Posted January 30, 2014 by Cooper Point Journal in Letters & Opinion

The Beef at The Reef: The Reuben vs. Tot-chos

We all know that the students and faculty at The Evergreen State College often have a penchant for disagreement. We sit in classrooms and heatedly debate politics, gender roles, colonialism and which fungi spores are the most essential. We are taught by faculty to not make assumptions but to research our beliefs, to challenge ourselves and one another, and to use reason to deepen the breadth of our knowledge. In most cases we are successful, but there are some disagreements that simply stem from a place so deep inside us that no concurrence can occur. The type of embittered battle wherein factions hurl themselves at one another, again and again, until one side stands battered-but-victorious and the other utterly defeated. One of these is the eternal struggle that takes place, high on the mountaintop we call King Solomon’s Reef, for which dish will reign forever supreme.
Ladies and Gentlemen. The Reuben. The Tot-chos. Let’s get ready to rumble.

The Reuben

By Paddy O’Stewart

   Ah- The Reuben. That exquisite collection of only those pre-ordained ingredients and toppings which came together, in days of old, to make the perfect sandwich. Upon picking up The Reuben I am overwhelmed with the aromas wafting up towards me. My teeth sink in through rye bread which is at once hot, buttery and crisp. The thinly sliced corn beef is tender. It’s flakey. It crumbles at first touch and instantly melts in my mouth.

Swiss cheese is applied with a deft touch- the unsung hero of the meal. If I were not paying attention to every nuance of The Reuben, it would easily be missed. As it is, I revel in the light, pungent flavor of perfectly melted Swiss. The Tot-chos, on the other hand, are so smothered in cheese that the details of its other flavors are negligible.

The Reuben’s sauerkraut is subtle, with a gentle, sour flavor that is immensely pleasing. Played expertly off of this is the sweetness of the “secret sauce,” a riff on the classic. A creamy, mayonnaise base is mixed with ketchup, but lightly; so-as not to over-vinegar the palate. Enhanced with notes of dill and other spices, it brings the symphonic flavors of the sandwich to full crescendo.
Also, there is a dill pickle spear.

The Reuben plays quality against The Tot-chos quantity, whose flavors are not nearly as complex or subtle. When it comes down to it, it’s just nachos. And what kind of award have nachos ever won?

The Tot-Chos

By Stuart McPatrick

It’s nachos. But with tater-tots. I hardly think I need to present this argument, but I will.
We begin with the heaping pile of tater tots. You all obviously know the wonder that is the tater tot, and Reef tots are done right. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, incredible all the way through.

Layered on top of this, a refreshing, crisp layer of diced onions and green peppers add a little bite to the otherwise rich flavors. Black olives and jalapeños are optional add-ons, and I highly recommend them. The jalapeños especially add a certain spicy je ne sais quoi to this feast.

While I generally choose to forego the bacon or fried chicken, these are also options for the truly hardcore Tot-cho connoisseur. And this is precisely one aspect of what makes the Tot-chos the superior ordering choice: infinite ordering adaptability.
Finish all this off with roughly 10 times the miserly cheese portion of The Reuben, top with sour cream, salsa, any of numerous hot sauces, and the joyful tears of an angel, and you are left with a towering pile of awesome.

The Reuben may leave you satisfactorily full in a respectable sort of way. If you’re into that sort of thing. It is, after all, just a sandwich. But a plate of Tot-chos will leave you full in that good ol’ eat-til-you-puke ‘Merican tradition of eating. You can split them with a friend or three, depending on your level of hunger inebriation.

Iillustration by RUBY THOMPSON