Quidditch Fever Hits Philly

It appears that Quidditch may be flying to a college near you.

J.K. Rowling’s fictional sport from the best selling Harry Potter book series has taken off in the muggle—um, I mean non-magical—world. Ever since the books became popular, the longing to find ways to connect with the wizard world has been taken to some interesting heights, especially with the recent release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows–Part 1.”

Now, for those of you who don’t know what Quidditch is, here’s a brief summary: It’s a fictional game played on flying broomsticks by wizards and witches. Each team has seven players: a keeper, three chasers, two beaters and a seeker. The game is played with three balls: a quaffle (the ball you score with), bludgers (balls that are jinxed to knock you off your broom) and the golden snitch, which is caught by the seeker for 30 points, bringing about the end of the game. The objects of the game are for the chasers to throw the quaffle through one of three hoops to score points, and for the seeker to catch the snitch. Whichever team has the most points after the snitch is caught is the winner.

Now you must be thinking, How the heck can you play that game in real life? Well, people have found a way. It started with Middlebury College, a small school in Vermont; it had the first collegiate Quidditch team created in the early 2000’s, with the first ever match being held in 2007. They play by holding broomsticks between their legs while running around the pitch (field). The normal rules apply for chasers, who have to score with the quaffle. However, the beaters are simply used to throw “bludgers” at the chasers. If you are hit by a bludger, you have to sit out for a few minutes. However, the snitch isn’t a ball at all–it’s a cross country runner dressed in yellow, who runs around, broom-free, while the seeker chases him down.

Recently, Philadelphia colleges have gotten into the mix of this sport. Chestnut Hill College and Villanova University have established teams, while Drexel University, Temple University, Saint Joe’s and Rowan University are all in the process of forming teams.

New York City held the 4th Annual Quidditch World Cup in November, where Villanova and Chestnut Hill both faired well. Villanova lost to the eventual champions in the quarterfinals, where Chestnut Hill was ousted in the 2nd round.

“Quidditch has grown rapidly over the past few years at the college level. At the 2008 Intercollegiate World Cup hosted by Middlebury College, there were 14 teams participating; this year at the 2010 World Cup, there were over 57 teams registered to participate,” says Lisa Mixon, the media relations manager for Chestnut Hill College athletics. “The International Quidditch Association has also been established to promote the game and to provide information to interested teams”

Even with the success of these two teams, it can be hard to push this sport on some student bodies.

“The school is really taking a long time to get back to us about [whether] they will recognize Quidditch as an official club sport,” says Umar Hafeez, Drexel Quidditch hopeful. “We have been hounding them, but it is a long process I guess.”

Quidditch’s steady growth in Philadelphia can be seen by this past October’s “Brotherly Love Cup,” an intercollegiate Quidditch tournament hosted by Chestnut Hill, in which local teams like Villanova, Saint Joseph’s, and Swarthmore College participated. Since there are so few Quidditch tournaments out there, Philadelphia hosting one is a big deal.

“Quidditch is definitely expanding throughout the Philadelphia area, as well as the rest of the country,” says William Greco, a player on Villanova’s team. “There are already numerous teams around the area like us and Chestnut Hill, and more keep popping up and showing their interest in upcoming tournaments.”

It looks like the magic of Quidditch will be staying in Philly for a while.

You can contact Nick Iuele at nick_iuele@yahoo.com.

Photo: © http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=157675512909#!/group.php?gid=157675512909&v=info http://iloveuab.com/uab/uab-quidditch/

Mediterranean: Main Line-Style

Although good Mediterranean food can be difficult to find in and around Philadelphia, Mediterranean Grillin Bryn Mawr satisfies any discerning palate.

Located on Lancaster Avenue, this restaurant can make anyone feel feel happy and relaxed, while filling your tummy with home-cooking. As soon as you’re seated, you will be served with complementary hot clay oven-baked (on the premises) pita bread—warm and soft, yet crispy on the edges. The waiters are friendly and attentive. The restaurant has a friendly family influence; everything from the food to the artwork on its walls makes you feel at home.

Mediterranean Grill is the perfect place to go with family, friends or a significant other. At times the restaurant is fairly crowded, so it’s a good idea to call ahead for a reservation.

Chef and owner, Tony Alidjani, opened the restaurant six years ago, hoping to bring a variety of Persian Fusion and Mediterranean cuisine to the Main Line. What does Alidjani recommend? Kabobs, if it is your first time trying Persian food! Almost everyone loves this healthy and delicious dish.

The kabobs are marinated overnight in a simple combination of olive oil, lemon juice and herbs before being char-broiled. The skewer helps to cook the beef, lamb, chicken or seafood from the middle, giving it its heavenly, tender texture, and the fat is trimmed as it is char-broiled. The meat is so tender it melts in your mouth, which contrasts delicately with the crispy edges of the meat. The poultry and fish are so fresh and flavorful that it might be difficult to decide which kabob is your favorite. The rice served with the kabobs is warm and fluffy. You can request an optional red spice called Somagh—when sprinkled atop the rice, this gives it a delicious sour taste. As an authentic Persian drink, Doogh (plain yogurt, club soda, salt and mint) is salty and refreshing. For those not as adventurous, instead try the Mast-O-Kheyar (cucumber, mint, salt, thick plain yogurt). The combination of the warm pita bread or rice with the yogurt is delightful! As for the prices, they are reasonable and the serving sizes large—so make sure you come hungry!

For the more daring gourmand, Alidjani recommends ordering one of its Persian stews. It’s less familiar to the average customer, but a surprising number of people end up returning for more.

Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, you’re always in for a good meal—or even a timely snack! The lunch time wraps are delectable—perfect to eat on the way to class or work.

Vegetarian-friendly, it offers a variety of different salads, pasta and appetizers to choose from. One soup (Aash) has a gentle yet fragrant flavor. Warm and hearty with noodles, beans, vegetables and spices—who needs chicken noodle soup to feel better when hit with a winter cold?

Got a sweet tooth? The desserts are incredible, with offerings like homemade Persian ice cream (chunks of cream embedded in soft, hand-churned rose ice cream with hints of distinctive Persian saffron) and homemade Baklava with layers of nuts and phyllo dough.

Mediterranean Grill is a place that makes you feel welcome and at home. Come visit this amazing restaurant soon…you won’t regret it!

Photo: © http://www.tasteofmainline.com/

Roya Butler, Wharton ’12

Philly-Infused Poetry

You probably love Philly so much, you often wish the art you enjoy could reflect Philly, too. Well, there are actually tons of site-specific works of art and literature out there, special to Philly.

If you’re into the Philly poetry scene, then you may have heard of Frank Sherlock or CA Conrad; you may have even seen them read at Kelly Writers House. These Philly natives recently published a collaborative book entitled “The City Real & Imagined.” If a poetry book with two authors doesn’t interest you, this will:

The poems in this book were inspired by daily walks around the city. The two poets would meet at Love Park each day, touch the “love statue” then embark on a journey to different parts of the city. They’d take notes as they walked- of things they thought, things they heard other people say, things they saw, etc. Then, they’d each write separate poems before merging them together.

The book is also collaborative and communal in the sense that other people’s words, along with text from all over the city (graffiti, signs, etc.) made its way into the book. In this way, Sherlock and Conrad really let Philly soak into their poetry. This introduces the idea of “public” poetry, mentioned in this part of the poem: “Conrad prefers to be private in / a public place. I can’t help but / go public in a private place. He / wrote poems on the South St. / Bridge. I recited poems to a refrigerator.”

In several instances, random quotations are thrown at the reader, and the poem does not necessarily follow a narrative: “IMPREGNATE YOUR ELVIS OF DESIRE TODAY!” If you’re not familiar with contemporary poetry, the formatting of this book is not anything like the conventional poetry you may have been exposed to. Much of it consists of lines and phrases spaced out on the page, often not forming your usual stanza. You really have to see it for yourself; you’ll discover that unconventional poetry is fun poetry.

Other times, more familiar, yet random references pop up: “SHERLOCK: (reading graffiti) What’s NGF? / Me: New Found Glory!” They’re a pop-punk band from Philly, and if you’re secure enough with yourself to admit it, you may have listened to them in your “punked-out” phase of adolescence.

There’s even a section of the book that refers to Harry’s Occult Shop on South Street. They also mention “Ben Franklin’s shoulder,” which refers to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Of course, they don’t leave out that “fancy brigade” we all know as the Mummers. Another section mentions the “Don’t Fall Asleep With The / Television On” stencils on Girard Avenue.

There are so many parts of this book that’ll make you say to yourself, “Oh, I know exactly where that is.” Or, you might be sitting right there. There’s something exciting about reading about places we see every day; in this way, we become included in the poetry, because we have experienced these places before.

You can visit CA Conrad and Frank Sherlock’s blogs to listen to interviews, hear PENNSOUND recordings of their poetry readings, to watch videos of their readings at The Kelly Writers House. There’s lots of other stuff to check out, too.

Become part of the poetry and get a copy of “The City Real & Imagined.”

You can contact Gia Lombardi at giamlombardi@gmail.com.