Sometimes you want to go where nobody knows your name.
My first day in Chicago I stopped at a local bagel shop on my way to work. This “Norm” equivalent (in the sense that all the people working there shouted his name when they saw him and asked if he wanted his usual) was chatting it up with me in line. We exchanged first names and general occupations, then segued into sports at which point he told me where the best Big 10 bar is. Your basic “waiting for food” banter. Once we got our bagels, we went our separate ways…or so I thought. In the next week my office phone had multiple missed calls from this guy, in addition to the three emails he’d sent my .edu address.
Given the minimal information I provided, that this man put in the extra effort to look me up and to contact me at work honestly is frightening. And it got me thinking. It’s “bad enough” that every college will list without hesitation a directory of all faculty members along with their work email and phone numbers, as well as office locations; frequently, these directories additionally include photographs of the individuals. No other (type of) company publicly provides that level of detail about an arbitrary employee. But it “gets worse”: many colleges–including both my former employer as well as UGA–go the extra mile and do not password protect course listings, so any stranger off the Internet streets could see when and where a professor is teaching. Finally, think about the last time you had to sign in with a security guard or get a visitor badge or anything in order to access a faculty hall of offices or to enter a college classroom.
Just so I don’t go into a full-on panic attack, let me switch gears and say how all this relates to food. Clearly, I’m not going back to “Cheers” anytime soon–and if I do I’m going to change my name and say I teach at a high school (people seem to find it hard to believe I’m a college professor anyway). My reluctance to return is not just because of “Norm”–who at this point in the story clearly acted more like “Cliff”: the bagel shop also didn’t have lox and schmear (which honestly is *the* only way to have a bagel). This got me thinking about doing a deconstructed lox-and-cream-cheese “non-bagel” that I could eat quickly, cheaply, and privately at home. This is the result. Enjoy!
- Puff pastry, plus flour for rolling out
- Cream cheese
- Red onion
- Black pepper
- Lox (I bought Trader Joe’s salmon bacon)
- Roll out the puff pastry using the flour. Cut into squares. Bake according to the instructions on the box (or if you make your own…rub it in).
- Mix together the cream cheese, finely-diced red onion, dill, and pepper.
- When the square have cooked, tap a hole in the center of each. Fill with cream cheese, lox and capers.