Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Legend of Don Alberto

Now that I’ve expanded my kitchen skills, I can look back and laugh (and cringe) at some inadequate meals I used to prepare. I never went the Ramen route, but I had a roommate who ate nothing but those nast-E noodles, tuna and muscle-building supplement shakes (mmm, mmm, vomit). Follow me, if you will, in remembering a few truly atrocious college staples:

Totino's “Party” Pizza: Yep, the same five for $5 pies that were recalled a couple of weeks ago).

Big-ass plate of corn: As an entree, not a side, and never cream corn.

Macaroni and cheese: Of course! The good folks who formulated Easy Mac made the Jester Dorm years a little bit sweeter.

It’s safe to say I — like most male college students — was afraid of cooking. Cheap and easy was the way to go. The king recipe for me and a select few was Donnie A’s. For those who didn’t hang out at College Park — The Landings, Phase 1, Apt. 933 from 1999-00, here are the ingredients: flour tortillas (only Riverside Albertson’s “authentic” Don Alberto’s brand would do) and slices of American cheese (preferably Kraft). That’s it. Roll ’em up, throw ‘em in the microwave for 20 seconds and bon app├ętit,.

I really have a soft spot for this “meal.” It reminds me of some damn good times. In a hurry and with a few improvements and the benefit of my favorite kitchen appliance — my invaluable toaster oven — I recently resurrected Donnie A’s. I have made the ol’ A’s a few times in Waco but spruced ’em up a bit (better cheese, H-E-B's fresh corn tortillas, salsa, spinach, black beans, mushrooms, whatever leftovers I have that work), and I gotta tell ya, Donnie A’s are back, and they’re not half bad. The best part: I didn’t sacrifice the spirit of the Donnie A’s — it’s still easy, fast and cheap. Viva, Donnie A!


Collin Quick said...

I've had my fair share of bad college meals - I once went 2 months eating nothing but bocca burgers - but I never had a big ass plate of corn. is that a TX thing?

Robert Tracy said...

Two months! I'm impressed. Soy burgers are great, but way too pricey in my college days (except for the ones at the dorm cafeteria). That and I wasn't a vegetarian back then. In fact, there was a time when I'd throw back double quarter pounders at least once a week. Makes me ill just thinking about it.

No, a plate of corn probably isn't a Texas thing. However, considering the area's agriculture, it most certainly should be an Illinois/Midwestern thing. My hunch is NIU students probably take corn for granted.

sasha said...

hahahaha. man oh man i remember those days.

but i recall making food ... good food at that ... or frequenting baby a's ... mmmmmmmmmmm margarita queso fattinessssssssssssss.

Robert Tracy said...

True enough — very good food (lemon chicken and rosemary potatoes was a fave). I know I enjoyed having actual food and really liked cooking those meals with ya.

And who can forget Midori Margaritas and Puffy Tacos?!? Thanks for driving me back to the Landings!

Collin Quick said...

when the icon of your college town is a husk of corn and resembles a penis, you tend to stay away from the substance. I've seen that image photoshopped into so many pictures, it stopped being funny.

and I would buy 20-packs of bocca burgers from Sams Club when I would go home. add a piece of cheese and some bbq sauce and i was in heaven.

Robert Tracy said...

Ah, now there's a tradition with which I can relate — stocking up at Sam's Club. Bulk! Burgers!

Margo said...

You guys ate really gross stuff ... :D

Robert Tracy said...

We sure did! I prefer to think that those questionable food choices gave me a greater appreciation for the good stuff I consume nowadays.

Screwed Up Texan said...

Oh wait...you're suppose to put a hotdog in with the cheese. That is called a Donkey Tail. My husband eats them all the time.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, oh my...did we go to college together?? I totally did the Totino's and mac & cheese on a regular basis. I even did your tortilla and cheese!! Sometimes I'd jazz it up with balogna. There was also a LOT of Chef Boyardee in my college career.

When some friends of mine and I moved into a house, one of us could cook and our "nice" meal was pork chops, green beans and mac&cheese. Sometimes, I still do that (with better ingredients) just to relive old times.