OK, you Stanford fans, as much as we hate to admit it, our sputtering Cal football team hasn't sniffed the Rose Bowl since Eisenhower was president. You've got us there (for now). But if it's a food fight you want, bring it, and we'll turn your dorky Tree mascot into a pathetic twig.
At our historic and freshly renovated Memorial Stadium, the game-day menu is all about diversity. Then again, judging from your enrollment data, you wouldn't know what that word means.
Gone are the days when choices were limited to hot dogs, peanuts and stale popcorn. Now, the decadent staples are joined by such eclectic offerings as spring rolls, veggie burgers, clam chowder bread bowls, sushi, portobello wraps and chicken salads.
Yes, here at Cal, hummus and pita chips are the new nachos. Moreover, the in-house concessions are supplemented by a handful of local vendors. Before a recent game, we sampled craft beers from Drake's Brewing of San Leandro out on Maxwell Field (no alcohol is served inside the stadium). During the game, we devoured a knish from Tante's of Oakland.
What's a knish? It's a crispy concoction made up of potatoes, spinach, onions and flavorful spices. Try one sometime, when you need to get the taste of a putrid performance by Stanford's marching band out of your mouth.
The upgrades at Memorial aren't so surprising, given that progressive Berkeley is home to the Gourmet Ghetto, including the world-class Chez Panisse restaurant. And while Alice Waters may not approve of all the football fare (our serving of orange chicken was only lukewarm), the creativity and sense of fun put into the overall menu is enough to make the snootiest Stanfordite red with jealousy.
Even the humble hot dog gets a fresh twist here. Spotted at a snack bar called Fifty-Yard Franks were an "Artichoke Dog," a "Frito Pie Dog," and a "Texan Dog." We tackled the latter, which came packed with a Polish sausage and shredded cheese, topped by a hearty helping of pulled pork. It's enough to get you through a long day of tree-sitting.
Sure, some of the food is on the pricey side (our "Texan Dog" was $10), but we've seen the BMWs you drive and know you can afford it. To add more bite to your meal, we suggest you gaze out from your seats at the end zone, where, on one glorious fall day, Cal tight end Kevin Moen made a crash-test dummy out of a clueless Stanford trombone player.
Better yet, do like we did and consume a plate of California roll sushi at a table in Memorial Stadium's main concourse while casting your eyes at our stately Sather Tower, the Bay Bridge and the glittery lights of San Francisco.
It's a view Stanford will never be able to beat.