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Senior Editor Peter Carry, who put together this week's college basketball package, remembers back when he was making those interminable road trips during four seasons on the pro basketball beat, and how he missed nothing so much as good home cooking. A gourmand as well as a gourmet, Carry has been cooking since he was 10, when he concocted a recipe for Spanish rice (featuring "big gobs of butter") that has become a family treasure. It is Carry the gourmand who admits, "I'm a popcorn freak. The only thing that got me through the Navy was Kool-Aid and popcorn. One reason I quit the pro basketball beat was that the arenas were starting to stick you with popcorn that had been made several days before and left sitting in bags. It tasted like papier-m‚Äö√†√∂¬¨¢chè."

When Carry became a full-time editor in 1974, he celebrated by purchasing a six-burner Garland restaurant range. The Nautilus, as Carry's wife Virginia calls it, occupies most of the kitchen in their apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. "People ask me if I drive it to work," Carry says. The answer is no, but it almost drove him out of the house. "When we installed the thing, we didn't correctly rig up the pan that drains off grease in the broiler. So when we cooked our first steak in the infernal machine, flames started shooting out and we were standing there helplessly, throwing salt at it."

Having appeased the Nautilus, Carry now whips up almost all the dinners for Virginia and their two children, Jessie, 2, and Willy, seven months. "If I weren't an editor," Carry says, "I'd like to work in a restaurant, not as a chef but as a saucier. I love sauces, especially anything with cream in it. I would have cream sauces every night—if I didn't mind OD-ing on cholesterol."

Naturally, it was Carry who thought of asking the 10 sophomores pictured on pages 42-43 to pose in Lawry's The Prime Rib, a restaurant in one of Chicago's old McCormick mansions. "They'd eaten in the same restaurant the night before," says reporter Roger Jackson, who, along with photographer Lane Stewart, handled the arrangements. "They seemed to like the food. Cliff Robinson of USC sat there for 10 minutes, head back, eyes to the ceiling. Finally he said. 'That was the best baked potato I've ever had.' "

While doing the story on Chicago's North Park College, reporter Steve Wulf ate at the celebrated Fanny's in Evanston, where little old ladies serve what is advertised as "the world's best spaghetti sauce" in a room that resembles a library, with great rows of books and darkly varnished oil paintings.

The dining experiences of others who contributed to the issue were less memorable. Staff writer Larry Keith took cover subject Earvin Johnson to a basic steak house; writer-reporter Nancy Williamson did a lot of her interviewing in the UCLA cafeteria; staff writer Kent Hannon, who hung out at Duke, fortunately is happy anywhere there are White Castle hamburgers.

It would be nice to report that Carry invited all of them to the Upper West Side for a Thanksgiving dinner of ballottine of turkey, en croute aux truffes, but he didn't. He had a long-standing invitation at his aunt's.