Monthly Archives: August 2008

Borscht and Haggis and Spaetzle oh my!

Fellow blogger Andrew over at Very Good Taste came up with a fun little meme which I couldn’t resist. Want to play along? It’s simple:

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

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare … this is an almost cross out
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
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
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
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
89. Horse
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

my grand total??? – a measly 37.
Check back tomorrow for a detailed explanation! 🙂
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the ‘bux doesn’t like to pay it forward

I will always look back fondly on my high school days.

For some, it was a torturous experience full of bully’s, bad grades and seriously awkward pubescent yearbook photos. Me?, I was lucky enough to detour most of the socially awkward experiences and really enjoy all that growing up in suburban middle america has to offer.

The majority of my time centered around boys. DUH. Looking at them, talking about them, doodling their names on my paper bag book covers and passing notes about them. Come to think of it, my best girlfriend and I (Gina) finally got the clue and skipped the whole tearing notes out, folding them, etc. and just kept a notebook which was decorated with clippings from the newest issues of YM and TEEN which we would write to one another in each hour. I still have one of those notebooks and when I find my self reminiscing once in a blue moon and pull it out, it appears to be more of a catalog of crushes then anything else.

You would have thought that notebook was worth its weight in platinum the way we kept it under lock and key. I knew which class I could slither down in the back row and get away with reading/writing in and which class it’d be safer zipped up tightly in my Jansport.

My Senior year I decided to take AP (Advanced Placement) English as an elective, and while most of my friends spent their 3rd hour playing badminton in Net and Racket Sports, or decorating banners for the pep assembly in Leadership I spent mine analyzing the dialect of Beowulf and cramming for the AP English Language and Composition Exam. So when my teacher had to take a week off for a personal issue and we were left with a substitute more suited to babysit toddlers I knew we were in like Flynt for an easy movie week. With the lights turned off and sleeping heads resting peacefully on desktops I knew I would have plenty of time to update Gina on my newest crush and the latest gossip in our notebook.

The first half of the week we watched Wit staring Emma Thompson. I still remember being put to sleep mid note

“…she is just a stupid ho anyways G and OMG did you hear who he is taking to Prom …”

but Ms. Thompsons monotone voice and the dreary plot of the film. (*Note: I have since watched Wit again and loved it – go rent it today!!)

The second half of the week when my notebooking should have been skyrocketing thanks to perfect note writing conditions – read: substitute, dark room, back row – my social and personal life imploded. I am pretty sure within the span of three 3rd hours I spent with my eyes fixed to the tv in my classroom, my boyfriend dumped me, my best friend went on a date with the most eligible boy in school and no one was friends with miss popular anymore!

That film which still to this day stands as one of my favorite forgotten about movies of all time was Pay It Forward. I couldn’t divert my eyes away from the chaotic life of Helen Hunt’s stripper/mommy madness or the adorable and hopeful Haley Joel Osment. The premise of the movie is to do just as the title states – when someone does you a big favor don’t pay it back, pay it forward.

Thorsen: I thanked him and there were some very specific orifices in which I was told to shove my thanks. He told me, “Just pay it forward.” Three big favors for three other people. That’s it.
Chris: So it’s like a pass-it-on thing, then. Wait a minute. You and this lowlife are in this chain of do-gooders, some kind of Mother Theresa conga line? That’s a little New-Agey for you, isn’t it? Sort of Tibetan? What, are you in a cult?

I always loved the idea of paying it forward. It made sense in a Golden Rule, Catechism class, do unto others kind of way … but sadly at the time my priorities weren’t in check and I worried more about making sure I had everything/one I wanted and someone paying it forward to me first, then taking the initial leap to start the chain.

Then yesterday, 6 years after I first saw the movie, on one of the health and fitness blogs I read (please stay tuned for training/running updates!) a woman mentioned paying it forward and it began a dialog of thoughtful ways to pass along favors. Someone in my office mentioned a time when they were at a gas station and went in to pay for their fill up when they were told that the gentleman who had last been in paid for their gas, another mentioned a time when their boss ordered their favorite take out meal for them without their knowing after some financial hardships had risen and he was forced to brown bag it for 6 months.

… and it got me to thinkin …

and I sometimes always hate when that happens …

so … this morning when I stopped by Starbucks for my venti black coffee and found myself to be the only patron in the store, I handed the barista a $5 bill and told him with a smile and a generous heart to

“please put that towards the next persons drink who comes in”

and get this folks – he replied with

“sorry, no can do, corporate rules or somethin”

I was appalled! And my little do-gooder self was mad.

Seriously? No can do? What is this a communist country? You would have thought I was asking him to lace the next persons coffee with Anthrax or something. I just couldn’t believe it.

& the more I think about it, the more it really irks me that we live in a place, and time where someone can’t even buy someone else their morning coffee, just to be nice. Grrr.

I love Starbucks. I love their morning brew. Their recycled insulating sleeves. Their wi-fi. Their adorable mugs and tasty pastries …

… but with their ever growing fiscal problems and poor pay it forward ‘tude they are on my naughty list.

So Starbucks – lets for a moment presume this blog to be my high school notebook, and this entry a note to Gina. If I were you I’d be worried. Because Gina knows how to keep a good juicy, gossipy secret, but when that note falls in to the wrong hands on accident, you better believe everyone in school is going to know how much of a bi-otch you are!!

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life is made up of moments

I may not be the oldest or wisest person in town … I am blessed to have not felt the heartbreak of losing a parent, or the disappointment in missing the final shot to win a game for my team.

… but I have been blessed to experience some amazing moments in my 24 years on this little planet.
Moments which inevitably made me the impatient, emotional and demanding woman I am today!!

I kid. I kid.

But really there are a few moments I can recall which I believe had a direct affect on some major life choices I have made in recent months. Most notably (and relative :)) is the day I packed my life in to ONE suitcase, boarded a train and moved from everyothersmalltowninthemidwest to New York, New York.

For as long as my closest friends/family have known me I always said I would live in New York.
For as long as my closest friends/family have known me I was always a chronic procrastinator.
For as long as my closest friends/family have known me I was always a home-body.

So needless to say when I bought my one way Amtrak ticket from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Penn Station in New York City everyone was shocked.

I didn’t have an apartment, a job that provided me with a paycheck (I was there for a royalty free internship), or a clue.

(But in my 22 year old mind, those were just details … silly details which I couldn’t be inconvenienced with.)

Even now, when I close my eyes I can still smell the street meat cart on the corner of 33rd and 7th, see the flashing lights of Madison Square Garden and feel the cool breeze that funneled down the street on that crisp fall night when I emerged from the underground hub. I was instantly overwhelmed. It became flight or fight, and kids – I was ready to rumble!

The following morning I rose with the sun … or was it the dump truck, taxi horn, or general noise which was reverberating from outside the window … either way, when I woke up, it was early. I grabbed a cup of coffee, and the Post (which became my morning routine) and headed from the couch I was sleeping on in the East Village up towards Central Park. I quickly realized thanks to the wonderfully undependable MTA that it was the morning of the New York City Marathon! I was a wee bit skeptical of the whole thing, thinking to myself

“How much fun can it really be to watch a bunch of people running down  the street??”,

… but I managed to finagle my way right up against the barrier on the north side of Central Park South near Columbus Circle. There were thousands, probably tens of thousands of people lined up on the curbs as far as the eye could see. Some groups wore t-shirts emblazoned with photographs of loved ones, others were wearing colors which depicted charities/causes they supported. There were thundersticks, air horns and cow bells (I felt right at home!).

For the first hour or so we waited. Straining our necks, glaring east along CPS waiting to get our first glimpse of someone, anyone. I had had about enough waiting, figuring there were other things to be doing on my first day in the city then standing there twiddling my thumbs, when I heard the clapping begin. It resonated, getting closer and closer until I was finally able to see the first runner. And then I was shocked because … well …

… he wasn’t a runner! It was a paraplegic man in a wheelchair and I can still see the look on his face as he came in to my view. It appeared first as a painful grimace but quickly morphed into the most glorious smile I had ever seen in my life. That man had pushed himself 25.5 miles and now he was surrounded by strangers who wanted nothing more in that moment then to see him finish. He was alive, and not just in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense as well.

For the next 2+ hours I stood in awe, pressed anxiously against the metal barrier, clapping and cheering. I watched children, adults, people in groups and others who were alone. Some ran – faster then I can when I am sprinting and some walked. There were a number of people who fell, whose bodies had given up on them … and then crawled along the pavement when their heart refused to do so. It was their moment. And they made mine.

That morning in a city of millions, there was a common tie, a respect for one another that meant more then any religious or political difference. All day long I spotted people everywhere who were draped in the foil blanket they were provided at the finish line, proudly sporting their medals around their necks. I even witnessed a woman stop the closing doors of a subway car to send her congratulations to a participant. There was unlimited appreciation and support and I knew I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to experience the grimace and simultaneous overwhelming joy that man felt that morning. I wanted to push myself further then I thought I could. I wanted to test my determination and dedication. I wanted to run a race.

Which brings me to now.

When I signed up for the Nike+ race in Chicago I figured –

10K, can’t be too hard right??

WRONG. I have dedicated all of my free time to training. I am in the gym 6 nights a week, running 4 nights a week and watching everything I eat. Some days I feel great!! My workouts go well, I increase my weights, or I am able to rack up the miles by foot without any trouble. Other days … well other days aren’t quite so easy and I get frustrated, discouraged and crabby. – EEK!!

And that is when I take myself back to that morning in New York … and that moment …

Yesterday night Matt and I ran the longest distance either of us ever have. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t necessarily fun, but dammit – when we were done I was so proud. I was proud of myself, and I was proud of Matt.

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