The Eaters Among Us: A Football Player’s Take on Food

Aaron Tjarks is a student at Truman State University where he has spent much of his time on the offensive line for the Bulldogs Football team. In his time off the field, he bartends at the world-famous (okay, maybe just Kirksville-famous) TP’s Office, one of the most popular, and my personal favorite, bar on the Kirksville square and has a little time for studying. He’ll graduate in May with his degree in business and communication. Aaron also happens to be one of my dear friends, and one of my biggest supporters as a contributor to Small Kitchen College, so I was more than happy to jump at the opportunity to get his take on food for a change.

Shannon Kelley: If you were a food, what would you be?

Aaron Tjarks: Lamb chops…hot and juicy, just like me.

SK: Growing up, what was your appetite like?

AT: My mom cooked a lot. We had family dinners every night, which was great. I’ve never been a picky eater. In fact, I’m the opposite of that. I’ve always been a bigger guy, and I eat just about everything.

SK: And what were your favorite things that your mom made? What about your favorite things to eat now?

AT: My mom makes awesome meat loaf. Now, I try to eat meat with every meal—lean, red, whatever. I’m a big fan of pasta, especially being in college since it’s quick, easy, and filling. Also, egg sandwiches, definitely love egg sandwiches.

SK: Any dining hall go-to’s?

AT: Tons of ‘em. Open faced sandwiches with the bread, meat loaf and gravy. Oh, and mashed potato bowls. Mashed potatoes with popcorn chicken, corn, cheese, and gravy on top. That’s a favorite.

SK: As a football player, how does your diet change in and out of season?

AT: When I’m in season, I’m burning a ton of calories between practice and workouts and everything, so I’ll try and have about 5 meals per day. I’ll start out with breakfast, normally 3 eggs, toast, orange juice. Then, after class, I’ll have a bowl of cereal, yogurt, and more toast. Lunch is usually a turkey sandwich and a salad, and after that, some kind of snack before practice. I’ll round out the day with a big dinner after practice with lots of protein, and a weight gaining shake before bed (protein, banana, peanut butter, milk). Out of season, like now, I normally try and cut weight, eat smaller portions. My diet is similar, but I’ll focus my meals around workouts.

SK: Is there anything you won’t eat?

AT: Jambalaya. Absolutely hate it.

SK: As a bartender, what’s your favorite drink to make?

AT: Dirty Shirley’s—vodka, sprite, grenadine. They look fancy when they’re really simple.

SK: And what do you love to drink?

AT: VWL: Vodka Water Lime. Low in calories, high in taste, and classy like me.

SK: Those can be deadly. Any classic hangover cures?

AT: Sweat it out. I’ll hit the Rec and bike or run, and definitely hydrate. No greasy food for me.

Shannon Kelley is completing her Master’s degree by student teaching in St. Louis, MO. She could really go for a VWL from TP’s herself.

Originally posted on Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

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