Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Click, drool, repeat.

One word. Or link, if you will.  

Wow. Just click away. You'll be amazed how quickly 2 hours of study time passes.  

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Wasted Weekend

I fear that my last post hath jinxed me.  

If my kind readers remember, I last wrote about the peanut butter food poisoning crisis, and how I was adversely reacting to it (to the lack of peanut buttery snacks, not the poison itself).  Oh, if only I could eat my words.  And even if I could, I'm sure I couldn't keep them down.  You see, since Friday night, I have not been able to ingest solids.  

Thanks to WebMD, I was informed that my three symptoms (fatigue, vomiting, and you can guess the third) could stem from any of 20 conditions, but food poisoning was at the top of the list.  While I usually consider myself to have an iron stomach, and a stalwart immune system (if I find myself sneezing or coughing, it's usually enough for me to sternly chastise myself saying "NO you will not get sick!") this illness took me by rather fierce surprise.  I was practically immobilized all Friday night and Saturday, and this was sad indeed as I couldn't do my usual weekend food stuff - be it an exciting brunch, this year's Chili Festival (dammit how could I have missed it?!), or a great pre-, during, and post-Oscars spread. 

Let's just say that this incident, and the peanut butter fiasco, are making me slightly more leery of food in general.  I may now start to check the expiration date on my milk, and make sure to have my steak fully cooked.  Even though in France I ate steak tartare once a week and was fine.  Ah the French. They know how to live.  

Now if you know what's good for you, go watch the Oscars with amazing snacks!  They are to me what the Super Bowl is to most American males.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Recovery from PB&J withdrawal

Although I hope I am generally quite well-informed on, well, stuff, I returned to the US after my semester abroad having no idea what this whole peanut butter ban and recall was. And as a peanut butter lover, I didn’t much care – there was still peanut butter on the shelves of Wegmans, therefore I bought it. But since January, seemingly tame and loveable peanut-butter related products have been responsible for 9 deaths and 637 illnesses. And although peanut butter itself seemed exempt, I realized so many other things in my life are not. Namely, Peanut Butter Cookie flavor Luna bars, Nestle Crunch Bars, and (travesty of travesties), Cornell’s own Nutty Buddy Franklin flavored ice cream.

A few years ago, when the tomato crisis occurred, and before that, the great spinach scare of ’06, Cornell seemed exempt thanks to organic homegrown local foodie Ithaca. Alas, Arachis hypogaea does not grow in our frigid climes. Still, I advise everyone to soldier on. Today at Trillium, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were still available for sale (rather too available – I don’t think anyone bought one). Whole peanuts themselves seem fine, and thus are no-brainer substitutes. And if all else fails remember peanut butter’s oft-overlooked sister – Nutella.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Everything in Moderation (Even Tapeworms)

The weekend of the much-loved and revered Valentine's Day may not be the best to start talking about body image, seeing as if you have a sweetie you're most likely gorging on chocolate together, and if you don't, then you're certainly gorging alone. I know I am (but that's neither here nor there).  Body thinning, contrary to popular belief, and to what was mentioned in class last week, is not a modern phenomenon.  

Everyone cites the mass media as the main source of all the weight problems and eating disorders that plague many young girls and some males. With no TV, no fashion magazines, no websites obsessing over celebrity's weight, experts say people wouldn't dangerously diet, models wouldn't be worshipped, and anorexia and bulimia wouldn't be on the tip of anxious mothers' tongues.  

However, weight loss has been on people's minds since the beginning of time, and the certainly the beginning of being fat.  According to this article, Hatshepsut, William the Conqueror, and Marie de Medici all had some weight problems. Elisabeth of Bavaria was the first queen to really promote exercise (and an arguably public bulimic), and Scarlett O'Hara, renowned heroine of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind, had a "seventeen-inch waist, the smallest in three counties." 

So, to tackle some of the proposed weight loss strategies: liquid (liquor) diet - this exists on college campuses most commonly as "drunkorexia." 

Inventing health food, such as Corn Flakes and Graham Crackers, might have worked for a while, but nowadays their inventors would stand around and watch their foods be drenched in high fructose corn syrup and produced en masse.  

The parasite diet - who in their right mind hasn't wished for a ginormous tapeworm, a fit of stomach flu, or some nice long bout of food poisoning to help in the eternal struggle with weight??

As for the genius-girl creator of the "calorie" - why, Lulu, why??? I think this, more than magazines covered with bikini models and anorexic film stars, has affected people's mentality.  

The Sleeping Beauty diet, however, is something I can very willingly accept.  If I could hunker down and hibernate for a couple of days and wake up newly svelte, I would certainly try.  If Elvis does it, it has to be good, right?

OK kids, I think I have made a good point - weight loss has been a fad since forever ago, and it has never been especially smart or useful.  So don't do anything too crazy. 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Jetlagged...for food.

I have lived in four different countries in the twenty years of my life, and each time I left one, I was forced to give up so much more than just my friends and school and home - I had to give up THE FOOD.  Not just the restaurants, not just the supermarkets and the specific brands, but also the customs that dictate homemade food.  Certainly one could argue that if one moves to another country, one always has the same ingredients ready to make dishes that are traditional from the other country.  My mother would laugh in the face of this argument.  She is forever complaining that the fruits and vegetables just aren't "right," they just don't taste the same here in the US compared to Europe. 

And I have to admit, coming back from Paris a month ago today, most food here just doesn't taste the same.  Coffee, French roast - What? What French roasting method are you thinking of?  French baguette? Oh hell no. You are surely mistaken.  Please don't think that any "baguette" you get here is anything like the real thing.  Camembert? Don't be ridiculous.  There is no way to achieve that smelly, moldy, creamy, gooey, sensational cheese if you have to pasteurize it (which you do in the US - to my chagrin).  Eggs, fruits, jam, Nutella, pasta - everything tastes different (read: better) in France. 

Thanks to Wegmans, some limited food imports are available to us in Ithaca.  I can have chocolate digestive biscuits to reminisce on my childhood in London, or Le Petit Ecolier to snack on while doing my French homework.  Last time I was grocery shopping, my friend and I stocked up on some Indian food - spinach paneer, potato and lentil curry, and other such wonders contained in a little cardboard box.  Yes, it is box food - but knowing that it actually came from a factory in India makes it taste better. More authentic.  It doesn't come much better than "Tasty Bomby Potato" brand, right?

In conclusion, when I moved from Romania to England, I could barely tolerate the food - I was five, I had never had processed, frozen, or ready-made food before.  When I moved from England to the US, I lost all my favorite snacks and brands and candy, and had to adjust to living in a gastronomically-challenged Midwest town.  Moving from the US to France was spectacularly mind-blowing, and the return was...well, I won't dwell on that.  The point is, people adjust, people tolerate, and people learn to appreciate new things.  In the meantime, if food choices have go you down, dreaming of your homeland cuisine (or things you ate on a really awesome vacation), just try this - say "Tasty Bomby Potatoes" with a funny accent.  Come on, I dare you - tasteeee bombeee potatooooooes.  It's guaranteed to make you smile. 

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ski Food - Pro or Con?

For someone who has only skied five times in her life, I really really REALLY love it.  So I know the connotations of skiing - rich snobby white people, who can afford their own skis and a season lift pass to the fanciest ski resorts in Colorado and the Alps.  But in my limited experience, these stereotypes have been busted.  In smaller, intimate, kind of slobby ski resorts in Montana, Utah, and California, the focus was on the slopes and the quality of snow, rather than the extra facilities and the gourmet dining and the yearly film festival.  

So I agree, the gourmet dining might( (ie. certainly) would be delicious.  But every ski resort I've been to has some requisite food choices; namely, soup, fries, chili, and hot chocolate.  And honestly, what more does one need?

This weekend, I went to Greek Peak for the first time in my undergraduate career at Cornell.  And it was the epitome of smaller, more intimate resorts, bestowed with ancient chairlifts and rundown lodges.  But the weather was fabulous, the snow was groomed, and the chili was beany and cheesy.  Honestly, the only food I can even think of eating after a morning of skiing is steaming, chunky clam chowder, tasty thick-cut fries, and meaty chili in a paper bowl - you know, healthy, nutritious, energy-providing food. 

I hope no one thinks I'm bashing the smaller, cheaper ski resorts - I love them, and therefore I associate certain foods with them.  Food that you'd never willingly eat except after being frozen on slopes for four hours.  Food that is greasy and of ambiguous origin, but is warm and liquidy and comforting.  So before you blow big bucks on expensive fine-dining resorts, remember the littler, friendlier, slightly scruffier resorts; that are cheaper and closer, but just a satisfying.  


Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Weekend of the Leek Soup

So my dear readers, tell me something. You’ve heard of those crack diets, right? Of course, everyone has, but the experience I will relate differs slightly – it is non-brainwashing (hopefully), it does not proclaim to be a “lifestyle change” (mercifully), and it failed utterly (hilariously).

Last summer, my friend mailed me a going-to-Paris-have-fun book. It was a highly entertaining read, and I recommend it for much of its advice, if not this particular recipe. Therefore, said friend and I decided that one weekend we would try the “magical leek soup” diet. The premise is that leeks are nutritious, low in calories, tasty, and most of all, detoxifying, and that drinking the broth periodically will keep you hydrated, and eating some leek chunks will keep you “full.” Obviously, why didn’t we all think of that?

So I’m going to divulge this wonderful, top secret, gourmand, magical recipe. Are you all ready?

1) Chop leeks
2) Boil in water
3) Eat for 2 days straight

No oil, no salt, no seasoning. And in a fit of what I considered to be pure genius, I chopped up the dark green tough parts of the leeks too, not just the pale stems. Making it extra delicious and…fibrous.

I woke up Saturday morning at 7.30am, deciding that if I ate a banana then and fell back asleep it wouldn’t impinge on the detox diet. Around noon, I also decided that the nice people in my dorm making carrot cake wouldn’t take no for an answer – so of course I indulged. Later that night, at a dear friend’s party, I decided it would be awfully rude to refuse her birthday cake. And by Sunday, I was full speed ahead back on solid food. Utter failure of the weekend leek soup diet.

Of course, I blame my social environment entirely. If not for living in a dorm, if not for having friends who eat, if not for this birthday party, if not for my insatiable appetite…but I digress.

I certainly don’t want to repeat my weekend experience, but at the same time, I feel passionately for the denigrated leek. I sincerely hope this post hasn’t adversely effected your relationship to this noble vegetable. I found joy and tastiness in leeks, in the form of a leek and lentil curry, after this weekend. I therefore advise you all to first fail then rectify.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A first-post welcome

Kudos to me for finally having set up my blog! While most of the country is now watching the Super Bowl, I'm huddled in a wi-fi hotspot typing away my very first post, which hopefully will be the first of many good ones. 

The general, and rather ambiguous topic of this blog is FOOD. 

Something that everyone likes, right? Right? Well I only hope my dear readers are as avid fans as I am, and are as interested in hearing about interesting recipes, utter food failures, and fun dining experiences as I am.  I am not sure whether my semester in Paris last fall caused or resulted from my passion for food, but in either case, it definitely changed my life (and my weight). From then on, I tried as much as possible to be a true "gourmande" - fond of good food, gastronomically-inclined.  Being a college student during a recession in a country that does not allow unpasteurized cheese definitely put a damper on these aspirations.  Hence, the "wannabe" part.  

I hope that this is a good enough introduction to whet some appetites (pun proudly intended) and garner some interest in this blog - but I certainly don't intend to be the next FXcuisine

Coming up in my next blog post, experience the fascinating, the misunderstood, the oft-forgotten enigma of... the leek!