Sunday, October 17, 2010

The United Nations of Food

It's kind of surreal living in a student house at the age of 25. There are rules to follow here. Quiet hours at 11 pm. Visitors need to be signed in. Any new appliances are to be registered with the residence office. I'm not to keep any candles in my room. Plus the college has chosen to decorate my room with fire safety notices.


Still, I'm in walking distance of school and pretty much all of central London. I have a sweet little view of a garden and a park and the London Eye. I've made a nice little eating area in my room where I can drink tea whilst listening to the radio.

What makes it all worthwhile, though, are the other people who live here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Saturday Food Market

So here's a fun fact: studying entails a lot of reading. Like massive amounts.

I somehow managed to forget just how much reading studying requires. I think I was focusing on the meeting new people, managing your own time, discussing interesting topics aspects of studying and it slipped from my memory.

So, I've been spending the better part of each day this week reading and I'm still hopelessly behind. But I am here in London, and I am a pro at procrastinating, so I took the morning off and went to a little food market on the Southbank with a few of the others from my student house.
Food market parking lot

Monday, September 27, 2010

Transitions

When I moved to NYC a few years ago, I was devastated by how fantastically overpriced food was. Eventually, though, I got used to the crazy prices and found the shops and products and restaurants that fit my budget, and ended up loving New York for its food despite my limited resources. I figured if I could make it work in crazy NYC, I can make it work anywhere (to paraphrase Frank).

But then I moved to London last week. Wow.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tomatoes ARE Real Life

This weekend, I'm moving to London.

The tomatoes in the garden aren't ready to be eaten. In fact, I don't know if I'd even call them tomatoes just yet. They are really just little green lumps of taunting promise of someday possibly becoming tomatoes. Now autumn has arrived, though, and with it, the cold weather. So I most likely won't get to try a nice, glossy red, pulpy tomato from my garden before I become a Londoner without a garden.

Tomatoes in picture appear bigger than in Real Life. Actual size: a thumb.
I didn't know a whole heck of a lot about gardening when I started this project. Tomatoes aren't known for growing well in cold weather, and if there's one thing Norway has a lot of, cold weather is it. (If there were two things, the other'd be blond hair.) But I like tomatoes and thought it'd be fun to try to grow them. I didn't ever imagine that they wouldn't become edible in time for autumn.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Food Medley

I've been jumping around from couch to couch in and around NYC the past few weeks, staying with good friends and family for two or three nights each, spending Good Quality Time with the people and the city I love.


It's weird. When I got back to NYC, I wasn't overwhelmed with nostalgia or haunting memories like I have been when returning to other cities. It just felt like I'd been out of town for a weekend, and here I was, back where I know how things work, (back where people know my name and they're always glad I came) back where people think like I do, but then also, where people don't think like I do at all and people thinking in so many different ways is a great thing.

This was weird because when I left NYC just seven or eight months ago, I was so ready to leave, felt so disconnected, didn't feel like I loved NYC at all. Yet, despite all the couchsurfing, coming back for this visit didn't feel anything like one. It felt like I was home. I guess it's true what they say: NYC is a city you never truly leave.

I've collected a lot of food stories and impressions over these weeks, so instead of posting about each of them separately, I give you here, a food medley:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Zucchini for Sillies: The Sequel

"You know what REALLY gets to me, though? What REALLY gets to me is that you're LYING. And I RESPECT you less for that."

A slightly overweight, red-in-the-face guy is standing over us, so aggressive I think he might punch me and my brothers and sister, or maybe there might just be a simple little *pop* and then his head disappears due to overexertion. Only, I know he won't hit us because we're at the Little League World Series and no one would actually hit anyone with all these kids around. Plus they don't sell beer here.

Zucchini Chocolate Cake - recipe below

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Something really American

Yesterday, I sat on a plane.

When I got to Boston, my brother picked me up from the airport and asked where I wanted to eat. "Sushi?" he said.

"How about something REALLY American?" I said, having been gone from the States for a whopping 7 months.

"Oh easy," he said, "Red Bones."

Yes, true. Yes, of course.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sneaky Sichuan Noodles

I went to see the pandas in the morning, cause there are only like maybe 2,000 left and I figured now's a good time to see them.


They're pretty awesome: they just hang out eating all day, a lot of the time not bothering to even sit up to get the food in their mouth. Sounds kind of like me on an off-day.

When I got back to Chengdu from the Panda Reserve, I was starved, so I went out to find some amazing food.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Beijing Cooking

Friends of mine had a beautiful wedding in Beijing this July, and about 30 people from Norway were present to witness it. It was a traditional Chinese wedding and was utterly fantastic. I mean, there were dancing dragons and bow & arrows involved, what's not to love?


I was in China and Tibet for about three weeks and this post and possibly the next one or two will be about that trip.

*****

So I'm standing on the street across from my hotel. I have been for 20 minutes. I'm frantically trying to wave down anything resembling a taxi, but it's rush hour, and there just aren't enough taxis to go around, what with the like 20 million people who live in the city.

Finally one pulls over. I show the driver the slip with Chinese letters on it I have with me. No, no, he shakes his head vigorously, waving his hand. "But it's just down there," I say in English, as if that will help, pointing down the street. No, no, he shakes his head again, and I climb out of the taxi and shut the door behind me.

I sigh.

And then I start walking through the streets of Beijing in the direction I have just pointed. I'm going to be late for my cooking class.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Time

A few months ago, while I was in Germany visiting family, I spent an afternoon with my cousin and her adorably gorgeous 1-year-old. She had been home with him for the first year, but had recently started studying again, so her son was spending days in daycare while she hit the books.

She told me how, after that first day away from him, when she picked him up from daycare, she could tell that he had changed. In those few hours she had been away, he had had experiences, had learned things that she wasn't there to witness, had been alive and grown and developed. This difference in her son was obvious to her, the fact that he was older and more worldly. She told me she had this same sensation often when she picked him up from daycare. In contrast to the first year of his life, during which she spent every moment with him, observing and being a part of every little triumph and setback, she now had the opportunity to gain perspective and see her son at intervals. Even if those intervals were only for a few hours.

[Carrot plants]

I didn't quite buy it. A day is just a day, I thought. People, even babies, don't change that fast. I thought, my cousin is sweet who is that attached to her son, but surely there was no true visible change in him after a single day apart. It was an appealing notion, but I wasn't convinced that's the way the world works.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This is London

I was three years old the first time I was in London.

I have two memories of this trip that I'm certain are my own. One of them is very vague. It's of my mom holding me and pointing at a big clock (Ben) and me going, "That's it?". The other is of a very shy me whispering in my mom's ear that I want french fries, while a waitress hovers by our table. My mom tells me I can order from the waitress myself, but that I should ask for chips. "But I don't want chips," I say, "I want french fries."

There are other memories of that trip that are not my own, stories that have been told time and time again, so often that I've created images and feelings to go with them. One of these is of the three of us, my mom, my brother, and me, just having arrived on a plane from the US, sitting on the tube together, one kid on each side of mom, holding onto her and taking in this strange new place. My brother, then an avid PBS viewer, also at night when the British BBC would come on the channel, looks around for a while at this and that, the people around us, then turns to my mother, and goes, "Mom, does EVERYBODY here work at the BBC?", figuring that talking the Queen's English was something you learned on the job.

Oh, children can be so sweet when they haven't got a clue.



[Pasteis de nata: more on this below!]

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Yes, We Love This Country as it Rises Forth

Norway grew a year older on Monday and Norwegians everywhere bubbled over with pride and celebrated as per usual.

Step 1: Dress up
Step 2: Grab a flag
Step 3: Stuff yourself
Step 4: Go out into the streets.
Step 5: Stuff yourself some more with ice cream and hot dogs.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cities


One summer while I was living in the States, I was home in Oslo for a few weeks. After some drinks in town with friends one night, I decided to walk for a while instead of getting right on the subway home.

It was one of those magical Norwegian summer nights, where, even though the sun has disappeared, you know it's never going to get really dark, one where, even though the nights are warm, a hint of a chill starts settling, reminding you that regardless of how much the sun does to warm it up, Norway is actually a really cold place.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Zeros and Ones

As a general rule, I make it a rule not to make rules for myself. Except for that one. And a few others.

Which is why I never became a vegetarian. Those of you who know me know that I'm a big fan of balance and finding a good middle ground. I appreciate nuances. The world is a pretty complex place and I don't think that making strict rules for oneself will really do a lot of good. If you're going to look at the world in terms of 0's and 1's, you're going to need a whole heck of a lot of them in order to approach some kind of adequate view on the way things work.

Another reason is that I really like meat.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Remembering NYC

When I left NYC at the end of January, although I don't think it was all that visible, I arrived in Norway with a special souvenir: a few extra pounds. NYC is full of every kind of amazing, mouthwatering, scrumptious food and it's very nearly impossible to avoid putting on some weight while living there. I know I can earmark at least a portion of my little NYC-belly to Billy's Bakery, Crumbs, Sugar Sweet Sunshine, Burgers and Cupcakes, Magnolia, and Cupcake Cafe... I had such a soft spot for those round little single serving-sized cakes and incredible ones could be found around every corner. Sigh, I miss them...


[Lemon Meringue Cupcakes. Recipe follows below.]

Cupcakes aren't a thing here in Oslo. Sure, there are other temptations, but there's a different food culture in Norway than there is in the States.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I'm back!

Last night I had a dream about tomatoes.

It wasn’t all that exciting, except for that these tomatoes were grown in my garden, right outside my window. In the dream, I planted a tomato plant and then forgot about it. A few months later, I went outside and there were three bright red tomatoes hiding in the dirt, ready to be eaten. (I realize that tomatoes grow above ground, but in my dream, they were hiding in the dirt.) And that was all, a short little simple dream.

This was a dream I had last night, but it’s also a real dream of mine, to be able to walk outside, pick a tomato off a vine, chop it up and use it right away.

This little tidbit of a dream also reveals how I want this scenario to become a reality: I want to plant a seed, forget about it for a few months, then come back and enjoy the benefits without putting in the work that is obviously required.