Where I’ve Been and What I’ve Been Doing

I have been absent a while, I know, roaming the mountains and plains and comeateries of Honduras. I’ll be back shortly with stories about a flopped beach trip and a not-flopped trip to Erandique. For now though, let me show you some of what’s been occupying me. 


I’ve been eating platos típicos,


And so many tacos,


And baleadas that would knock your socks off,


And plantain chips for days,


And garlic shrimp and pork chops and tajadas and seafood soup,


And grilled chicken with tortillas and horchata, overlooking the beach,


And (excuse the blurry picture) green mangos so good I could cry,


And our traditional not-very-Chinese Chinese rice and chop suey, 


And drinking gallons of coffee. 

I’ll be back after a while. In the meantime, feel free to hate me a little for these pictures, especially those of you that know exactly how good green mangos are. 

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New York, New York

New York, New York

As some of you may know, I am ever so slightly obsessed with New York City. So a few weeks ago I was chatting with Roman and Mimi, and I said, “Next time you go to NYC, let me know because I want to go along.” “Really,” they said, “do you mean the very next time? We are leaving in two days to go there!”Obviously there was nothing else for it but to buy a ticket up, take a day or two off of work, and attach myself to their little party.

In the course of just three days, I managed to eat so many different things, see a few popular attractions that I hadn’t gotten to before such as Central Park and the Met and Saint Peter’s Cathedral, walk many many miles, navigate Manhattan all on my own, and not at all quench my desire to live there someday.

If you want to really see the place, let me recommend having as your tour guide someone who has lived in the city for years. If you can acquire one of those, you might get taken to the best little spots that you never would have found on your own. For instance, Chelsea Market. Be still, my beating heart. This place is a dream if you like weird architecture, winding hallways, exotic foods, artsy creations, or people watching. It looks like it’s made out of a very old warehouse brought back to life, complete with lumpy floors, old bricks and light fixtures, and old hardware everywhere.

We stopped in a seafood store (the kind that sells things like sea urchins to cook) and played it safe by purchasing a little bowl of New England clam chowder. I think I’ll let our faces tell you if it was worthwhile or not.

When our feet were about ready to drop off, we went up to the Highline Park which is just around the corner from the market. The park is the brainchild of some brilliant engineer who thought that an old elevated railroad track would make a good place to plant flowers and put benches. Coolest idea ever. There we refreshed ourselves with ginger sodas from a little cart, running water put there for weary feet, gorgeous views, and baby smiles.

We saw the One World Trade Center, and the 911 Memorial, both inside and out. The inside of the memorial feels a lot like being in a whale’s belly might, with the the odd architecture that is reminiscent of ribs. There were two fountains/pools as well which I don’t have pictures of- massive, creepy, dark holes with the  still water sliding down into the middle of nowhere- with names of the deceased engraved in stone the whole way around their large, square circumferences. The hole in the middle of the pool looked like the kind of place a massive octopus might come out of, like the kind that was in the pool by the mountains of Moria. I confess, I don’t quite understand the logic behind making a memorial such a creepy place.

One of the days Roman and Mimi had a wedding to attend, so I wandered about the city by myself. I ran into a farm girl from New Zealand who was touring the city by herself and needed directions, and we walked the blocks from the train station to the Met together, talking about our small town lives compared to the big city. Not gonna lie, it made me fairly happy to be asked for directions from other outsiders, even if I didn’t have a clue what I was doing myself.

Sadly, I chose the wrong day (Saturday morning) and the wrong time (pre-coffee) to go to the Met, and did not enjoy it as much as I might have otherwise. It was completely packed with humans, eating and chattering and taking pictures of statues and disturbing me when I tried to sit on the floor to charge my phone a little. Next time I go, I’d like to pick a quieter day, and also someone to take along to discuss all the oddities of art with, such as the bizarre threesome pictured above. Somehow they struck my fancy, just sitting there with their hands on their knees, waiting for life to happen like they have for ages past.

Once I was sufficiently parched and hungry, and my brain was full enough of art, I purchased a street hotdog, mostly because HOW NEW YORKISH IS THAT? I felt the moment was worthy of documentation, even if the hotdog itself was nothing special.

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I walked the Brooklyn Bridge twice, once as the sun was thinking about setting, and again when it was turning to dusk. The cool wind at the top of the bridge alone was worth it, after melting in the heat for two days, not to mention the views. On one of my jaunts over it, I discovered that there was a concert going on below the bridge, and that if I leaned over the edge enough, I could watch it happening through the cracks. There’s more than one way to see a free concert!

I made the discovery of what it’s like to ride for many stops in an un-airconditioned train car in July. Hint: don’t do it. We hauled the stroller up seemingly miles of subway steps and walked endless steamy corridors. We jammed ourselves into many greasy cars, where Hudson baby always seemed to make friends, regardless of the reputed coldness of New Yorkers. In just 2 days, I managed to walk about 24 miles or so. I’d say moving to the city might be a fairly decent fitness plan, regardless of all the tempting food around every corner.

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Speaking of which, ohmygoodness the food! I’d live there just for that pretty much, since I’m unfortunately a die-hard foodie. We stuffed our faces with Taiwanese, New York pizza, so much bubble tea, pastries from a French bakery, Chinese, my (not so epic) hotdog, and to finish it off, the Korean spread pictured below. The little bowls are our free appetizers- I guess the Korean version of chips and salsa- and the delectable pile of fried goodness on the cast iron was my plate. If you want to go to the city, please take me along so I can take you to this place. You won’t regret it, unless you’re not at all a fan of delicious flavor, in which case you shouldn’t even bother to go to the city at all.

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Regrettably, going didn’t really do much to dampen my youthful and ignorant enthusiasm for that great metropolis, even though it’s expensive and wearying and harsh and hot sometimes. So, who wants to go with me next time?


Why I’m Not a Coffee Snob

Why I’m Not a Coffee Snob

 

High Five Coffee in Asheville

I love coffee. Goodness gracious, I love coffee. Life without the stuff is a bleak, howling wilderness, wrought with perils and tribulations and people biting other people’s heads off. However, with coffee, how the world changes. Awkward conversations are made a little less awkward when you have something hot to hold. Mornings are a little less dreadful when there’s a hot, aromatic drink awaiting. Studying is made a little easier when there is caffeine to assist. Long afternoons at work are doable with an iced latte (or three) on your desk.

But even with all my love of coffee, I’m not a coffee snob, and this is why. Have you ever been out to coffee with someone when all they could talk about is whether or not this coffee has the exact level of acidity it should, and whether the foam is too thick or too thin, and if the coffee plants had the exact number of raindrops fall on them that they should have? That is the person I don’t want to be.

The Factory Coffeehouse

I don’t want to be so busy examining the many cups of joe I drink that I forget to just enjoy them. I don’t want to spend my time at all the coffee shops (except that particular one where the beans were raised by Tibetan monks with 3.687 inch beards who daily bathed the plants with rosewater) thinking about how my coffee could be better than it is. I don’t want people to be afraid to make me coffee, thinking that they know how picky I am about it, and that I probably won’t like it.

After all, isn’t that a bit like expecting every meal to consist of caviar and foie gras? Those are all good and well, but sometimes, a person can enjoy rice and beans just as much. This isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate good coffee. I do, and I really don’t much enjoy trying to drink Folgers. But I would rather focus on the comfort of coffee, and the social enjoyment of sharing hot, foamy drinks, and the wonderful kick of mid-afternoon energy that it gives, than on always having the best of the best.

So here’s to love, and to coffee, and to loving coffee, but loving people more.

The Clean Plater

Sometimes Ogden Nash just says it so much better than I ever could. Case in point:

“Some singers sing of ladies’ eyes,
And some of ladies lips,
Refined ones praise their ladylike ways,
And coarse ones hymn their hips.
The Oxford Book of English Verse
Is lush with lyrics tender;
A poet, I guess, is more or less
Preoccupied with gender.
Yet I, though custom call me crude,
Prefer to sing in praise of food.
Food,
Yes, food,
Just any old kind of food.
Pheasant is pleasant, of course,
And terrapin, too, is tasty,
Lobster I freely endorse,
In pate or patty or pasty.
But there’s nothing the matter with butter,
And nothing the matter with jam,
And the warmest greetings I utter
To the ham and the yam and the clam.
For they’re food,
All food,
And I think very fondly of food.
Through I’m broody at times
When bothered by rhymes,
I brood
On food.
Some painters paint the sapphire sea,
And some the gathering storm.
Others portray young lambs at play,
But most, the female form.
“Twas trite in that primeval dawn
When painting got its start,
That a lady with her garments on
Is Life, but is she Art?
By undraped nymphs
I am not wooed;
I’d rather painters painted food.
Food,
Just food,
Just any old kind of food.
Go purloin a sirloin, my pet,
If you’d win a devotion incredible;
And asparagus tips vinaigrette,
Or anything else that is edible.
Bring salad or sausage or scrapple,
A berry or even a beet.
Bring an oyster, an egg, or an apple,
As long as it’s something to eat.
If it’s food,
It’s food;
Never mind what kind of food.
When I ponder my mind
I consistently find
It is glued
On food.”

P.S. Thank you, leetle brother Philip, for introducing me to this gem.