Sunday, August 21, 2005

The local delicacy?

You know, I used to think that I was a pretty adventurous diner. I mean, I've veered off the path of conformity from time to time. I've had raw horse meat (basashi) for crying out loud! But something happened yesterday that made me realize I'm really just a punk. I was reading an old issue of Outside Magazine and found a small article about cliff diving in Norway. And as an aside they mentioned a "local delicacy" called smalahove. So being the inquisitive soul that I am I looked it up. And I believe I just might have found something that there is no way in heck I could eat. Now, I'm not talking about Fear Factor crap. I mean real, honest-to-goodness dishes that the locals enjoy. Real food. I've always thought that I could handle anything that actual people enjoy eating. But if the Norwegians really do eat the delicacy shown in the above photo, then I gladly bow to the real champions of open-minded eating!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I'll take the saw-kee-sone, please!

We now take an intermission from the current series of Japanese memories. I was reading this entry by cindym on learning the ropes in Paris, and was reminded of a funny experience of my own. I'll try to keep it short. At my previous job I was "required" to travel to London every couple of months. Almost everytime I went there I would take the opportunity to visit my friend (see photo) in France over the weekend. On one occassion I was to meet him (and his wife, Alexandra) in Paris. Because of flight times I had to either arrive early evening or shortly after noon. I opted for the earlier flight, but that meant spending a few hours alone in big, scarey Paris (as my friend had to leave work and then drive in from Nantes). But I did it anyway. So, I arrived at the airport, took the train to the station where we were to meet. I had my little day-suitcase, with wheels. At this point, I've still got nearly 4 hours to kill.

Now, I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that it had been a relatively long trip. I left from Northampton, England (north of London), took the train to London. flew to Paris, and took the train to....somewhere (I can't remember the stop where we met.) So, my bladder had plenty of time to become not empty (I would now like to apologize for the graphic nature of this post!). So, I'm strolling up and down the same street (because I'm scared of getting lost!) with my little roller suitcase, a full bladder, and an increasingly empty stomach.

So, I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that I didn't (and really still don't) speak French. I'm an ugly American. During my trips up and down the same street I had noticed a nice little cafe that looked like a decent place to stop, empty bladder, and fill stomach. (An earlier atte
mpt at operating a port-a-potty that took coins had proved quite fruitless.) The only problem is that I'm such a freaking prideful bastard that I was scared to reveal to the waitstaff (and the rest of France) that I couldn't parlez the langue. So I kept walking, kept pulling the stupid suitcase, and kept cursing the port-a-potty for not functioning properly!

Anyway, I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that I am human - and that I can only go so long without answering the wailing cry of nature. Pride be damned! I had to pee for crying out loud!! So, I stepped into the cafe. I chose a seat. And the waiter approached. He said something. I looked at him with my best ugly American look. And he gave a knowing nod, indicating that he was privy to my stupidity, and asked in English what I would like to eat. So I'm home free, right? I can order in English! Woohoo! (And by the way, where is the toilet?) But, no! I still couldn't get it right. I recognized something on the menu that my friend, Arnaud, had shared with me before. It was saucisson (see photo).
So I decided that I would order some saucisson and a beer. So, in my best American English I informed the waiter that I would like a beer and some "saw-kee-sone". Unfortunately, the proper pronunciation is "saw-see-sone". So, yet again, I am humiliated and reminded of my burden of being from East Texas. Thank you, and good night.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Octopus what?!

Well, its time for part two of "Trying to make my blog look cool with old scanned pictures, since I'm not hip enough to own a futurmalistic dige-camera thingy." I'm actually of the opinion that this is a pretty darn good picture, stylistically that is. Unfortunately, I can't claim credit for taking it - since I'm actually in the picture. (I'm the dorky looking, fresh-faced, homester on the right; sister is just to the left.) But anyway, note the choreography in the left of the picture. It almost looks like a '60's era National Geographic picture, or something. I don't know, I just think the girl's school uniform looks just retro enough, and its sort of blurred out, and with the strange "foreign" characters on the sign - it all just looks pretty cool I think. Anyway, what we're eating is "Tako-yaki" - or octopus balls. No, c'mon, keep it clean! Its little bits of octopus, or Tako, submerged in batter, and then fried (yaki) into a ball shape. It is served with a sauce that is very similar to what you would get with yaki-tori (fried-chicken). (Actually, "fried" is a little misleading, since its more of a skewered roasting that takes place.) And finally, for your Japanese lesson of the day: If you look at the Japanese characters in the very top left of the photo you can see what the hiragana characters for "ta-ko" look like. Use that knowledge wisely and you will go far!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Not a food blogger, but love me some grub

I'll cut straight to the point. This isn't really much of a blog; much less much of a food blog. But that doesn't necessarily mean I don't appreciate blogs, food, cooking, long naps and cracking my knuckles. So, I wanted to make my "blog" all nice and pretty like the cool people do. Maybe show off some of my splendiferous cooking. The problem, however, is that I don't own a digimatized camera. So I thought to myself, "I know, I'll dig up some old pics and scan them. I mean, I've been places; I've done things; I've eaten...stuff." So that's exactly what I did. I dug out the old shoebox and sifted through countless memories of days gone by. I ended up spending about an hour looking at photos and visiting old friends and places. So, I've chosen some of the loosely food-related pics, and I've decided to share them. Now, since I'm a sporadic poster at best I think its best if I avoid making an uber-post today - and instead post one photo at a time. So, this first one is a little boring. But we wouldn't want to rush into anything would we? I mean, we barely know each other! I've never met your parents, nor you mine. I have no idea what your favorite beverage is; what type of toothpaste you use; or why that cute little vein in your forehead always seems to show up when I'm giving you "suggestions" on how to properly slice a cucumber. So, you get the idea. Just look at the boring picture first - then, if things go well, we can progress and I'll show you more. So, here it is (the "boring" picture):
Many moons ago, my sister and I made a trek to Japan. While we were there we paid a visit to my college roommate, Kazuhiko. He took us to this huge greenhouse in his hometown where they grew strawberries. As you can see from the photo, they sorta knew what they were doing. There were just rows and rows of these beautiful, sweet, sugary strawberries. Stay tuned for further adventures in extreme dining!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Good grief! I suck...or, adventures in international dining.

Well, I have recently become interested in the Eat Local Challenge, and blog meme that encourages all of us to eat wares that are produced locally (100 mile radius, for example). So, I decided that the best way to go about this endeavor would be to first take stock of my current situation. Um, its not good. In fact, its just plain embarrassing. Anyway, here are the foods I had for breakfast this morning, and the distance they travelled:
Butter - Arden Hills, MN - 1,003.0 miles
Spinach - Salinas, CA - 1,654.0
Eggs - Austin, TX - 200.0
Feta Cheese - Weyauwega, WI - 1,115.0
Blueberries - Pitt Meadows, BC, Canada - 2,380.0
Apple Juice - Dallas, TX - 1.8
Coffee - Austin, TX - 200.0

I mean, I couldn't even keep it in the country for crying out loud! Canada?! Are you kidding me? What, did Celine Dion grow those blueberries? (Okay, they're actually from the Vancouver area - so Celine Dion may be a little harsh. Sorry.) However, I will add that those were some damn good blueberries! Anyway....Even the ones that look decent (like eggs and coffee) are kind of cheating. The eggs are Central Market brand and say "distributed by Central Market, Austin, TX", but who knows where the eggs actually come from. And same with the coffee, which is bought in the bulk department. The only redeeming item is the apple juice. I have no idea where the apples actually came from, but it was fresh squeezed from Central Market - so, at least the labor involved in the squeezing was done locally. Woohoo!!

So, here is how my list should have looked (and it will next time):
Butter - The Mozzarella Company - 4.6 miles
Spinach - Dallas Farmers Market - 30.0
Eggs - Dallas Farmers Market - 30.0
Feta Cheese - The Mozzarella Company - 4.6
Blueberries - Dallas Farmers Market - 30.0
Apple Juice - Dallas Farmers Market - 30.0
Coffee - Cowhill Express Coffee - 67.2

Obviously, I might not always be able to get blueberries (or other produce) in the season that I am craving it, but there should always be something. And I'm assuming an average distance of 30 miles for the farmers to travel to downtown Dallas. The Mozzarella Company just plain rules! And I should use their stuff more often. The coffee beans from Cowhill Express are neither grown nor roasted at their facility, but I guess there's something to be said for supporting the "local" economy.

Thank you, and good night.