The Edible Bracket 2011

Last year's winners of the MNCAAPG Best Bracket contest are back. This March Madness season, we will be documenting foods associated with the competing schools. Consider it March Madness, Top Chef Edition.

Purdue University Boilermakers (West Lafayette, IN): Boilermaker

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Much like the Ohio State Buckeyes, the Purdue Boilermakers were just begging to be included in the Edible Bracket. A boilermaker is apparently a “trained craftsman who produces steel fabrications from plates and sections" (weird mascot, no?), but it’s also a surprisingly delicious beer cocktail. Opinion differs on whether a boilermaker is a shot followed by a beer chaser, or whether the drink involves dropping the shot INTO the beer. We went with the latter, for dramatic effect, as demonstrated in the accompanying slideshow.

Indiana State University Sycamore Sam (Terre Haute, IN): “Put a [Larry] Bird on It” Fig Bird

sycamore fig byrd

OK, go with us on this one. This Indiana State food art has many meanings, many layers. Let’s unpack it together.

1. Ficus sycomorus, sometimes called the sycamore fig, sycamore, or sycomore, is a fig species that has been cultivated since ancient times. Thus, the fig represents the Indiana State mascot, Sycamore Sam.

2. Larry Bird was an Indiana State star and a major NBA star. Bird was born in Indiana and also coached the Indiana Pacers. Dude is all around Indiana star. The fact that the figs have been shaped into a bird (um, sort of) is an homage to him.

3. Finally, and also, we love Portlandia, a show starting Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, which features a hilarious skit called "Put a Bird on It." 

We wanted to put a [Larry] Bird on it. So we put a bird on this sycamore fig. Get it?

This is definitely our weirdest entry.

University of Memphis Tigers (Memphis, TN): Elvis Sandwich

memphis elvis sandwich

Rumor has it that the King himself loved this sandwich. And who else do you think of when you think of Memphis? Well, maybe you think of the Tigers now. But Elvis still lives; he’s still the King of Memphis. And we must bow down to the King and bring him an offering. This is our offering, our Elvis sandwich: banana, bacon, and peanut butter.

All three of these ingredients are disgusting to Laura. And yet she ate it. For the bracket.

memphis elvis sandwich lp

George Mason Patriots (Fairfax, VA): Freedom Fries

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About 5 years ago, the U.S. Congress quietly gave up its silly idea of calling French Fries Freedom Fries (an idea thought up by some Republican congressmen when the United States was mad at France for not wanting to invade Iraq).  But we think if there’s one team out there that’s sticking to calling them Freedom Fries, it’s be the George Mason Patriots.  Not only are they called the Patriots, but GM’s law school is one of the most conservative in the country, and the school’s econ department is full of libertarian free-market enthusiasts—just the type of people who would go to the school cafeteria and order up a plate of Freedom Fries.

St. Peter’s College (Jersey City, NJ): Baked Ziti

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For us, St. Peter is associated less with Jersey City (home of St. Peter’s College), and more with the City of Rome, where a basilica stands in his honor.  We’re not sure what the Romans ate when Jesus and Peter were hanging out, but we like to think it was classic Italian dishes like baked ziti.

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