This year’s “subogEATS” food truck festival, hosted by the Student Union Board of Governors, was not UConn’s usual endless line, limited supply affair. With students required to sign up for hour-long time slots in advance and caps on how many people could sign up for each slot, lines were either fast-paced and short or nonexistent. To the awe of all who attended this past Saturday, you could go to every truck easily before your hour was up — with satisfied stomachs and another meal or two for later.
There were four trucks this year — Lizzie’s Curbside, Food Extrovert, Uncle D’s Blazin BBQ and Fryborg — as well as a small table with ice cream for senior hour. The food options were situated throughout Fairfield Way and the Student Union lawn to account for proper spacing in the lines, with security and SUBOG student volunteers checking wristbands for the correct time slot.
“I tried to get involved [with SUBOG] in the fall, but my schedule was too busy,” Fiona Boyd, a second-semester biology major and member of SUBOG’s Special Events Committee and Concert Committee, said. “I really started getting involved in the spring. I’m in the Concert Committee and the Special Events Committee, so I really like it a lot. It’s so fun to plan events and stuff like that, and it reminds me of student council in high school, so that’s why I like it so much.”
You may remember Lizzie’s Curbside as the food truck formerly located near Homer Babbidge, which always smelled like amazing breakfast food. Many students rejoiced at seeing Lizzie’s back at UConn, and the sentiment seemed to be mutual, with a “Hello UConn! Missed u!” message scrawled on the charming chalkboard menu.
“I loved all of the trucks, but I would say Lizzie’s is probably my favorite because I miss having them on campus all the time so it was great to have them back!” Kimoya Wallace, a sixth-semester communication and entrepreneurship major, as well as the Special Events chairwoman for SUBOG and the head programmer for “subogEATS,” said.
Lizzie’s Curbside offered options such as vegan chickpea curry; grilled cheese panini with tomato and a choice of pesto or chipotle mayo; and homemade veggie burgers with lettuce, tomato and mayo. The grilled cheese was perfectly crisped, with molten cheese and pesto cascading over the tomato. The buttery, toasted bread fittingly complemented the creamy, slightly sharp white cheddar and the nutty, herby pesto. It felt like the essence of comfort — a much needed feeling as the semester winds down.
Lizzie’s chickpea curry was equally comforting, generously ladled warm and piping into the tray. There was an excellent balance of spice, heat and flavor throughout the dish, which featured chickpeas, biryani rice, onions, tomatoes and other vegetables. It was the perfect dish to warm you up on the sunny — blisteringly windy — day, as fitting of Storrs.
Food Extrovert specialized in macaroni and cheese on Saturday, with variations of the classic comfort food that would make your mouth water — traditional, chicken, spicy black bean and buffalo chicken. The traditional option was a dish to melt into. Rather than the usual elbow pasta, they used ditali — a short, tube-shaped pasta. This shape allowed for the creamy cheese to pervade throughout the dish. They also topped the mac with a somewhat sweet bread crumb, which countered the texture and flavor of the dish perfectly. The buffalo option featured the traditional mac and cheese base with bite-sized chunks of chicken and blue cheese crumbles, drizzled with a tangy buffalo sauce to add a slight kick.
“I’m loving this buffalo chicken mac and cheese,” Boyd said. She was manning the ice cream table, which was winding down after senior hour, and offered packaged scoops of vanilla, raspberry sorbet and this year’s Senior Scoop from the Dairy Bar. “I really liked the grilled cheese from Lizzie’s. But I definitely want to try stuff from the fry place. I’m trying to hit all the food trucks hopefully today.”
Uncle D’s Blazin BBQ is definitely the option that gives you the most bang for your buck (even if this event was free). Out of their curated full menu, they offered the “Mac Attack” — with “Gramma Jessie’s mac and cheese — and Uncle D’s rice bowl — with “jag,” Cape Verdean spicy rice and beans — both topped with your choice of meat and barbeque sauce. The truck also offered bourbon barbeque wings to round out the options.
Not only was the meat beautifully seasoned, but it was also that kind of slow-cooked, slightly charcoaled, melt-in-your-mouth meat that you dream of in the summer. There were two types of meat options in addition to the wings: pulled pork and chopped beef brisket. By far, the pulled pork rice bowl was one of the tastiest options offered at the festival, with the smokey pork pairing perfectly with the acidic tomato in the rice. The brisket mac and cheese was an equal contender, with elbow pasta coated in creamy cheese sauce and herby breadcrumbs serving as a perfect vehicle for the succulent, flavorful beef. That being said, the wings — crisped to a delicious charcoal and doused in a pool of tangy barbecue sauce — were incredible.
Last but not least, Fryborg’s offering may seem understated compared to the other trucks — just french fries, nothing unusual there — but their sauce options were something to gawk at. There were 19 options — some normal such as ketchup, while others were eye-opening such as the black currant yuzu mayo. The latter sauce was purple and tasted almost sweet and fruity, but still slightly smoky. It paired with a french fry like no other. Other sauces that caught our eyes were garlic sriracha mayo, mango habanero and curry ketchup. The thick-cut slices of potato were fried to a satisfying crisp and seasoned with a nice hit of salt.
SUBOG also took this event as an opportunity to give away all of their leftover merchandise from the year. This led to a shocking variety of merch options, including but not limited to: sweatshirts, athletic shorts, various tanks, T-shirts and long sleeves, stuff-a-huskies, bucket hats, winter hats, notebooks, stickers and face masks.
SUBOG also had a music table, where they DJ’ed the event and held contests every half hour. These contests included who can guess the song fastest and who can dance this TikTok dance first. Winners got a high quality gray SUBOG crewneck.
“This is actually my first SUBOG event because I, like Fiona, tried to get involved last semester but I wasn’t able to because I wasn’t on campus myself,” Jaclyn Grace, a second-semester biomedical engineering major and member of SUBOG’s Special Events Committee, said. She was running the ice cream table with Boyd. “So this is my first semester on campus and it’s honestly really nice to be able to have events that I’m looking forward to either going to or helping out with. Because these last couple of semesters have been hard for everyone and I think that just being able to get outside and meet some new people that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to meet otherwise is really cool.”
For those who attended or helped run this festival, it was sort of a last opportunity for normalcy and fun on campus this semester.
“I think events like these allow students to get out of their normal environment and ‘take a breath,’” Wallace said. “This past year has had many challenges with no room for reflection. Allowing students to take a break from their normal and enjoy each other’s company in a fun (and safe) manner is a great way to let them relax and relieve a little stress.”
It was a heartwarming experience to take part in. Seeing students gathering together for food and fun, almost made it feel like 2019 again.
“I think it [this event] brings the community together because almost everybody tries to come to it,” Boyd said. “Even if you’re an athlete or whatever you do, it just brings UConn together.”