all come as a result of our “rush to industrialize farming.” However, the cohort of small, family-owned farms across the country and right here in Boston are voices of reason. In the midst of a culture that can’t or won’t recognize the realities of the future of agriculture, their opinions stand out.

Between Philadelphia suburbs and New Jersey beach towns lies Sorbello Girls Farm Market, a family-owned farm and farm stand selling their produce and local products since 1961. “The main crops that we grow are some of the local crops that farmers in the area grow which are tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, we do a lot of basil, a lot of aromatics,” said Billy Conners, MCAS ‘21, in a recent interview. 

Image courtesy of @bullockgarden on Instagram

Reflecting on the future of his family’s farm, Conners stated, “Personally, our farm won’t exist in ten years, but I think that’s a trend you’re seeing everywhere. There’s no real competition because we can’t afford to compete with these bigger farms.” There is no longer an economic incentive to farm on a small scale, leaving farmers with no choice but to give up their livelihood and leave a gap within our agricultural system. 

Small farms, in contrast to larger farms that rely on monoculture, are working towards changing the future of agriculture. By emphasizing its commitment to soil fertility and growth without pesticides, Allandale Farm in Brookline, MA appeals to and draws its support from a growing population of agriculturally- and environmentally-conscious consumers. “Our growing practices are deeply linked to our role as land stewards and neighbors,” writes Allandale farm about their greater purpose. The commitment to the land and consumers from farms such as Allandale offers hope for the continuation of small farms that prioritize plant diversity and soil health. 

Image courtesy of Boston Magazine

As a consumer, there is a great deal of power that comes with deciding where to spend your money. But with this power comes an obligation to support those who are fighting for a sustainable future. “Shop local,” Conners urged. “Produce is going to look a lot different in the future and in order to ensure that a lot of people have a livelihood and your produce stays local, you have to shop local. That’s the only solution.”

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Tailgating in the Post-Apocalypse

The calendar, my phone, and all other tools of chronological measurement said it was a Saturday. But how was I to know? Days pass in a somnambulatory haze, the spontaneity drained out of them, the closest thing to look forward to being either my lunch or Thanksgiving, I guess.

Still, I awoke on Saturday, September 19, to a cloud of charcoal smoke that seemed less like the emissions from a grill and rather like a shroud in which a distant friend has surreptitiously returned. As my head cleared, I began noticing more and more elements of the jovial enterprise: the din of a SoundCloud mashup of pop songs blasted on a small JBL speaker, bafflingly styled Boston College apparel, and most tellingly, red Solo cups—at 10:30 a.m. 

It was game day, baby, and the kids were tailgating.

I had heard the rumors, we all had, of those socially starved students about to erupt in a burst of White Claw from the volcanic Mods where they’ve been building up steam. I feared the calamity too much to involve myself. These students were playing cornhole—cornhole!—and when the law strikes down, there’ll be hell to pay; I wouldn’t be caught dead in that crossfire.

Image courtesy of bcgavel.com

I hesitantly put on my slippers and sweater and clomped down the stairs, daring to peek out of my kitchen window toward the yard it faces, where four housing units find their back entrances and four more their front ones. I did the math—six students per Mod, four Mods plus another four if it got rowdy. My still-groggy fingers punched it into the calculator, and I immediately felt a shiver: 48 students.

I don’t think I’ve seen 48 people since March.

I decided to step outside and scope out the situation, only to find myself immediately flanked by police. The batons and handcuffs seemed to engorge as I imagined the repercussions for this gathering. What would set it off? Maybe it’d be a burning hamburger patty from a negligent grill-master. Maybe someone would forget to transfer their beverage into an unmarked container. And even if they did manage to evade the cops, who’s to say they wouldn’t meet their demise at the vindictive vigilante next door? The eyes, they were on us. On me. I scurried back inside, into my safe haven, ahem, my family unit, and watched from a distance as these students raged and raged against the dying of the light.

I could only ask myself why. Why these students, ostensibly smart enough to have made it to their senior year, would risk it all for a football game. I put myself in their shoes ten times over and couldn’t think of a justification for this jeopardy.

Until I realized I didn’t need to.

They were following protocol—pushing it, but following it. All of them were masked, there were no more than 16 there total, and, between the intermittent gale and the fact that they’ve all likely fraternized before, I came to realize that to impinge upon this event would be juvenile, callous, and above all else, useless.

The cops seemed to have noticed as much, oscillating between the boredom of obligation and the hint of a nostalgic smile. Common sense would dictate that this early morning pseudo-bacchanal was: a) not the first time these students have congregated, and b) relatively harmless.

I say relatively because in an absolutist world, this event would have sent them all to the gulag. It seems, though, that as we go on and on in this new world, growing ever more distant and isolated, the value of coming together over 10:30 a.m. hot dogs and beer rises. It really isn’t much—take a trip to the same day two years ago and you’ll see—but it’s enough. And it’s what they need.

I asked one of the attendees why they decided to go all out. “We were still abiding by the 12-person max rule…we still had the community feel.” It was that simple.

Did this tailgate signify the promise of normalities to come? Or was it a coup de grâce for one of the many forms of social interaction we took so deeply for granted? Only time will tell if students’ resolve will allow for future facsimiles of a normal college life, or if the changes are irrevocable.

As of writing this, all future tailgates are nominally banned. But something tells me that the early morning grilling and boozing will, like a hedonistic cockroach, find a way to outlive annihilation.

Cover photo credits: stadiumjourney.com

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A Guide to Boston’s Best Outdoor Eateries

The streets of Boston are crowded and lively in a new, socially-distant way. With the help of live music and strung lights, Bostonians maintain some semblance of a night out pre-pandemic. As the weather turns colder and COVID-19 drags on, however, restaurants and bars across the city are adjusting their approach to outdoor dining in an effort to remain open. 

The expansion of outdoor dining was an obvious solution to the Massachusetts state mandates regarding the novel coronavirus. Food establishments quickly took advantage of parking lots and sidewalks to increase outdoor seating and bring in the profit that they lost when shut down. For the Bostonians hoping to ditch take-out but still hesitant to dine indoors, the following is a list of local restaurants and bars offering incredible and safe outdoor dining experiences.

Photo courtesy of The Boston Calendar

Burro Bar (Brookline)

On the corner of Beacon Street and Winthrop Road, Burro Bar is a “neighborhood Mexican kitchen” focused on tacos and tequila. Burro Bar has always offered a substantial amount of outdoor seating, which made adjusting to the COVID-19 mandates very manageable. With a covered deck raised up from the sidewalk, there is great potential for year-rounding seating.

“My favorite outdoor dining experience post quarantine has been Burro Bar in Brookline,” stated Veronica Moreno, MCAS ‘21. “They set up an outdoor tent decorated with string lights for an inviting and warm atmosphere. The crispy fish tacos were honestly the best tacos I’ve ever had!” Open seven days a week, including for brunch on the weekends, Burro Bar continues to serve incredible food and a huge variety of drinks in their inviting outdoor space. 

Photo courtesy of Cambria Hotel Boston

Six West (South Boston)

If you’re looking for a luxury outdoor dining experience, Six West in downtown South Boston is the perfect place. “It’s been my favorite place to get dinner and a drink mainly because of the beautiful view,” explained Natalie Hone, MCAS ‘21. “To make it COVID-friendly, the bar is closed, and the tables are spaced all along the deck with plexiglass in between each other.” 

The stunning views of the Boston skyline and harbor make Six West the perfect place to dress up for and make a night out of. Even if you’re just there for a drink, Hone says the truffle fries are a must.

Photo courtesy of Thanx

Cisco Brewers (Seaport)

No outdoor dining guide for the city of Boston would be complete without mention of Cisco Brewers, the pop-up beer garden in Seaport. Since its founding in Nantucket 25 years ago, Cisco Brewery has been crafting fantastic beers that taste of summers on the beach. Cisco’s Seaport location has been in operation for the past three summers. Although always wildly successful, its abundance of outdoor seating and relaxed atmosphere have made it the go-to place for a quality drink and a high-end slice of Oath Pizza.

“Enjoying a drink and good company at Cisco took my mind off the fact that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic,” commented Tiffany Santos, MCAS ‘21. “It almost felt like a normal night out with the strung lights and food trucks.” Local craft beer and a sense of eternal summer keep customers coming back to Cisco Brewers.

Each of these establishments offers a different atmosphere through their outdoor setups, providing those who want to dine out with something they haven’t had in a long time: options. While these outdoor spaces are currently a reasonable choice, the city of Boston is moving quickly into fall and winter; take the uncertainty that comes with the colder weather as an even stronger reason to take advantage of these outdoor experiences while you can.

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Intentional Consumerism in the BC Food Community

The empty, desolate campus students left in March came to life (though masked and socially distanced) as many students flocked back for the start of fall semester. The palpable excitement of habitating the BC Bubble now floats throughout campus, but the obvious need for precaution and safety is intertwined within this enthusiasm. Students need to do what we can to keep campus open. This entails practicing responsible and safe behavior on and off campus as well as respecting the neighboring communities. With large gatherings at a halt but the desire for social interactions still persisting, the next go-to for many friends is to grab dinner. While supporting local restaurants and employees is vital to the success of neighboring communities, we as consumers need to ensure this activity is approached mindfully. The safety of the campus and restaurant employees should be prioritized, and many principles learned from quarantine can be used to do just this. 

Restaurants, having missed large revenues from the height of quarantine, have reopened, focusing on outdoor seating to ensure social distancing takes place. While tables are spaced apart and the fresh air erases the atmosphere of worry regarding the pandemic, the CDC recommends wearing a mask when not eating to ensure droplets are not spread. This acts as a  method of protection to those dining around you and serving you. As customers arrive in masks, ensuring that all servers also wear their masks enables both parties to protect themselves and each other. With social distancing practices, eating outdoors, and wearing a mask when not eating, we can dine while avoiding infecting ourselves and others.

image courtesy of Eater Boston

As of June 8, Phase 2 of the reopening plan of Massachesetts began. The anticipation for business and activities out of the house finally relieved, as outdoor patrons began enjoying their favorite take-out meals at sit-down restaurants.  

Having experienced the hustle and bustle of a Friday afternoon on Beacon Street before quarantine, returning to what once was the well-trafficked area after the reopening felt ominous. The previously hurried and fast paced passerbys have been replaced with stagnant and socially-distanced patrons situated on curbs, allowing restaurants to serve guests in the crisp, summer air. Dining outside and socially distanced felt odd. The pleasures of dining and being with those I was quarantined with returned, but the feeling of worry and precaution never escaped me. This sense of fear increased in many as indoor dining became available on June 22 in Boston. 

Such concerns over the worst case scenario were not a feeling confined to my family unit or to other patrons, as many restaurant owners experienced similar worries regarding the potential outcomes of reopening their indoor seating. “Our decision not to reopen was mainly about staff safety. Everyone is in danger all the time right now, and we didn’t want to put anyone into any excess danger,” Jason Bond, the owner of Bondir in Cambridge, told Eater Boston.

image courtesy of Vox

With restaurant workers speaking out about their concerns over the safety of their staff if they reopen in person dining, consumers need to ensure that they are acknowledging the risk employees are placing themselves in to make ends meet. Aside from following the COVID-19 precautions previously mentioned, generously tipping as financial support to those who served you is equally important. 

Another important facet of the reopening of restaurants in Boston is the narrative regarding food accessibility. Attention has shifted towards discussing eating in restaurants when many members of the Boston community are unable to afford or access this luxury. With unemployment skyrocketing and vulnerable communities continuing to face limited access to income and aid, many are left without financial and physical access to groceries. This is where mutual aids come into play. 

While mutual aids are a topic that are tossed around and shared via social media, the great impact of mutual aids derives from their grassroots focus on helping groups of people who are overlooked by government programs. “Mutual aid creates a symbiotic relationship, where all people offer material goods or assistance to one another. Mutual aid organizing is volunteer-run, transparent, and driven by the needs articulated by community members,” notes a VICE article detailing the rise of mutual aid organizations during COVID-19. 

Although existent before the pandemic, mutual aids have rapidly expanded and grown to accommodate and assist those suffering during isolation. By relying on social media to spread awareness of the mutual aid and Google Docs to sign up to volunteer or receive aid, mutual aid funds thrived on the interconnectedness the Internet provided the world throughout the worst of the pandemic. This reliance on strangers and volunteers found on the Internet contrasts previous models of providing and obtaining aid, demonstrating how quickly organizers adapted to the influx in need for new forms of assistance. In a time that feels so socially isolated, communities are quickly forming to provide a sturdy social network of aid. 

Not only are mutual aid funds being utilized to make groceries and essential items accessible, mutual funds in Boston were started to act as a “virtual tip jar” for restaurant employees who were laid off or unable to work during the pandemic. Although these were formed to assist with those who could not work during the height of the Massacheusettes coronavirus closures, restaurants are not able to fill to capacity, and staff are not receiving the tips they are accustomed to. 

Although all mutual aids are not directly aimed at assisting and tipping restaurant workers, this example of financially supporting the community truly encapsulates the importance of being an intentional consumer. Rather than merely taking the services and food you pay for in what can seem to be a disconnected transaction, consumers should acknowledge that restaurant workers rely on the tips and purchases from customers. 

With approximately 16,000 restaurants permanently closed due to repercussions from the pandemic, the need to support small, locally-owned restaurants becomes more apparent than ever before. Consumers need to support restaurants that have served their communities to ensure that local, small, and BIPOC-owned restaurants can survive. 

The more we return to normal habits of consumption, the more these habits need to be altered to better serve the current economy. When dining with your family units, always ensure precautions are being taken to protect yourself and others. Local restaurants in the community should be prioritized when it comes to spending your hard-earned money. 

image courtesy of Hopewell Bar & Kitchen

Finding and exploring new local restaurants can be difficult during the pandemic, but lucky for you many lists of local restaurants have been curated to help out. 

Black owned restaurants in Boston: https://www.boston.com/food/restaurants/2020/06/02/black-owned-restaurants-in-boston

Allston restaurants open: 
https://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaurants/best-restaurants-allston/