Zahra Virani

There are few things I like more about Yale than the roast beef toast at the Rostir station at Commons. Ever since it was introduced to me earlier in my senior year, it has become the sole object of my affection, the stuff of my most sensual dreams. It is the reason I get out of bed every morning. Some days, it is my only reason to smile. The weekends are difficult.

This description may seem concerning, implying a complete disregard for my liberal arts education or a Biblical scale of gluttony. But it is difficult to exaggerate how intensely enamored I am with that slab of soft, crusty bread. 

Every weekday, waiting in queue at the Rostir station, I watch as the chef lathers the toast with syrupy, brown chutney, presses succulent strips of beef into its soft, porous innards and smears the plate with splatters of silky Toum. It is a smorgasbord of delight. By the time the clock strikes 12:30 p.m., thoughts of taxation, inflation and amortization that were being foisted upon me in a faraway classroom have been violently suffocated by a burgeoning lust. I am sucked into a gustatory reverie. 

I am a hunter, wandering in a sweltering desert, oppressed by visions of the salty blood that will soon run down my lips, caress my neck and quench my thirst; I am a Homeric sailor, beckoned by a siren who promises me the carnal pleasures I crave. But recently, whispers have spread to every corner of campus, intimating the most disparate factions about the existence of this Ambrosia in leavened form. The cat is out of the bag. And its prolonged confinement has made it rabid.

Things were already bad enough at Commons. Starting in the fall, what was once a steady lunchtime trickle into the rotunda had slowly become a deluge. It became impossible to make your way through the milling lunchtime crowds without kicking, elbowing and biting, without trampling over friends and loved ones. Stuck in the crushing mass for minutes at a time, one could not avoid prolonged, awkward eye contact with jilted loves, vindictive professors, and surly rivals. Commons had acquired a distinctive stench, perennially bathed in the miasma of desperation, rage and contempt emerging from the pores of every Yale student facing the 12:50 p.m. lunch rush. In December, a friend said offhand to me, “Everybody and their mother ate at Commons this semester.” I’d be lying if I said the thought of mass matricide did not flicker through my mind. 

There were few sights that filled me with more disgust. But when this was limited to Lotus and Pasta e Basta, this was something I could, at least, condone. On the days that academic obligations, or propriety, prevented me from bursting out of class at 12:48 p.m., shoving scrawny children onto the sidewalk, throwing babies out of their strollers, evading bikes, scooters and cars in my mad dash to Commons, I knew that I could still stroll to the front of the line for that tangy Chimichurri Chicken. Even if the lines for Bolognese, the dumplings, and the pork were backed up more than the world’s most fibreless rectum, I would flow unimpeded to the front of the Rostir line. The golden few weeks after they introduced the beef, before its renown had spread Yale-wide, were by far the best of my life. 

Those days are gone. The entrance to Rostir is now thronged by rivals, detractors and foes who block its entrance with their ungainly bulk. The serpentine queues in front of Rostir have begun to engulf their own tail in a frenzied ouroboros. By 12:55 p.m., Rostir is often busier than Lotus and Pasta e Basta combined.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that this is because of you. Wicked, grimy you with your grubby, unwashed hands, your Canada Goose and your eyes that narrow as you paw at my precious. I hate you. No, I loathe you. If roast beef is the stuff of my dreams, you are the stuff of my nightmares. No corner of my mental universe is safe from you, and for your desire for the thing I love most in the world. Because of you, the taste of beef on my tongue and lips is indefinitely delayed. I can countenance lingering on the verge of satisfaction, but even my patience has its limits.

When demand exceeds available supply, the weakest members of the market get priced out. When the world’s resources get depleted, it is the unfit that die first and en masse. I was made to eat Roast Beef toast every day. Can you say the same? 

To those who frequent Rostir, consider this a warning that this be the last week of your bovine pursuits. If that doesn’t suffice, perhaps a word of caution will. Go back to Berkeley, Franklin or whatever swamp you crawled out of. Go back to your sewers, to your latrines, to your cesspools or to your drain pipes. Return to Tartarus, to Hades, to the frozen lake of Cocytus. I don’t really care where you go. Just get out of my way. Before I make you.

Pradz Sapre is a senior in Benjamin Franklin College majoring in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry and the Humanities. His fortnightly column “Growing pains” encapsulates the difficulties of a metaphorical “growing up” within the course of a lifetime at Yale. He can be reached at