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Some Pig

February 1, 2010

Hello. My name is Cristin. I went to the University of Notre Dame, and I hate watching football.

Yes. There. I said it. Please don’t hurt me. I am not very different from you, gentle Domer. I love all the things you love about football, minus the standing in sub-zero temperatures for 5 hours while NBC takes a skajillion commercial breaks. When I go to a game, I go for the pagentry. And in my mind, Notre Dame Football Pagentry has no parallel. The Leprechaun brandishing ND flag unfurled. The split-second flashing of Irish Guard naughty bits. The collective joy. The collective rage. The drunken jigs and push-ups and key-jingling. The band! God bless the band, its glorious oom-pah-pahs, and the greatest college fight song in the world. What though the odds be great or small!

But the game itself? I could take it or leave it. I love it that, if you put a wig on Charlie Weis while he is wearing his navy blue windbreaker, he would bear striking resemblance to Violet Beauregard after she eats the multicourse chewing gum in Willy Wonka’s Inventing Room. Otherwise, I’m not all that interested.

You can imagine my dread, then, when my boyfriend told me that he wanted me to be his season-ticket plus-one during the Seattle Sounders inaugural season. Because soccer equals futbol, right? And to me, after the fanfare fades, futbol equals, “How much longer do I have to watch this before I get a snack?”

And whowouldathunkit. Ten games later, I love soccer and here is why:

First, the Sounders are totally jibing with me on the pagentry thing. They fill the sky with glitter.

There is a band! And then, at the MLS Cup, Fredy Montero played “Beat It” on Guitar Hero on the big screen, while a bevy of dancers performed all of the MJ choreography from the video. Dry ice was involved.

Also, there is expert heckling, and even the not-so-expert hecklers can grow on you, when you are caught up in it all WHICH I WAS. At the MLS Cup, the rotund, ruddy-faced gentleman who sat behind us all season and screamed “IT’S KASEY KELLER, BITCH!” every time Keller got anywhere near the ball, was absent. I actually missed him a little bit.

Moreover, there are no helmets, and some of the players have incredible hair. I tried very hard to get a picture of David Beckham’s bleached mohawk as it shimmied up and down the field. (I also harbored hopes of seeing Posh outfitted in a jumpsuit made of deconstructed soccer balls and sequins, but that didn’t happen, either.)

But the best thing of all is this: With soccer, you sign up for 90 minutes, and you get 90 minutes. Maybe 90 minutes and change. None of this we-play-for-10-seconds-and-then-we-need-to-regroup stuff. And that 90 minutes is zippy. I guess it is all the running back and forth? Whatever it is, I like it, and I don’t have to wait around too long to know how it is all going to turn out. And then I get to eat.

At first I found the vegetarian options at Qwest Field to be somewhat limited.

Dried-out churros, raw-garlic fries that burn burn oh sweet Jesus my eyes, and once I had a Freschetta pizza that had some residual plastic wrap melted right into the cheese.

All of this changed when I met The Pig.

Maximus Minimus, the post-apocolyptic-pig-shaped food cart parked downtown at 2nd and Pike by day, was outside Qwest Field this season. The night I met their vegetarian option–a sort of sloppy joe made with barley, roasted onions, and fennel–I was not so sure if I liked it. But I slowly became addicted to the Maximus sauce, made with beer, many peppers, fruit juice, and Lapsang Souchong black tea. And then they yanked it from my quivering fingers at the MLS Cup. If you were there, I was the woman standing at the southwest corner of the stadium yelling, “Where is my piiiiiiiig? Piiiiiiiiig! Why have you forsaken meeeeee?”

The Max/Min web site confirms that The Pig will not leave 2nd and Pike again until April. Stealing away from my office to get to the cart and back within a lunch hour would be tricky. And I must have this sandwich again before then. But how?

Pig Anticipation Veggie Sloppy Joe

1 cup barley, prepared according to package directions. One of the steps will be to “sort” the barley pearls. I have no idea what this means. How am I supposed to sort them? By size? This really did not seem like a wheat-from-the-chaff situation to me. So I just rinsed it and soaked it. It is going to be doused with sauce anyway. I ate lots of it and I feel fine. But I could have some kind of barley plant growing inside. Just fair warning.

16 oz. of your favorite barbecue sauce. You could try to recreate the Maximus sauce, with ‘spensy smoked tea. Or you could buy 16 oz. for about $7 at Pasta & Co. Choose wisely.

4 rolls that are slightly crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, with the insides scooped out a little bit to accomodate the filling. Scooped-out roll innards are chef’s treat. I used Essential Baking Company Kaiser rolls.

1 fennel bulb, cleaned and sliced as thick or thin as you like

1 medium onion, sliced as thick or thin as you like

Olive oil, a few pats of unsalted butter, salt, and pepper

Cook prepped barley in a medium saucepan per package directions. While the barley’s on the fire, get the fennel and onions situated; I roasted them at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes per this recipe, minus the balsamic vinegar step. When the barley is done, mix in the sauce and cook for an additional 10 minutes. (My barley still looked a tad watery after cooking on its own for nearly an hour, so I drained it in a colander before adding the sauce.) Give the rolls a brief stint in the oven to toast them, if you like (and I do like). Scoop about 1/2 cup of the sloppy barley and 1/2 cup of the veggies onto each roll. For the full Max/Min experience, serve Terra Chips alongside and eat standing up. Serves 4.

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