Fenway Park’s Meatball Cone Is a Disaster
Upon witnessing the destructive power of the atomic bomb for the first time, American theoretical physicist Robert Oppenheimer quoted a line from the Hindu scripture: “Now I am become death, the Destroyer of Worlds.” A similar thought passed through my Bud Light-pickled brain as I weaved through the Fenway Park concourse to my seat, warm “meatball cone” in hand.
As part of its revamped gameday concessions, Fenway Park now offers this $12.50 nightmare dreamt up by the Strega restaurant group, “stuffed with one of Strega’s famous meatballs and fresh ricotta, topped with homemade pomodoro and a sprinkle of cheese.” Somewhere in the seventh inning, as the Red Sox clobbered the Orioles Tuesday night, I sought to try one.
“If you gaze long into an abyss,” Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “the abyss also gazes into you.” As I placed my order, I stared at the display meatball cone atop the sneeze-guard, coagulated and shriveled in the heat. I felt it stare back.
One of the men working the concessions stand plucked a pizza crust cone from the steam table, then retrieved a comically large tub of ricotta cheese. Using the tip of his tongs, he smeared a teaspoon-sized dollop around the inside of the cone before plopping one, baseball-sized meatball inside. For good measure, he ladled on some pity sauce atop the meaty hillock, also using the tongs.
As I returned to my seat, I couldn’t help but notice that nobody else was eating one—sausages, franks, peanuts, chicken fingers, and soft-serve helmets, but nary a meat cone to be found on the concourse. My first bite, I was treated to the unique pleasure of ground beef lodged up my nostrils, as not even Patton could devise a prudent way of attacking this thing. From the top yields a poor meat-to-cone ratio, and tilting it sideways carries the very real danger of your single, $12.50 meatball, three inches in diameter, falling into a heap of discarded peanut shells.
Friends, you can wash off the pomodoro. But the shame remains.
I get it—ballpark food these days, in its constant striving for the most Fieri-esque permutation of melted cheese and fry grease, is low-hanging fruit. ESPN’s Darren Rovell seems to tweet a new monstrosity from a different stadium every day: a pulled pork, schnitzel, and bacon sandwich at Padres games, a two-foot, tamale-filled hot dog at Rangers games, a $16 ham-and-cheese swaddled in a bacon-wrapped pretzel baguette at Diamondbacks games, Munchkin and chicken skewers at the minor-league Hartford Yard Goats.
But in all of these cases, you can at least catch a whiff of imagination. I give credit to the enterprising soul who thought to fry wads of brisket in funnel cake batter, top it with powdered sugar, and call it a “Texas Snowball.” In contrast, the Fenway Park meatball cone leaves little room for mystery. It is a ball of meat unlovingly jammed into a cone of chewy bread. It is a meatball sub in denial.
It is what it is.