Friday, April 29, 2011

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

In honor of the Royal Wedding today, I decided to post my very own sketchy York encounter...

Two days ago, I was coming off the train from London, exhausted and walking like a zombie. I figured that since I was in the city anyway, I would do some shopping. It was good - I bought a pair of shoes (for £18! a bargain if I do say so myself) and a ton of groceries. Thus laden with bags and my travelling backpack, I proceeded to look for the bus stop home.

As my friends at Uni will attest, the bus stops for the number 44 are notoriously inconvenient and difficult to find and I always get lost looking for it. So as I was wandering the streets, squinting at bus stop signs, cursing under my breath, and feeling like my arms were going to snap off (I must have looked like a raving homeleses person) some guy stops me. He was in his late mid 30's and I was not pleased to be interrupted, especially since he most likely was a tourist looking for directions (York is swarming with tourists this time of year).

"Excuse me, I'm sorry to bother you but I was just wondering where you were from."
"The United States."
"Oh really? What are you doing in York?"
"I'm taking a term here."
"What are you studying?"
"English literature"
"Right...because the Americans need to learn English too, right? Hahah..."
Not funny, mister. I want to go home.
"Listen, I know you probably get this all the time, but I think you're incredibly beautiful."
Yeah? Save the pick-up lines for some other miserable soul who doesn't feel like her arms are being dragged to the pits of the earth.
"Do you - do you mind if I kiss you on the cheek?"
What? What the heck did he say? Before I could react, I received a whiskery kiss.
"I know you probably get this all the time, but I was wondering...would you like to go out for coffee sometime?"
"I just think you're so beautiful and I just had to ask."
Ok, if you hadn't said the word beautiful twenty times already I might actually believe that this. I sputtered something lame like, "I'm really busy."
He looked crestfallen. "It's only a cup of coffee..."
"Yeah, well I'm really busy, I'm really sorry" I said, rambling with gusto. "I'm sure there are other more beautiful girls in the future you can take to coffee."
"Well beauty is in the eye of the beholder isn't it, and I think that you're - "
I shook my head vigorously before he would say the word "beautiful" again for the umpteenth time.
"Alright, well have a good day," he said and waved cheerily.

I spun around on the spot a couple of times before picking a direction and going. Interestingly enough, it turned out to be the right way and I made it to the bus stop without any further incident. Thank god.


Thought for food: Tell someone they're beautiful today (without being sketchy about it). Be sincere and genuine. :)

Rice Cake Pizza
This has nothing to do with beauty except that it looks mighty beautiful to me when I'm hungry! I spent hours looking for a gluten free pizza dough recipe but when my brother came to visit me, we just whipped this up with whatever I had in my cupboard. And it tasted even better than real pizza.
4 rice cakes
2 vine ripe tomatoes
1/2 onion
1 tablespoon of oregano
1 tablespoon of thyme
black pepper
3 mushrooms
100g chevre blanc goat cheese
To Cook:
1. Slice tomatoes and onion to saute in olive oil. Add salt and allow to simmer on medium-low until tomatoes have turned mushy. Add oregano, thyme, and black pepper. Spoon into a bowl. Preheat oven to 350 degreees Fahrenheit.
2. Lightly saute mushrooms in a little salt until water has been released.
3. Using a butter knife, use the tomato sauce to cover the rice cakes. Then add thin layers of cheese. Top with mushrooms and more herbs to taste.
4. Pop everything into the oven and bake only until the cheese begins to melt - about 5-10 minutes.

Serves 2.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Forever Young

My brother and I just got back from a one week vacation in Wales and London. My favorite part about Wales is the sheep - they were everywhere and they made an awful racket (in a cute way that only sheep can). The rolling hills, the canals and the farmland, was absolutely beautiful.What's even better was their dairy products - I have never had better yogurt, ice cream, or milk in my life. They don't skimp on the good stuff - no low fat nonsense in Wales! Jack and I shared a Honeycomb ice cream tub; sweet with toffee and creamy richness with just a hint of salty-ness. Pure heaven.

London on the other hand, was a bit disappointing. We stayed in a really nice part of the city - Kensington - but I guess that I'm just a country mouse rather than a city mouse. The streets were busy, the double decker buses roared by, spewing exhaust every where, and I thought that a lot of the tourist attractions were a bit of a let down. To me, they were just man made buildings, like the "Round Pond" in Kensington Gardens and all the loot from the British empire in the British Museum. It was nice to visit, but definitely not where I would live.

We stayed at a hostel that looked very beautiful from the outside, but the inside was another story entirely. There were 21 beds in one room, three bunks stacked on top of each other so that if you were on the bottom, you'd feel like you were in a coffin. There was a spider hanging from my bed and the bathroom was leaking. I had to be moved from my original room because it was flooding. Jack and I were making lunch and the stove short-circuited and exploded on us.

On the train ride back to York though, I hummed happily to myself as I watched the fields of daffodils speeding past me. There's something about being in an army bunker and surviving it that is exhilirating. Isn't this the stuff that life is made of?

Travelling makes you realize that the little things like waking up with a bad hair day really doesn't matter so much now that you've spent a week making your tiny travel bottle of shampoo last and having trying to saw at carrots with bread knives. At the Frankfurt hostel in Germany, when I was feeling sorry for myself for having to cook for myself while my friends went around Germany eating schnitzel and bread and other gluten-ous things, I met a guy from Miami who had missed his plane and was stranded with no cash at all. He had to sleep on park benches and ask for food from places like the hostel until his friends were able to get him another flight due out half a week later. And yet he seemed unfazed. He cheerfully bit into the sandwhich that the hostel receptionist had provided for him and told me that he wished he had taken his education more seriously when he was in high school. He said that he would skip classes all the time back then, but recently he had gotten really interested in quantam physics and wished he had an opportunity to study that now. We chatted about global warming and other cheerful topics. Then we said goodbye.

On our last day in London, we met a 50-something woman who had been all over Europe and still planned on going until she dropped. She worked as a nurse and still traipsed across the globe after her shifts were over. And I thought to myself: that's what I want to be like years from now, forever young, forever free and always in awe of the world around me.

Thought for food: If you could go anywhere, where would you go and why?

On-the-Go Rice Pudding

Jack and I made this over and over again while we were on the road until we perfected it. It's a very healthy way to start an exciting day without any added sugar! If you don't have much time, add a little more water and turn up the heat.
2/3 cups of jasmine rice
3 dried figs (or dates or raisins, or whatever you have handy)
1 cup of whole milk or soy milk (It's very important to use whole milk, otherwise your pudding will taste very watery)
1 banana
To cook:
1. Rinse out the rice. Cover with water and let simmer gently on stove top for about 30 minutes (turn it lower if it starts drying out too quickly). Roughly chop figs and add.
2. Add milk and let simmer and milk has been all soaked up.
3. Chop up bananas and add. Turn off stove and let steam for about 10 minutes. Yum!

Serves 2