30 August 2009

Orientation at SLC

I've moved into my dorm now and am thoroughly thrilled. My roomie is great (her name is Lauren) and the building is beautiful. Our room was actually a kitchen until the early nineties, so it's a little funky, with slanted tile floors, lots of extraneous pipes, and a stripey wall texture. I had meant to post photos, but I don't know if that's in compliance of SLC policy yet, as blogs are considered a sort of publishing. Hopefully though, pictures will follow shortly.

I've made friends with a pair of roommates down the hall from Lauren and me. Their names are Jamie and Laura, and the four of us have taken to attending many of the mandatory functions together. I've gotten lucky so far with the food--if it stays this good all year, we are in for a treat. there have been tons of fresh vegetables, marinated tofu, and today we got crabcakes for lunch, with a decent Hollandaise! Not bad for dorm food.

Today we had to sit through a three-hour lecture on fire safety and campus security and such, and we have another lecture at two. Fun Stuff.

Well, I'll post picture when I know I can, but until then, my writing will have to suffice.

21 August 2009

Finished my last day of work with my Auntie Cathleen this morning--my Macbook has been purchased, boxes sent and received. Today, I took in my winter wools for cleaning and will be making a stop at Countryman's Jewelers to have some jewelry repaired. Many small chores still anticipate my doing before I leave--mending, sorting, organizing, packing, typing, and printing--but for now I am on hold at an enormous precipice. My own Mr. Herndon arrives tomorrow evening, just before my going-away party. I have a surprise for him, which I have not yet finished. It is odd to think that this is my last week in Modesto.

My whole life I have seen high school as but a means by which to go to college, and college as just a means by which to get a job. Somehow, though, in this moment, it seems bigger than that.

19 August 2009

A Film/Food Dichotomy

On Friday, I had a rather curious experience regarding watching two very different films about food in one day. The first film I saw, while eating an enormous box of Whoppers and drinking a Coke, was Julie and Julia.

The film was entertaining, and it's portrayal of French cooking left one hungering for lobster, duck, and all other sorts of delicacies. However sick the enormous amount of sugar I had consumed had caused me to feel, I still went home craving Coq Au Vin.

Later in the evening, my bestie and I went to see a film with a far more cynical take on the occupation of eating:

This was certainly one of the best documentaries of the year, in my opinion. It did a good job of presenting facts and appealing to emotions without becoming too sensationalist. Overall, it truly made me rethink the food industry and my own buying habits.

I'm already a label-reader when it comes to every product I buy: food, cosmetics, dish soap, you name it. I have a certain "checklist" which I usually make sure the product meets before I buy it, including things like people-tested, organic, no parabens, no palm oil, etc. But before this movie, I had never really thought about corn and soybeans, and how those industries are mostly ruining our environment and our bodies.

Here's a list posted on the site for the film of 10 simple things you can do to change our food system:

1. Stop drinking soda and other sweetened beverages.

2. Eat at home instead of eating out.

3. Support the passage of laws requiring chain restaurants to post calorie information on menus and menu boards.

4. Tell schools to stop selling sodas, junk food, and sports drinks.

5. Meatless Mondays--Go without meat on day a weeks.

6. Buy organic or sustainable food with little or no pesticides.

7. Protect family farms; visit your local farmer's market.

8. Make a point to know where your food comes from--READ LABELS.

9. Tell Congress that food safety is important to you.

10. Demand job protection for farm workers and food processors, ensuring fair wages and other protections.

I hope that anyone out there who reads my blog (if there's anyone out there that reads my blog...) will make a point to see this documentary, learn more about the issues at hand, and make fair choices about the products they choose to consume. We are not helpless to the system!

12 August 2009

Another Blogger's List

I found this via another blogger's site, and I thought I'd try it here. It's a list of one hundred foods every omnivore should try. Sorry, but I can't figure out how to make the blue go away. :(

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Italicize all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The Omnivore's 100

1. Venison

2. Nettle tea

3. Huevos rancheros

4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile

6. Black pudding

7. Cheese fondue

8. Carp

9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche (If you count the ice cream...)
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat (I had it BBQ'd, not curried)
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill

76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Xenophobe vs. Xenophile

I realized just yesterday, as I was perusing some past entries here, just how frequently I espouse the superiority of non-American cultures. I am, to use a term borrowed from humour writer Robert Lanham, a bit of a hexpatriate, an "expatriate who never actually [left] the county. They just speak ill of (hex) America's corruption and lack of refinement." However, one finds oneself in a strange predicament as a xenophile in a predominantly xenophobic culture--it leaves me in a constant state of unrest as I continually plan my life elsewhere, instead of living what I have to live here.

On the subject of xenophilia, I must expose my new obsession: Bento! O-bento is Japanese lunch in a box. The Japanese are the only culture to my knowledge to glorify the lunchbox as much as they do! Bento is packed in a compartmented box and bought from a shop or packed at home, and often included all sort of delicious finger-foods, like rice balls, pickled fruits and vegetables, sushi, fish, and eggs. Here's a pic:
Cute, no? Mothers often take special care packing their children's lunches, as you can see, to be cute. Look at the little seaweed faces on the rice and egg!

11 August 2009


So, I have an embarrassing admission to make. As a child, I never gave a stinking hoot about comics--even when I got romantic notions about them after reading the Amelia books. When I was young, I tried to get into them, but none of them caught my interest. Now, at nineteen, I have finally discovered one that I cannot put down. It is--dum dum dum DUM--

I've now finished Volume 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers, which was the MOST EPIC volume yet; I am making my way slowly but surely through the book volumes before I start buying it monthly in New York. I've only finished up to issue twenty-seven (number 87 was published this month!) so I still have a long trek ahead of. I have a feeling, however, that it will be worthwhile.

Now, for a bit of a synopsis--the series revolves around a rather extensive collection of characters, all of whom the ordinary person knows a little about to begin with, because they are the characters of fairy tales: Snow White and Bigby (think Big Bad) Wolf are essential, as well as Rose Red, Jack Horner (of beanstalk fame), Goldilocks, Prince Charming, and Beauty and the Beast. After being dispelled from their historical lands by a vaguely ugly, powerful, evil force known as The Adversary, they travelled to this world to live among the normal, or Mundy, people. They have a secret, underground community (how can you not love that!) known as Fabletown in New York City, and the comic follows all of the various shenanigans between the Fables and their enemies and friends. It has everything you want in a guilty-pleasure comic: romance, crime, sex, action, humor, awesome references to namesake fairy tales, and some deliciously bright-red bloodshed every now and again. Also, having been a lover of graphic novels and even some manga for several years, I enjoy the vintage, film noir, classic feel of this comic, the traditional illustrations and suspense, and the feeling I get when I read it of wishing I were wearing a full, wide skirt, pigtails, and saddle oxfords and sipping a cherry coke at a fountain while I read. :)

09 August 2009

A New Intrigue...

I've always been a lover of tea and tea ritual from all over the world, and a new aspect of this culture has only yesterday come to my attention: Dim Sum. It's a dining experience I've enjoyed numerous time since Dynasty Gardens opened in my home town and became the only Chinese restaurant around to serve this style of lunch, comprised of small, finger-foodie usually steamed dishes to be served alongside traditional tea. This tea ritual, or yum cha, has provided the world many delicious, bite-sized delicacies, and I would like to talk now about one of them: sticky rice in lotus leaves, or lo mai gai. I experienced this treat for the first time yesterday, and it has fast become one of my favourite foods in the world. I saw its lovely picture on the dim sum menu and, automatically intrigued by any sort of food wrapped in leaves, I ordered it.

When it arrived, I carefully unwrapped the steaming package with my fork to reveal a serving of moist, fragrant rice, which I quickly began to devour. on reaching the center of the package, I met with a nice surprise--a nugget of sweet sausage and a pile of teeny-tiny shrimp! All of this amid a variety of rice so sweet, so earthy and herbal . . . it was almost too much!

I'm in the process of looking for an easy enough recipe to make this phenomenal dish at home, but so far, it looks like they are all going to require ingredients I cannot come by and excessive quantities of time which I cannot procure. Hopefully, I will be able to master this, now easily one of my most favourite foods of all time.