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I didn’t go to class last week.
A disclaimer: I’m not one of those people — the kind who view lectures and seminars as obstacles to “experiencing college.” I love my classes. I love my professors. I think my major is just about the greatest gift I’ve ever given myself.
I didn’t go to class last week because I physically could not leave my apartment... not even for my midterm that Tuesday. Four days before the vaccine was distributed to all on campus, I came down with the swine flu.
I could go into detail about how it all felt (like having a sweaty elephant sit on you, if you must know) but the truth is, the physical symptoms of the flu were hardly the worst part of the experience. During my spell of swine, I have never felt lonelier in my entire life. For four days I lived in utter isolation; my closest friend was Michael Bluth from Arrested Development.
My roommates ceased to exist, somehow. When one of them returned from buying me Gatorade and chicken broth, she tapped on the door to my bedroom. “Your stuff is on the kitchen counter,” she said. “I don’t want to come in there.”
I also became unbearably timid during the illness, finding it painfully difficult to call up a friend to ask for a box of tissues or a bottle of ginger ale. Instead I sat alone in my little room, talking to my mother, mourning the loss of my social life.
When Friday rolled around, I was thrilled to have finally regained enough strength to leave the apartment. Granted, I turned in early after a meek attempt at a night out (try ordering hot water with lemon and whiskey at a bar — the reaction is priceless), but the healthy dose of human contact proved just the medicine I needed.
Saturday I went to CVS on my own and even managed a 30-minute stint at the gym. My midterm was successfully rescheduled and my friends started to feel comfortable hugging me again. Small victories, yes, but I can’t stress enough the appreciation I now have for those humdrum activities I’ve always taken for granted. Maybe the swine flu was just what I needed to gain a little perspective.
Having recovered, I finally understand what my mother is always telling me: “I know you’re stressed, honey, but at least you have your health.”
Good sushi in Philadelphia is not hard to come by. Many Penn students may be wary of going farther than 37th St. for their raw fish fix, let alone traveling down to Old City. So what is it about Zento that makes it worth the journey?
You don’t go to Yue Kee because you’re in a rush. You don’t go if you want a casual conversation with the person at the window, either. You go to Yue Kee because you’re hungry, plain and simple.
Until 1977, the traffic-ridden corner of 38th and Ludlow was little more than a gathering place for the mentally insane. America’s first mental institution was situated here, in an area that was dismally referred to as “The Blockley.” The giant “Blockley Pourhouse” sign recently posted above the door attempts to revive the old space and kill any old spooky memories with plenty of beer and pub fare. Let’s just hope the ghosts of crazies past aren’t fans of fried food and $2 Lionshead bottles.
The location of Penn’s Korean/Japanese food cart (and arguably Penn’s best food cart overall) is ideal for two rather large groups of Penn students: Huntsmanites and Pottruck-loyalists. KoJa sits quietly at the corner of 38th and Walnut, though the delicious aroma travels far beyond the cross street.
The Christmas lights outlining the shuttered windows of Anthony and Michael Companga’s Italian BYOB, Ava, were warm and welcoming upon our snowy arrival at the restaurant. At 5:30 on a Tuesday, the place was entirely empty, a fact understandable due to the inclement weather outside. The ambiance foreshadowed by the lighted decorations, however, is not what will bring you back to Old City for another visit. It is the classic Italian preparation and presentation of the dishes that left us feeling full and satisfied that makes Ava worth the cab fare.
Freshman year was a simpler time. Your room was the size of a closet, heat was free and, most importantly, Mom and Dad couldn’t yell at you to pick up your shit. Liberating, truly, and you were happy in your glorified pigsty. But every so often you’d waltz into the room down the hall, the one with the neat-freak pair of roommates with matching comforters and a flat screen TV who had yet to see a mouse scamper across their sparkling clean floor, and you’d wonder if you were going about it all wrong. But then again, you were the norm and those kind of people were rare. And let’s face it, they weren’t that cool.
Listening to Jericho while driving with my dad through Ohio tobacco country, the dash of country girl in me comes alive. I like my music with a twang. Always have.
Chef de cuisine of XIX, Marc Plessis, experiments with original ingredients little-known in Philadelphia from atop the Park Hyatt on Broad Street. Notably ingenious menu additions include crosne, a baby root vegetable that resembles seaweed bulbs, New Zealand crab and the illustrious Blue Foot chicken. The centerpiece of the restaurant is a circular raw bar, highlighted by luminous pearls draped overhead. While the oversized strands were a little gaudy for our tastes, the raw bar was smartly placed and beautifully presented, so much so that we couldn’t resist ordering the seafood platter, complete with clams, sweet Newport cup oysters, lobster tail, curried crab salad, blue prawns and marinated mussels, among other goodies. The crab salad was the ultimate favorite, combining the red crab with crisp apples and an unmistakable hint of curry flavor.
Where: 4200 Chester Ave. (a block past Baltimore)
Contact: (215) 222-1255
Reason to go: Mondays. Unlimited buffalo wings and beer for ten bucks. For your health, you probably shouldn’t go every week. Great for first timers.
Insider Tip: Happy hour daily from 4-6 p.m. Get there early (around 9 p.m., especially on Mondays), before the crowds appear and the specials expire. Live music offered weekly.
When something is published in The New York Times, it’s safe to assume its legitimacy. But when 20 so-called “Miracle Fruit” arrived in my mailbox two weeks ago, the Times article seemed more like a nutty fairytale. Not only were the berries shriveled and dried from their travels, but their packaging consisted of a Ziploc bag and a small media mail envelope addressed in chicken-scratch handwriting. My housemates and I shook our heads. There goes $65, we all thought to ourselves.
Ellen Yin, co-owner of Fork restaurant in Old City and author of the cookbook/memoir Forklore: Recipes and Tales From an American Bistro, remembers being a freshman at Penn. "I lived in a high rise and was overjoyed to have a kitchen at my disposal," she told the gathering of foodies and Fork fans crowded into the Writers House last Thursday. As a Wharton undergrad focusing in entrepreneurial management, Yin actually drafted a business plan to open her own restaurant while at Penn. "I wanted it to be at around 3rd Street," she recalls. Little did she know that a decade later, one of the culinary gems of Old City would be of her very own creation.
Christopher Hora, executive chef and owner of Root, is one of the most well-traveled people I have ever met. From Prague to Hong Kong, Thailand to Scotland, the man has lived and cooked everywhere. When asked why he decided to open a restaurant in Philly as an alternative to hopping around Europe and Asia, he replied simply, “I got tired of living out of a suitcase.” And thank goodness for that.
Devil's Alley Bar and Grill
1907 Chestnut Street
Have you seen columnist Lisa Morrison's online piece on the hottest couple around? Most likely not. Here's the gist of it: beer and chocolate are gaining popularity as the newest "it-couple." A seemingly unlikely combination, beer connoisseurs from all over the country are realizing the duo's incredible potential as a tasty winter treat. Think about it. Chocolate is an aphrodisiac. Beer, when consumed in generous amounts, has a similar effect. Valentine's Day, here we come.
Ever considered scrapping your i-banking ambitions in favor of a less traditional (read: more awesome) career? In high school, Peter Roodhouse was the guy who started barbecuing for his hungry (read: inebriated) classmates at the graduation party. His matriculation into the Culinary Institute of America the next fall came as no surprise to his friends. Living a completely different kind of college life in Hyde Park, NY, Peter has chefs as professors, acts as cafeteria cook for his peers on occasion and spends his class time learning the difference between New England Clam Chowder and Manhattan Clam Chowder. Don't get us wrong; it's not all fun and games. Imagine arguing a grade with one of the top chefs in the world over a hot stove.
It's always fascinated me to see just how long Penn students will wait in line. Whether it's at Smoke's, a random frat party or the two-and-a-half block queue to get into this year's Player's Ball athletic formal, girls willingly expose their legs to the below freezing winds while their dates contemplate the pros and cons of busting out their wallets for speedier service. It's not just the cold that stands in the way of an enjoyable night on the town. While many girls on campus were waiting in the necessary lines that go along with the annual rush process, some of us spent the last two weeks dealing with a completely different type of obstacle to entry: the ever-present, ever-burly and ever-so-cranky bouncer.
Who says a light bulb can't cook brownies? Well, naysayers be amazed. The Easy-Bake Oven, a stunning new invention, is on shelves nationwide.
Café Pier One