February 27, 2022


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
LAMB PATTIES (17A: Some koftas)
RHUBARB PATCH (39A: Place where a vegetable with tart stalks grows)
LAB PARTNERS (63A: Chemistry class collaborators)

Theme synopsis: HIDDEN in each theme answer we find the letters BPA, an ADDITIVE used in the manufacture of some plastics.

Things I learned:
  • LAMB PATTIES (17A: Some koftas) Koftas are a type of meatball or meatloaf dish. Found in several cuisines, including Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Balkan, koftas can be made of beef, chicken, pork, or LAMB, mixed with a variety of spices, and can be shaped into balls, PATTIES, or cylinders. Here's Guy Fieri's recipe for LAMB PATTIES aka koftas.
  • ALI (19A: Boxer Nico ___ Walsh) Nico ALI Walsh is a professional boxer. He began his pro boxing career in 2021, and is currently undefeated. When he made his professional debut, Nico ALI Walsh wore the white Everlast shorts that belonged to his grandfather, Muhammad ALI. In addition to joining the world of professional boxing, Nico ALI Walsh joins Muhammad ALI and Laila ALI as boxing ALIs found in crosswords.
  • TYRA (44A: Track star Gittens) TYRA Gittens represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2020 Summer Olympics (held in 2021), competing in the long jump. Her main event is the heptathlon. She is a student-athlete at Texas A&M, and was named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Women's National Field Athlete of the Year.
  • ATE (55A: Enjoyed a pambazo) A pambazo is a dish in Mexican cuisine that consists of bread that is soaked in pepper sauce, fried, and filled with potatoes and chorizo.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • END (20A: "The ___ of Our Road" (Gladys Knight & the Pips song)) Gladys Knight & the Pips released "The END of Our Road" in 1968.
  • ALTA (21A: Baja's opposite) In Spanish, "baja" is short, and "ALTA" is tall.
  • RHUBARB PATCH (39A: Place where a vegetable with tart stalks grows) RHUBARB stalks are definitely tart. (Don't eat the leaves; they contain the poisonous nephrotoxin, oxalic acid.) Although RHUBARB is technically a vegetable, it's most common culinary uses treat it as a fruit, adding sugar to offset the tartness. My husband's mother had a RHUBARB PATCH. When we visited during RHUBARB season (mid- to late spring), she often had a new RHUBARB dessert for us to try...always forgetting that her son was not a fan of RHUBARB. I like RHUBARB, however. It became a bit of a family joke.
  • PTA (45A: Org. with Laps for Learning events) At some schools, the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) organizes a walking/running fundraiser called Laps for Learning.
  • DATES (69A: Her meetups) In this clue, Her is the dating app geared to "LGBTQ+ women and queer folks."
  • MAY (35A: International Workers' Day month) International Workers' Day is celebrated in many countries around the world on MAY 1. It is also referred to as May Day or Labor Day. This UCLA article describes some of the ways International Workers' Day is recognized around the world. 
  • MII (8D: Wii Fit avatar) I learned about MII, the customizable avatar used on some Nintendo game consoles and apps, from the June 28, 2021 puzzle. It would have been helpful if I had remembered I learned it!
  • CHALUPA (43D: Food named for a boat) A CHALUPA is made by pressing masa dough around a mold that resembles the boat for which it is named. The dough is then fried, and the result is a small, thick, boat-shaped corn cup which may be filled with various ingredients such as shredded meat, onion, pepper, and salsa. 
  • KOS (47D: Stat for Claressa Shields) Claressa Shields is a professional boxer. She won gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics in the women's middleweight division. 2012 was the first year women's boxing was an Olympic Event, and Claressa Shields's win made her the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing.
  • TET (64D: Holiday a week after Kitchen God Day) The Kitchen God is a domestic god recognized in Taoism, Chinese mythology, and Chinese folk religion. On Kitchen God Day, which occurs a week before TET, the Lunar New Year, the Kitchen God returns to heaven to report on each household's activities.
BPA, or bisphenol A, is an ADDITIVE used in the production of plastics. There are no BPA labeling requirements for plastics, so it difficult to determine which plastics contain this HIDDEN ADDITIVE. It is easier to find BPA in this puzzle, where it is only slightly HIDDEN in the theme answers. This puzzle played on the challenging side for me, but I stuck with it and was successful; an enjoyable start to my Sunday.