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I spend my summers waiting for them to end.

The last weekend in August has been my favorite time of year for as long as I can remember.  It’s the weekend when I organize my new stack of spiral notebooks, ready to be filled with lecture notes.  It’s the weekend when the days remain warm, but the nights get cold, teasing the change of seasons.  And it’s the weekend college football returns.

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I loved — and I’d like to think I still love — college football, ever since setting foot on the University of Michigan.  That place has a way of turning even the most counterculture of us all into a maize-and-blue-bedecked zombie who staggers to and from Michigan Stadium every Saturday for three months each autumn.  I was one of them.  I attach many of my favorite memories to Michigan football games:  bonding with girlfriends after an epic win over Penn State sophomore year; being almost-late to my sister’s wedding because of the nail-biting triple-overtime win over Illinois; and my S.O. and I going to our first game together at Michigan Stadium when Nebraska came to town after joining the Big 10.

I love the atmosphere of college football, and how the fans have a deeper connection than they do with a pro team.  I usually celebrate Michigan’s season opener with a spread of tailgate food — even if it’s just the S.O. and me.  But somehow, this year, I didn’t even realize college football was kicking off this weekend until I logged in to Facebook and saw several “Go Blue!” posts.  I wasn’t excited.  I just felt obligated to watch.

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After flipping on the TV, I saw Michigan was already up several touchdowns on Appalachian State — a rematch of that dreadful 2007 upset that I had actually been looking forward to avenging.  But I was bored within minutes of watching this game.  I went downstairs to make some chips and salsa for the S.O. to snack on during the second half.

Perhaps my lack of interest stems from my disconnect with the school — it’s been a while since I’ve graduated, and geography prevents me from attending games.  Perhaps it’s the walloping of a cupcake opponent, which provides no insight into how the rest of the season will unfold.  Or, perhaps it’s the decade-long string of mediocre seasons, that have finally broken me.

It breaks my heart to think that I’ve become a fairweather fan.

Notre Dame is next week.  I’ll give that game the ol’ college try, and see if my interest returns.  If not, I’ll be sure to have another batch of this cape gooseberry pico de gallo ready — the delightful sweet-salty-sour interplay is sure to hold my interest if the game cannot.

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Cape Gooseberry Pico de Gallo with Baked Lime Tortilla Chips

Serves 2

  • 1 C. cape gooseberries, hulled
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • small handful cilantro, finely chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • coarse salt
  • 5 corn tortillas
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
  1. For the pico:  Slice the gooseberries in half (or, if you don’t have patience, just dice them).  Combine with onion, cilantro, juice of 1/2 a lime, and salt to taste.  Mix, and serve chilled.
  2. For the chips:  Cut tortillas in sixths.  Toss with olive oil, juice of the remaining 1/2 lime, and salt to taste.  Bake on parchment-lined baking sheet in 350°F oven 15 minutes.

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