C is for cupcakes and chicken pot pie.
E is for earrings and eggs freshly laid.
F is for flowers so brightly displayed.
C is for cupcakes and chicken pot pie.
E is for earrings and eggs freshly laid.
F is for flowers so brightly displayed.
I never thought I’d meet Tony Blair.
I didn’t even think I’d get close enough to him to take his picture—which was just as well because my camera broke last week.
Then just hours before Blair was due to arrive on campus, one of my colleagues sent me an email. The former prime minister of the United Kingdom was going to deliver a brief statement on the passing of Margaret Thatcher to the media before the lecture.
As editor of Loyola magazine, I was welcome to come. So, of course, I went.
I waited for an hour alongside media from three Baltimore TV stations, The Baltimore Sun, and our very own reporters and photographers from The Greyhound—the most enthusiastic and earnest members of the media I’ve met.
I had borrowed a camera but it refused to turn on as Blair pulled up in a black Suburban. So, while everyone around me shot video and still images of his remarks, I merely smiled and scrawled on a notepad.
He shared his thoughts on Thatcher’s passing, and then he was gone.
I figured I would see him once more, at the lecture, as one of almost 3,000 people. I just felt lucky to have been about 15 feet away from him as he delivered his statement.
But a half hour later, as I waited to get inside Reitz Arena, I ran into a colleague who was working the VIP reception.
“I think I can get you in for a photo with him,” she said.
At first I turned her down. I was at the lecture with a friend, and it didn’t seem right to leave my friend while I went off to meet the former British prime minister. But my friend insisted. “Go,” she said. “It will make my evening for you to meet him.”
Now that is a true friend.
So I went. And moments later I was in line, wondering what I should say.
When it was my turn, I shook his hand. He was smiling and he looked as if he wanted to say something. I merely introduced myself and told him I worked for Loyola.
“Yes, I remember,” he said. “You were outside.”
I was astonished. He and I stood behind the tape markings on the floor and smiled together for the camera. It took only a moment and then he was on to the next person.
And all I could think was that Tony Blair remembered me! In this sea of people who were passing him, spending a moment with him here and there, he recognized me from that brief media moment. Then I realized. I was probably the only member of the media who was not behind a camera, so he could actually see my face. And he must be one of those people who has a good memory for faces.
Today, of course, he wouldn’t recognize me. But I have something better than a picture—a memory of not only a lecture full of insights and quips and a glimpse into this world leader’s personality, but also the briefest of conversations, the icing on the cake of a magnificent evening.
When the first pope in 600 years announces his decision to step down, where do you go to find out how members of the Loyola community are reacting?
Loyola magazine went to Loyola’s Alumni Memorial Chapel to talk with some of the people who were praying at today’s mid-day Mass.
Wearing a green Red Sox cap and carrying books from a full morning of classes, Patrick O’Connor was on his way to Mass when he stopped to talk.
“Some of my friends weren’t that surprised,” said the first-year student. “I don’t think they realize what a big deal this is.”
Even so, O’Connor could understand why Pope Benedict XVI made his decision. “It must have been very hard for him, but he must have been guided by the Holy Spirit.”
O’Connor remembers when Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005—even though he was a bit young to understand everything that was happening at the time.
“It was taking over Price is Right, so I knew it must be a big deal,” he said with a smile.
O’Connor, who lives in Dedham, Mass., saw the pope when he traveled to Madrid for World Youth Day last summer. “It was incredible,” he said. “Most of my pictures didn’t turn out, but I still have them in my brain.”
When Jesi Gonzales, ’13, heard the news this morning, she called home.
“I never really call my mom, so she was really taken aback,” said Gonzales, who lives in Reading, Pa. But she wanted to talk with her mother about the pope’s decision.
Her parents were the ones, after all, who invited Gonzales to join them for a family trip to Madrid for World Youth Day last summer, where they saw Pope Benedict. Although she was at a difficult place on her faith journey at the time, she enjoyed meeting people from around the world.
“I am at a better place now,” said the engineering sciences major who was on her way to Mass.
Reflecting on what she knows of Pope Benedict, Gonzales said, “I felt more connected to John Paul the second because he wrote more for young people.” She has, however, read some of Benedict’s writings, she said, “and I want to get to know him better.”
As the Rev. Frank Haig, S.J., looked back over the recent days of the pope’s tenure, including how he brought together all of the cardinals for two consistories, today’s announcement made sense.
“He had done a number of obvious things to prepare for it very quietly,” said Fr. Haig, professor emeritus of physics. “He was getting ready.”
What surprised Fr. Haig was that the pope will remain at the Vatican in his retirement, rather than returning home to his native Germany.
When the retired pope is residing in the Vatican, “I bet you won’t hear a word out of him,” Fr. Haig said, adding that Benedict will likely continue to write and publish. “He’s a brilliant theologian, and his legacy will be his three books about Jesus.”
Although longevity runs in the pope’s family, Fr. Haig appreciates that the leadership role requires a great deal.
“Times have changed. Medicine has changed,” Fr. Haig said. “They can keep us alive, but they can’t keep us young.”
Fr. Haig has lived through the papacies of Pope Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, and now Benedict XVI.
Now he’s preparing to get to know a new pope.
“It’s important,” he said, “but we have to remember that the head of the Church is Jesus Christ. The pope is just his vicar.”
For this year’s Christmas at Loyola Advent calendar, we invited our alumni food bloggers to share a few holiday recipes—and I offered to post one, too. After all, we’ve been talking a lot about food here at Loyola magazine; we just published a food issue this summer.
When I couldn’t think of any recipe I had that was particularly Christmasy, I called my mother.
“Do we have any family holiday recipes?” I asked.
There was silence.
“Maybe your father’s cookies?” she said, thinking of my father’s spritz cookies—which we always called “electric cookies” because he used an electric-powered cookie press. “But he makes those year-round.”
Suddenly I realized I had never had holiday staples such as egg nog, fruitcake, or even plum or figgy pudding.
What could I possibly offer? And then I remembered.
Two years ago, when we were planning the first Christmas at Loyola site, I decided to make a recipe to post on St. Lucy’s feast day, Dec. 13. My sister, Treasa Beyer Matysek, ’05, helped me and we embarked on an evening baking session.
At the end of it, we had produced one item that would have been a complete failure if we hadn’t laughed so much while making it, and another—a Santa Lucia Crown—that was lovely, though a bit labor-intensive for those of us who consider Italian ice a perfect dessert.
I haven’t made the Santa Lucia Crown since, but Treasa and I often talk about what fun we had—and how beautiful it was when we finished. It’s not overly sugary and has the sweetness of a European dessert, such as a panettone, and it goes well with a cup of tea. It also looks rather impressive.
You can find out how to make it here.
Meanwhile, here are some holiday recipes from food blogging Greyhounds who truly create wonders in their kitchens. Pick one, try it, and let us know what you think.
Zacusca, from Greg Bissonette, ‘05
Fried Chicken Livers, from Greg Bissonette, ‘05
Braised Lamb Shanks, from Greg Bissonette, ‘05
Grilled Leg of Lamb Stuffed wth Apricots, from Greg Bissonette, ‘05
Pretzel Turtle Bites, from Dawn Hayden Witman, ’03
Chocolate Candy Cane Cookie Sandwiches, from Cailin Gibbons, ‘10
Cinnamon Roll Cookies, from Dawn Hayden Witman, ’03
Chocolate Chip Carrot Cake, from Greg Bissonette, ‘05
Flourless Chocolate Cake, from Greg Bissonette, ‘05
Skinny Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, from Erin McDermott, ‘11
Have a recipe you’d like to share? Send it to email@example.com, and we’ll add it to our online recipe box.
Some people can juggle.
Others can roll their tongues.
Alexandra Fili, ’13, can eat bread pudding—fast.
For the second year in a row the Glen Cove, N.Y., resident won Café Hon’s Bread Pudding Eating Contest at Baltimore’s Hampden Fest. Loyola magazine asked Fili to share some of her eating secrets—and tell us a little more about the student behind the plate.
The best part is that at Café Hon they make it and it’s always fresh. When you get it, it’s nice and warm. They put the warm caramel on it and then the whipped cream. It’s an entire package of yumminess.
How much do you have to eat to win?
Everyone had to eat a pound. Actually what’s really funny was that last summer I also worked at what we called a “fat camp.” I used to go when I was younger. So one of the first things I did after working at a weight loss camp for eight weeks was go and win an eating contest.
What’s the prize?
Last year you won bread pudding for an entire year—so one bread pudding a week. This year it was $100. Right after (the contest) I’m not about to go order bread pudding. I really don’t want to go for any food right after that. Altogether I’ve won $275 in my three eating contests.
But you competed in a second eating contest last year.
Four hours later I ended up entering another contest at Holy Frijoles. It was a taco eating contest—who could eat the most in five minutes. I ate 13.
Thirteen? In five minutes?
People came up to me and said, “Are you a competitive eater?” I just joked around and said, “No, I can just shovel food into my mouth.”
Did you plan to compete a second year?
I was talking myself up and trying to get people to sign up, and there were two other people who were doing it who had done it last year, too. They were kind of gunning for me, so I had to do it. Then there was this one little boy whose friend was threatening to spit in my bread pudding.
Would you have eaten it with spit in it?
What was the competition like?
There was this one guy who was in his 20s. I looked over and he was more than halfway done, he was basically almost finished. But he was eating too fast, and he started gagging, and that’s when I picked up my win this year.
There’s only so much food you can swallow without your stomach resisting you. If you watch the video, in the middle I sit up and do the Kobayashi shake—he has that copyrighted shake. It worked, everything got settled down.
How did you decide to enter last year?
It’s like a joke in my family that I’m always the one who eats more than anyone else. We were at Hampdenfest, and I was working at a booth for WLOY. We know Denise, the owner of Café Hon, and we do a lot of work with them. I was like, all right, I’ll enter it. And I ended up winning it.
What are your favorite foods—besides bread pudding?
I love nachos. Nachos are definitely my favorite. I’m a really bad cook, but oatmeal is one of my favorites. I could live on oatmeal. My roommate and I were counting and we had 220 servings of oatmeal in our room. Other than that, I love pizza. What New Yorker doesn’t like pizza?
After your first win, how did you tell your parents?
I called them at the end of the day. I said, “Mom, dad, not only is your daughter a genius, but I’m also a competitive eater.” This year I told them about the email from Loyola’s public relations office. My parents said, “Alexandra, really? This is what you want stories written about you?”
What story would they rather read about their daughter?
Well, I run a program for WLOY called What Happens Next, which has won two national awards and is a finalist for this year’s award. It’s a free volunteer program for kids from 4 to 12 years old. I read them stories and the story has no ending. They get to write the ending. We go through the entire writing process. We’ll pick up vocabulary they’re not familiar with. Then they get to record it on air. And it’s played every Saturday on the station. It’s like my baby here at Loyola.
I’m applying to dental school. And a couple weeks earlier, I posted (to Facebook) about my grade on the DAT (dental admission test). More people liked my status on the bread pudding. Some of the people wrote on the status, “Alex, I’ve never been prouder of you.”
So you want to be a dentist?
Both of my parents, my uncles, and my grandparents are dentists. A lot of people fear the dentist, definitely. It’s probably the most hated doctor out there. When I went to the dentist, it was like a family reunion. Part of my mission statement to dental school is that I want my patients to feel as comfortable as I felt. You change a person’s smile and their whole personality changes.
Did you mention competitive eating on your dental school applications?
No, but maybe I should have.
Maybe dentists wouldn’t approve of eating bread pudding covered in caramel. But you brushed when you finished, right?
Oh, yes, of course. (Laughs) And flossed, too.
When John Ramming, MBA ’85, and I discussed where we might take his photo for the August issue, he mentioned a storage facility. I hesitated. Then I heard him say, “That’s where we keep the animals. We have an eight-foot tall giraffe….”
“A giraffe?” I asked. As it turns out, Ramming—because of his work for the Courage Lion Program, which you’ll learn more about in our next issue—also has a nearly life-size lion, kangaroo, grizzly bear, elephant, monkey, birds, and a few other furry creatures.
And the giraffe, as I learned first-hand yesterday, is, indeed, eight feet tall. In fact, the animals are designed with metal structures inside so that when Ramming takes the animals to gatherings for children who are critically ill, traumatized, abused, or in crisis, they can sit on them.
The animals are part of Ramming’s program which has provided stuffed Duffy the Lions and books about Duffy—a lion who finds courage within himself—to children in 114 hospitals, treatment facilities, and on Medevac helicopters throughout the United States and Canada. The program has given comfort and courage to more than 36,000 children.
“That’s what we can count. We know it’s beyond that,” Ramming said today. Sharing stories of veterans who cry when he speaks with their children through the Wounded Warrior Project, he got choked up. He is a man with a mission—and he is grateful to be able to serve through his work for Courage Unlimited Corporation DBA Courage Lion. “It has been a blessing of God.”
The stuffed lions distributed through the program are made in China, packed in a 40-foot-long container, and shipped across the ocean to Baltimore. Then they are stored—gratis—at Von Paris Moving & Storage in Savage, Md.
Back in 2006 when Ramming asked Bill Wachter, a fellow Knight of Columbus, whether Von Paris Moving & Storage might be able to let them use some storage space, he was talking about a couple palettes. Now he keeps 30,000 lions, books, and CDs there—and the Von Paris employees dedicated a whole day to setting up a space for the photo shoot yesterday.
“We’re really happy to do this for him,” said Wachter, president of Von Paris Moving & Storage.
“You can tell the real heroes because they act like it’s not a big deal,” said Ramming, thanking the company for its support. He also expressed his gratitude to Loyola. “They taught me everything I need to know from a business perspective.”
The Von Paris chairman of the board is another Loyola grad, Lee Von Paris, ’52 (below, left to right in photo by David Rehor, are Wachter, Ramming, and Von Paris). Von Paris, a descendant of the man who founded the company in 1892, met his fellow Greyhound, Ramming, for the first time today. Von Paris majored in history at Loyola, and he reminisced about a favorite professor, Harry Kirwan. “He always had a cane, and he had a limp. Brilliant man. One of the highest intellectuals I’ve ever met.”
But higher on Von Paris’s mind—as a former member of the Loyola lacrosse team—was the Greyhounds’ recent NCAA Championship. He describes his own Loyola lacrosse team as “learning.” “We did play Maryland,” said the father of two and grandfather of four.
“God bless you,” he said, and asked me to keep him in mind and let him know if anyone at Loyola could benefit from the services of the Courage Lion Program. “Remember, this is a two-way street.”
After the initial thrill of winning our bet with Notre Dame, we felt a pang of guilt.
We came home with the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Lacrosse Championship, a gleaming trophy to pass around, and bragging rights over our new pals in South Bend. On top of that, we didn’t have to shell out a penny for crab cakes, and we got to look forward to a kielbasa delivery. It just didn’t seem fair.
So, in our quest to be men and women for others, we picked up a few items and shipped a consolation prize out to Notre Dame Magazine.
We threw in a note that said:
No matter what the final score,
Enjoy a taste of Baltimore.
Our new friends were ecstatic. It’s amazing how much joy can be triggered by a few crab chips and a couple Berger cookies.
When our victory kielbasa arrived, we found this lovely handwritten poem inside:
The Fighting Irish were clearly trying to blow our first verse out of the water. But the Greyhound doesn’t just hold the 2012 NCAA Championship trophy for Division 1 lacrosse. He has the largest heart of any dog.
And so we doggedly offer this response to our Notre Dame friends:
We offered you cakes made of tender blue crab,
“And we’ll send kielbasa,” you said, “If you grab
A victory from us, but we doubt that you will.”
Then our Greyhounds romped right past the Irish with skill.
So you sent us a taste from the Polish South Bend,
We—Hounds that we are—tracked it down in the end,
And baked it—it crackled!—but it was the smell
And we ate it so fast we forgot to say grace.
Thank you, dear friends, for the sausage and fun.
Perhaps one day we’ll wager yet a new one.
And, though this was yummy, let’s make no mistakes,
Not much can taste better than local crab cakes.
“Hi, this is Brooke, calling for Chef Bobby Flay!”
“Is there a Loyola connection?” I asked, wondering why I hadn’t heard that Bobby Flay was a Loyola graduate.
The phone fell silent. “Well, no,” she said. “But we’d like to make one!”
With the deadline for our August issue approaching quickly, I was tempted to say no. But the theme of the August issue—well, besides, the absolutely exhilarating lacrosse championship we’re still talking about non-stop here—is food. And here we were offered the chance to meet a well-known TV chef. I said I’d be there—and I’d bring my colleague and magazine art director, Malia Leary, who is a superior photographer.
Before we drove to the new Bobby’s Burger Palace this morning, we asked our followers on Facebook and Twitter for questions to ask. Some of the comments made us laugh, such as “Ask him how to cook a Terrapin! Loyola has that recipe already.” Other commenters were looking for practical advice. I wrote them in my notebook and brought them along, hoping I’d have a chance to talk with Bobby himself.
Near the top of my list was the request from students involved in the GreyComm TV show “Domestically Challenged.” They wanted to know whether Bobby Flay would be willing to come as a guest host for their show. It was a long shot, but he had invited us to his place. Why not invite him to ours?
Arriving at Bobby’s Burger Palace, we slid into chairs and I found myself next to a Loyola graduate, Shannon Degen Morgan, ’99, senior editor for online media at Maryland Life Magazine. We chatted Loyola and met other members of the media—including a student blogger from another college, a freelance writer for the Maryland Beverage Journal—while we waited for Bobby to come out of the kitchen.
And then, seeming a little uncertain and maybe even nervous, he was there. And he had plenty to say.
He talked about his idea for his first burger place (this is his 10th): “A lot of people said to me, ‘Because the economy’s bad, is that why you’re opening this burger place?’ I said, ‘Well, no. I’m not an economist…’ Growing up when I was a kid, burgers was what I would eat. Chefs when they go out to restaurants, we’re not looking for foie gras and caviar. We’re looking for comfort food.”
He gave us a glimpse into his restaurant philosophy: “Good habits make good food. Bad habits make bad food.”
He talked about American food: “I think it’s the best in the world. There’s so many different cuisines. When most people look at the map, they see cities. I see ingredients. Why not take those and utilize them on top of the burger.”
When he thinks of Baltimore and Maryland, he sees: “Crab, and so I’m not sure I’m ready to put a crab cake on top of a burger yet. I mean, people do it. Obviously, Old Bay. There’s too many places in the city and state that make great crab cakes, and I don’t want to compete with that.”
He has eaten good Maryland crab cakes at: The Prime Rib and Woodberry Kitchen
Grill or griddle the burger? “I’m known for grilling, but I’m griddling the burgers here,” he said. “When the fat melts, it cooks itself in the juices. It’s not losing the flavor on the grill.”
How he seasons a burger: kosher salt and freshly ground pepper on both sides
What about the cheese? “There’s a sign in each of these kitchens that says, ‘Bobby says, melt the cheese completely.’”
How long it took him to perfect his milkshake: “A year and a half.”
How much ice cream is in his shake: 11 oz.
Making great French fries requires two days: Scrub them, hand crank them through a French fry cutter, and soak them in cold water overnight. The next day pat them dry, blast them in canola oil at 300 degrees until they are soft but not brown. When the fries are ordered, the cooks fry them again—now at 375.
His go-to spices: “I use chili peppers all the time,” he said. “To me my most important spice is black pepper. In all my restaurants, we take a coffee grinder and grind pepper and it’s perfectly ground.”
If you have room for only one kitchen gadget: “I think a blender is good. You can make frozen drinks and shakes, and you can make great sauces and dressings with it.”
So how about coming to Loyola and appearing on “Domestically Challenged”? Would you come star on our students’ show? He listened to the question as he wrote “Go Greyhounds” while autographing one of his cookbooks. “It’s a good name,” he said. “Sure. I’d love to.”
Hey, maybe we might create that Loyola connection after all. Stay tuned.