Julia Abate ’24
McConnell looks like an office building from the outside. But some of the best meals on campus are prepared in this inconspicuous location. McConnell is strongest at dinner. On Thursdays, students fill plates with caesar salad, poke bowls, steak, creamy tomato shrimp pasta, and jackfruit pot roast.
The build-your-own poke bowl bar is in the global station. I choose to build my own burrushi. A burrishi is a poke bowl wrapped up into a sushi burrito. I watch the server press white rice into a sheet atop a large seaweed wrap. He presses the rice with the caution I reserve for treating stained clothes. It’s important that excessive OxiClean doesn’t leave its own watermark.
My burrushi is filled with poke salmon, smashed avocado, sliced cucumbers, red onions, and diced mango. The server drizzles the flat sheet of poke with ponzu sauce and spicy mayo. The burrushi is rolled up and cut in half. There are two big pieces of sushi on my plate. The burrushi is cute. I get the feeling that I would have been friends with the salmon that is now squeezed in between rice and seaweed. I think I would have known a fish who was reliably fun with a healthy ego if we had met underwater.
I savor the optic pink salmon and melon-hued cucumbers and emerald strings of seaweed salad. The first bite of the burrushi ends with a satisfying rip in the seaweed wrapper. The seaweed wrapper is more of a textural element than a flavor. I taste it toward the end of every bite and it cleanses my palate.
The salmon tastes clean. The rest of the flavors join in to compliment the deceased. The layers of salmon almost bruise the way a flower petal on the sidewalk might. It tastes clear, vegetal and slightly floral. Creamy richness is deep in the bottom of every bite. It’s fun to encounter long pieces of bright green seaweed tangled together in a citrine sauce. The subtle crunch of the seaweed is followed by a comforting sweetness. The crunch of the cucumber is bolder and cool. This introduces a lightness to the fish and the seaweed. Small tastes of sharp and refreshing mango ask me to slow down.
It’s been a while since I looked down at an empty plate and paid attention to the sensations from the meal wearing off of me. Seeing the flakes of seaweed scattered across the white ceramic dish reminded me of pieces of confetti on the floor the morning after a party. I can still taste the sticky rice melting in my mouth. I’m sad that the meal is over. When I decided that I was going to go to McConnell on assignment, I planned on fixing a couple of meals and not finishing any of them. This changed with one bite of the terrific burrushi.
I get a caesar salad. After all, it’s Thursday and the first night of the weekend permits an indulgent meal. I move through the make-your-own station and grab everything: iceberg lettuce, croutons, cheese, and dressing. I pour caesar dressing over the lettuce bed with a soup ladle. The chicken is chopped for easy fixing in two metal trays next to the caesar salad station. One tray has chopped breaded chicken and the other tray has chopped breaded vegan chicken. My salad included a mix of all available elements, including both meats. Comparing chicken to vegan chicken is a fun experiment to run.
After a couple of bites, the vegan chicken suggests a flavor of feet that overpowers the flavors of the salad. The other elements of the salad were excellent. The chopped iceberg lettuce is cool and looks translucent as the light green leaves bleed out their color at the edges, almost like sea glass. The creamy dressing is a satisfying heavy contrast to the light, crunchy lettuce underneath. The croutons – toasty and chewy and smothered with a warm garlic butter – taste decadent.
I finish off my meal with banana cake and chocolate cake on a small plate. My dance teacher told us to eat bananas over the weekend at the end of class an hour ago. The chocolate cake is a small square classic version, moist and dark, and the frosting had a fudgy texture. The banana cake is a bit dry and dense but the banana flavor is nice, if slightly elusive. The cream cheese frosting, which is marbled with chocolate, is a little heavy but satisfying. The chocolate cake is the better dessert. I savor mouthfuls of chocolate frosting before the weekend officially arrives.
Image Source: Isabel Suh ’24