Survival of the Fittest…

I’m going to preface this blog post (just to put it in context, though, yes, I can be quite misanthropic at times, and I’m okay with that) by saying that I’ve been living quite comfortably in my introvert bubble for the past year or so: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/16/understanding-introverts-_n_5989656.html. With the exception of work, and a few laid-back meet-ups, I’ve had the luxury of just hanging out with me and my sweet senior kitty.

Paradoxically, I’m subscribed to several Meetup groups that I look at, even add to my calendar sometimes, but never attend. I make my day job the scapegoat–it’s so tiring for this introvert to deal with oodles of kids of varying ages, and so when I come home I just want to chill out. And I have this weird geographic homesickness plaguing me. I miss the siren lure of the ocean and the mystic magic of the green swamps that are usually strong enough to lure me out of the house.

So, after the allergy doctor said I was probably lactose intolerant, I decided to go to a vegetarian Meet-Up about ways to cook without dairy. I’ve never been to a cooking demo, but I imagined that it was just a visual demonstration of cooking, and maybe some recipe handouts. I didn’t think it would take more than half an hour or so. Holy crap, was I wrong. They had about four (?) vegan chefs there, if not more. Between them, they prepared an astounding ten recipes in all. But the thing that really amazed me was the attendees. I have no past experience, so maybe this is normal and accepted behavior for one of these events–I don’t know? Maybe they’re used to it, being more social and extroverted? (This blog entry will probably put me on some vegan/locals blacklist! LOL) I won’t fall back on cliche metaphors that are actually an insult to some of my favourite non-human lifeforms (vultures, wolves, sharks) but the civilized, gracious air that was present when I first walked in quickly disintegrated into a crazed feeding frenzy. It was just like being at one of these socialite events my folks used to drag me to when I was a kid. They would have free food out, and we would always eat before we went (or after) to avoid being trampled by the horde decked out in outfits and jewelry that cost thousands of dollars. Once, I was so hungry that I braved the crowd at one of these events, and this elderly lady stared me down, then deliberately kicked me in the shins, and almost knocked me over on the way to the buffet table. Put a buffet table at an Ultimate Fighting Championship and I tell ya, she would have been a contender.

Anyway, back to the horde of ravening vegetarian zombies. Here I am, only taking a small helping just for taste, so I know how to prepare it, because I’m more of an intuitive cook, and I’m dumbfounded watching these people take three, four, or even five helpings, once, and shoving them in their mouths so fast that they seem like victims of a famine, instead of so-called “first world” citizens. I mean, I don’t even like taking free food–as a previous worker in the food industry, I’m suspicious of food that’s just left out all day–with good reason. People are so barbaric when it comes to the free-sample phenomenon. Once, I was in a grocery store, and I literally saw a women reach into a sneeze-guard-covered plastic serving container of chips that had been left out to try, flatten her hand and press it all over the surface layer of the chips, before taking a handful. I have no idea what the heck she was doing, but I reiterated my vow to never even be tempted to take any free food samples unless they were hermetically sealed.

Still, even worse was the disrespectful behavior of the attendees. It was like they thought they were just hanging out at an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant with their friends, and they were just chatting away and not even paying attention to the chefs’ demonstration. They were so frickin’ rude. And then they would interrupt their own discussions to yell at the poor chefs “I can’t hear you” in a really snotty, demanding tone, after they’d just been sitting there yakking away and stuffing their tenth helping in their faces instead of quietly paying attention to the chefs’ presentation. At one point I gave in to my teacher instinct and even shushed the obnoxious attendees, because they were yakking so much I couldn’t hear the chefs, and I had a front-and-center position.

The best-behaved attendees were two little kids, about elementary-school age. And that reminded me of the code of behavior and the expectations that are present at the schools I sub at. There, the kids have to use indoor voices, be quiet and focused and attentive and not talk when the teacher is talking and make sure they raise their hand and put their listening ears on and don’t interrupt the teacher. I tell ya, in comparison, every single one of those adults would have gotten a red card and probably even been sent to the principal’s office, on my watch. It made me so sad and angry to come to the realization of the double standard we impose on kids. We are so hard on them, and then they go out in public and have to witness grown-ups who have the freedom to act like complete jerks and then have to go back to class and toe the line even at the elementary school level. I’d be so pissed off, if I were a little kid and had to see the hypocritical examples grown-ups set for the little tykes. Kudos to those kids and their amazing parental figures!

And then, after I braced myself to take a free sample, then, at least, some of the attendees got up to help the chefs pass out samples. The attendees seemed to be a pretty close-knit bunch, as previously demonstrated by all the yakking going on. But then it seemed like they united together and worked to ostracize me, the irregular attendee to their meet-ups. At risk of sounding paranoid, the same thing happened at the last event I went to by this same group, and I finally left because they were shutting me out every time I had a question about a product on the supermarket tour. I mean, the woman passing out the samples would look me straight in the eye, then walk right past me, turn her back to me, and handed out multiple helpings to her friends. I really wanted to try the vegan cheese sauce for pasta, so I had to go chase down the bowl that people were having a free-for-all with (I tried not to think about the double-dipping going on) and nearly lost some fingers in trying to get a little taste. To be fair, I think this was one of the chef’s helpers, so they had every right to eat the leftovers after all their hard work, but one attendee literally grabbed the serving bowl and, with the huge serving spoon, was shoveling spoonfuls of the remaining cheesy pasta into their mouth as fast as she could. I tried not to think about the cross-contamination, but lost what little appetite I had at this point. I was hard-pressed not to throw up, actually.

Finally, we got to the Alfredo pasta sauce. This is my ultimate favourite, so I couldn’t wait to sample it. But, again, I got the shut-out. The same woman that had passed out the samples before was making sure all her buddies had at least one sample (I didn’t notice whether she was hooking them up with multiple servings like she did before, but I suspect she did), and there wasn’t any left that I could try. It was at that point that I decided to leave. I just couldn’t take any more, and figured I was going to do something I regretted because I was so pissed off. Not because I didn’t get a sample, but because of how rude and disrespectful people were being to the chefs. Or puke all over an attendee, because I was, seriously, feeling nauseous at their unchecked greed. I was so embarrassed to even be a part of such a crowd of people, and I hated to even take a small sample, because it classed me with the rest of the crowd. I mean, it was like these people hadn’t eaten in a year.

Since this was my first time at a cooking demo, I wasn’t even sure if this was typical behavior. Have any of you people been to a cooking demo? Is this a typical situation? Have I just offended 99.9% of my blog readers? If so, so be it. Because, in my opinion, I still don’t think that a cooking demo should be treated like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Respectfully take a sample–it’s a taster, not a substitute for a restaurant-prepared meal–and keep in mind that you are not there to hang out with your friends. Keep quiet when the chefs are talking. If you want to go eat and socialize with your friends, get off your cheap a**es and go to a nearby restaurant with your friends. Don’t ruin it for the rest of us who are sincerely there because they need to educate themselves about dairy alternatives. I was so mad that the people there were not even taking it seriously, and being so disrespectful to the chefs and to those attendees who were actually being quiet and listening to the presentations. I’ll spare you the gruesome TMI details, but it sucks to be lactose intolerant. Like one of the chefs there said, she was really bummed when she found out that she was allergic to dairy and had to give up cheese. I was right there with her, and I was so frustrated with the rest of the rude attendees continually disrupting the demo that I felt like crying by the time I decided to leave. (I did cry, in the privacy of my car, in the parking lot, because you know, I’m an adult, and I didn’t want to be immature in public.) It was easy to make the transition to being vegetarian back in 1991, but, I admit, I’m finding it hard to make the transition to being completely vegan, especially at my age.

So, to wrap this (introvert-fueled?) diatribe up, I vowed never to attend another Meetup by this local group (famous last words, right?). My first experience was only mildly unpleasant/stressful (again, from an introvert’s perspective)–this second experience was a complete nightmare. As soon as I got home, I went to the group’s Meet-Up page, and immediately withdrew from the group. Any feelings I had of being rash, impulsive, and petty were negated by one of the comments on the event listing–one individual/zombie was asking if there was going to be another huge plate of food there. If I’d seen that comment before the event, I probably would have known better than to waste my limited introvert social credits on such an outing. Ugh. I’ve never been happier to be a misanthropic introvert, I tell ya. Frickin’ humans.

Not that any local people will stumble across this, but a big, fat, greedy THANK YOU to the chefs and to BODY in Santa Fe for hosting this event–you have a beautiful space, and thank you for being my client all those years ago. I really appreciate it, even though I was rude enough to leave the presentation early. Please accept my apologies. I really appreciate the time you took out of your day, chefs, to host this event, and the valuable knowledge and recipes you shared. They will help make this transition a lot less intimidating. And, what samples I got were very tasty, especially the Macho Nacho Cheeze and the Cheezy [Pasta] sauce. I would have volunteered to help clean up after the event, but I, as quietly and unobtrusively as possible, stormed out. I just got introvert-overwhelmed. Forgive me! *laugh*

If you’ve made it to the end of this, any thoughts you’d like to share? Post up in the comments.

Scrambled Sunday x10

 

Muddled would be a good word for the day. Or the week. My eyes/vision has been a little more wonky this past week.

But, then, everything is (still) going wonky. I’ve been trying to meditate and focus on healing and chakras and mindfulness and all that kind of crap, but it’s a frustrating process sometimes, for someone who’s more action- and results-orientated. I wish I had the magic to heal my eyes myself. Or to fix things this 437th (transition) time around. Let’s just say I’m not very good at the whole passive acceptance thing. ROFL.

Been trying to look at blogs but I’m afraid my very old computer (by modern-day standards) might be dying. Or it’s my internet. It feels like the old days of dial-up when you were just staring at that little hourglass going around and around, only now it’s a circle. Still annoying though. A lot of the blogs I subscribe to never even loaded and eventually I had to shut them down. It’s been like that all week. So, sorry if I failed to stop by your blog! 🙂

Then I went somewhere for someone else’s celebration and was staring at what I think is a new food trend–deconstruction/deconstructed. The lemon tart I ordered looked very pretty and artistic but I just couldn’t understand why it was in pieces. Perfect blobs of meringue on one side, dots of some dark red jelly, a rectangle of jiggly lemon filling standing in the middle, and a bunch of crumbles to its left. I was perplexed by the dish. I guess the concept of fancy food is lost on me. *laugh*

But a lot is perplexing me these days. Kinda stuck in a morass of confusion right now while I try to figure things out. Or not. Just sit here and wait for things to come, because endless striving doesn’t seem to bring anything closer?

But, I am having really amazing dreams, for the most part. When they’re not about people I used to know have died without me knowing about it and are now ghosts and watching me as I go through my sad little life routines. 🙂 In real ghost life, they probably have much better things to be doing. A lot of the dreams I’ve been having, I’ve been channelling into poems. The dreams I’ve been having are about the only thing that makes sense right now, which is even more confusing because they aren’t real. As far as I know, anyway. Except for maybe a couple about…well, I’ll keep that a mystery to the general public. My dreams have got me thinking a lot about reincarnation, though I’m still the skeptical science type in some ways.

But, on the real life side, I got my manuscript back from the individual who was editing it (brave soul!). So, I have to get on rewrites. Which I’m excited about, yet also dreading. It’s a mystery/suspense revolving around the issue of human trafficking.

 

So that’s it in my chaotic world. Hope your Sunday is a lot less scrambled!

Anybody else feeling the lure of the fae this week?

 

 

Eating Around the World–Greenland

 

I always wanted to visit Greenland! Lately I’ve been dreaming of snowy climes…among lots of crap dreams, unfortunately.

Anyway, happy eating! (If you’re vegetarian, like me, you might be sh*t out of luck. At least, based on the links I found. LOL)

Here’s all the linky fun! (Now, excuse me, I’m trying to watch football *wink*). Been there? Share up your dining adventures in the comments!

 

http://www.greenland.com/en/things-to-do/cultural-experiences/greenlandic-gastronomy/

http://www.greenland.com/en/about-greenland/culture-spirit/a-taste-of-greenland/

http://travelbystove.blogspot.com/2013/10/recipes-from-greenland.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/conor-mills/greenland-food-adventure_b_1448438.html

http://emergingdestinations.com/greenland-cuisine/

http://www.greenland.is/blog/greenlandic-gastronomy/

Cricket and the Hair Loss Mystery

My guest blog on Katzenworld!

Katzenworld

Mystery readers/savvy cat owners will probably identify the culprit in this whodunnit, but I was completely clueless about what was wrong with my adopted tabby cat Cricket.

CricketBald

She had been like that when I adopted her back in 2001…missing hair from the side of her face, her tummy, and even bald patches on her legs and tail. She’d been at the shelter for a while, and I felt so bad for her while working adoptions at PetSmart that I adopted her myself. At home, she would chase escaped crickets (I had a pair of leopard geckos) and made this adorable chirping meow when she caught one. So I christened her Cricket.

I figured that I could just feed Cricket some good food and give her some TLC and time and her hair would grow back. Well, that was a complete red herring. She continued to pull her hair out. (Not…

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Eating around the World: Canada

 

I have to say, I kinda drew a blank on this one (sorry Canadian readers) and I’ve even been to Canada multiple times, to my embarrassment. (Don’t hate me, please LOL) Probably because I’m vegetarian? But I did have high tea at the Empress–that I remember.

So, I’ll have to do some recruiting and ask you to help me out by sharing your favourite Canadian-style foods/recipes, and restaurants in the comments.

Poutine, maple syrup, and fish dishes are ubiquitous, according to Wikipedia, anyway. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_cuisine)

I love maple doughnuts 🙂 https://www.buzzfeed.com/perpetua/canadian-foods?utm_term=.ahJnJgmq#.egBPOmDZ

Other fun links (some with recipes):

http://www.foodbycountry.com/Algeria-to-France/Canada.html

Mmm, split pea soup! (Okay, I really do need to move to Canada 🙂 ) http://www.macleans.ca/society/life/12-foods-canada-has-given-the-world-besides-poutine/

http://allrecipes.com/recipes/733/world-cuisine/canadian/

Okay, off to watch Olympic football (U.S. vs Sweden women’s football on now!)

Eating around the World: The United States

 

Luckily, I’m still feeling summery-lazy, so this will be a short list. I’ve lived and visited a bunch of places in the U.S. and, while I still pine for the international cuisine I sampled way too many years ago (French bread. Italian gelato and espresso. Indian food in the UK.), there are a few restaurants that stand out in my memory on this side of the pond. I tend to like my restaurants cozy, down-to-earth, and simple, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good!

In Burlington, Vermont:

A Single Pebble is, quite simply, the best Chinese restaurant I’ve been to. I still get cravings for their Mock Eel–which, from their menu description, is “crispy shiitake mushrooms glazed in a ginger scallion soy sauce”. And it’s unbelievably good. I miss Vermont for a lot of reasons, but this tops the list.

In Asheville, North Carolina:

The Laughing Seed. Because of their amazing variety of vegetarian/vegan options. They also have a lot of stuff that’s gluten free, which I would have appreciated more if I’d known then that I was gluten intolerant. Anyhoo, I don’t see my favourite on the menu anymore (but, my brain is getting old, so…) but I think the Seven Seas Filet comes close to replicating it. (Maybe that was it?) Truthfully, the wait service was consistently poor, even from the viewpoint of this sympathetically patient former food service worker, but the delicious food made up for the rude and inattentive waitstaff.

In Sarasota, Florida:

Sunrise Cafe–A cozy, friendly, down-to-earth jewel in increasingly elitist and snobby Sarasota. Scottish staff is super friendly, and they quickly became friends of the family. One of the few things I miss about Sarasota. (and, yes, I try to keep my posts nice, but I have absolutely zero qualms about painting Sarasota and Florida for what it really is–especially since I was born and raised there, and have witnessed firsthand the crazy shenanigans that happen there.)

Bangkok Restaurant–The restaurant is just gorgeous. The owners told us one time that they brought over all the restaurant furnishings from overseas when they came. It has been a favourite of mine since the early 90s. Back when I could actually afford to eat/live in Sarasota (and, even then, only survived by working three full-time jobs), my friends and I used to eat there every week. And, yet, they still managed to mess up the dish I ordered every single time. *laugh* But it was so good, it was worth the wait. And the atmosphere, with incredibly carved dark wood tables…well, you just have to see it.

 

In Santa Fe and Espanola, New Mexico:

I’m not sure if  I’ve decided on a favourite, yet, this time around. Among contenders are The Teahouse, The New York Deli, the Tecolote Cafe, and the Five Star Burgers, and La Cocina.

 

Eating around the World: Hawaii Islands

 

TGIF, right? What a strange week it has been. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyG3AtzN1OM

The Chaos Fairy decided to resume the “Eating around the World” Foodie Friday post…(especially since I don’t have a lot of funds to eat out while school’s not in session for the summer!).

History/Origin of Hawaiian Cuisine

Here’s some links to foods you might find there (and a recipes link):

https://www.hawaiifoodtours.com/delightful-guides/hawaiian-food-description/

https://www.buzzfeed.com/mbvd/ono-hawaii-foods?utm_term=.ar95lYXZ#.wg4Nb2xa

http://www.food.com/topic/hawaiianhttp://www.food.com/topic/hawaiian

And, here’s some restaurants to try–because who wants to cook on vacation, right?

http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/hawaii/hole-in-the-wall-restaurants-hi/

http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/hawaii/experiences/news/photos/hawaiis-12-best-restaurants

https://www.zagat.com/hawaii

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/the-best-restaurant-in-the-usa-is-a-tiny-shack-in-hawai-1533104029

http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/November-2013/2014-Hale-Aina-Award-Winners-Best-Restaurants/

Actually been/live in the Hawaiian islands? Share your favourites below!