Monday, May 31, 2010

Last Class: Food for Students

I am astonished to be posting for the first time without photos and a recipe, but also in a small way consider it a personal breakthrough for having transcended guilt over not doing everything, and also determined to be as reliably posting every week as I was for years. So. A post with no photos, but still, something. And it is, at least, about food.

At the end of every semester, I make a meal for whichever of my graduate classes falls on the last day of term. I of course did something different every time, until enough students who had taken classes with me previously started asking for the same thing again. That thing was: pulled pork with the fixins’: homemade barbecue sauce, my inimitable cole slaw (nothing, really, but for some reason the people who don’t like cole slaw love it), homemade rolls, pound cake­—sometimes pimiento cheese to start. I am, after all, in Nashville during the academic year.

I teach my last class before leaving for Little Compton on Thursday, and I am way too busy to cook tonight (OK, I made a piece of grilled chicken and some lemon-parmesan rice, but that’s not blog-worthy). But nevertheless, I am thinking about what I can make for the students for lunch on the last day of class. Something simple, that will not take too long. I am determined not to do the pulled pork again, despite the pleas. But most of all—and those of you who know me will know the horror with which I say this—I am trying to think of something that can be refrigerated. Without being ruined, that is.

This rules out chicken salad--completely. Quiche. Potato salad. Grilled lamb or flank steak. Enchiladas. Shrimp. OK, pretty much everything worth eating. What does one make when it must be done the night before and not served until Noon the next day, after teaching since 9:30 in the morning?

I am going to go for the notion that the last thing eaten will be the most remembered, and make my friend Trina’s Greek Lemon Nut Cake. Deceptively simple and delicious. But for the main event? Still struggling. Leaning toward a pasta salad of some sort, even though they are plebeian and I never really enjoy them (because they are, well, refrigerated). Some grilled red peppers, onion, and radicchio, maybe some asparagus, some grilled chicken, lots of olive oil and lemon and parsley and parm, perhaps a little smoked country ham and some nuts. At least it’s do-able under the circumstances. I content myself with the knowledge that the students will, for the most part, not know the difference from refrigerated chicken or not.

Or maybe I should just do the pulled pork?


racheld said...

Can your students spell scrumdiddlyumptious? I'd say you can't lose with any of the above. And I don't know why it rules out chicken salad---it's one of the loveliest warm-weather lunches there is, preferably chilled for a few hours to mingle the flavors.

But those grilled veggies (also terrific with chicken salad), the asparagus, the breads---all that sounds just glorious. Room temp on all those for lunch, like one of the now-banned luxurious antipasti tables in good restaurants.

You must be the most popular professor on campus.

racheld said...

I got so carried away with all the lovely food, I forgot to say: I'm delighted that you'll be appearing WEEKLY in my neighborhood for the Summer!!

Jordan said...

Pulled pork + nut cake!