My favorite Japanese film is called Departures. It was playing on the airplane on a trip back from Japan and I started bawling out of control throughout the duration of the film. I tend to that on airplanes, apparently I’m not alone with this problem. The film is about a professional musician who loses his job in Tokyo and ends up moving home to the country and getting a job preparing the dead for funerals. I was crying because it was so emotionally moving, not because it was Schindler’s List tragic. The trailer doesn’t really do it justice but seriously it’s an amazing film!
I often wish I could ask my Texan grandma for life advice, especially now that I’m an adult. Fortunately, I learned a lot from her growing up but unfortunately, I haven’t yet figured out how to talk to ghosts.
But luckily, we have documented footage of this amazing 101 year-old Texan cowgirl giving life advice. She died at age 101 after being thrown off her horse Dr.Pepper. Basically, Connie Reeves was a badass.
Her secret to Longevity: “Well Honey, you just don’t let that rocking chair take over…you get up and go even if you don’t want to.”
Life advice: “Saddle your own horse and know which direction you’re going.”
I heading off to the wonderful magical land called Italy today. Where pastas are fresh, olive oil is abundant, and espressos will keep me whacked out and amped up at all hours of the day. I love Italy. To prepare for this trip, I’ve been religiously watching a cooking/travel show on the BBC called Two Greedy Italians. They are chefs who have been living abroad for decades and have now come back to Italy to hug their mamas and rediscover the Italian cuisine. These guys crack me up, they have no shame in their complete obsession with food. They preach to sophisticated young Italian ladies about getting back in the kitchen, drive around the countryside and steal expensive fermented grapes for their tasting, and nearly orgasm on camera when tasting ham in Bologna.
In each episode, they show you how to cook various dishes from within the region. I tried making the Ricotta Dumplings last night. It only took twenty minutes and it was delicious. I’m going to try out the warm chocolate and amaretto pudding next. Doesn’t your mouth water just reading that title? I guess it doesn’t make much sense to cook a bunch of Italian food right before I leave for a week of eating in Italy, but really, is there such thing as too much Italian food? I’m starting to sound like Eat Pray Love so this is where I’ll check out.
Whenever I’m in Manhattan, I often imagine the perfectly grid lined flat streets filled with thousands of bicycles instead of trucks and yellow cabs. Now that would be my ideal city. My intense infatuation with Amsterdam began first with the bike culture, then everything else. Having spent the last decade of my life cruising the highways of Texas, I couldn’t imagine a city where the bike ruled first. Where bike paths and bike traffic lights were ubiquitous, and the size and urban layout of the city seemed to be perfectly structured to cater the cyclists.
Of course after three years of biking through rain and snow, I now fantasize about getting in my car with a heater and and all my awesome podcasts and just drive (like a normal Texan would) to a restaurant. Also my trips to IKEA would not involve me balancing chairs and bonsai trees in a subway. But really when it comes down to it, I wish I can just transplant this culture to America. If Austin would just build canals and get bikes, or Amsterdam would just be sunny all the time with endless tacos…ok I won’t get into this conversation.
On the upside, I have been seeing more bikers back home in Texas and New York seems to be aware of my fantasy and is slowly getting more and more bike friendly. A nice project called Downtown From Behind is documenting back shots of various New Yorkers biking through the streets of the city. I love the juxtaposition of the lone biker(s) in the middle of the big city. Could my dream slowly be turning into a reality?
I’m seriously appreciating my houseboat now that sun has (finally) arrived. It’s non-stop bbqs, feeding of baby swans and geese, and enjoying many drinks on the deck. The only thing that was missing in this houseboat experience was a real moving boat docked to our immobile houseboat. Well I took a lazy summer nap yesterday and woke up an hour later to find Arun and neighbors adopting abandoned boats on our canal! It’s run down and motorless but it floats! Now we just have to fix it up and paddle on over to the Windmill Brewery to celebrate.
A short clip from the This American Life live show. I really wish I could have seen the show live!
I’ve been experimenting more with my photos lately. First shrinking them down into European city postcards and now giant posters. I like having BIG images on my wall so I thought I’d try this out with an image of Berlin. I added some type to match and got it printed on a large format plotter printer, and voila! a poster is born. Plotter printers are usually used for architectural prints but it has a nice aesthetic effect on photo prints. I think I’m addicted, stop me before I blow up my entire photo collection. If you’re interested, this Berlin poster can be found at my etsy shop.
This is a thank you post. First to Amsterdam, for having an exorbitantly priced and mostly mediocre food scene therefore forcing me to learn how to cook. And Second to food bloggers, for de-mystifying the magic behind cooking and never letting me go without migas or Korean bbq.
My journey to cooking started almost three years ago, when I first moved to Amsterdam. Before Amsterdam, I was the laziest mofo on the planet. I would wake up, get in my car and go through a drive through to get my breakfast tacos. Then I’d drive to a sandwich shop for lunch, and then drive to a thai place and meet up with friends for dinner. Repeat.
When I moved to Amsterdam, I soon realized that if I want to eat in this city and still have money left over to do anything, I would have get on a bike and sludge through the rain to affordable markets and butchers, stock up and balance five bags on my bike and ride home at a snails pace and figure out what to do with these ingredients. Amsterdam, I hate you and love you for making me work for everything.
But more and more I’m realizing that being forced to cook the last 2.5 years has been such a blessing. I think about all the things I can whip up now and think if I lived in a city in the states, I would never learn how to make this, I’d just buy it. So today, I want to give a shoutout to all the food bloggers out there who taught me how to cook dishes I could never order in a restaurant in Amsterdam!
The first year I lived in Amsterdam, I was forced to do without Korean Food. This may not seem like a big deal to most people but for me, it was like living without air. At the time I couldn’t find a single Korean restaurant and cooking it myself seemed way too difficult. One day, I couldn’t stand it anymore and googled “Korean Food Recipes”. Right there, hanging out on the internet was my beloved Maangchi. She made Korean cooking so easy, and so possible. It was food love at first sight and I now know how to make dozens of Korean dishes and even got to meet her in real life and cook with her in my houseboat!
Texans all over the world must thank Lisa Fain everyday for starting this blog. Food in Texas is its own amazing thing and when Texans are torn apart from it, things can get ugly. I found her site when I was still in Texas but had no need to read it like a bible till I moved here. From fancy tex-mex to simple southern dinner food, she has it all.
3. Budget Bytes
She makes recipes for broke people and it still tastes good.
Favorite Dish: Mexican Lentil Soup
I love her. There are so many random American dishes I crave and she’s always there to help me out. The other day I ran out of the bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing that I smuggled back from the states and nearly had a panic attack. Then I found Pioneer Women’s version of copying hidden valley ranch confessing that she too is forced to learn random condiment dishes due to necessity. Thank you for feeding cowboys and showing us what you feed them.
“I’m not a photographer writer painter, I’m a taxidermist of things that life offers me on the way.” - Jacques-Henri Lartigue