The world’s favorite comfort food__ chocolates!
…Is my choice of beverage. Green tea to be specific. The real green tea I mean. Not the one in tea bags but those that directly imported from abroad and only available in just a few selected stores. Here where I live, there are just two known places that supply what I preferred. One in the capital and another one near the border to France. There was a time that I will choose screw driver over anything else (except water, water is always good) but that was a long time ago. I still drink an occasional margarita while on vacation but so seldom I am not even qualified as an occasional drinker. Coffee, I take coffee sometimes. Usually in pair with something cold like a sandwich or something sweet to have something warm. In my culture, if it’s not warm it isn’t qualified as a meal. I’ve read somewhere something like this: I shouldn’t think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea.
“If you are cold, tea will warm you;
if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you.”
The magic of tea.
“Sweetly breathing, vernal air,
That with kind warmth doth repair
Winter’s ruins; from whose breast
All the gums and spice of the East
Borrow their perfumes; whose eye
Gilds the morn, and clears the sky.”
– Thomas Carew, 1595 – 1645
Sweeter than candy on a stick
Huckleberry, cherry or lime
If you had a choice it’d be your pick
But lollipop is mine!
It’s always nice to see things arranged in a proper order. Easy on the eye. Inviting. Inspiring. Shot worthy. Last Christmas I saw in the Supermarket rows of rows of gift wrapped chocolates. I am not fond of sweets but I can’t help but admire the colourful display. They are so tempting, neatly and appropriately dressed up for the holiday.
Crispy thing is my poison, my guilty pleasure. Fried food is my chocolates, my morning martini, my comfort food. I don’t call it addiction and don’t consume them on daily basis but if I crave for something, nine out of ten that would be fried crispy golden brown salty anything.
My guilty pleasure.
I don’t like sweets like cakes, ice cream and chocolates; but fried food… You can poison me with it.
Clearly a very good match 😀
…a surprise box of my favorite seasonal chocolates!
For every each one of us morning feels different. What the heck, you can’t even have the same morning each day. They say that a good start to a day is very important. If you are in a positive frame of mind in the morning than you are very likely to have a productive day. Similarly, if you get upset or are troubled with something in the morning than you are going to have the same negativity throughout the day. Lindsay Lohan once said:
‘Everyone has highs and lows that they have to learn from, but every morning I start off with a good head on my shoulders, saying to myself, ‘It’s going to be a good day!’.
Let’s try and follow her example. Shall we?
When I was young, despite our reduced circumstances, I always find Christmas the most exciting time of the year; better than New Year which is always dominated by extreme noises and possible fireworks casualties. I remember going from house to house all over town wishing the occupants merry Christmas and in return, you will get small change or sometimes a meal. A privilege reserved only for children. As an adult, it is seen as morally wrong doing the same thing.
I had a small pink plastic piggy bank for my holiday coins. All the cents I gathered on my tour, I put in there. It helped for the rest of the year when I needed money for school projects or to buy snacks during recess so, I will not feel left out and different from other kids. When my coins were finished, I put white wildflowers in the slot of my piggy bank; it looked good in my playhouse, just like a flower vase.
But the Christmas I will never forget was when I was a freshman. After 11 years of managing the fishpond, my father found himself in dispute with the owner. Proud as my father was, he rather dragged us down the drain than give into something which was against his principles; we found ourselves homeless overnight.
Out of desperation, lacked of other immediate resources and nowhere else to go, my father built a one-room shack just outside the perimeter of the fishpond (how stupid and embarrassing that was, but I believe if he didn’t think about us, I have a very strong notion that he rather pack his bags and move to another town very far away from our then current location – he done this before – and never come back. But as it were, he swallowed his high pride and settled us in temporarily) you can read the rest of the story in details here.
That particular Christmas eve we locked our door early and tried not to hear the merriment outside, pretending we were asleep; in the dark, I can hear my stomach growling, we didn’t eat supper that night but no one complained. We all suffered in silence.
Out of a sudden I heard someone calling my name outside, my father put his finger on his lips and gestured for me not to open the door; I went back to my place.
But the person outside the door kept knocking and calling wishing us the usual holiday greeting and begging me to please open the door.
After a while, my father gave in and allowed me to see our visitor.
When I opened the door, I was surprised to see Macedonio; he was one of the seven brothers who just moved to our village couple of years ago.
I remember when we were still living in the fish pond; he initiated an introduction between his brothers, me and my siblings by purposely landing a big kite in the middle of our place, which was separated from the rest of the neighbourhood by an electric fence. He managed to convince my father to let them in to retrieve their kite, the rest is history.
Macedonio courted me briefly till my father (as always) pointed him to the fact that I was still underage and will not be available for such things until I’m 100 years old or so. He remained a trusted friend of the family as well as his other brothers who for some reasons don’t look like each other. Not a single resemblance. As if they are handpicked from different places and by some chance ended up together as one family. I have never seen more good-looking young boys in my time than Macedonio and his siblings.
Opening the door finding him standing there smiling at me was a (pleasant) surprise. He was wearing his usual lopsided grin which if I was more experienced that time, I will recognize as designed to melt every girl’s heart. But I wasn’t. What caught my attention was the enormous plate he was holding full of Christmas delights. There was a mountain of pancit, a loaf of bread, suman, kalamay, sinukmani, half of a fried chicken and rice cakes! I looked at him full of disbelief! Still smiling, eyes twinkling, he poked his head inside and looked around. When he saw that my father wasn’t looking; he gave me a peck on the cheek and said: “Merry Christmas you gorgeous.” He winked at me before turning his back and disappearing into the night. I was left flabbergasted.
He must have been aware of our situation (not much one can hide in a small village like ours) and how kindhearted of him to think about us in that time of the year and provide us with a holiday meal without hurting the sensitive pride of my father. Bless the people like him. Not only for making our Christmas unforgettable but restoring my fate in humanity…
Okay… Christmas is here again and no matter how I try to be a female version of Ebenezer Scrooge minus the greed I cannot escape certain duties during this holiday season. The dilemmas are always the same each year:
What to wear to those parties?
An outfit for family gatherings must be proper and not overly chic; something a critical mother in law would approve, meaning = don’t upstage her at all cost.
Another one for a corporate lounge dinner with people you don’t know at all and have nothing in common but have to chit-chat nicely in case they are your spouse chiefs or subordinates, wives included. The attire must be formal enough to be classy yet not too constricting for after dinner twirling on the floor with just a hint of simple sexiness as not to look slutty.
And not to forget yuletide season night of fun with friends and whoever they decide to bring along. This time, whatever the choice must be warm enough for after dinner strolling around the city hopping from bar to bar sampling their signature drinks or in case the parking is too full you have to leave your car few kilometres where you have to be. But it has to be punchy too with a lot of schwung for flirty yet classy effect appropriate enough for semi-formal dinner and to impress your friends and their escorts. (haha)
Oh, the colour! I almost forgot the colour. Red is the obvious and safest choice for my southern colouring that’s why I will not wear crimson this year. Black makes me look washed-out, I will disappear in any shade of tan; white is not festive enough and will appear luminous in any muted lighting. Violet- lavender- mauve and purple remind me of funeral homes, that leaves only yellow which is a big no-no in any circumstances; blue and green which are the traditional hues of Christmas itself will never be on my list no matter what. I don’t want to resemble either a holiday tree or the baubles that go with it. What a freaking dilemma!
What to serve for Christmas dinner?
As to satisfied the fussiest of eaters among your guests but at the same time not spending the whole evening in the kitchen people would wonder where you disappeared maybe gone to some fancy restaurant for last minute order to replace your over-complicated menu that didn’t work because of your shaky nerves (catering costs a lot of money and frankly I cannot name one among my guests –to- be that deserves such ado and effort since I don’t like them at all the feeling is mutual I suspect the good thing that I only see them around this time of the year) I have to come up with an original idea that will not cost trouble but will blow their socks off.
Next is: what gifts to buy?
Especially for the ones who are lucky enough to have everything they can think of. I know it’s the thoughts that counts but you and I know better. I witnessed enough family Christmas gifts drama where both parties ceased to talk to one another long after the jolly holiday is over and years beyond that. Believe me, the theory about its- the -thoughts –that- counts- can only stretch so far.
And of course we cannot forget the hubby darling dear and our once in a blue moon special tête-à-tête; it requires proper attire drinks and delectable(s) as well. And if you are like me who only give certain favors and accommodations during special occasions… then more careful preparation is required if you know what I mean.
That nicely summarized my festive dilemmas around this time of the year and like Ebenezer Scrooge, I would (if I could) say… “Bah, Humbug!” Because like him; I do not want to socialize because I never experienced steady growth in a strong family unit and all that jazz, or I could lay the blame on my ex who managed to make every Christmas that we’re together (that’s 20 traumatic years) a living hell. How’s that for an excuse?
I was driving on the highway feeling a little bit better than yesterday when about three kilometers from my supposed destination I decided to pull off at the side of the road next to a gas station.
The reason for this was in my peripheral vision I saw a glimpse of a brasserie/restaurant, and from my position behind the wheel the place looks quite inviting; their terrace in particular, which is overlooking the road and seems full of happy people. I pulled off because I was hungry. Aside from the bowl of cereal I have eaten earlier, I consumed nothing yet. I woke up at 14:00 o’clock and it took me more than 3 hours to clean myself up and get dressed. These past few weeks, it’s taking longer and longer for me to do life’s daily routine. The answer as to why I am struggling with movements these days is at this moment I am not ready to disclose yet. Maybe later if I’m feeling courageous.
I knew I was not dressed up to dine (I’m about to take my daily walk, remember?) but I thought, brasserie/middle of the week/side of the road, how off-key could I be?
The nearer I came to the place the more I realized how wrong I was! For reasons known only to them, I found myself amidst Louboutins, branded clothes and signature/statement bags and blings.
I am not the kind of person who right away gets intimidated by these sort of things but clad in a loose-fitting printed everyday dress, flip-flops, and jeans jacket, I never felt so out of tune than that precise moment. Though I wanted to run away as fast as I could my pride has gotten hold of me. So, I shook my hair, stood tall and walked erect all the way inside.
I emerged into a posh dining area where almost all the tables were reserved for the evening. Maneuvering between them, I looked for a place away from the main view. There was a table for two at the back of the room which was still available. I was about to sit when a charming all smiling waitress asked me if I rather sit somewhere more comfortable instead of hiding myself at the back near to the loo.She didn’t really say it that way but something to that effect.
I was surprised! I didn’t even notice the door leading to the toilet. Could it be also that the entrance to the little room does not look like the typical door one might expect to find when looking for a restroom? It is made of opaque/smoked glass with some image itched on the surface next to an identical door that says: smoking room. Both have no door knobs/handle. Hygienic I thought.
I looked at the charming girl and she smiled in a professional courteous manner. Not a smirk, but a real genuine smile without underlying meaning to it. I was perplexed. She then guided me to a table in the middle left of the room near to a window overlooking pastoral scenery and an outside lounge area with black and white bean bags and coffee tables that look like overblown mercury droplets.
With that simple ordinary gesture, I was intimidated in the way no Louboutins and signature items could do. There are lots of reasons for it. Allow me to cite a couple of them if I may.
First: Nice, polite people are scarce nowadays. It doesn’t matter which step of the ladder and walk of life they are from, friendliness is a dying gesture. People are become so cramp in their style that smiling hurts their faces muscles they often look constipated. Big houses and even bigger car, high profile high paying jobs and prominent status in the community and they don’t find a reason to smile; why is that? The strange thing is: ready smile (and happy people) you can find in most places where people don’t have a lot of reason to smile about (and be happy) but still can produce a genuine example without difficulty while in the middle of a typhoon or submerged in flood water trying to rescue their meager belongings.
Friendliness with matching smile doesn’t hurt anyone when on the whole your bread and butter required you to do just so. And I am talking from experience here dealing with people in day to day basis.
Scanning the menu is not a good idea when one has not yet collected oneself from a strong jolt of an unexpected event. So, out of confusion, I ordered just bread with something, a cup of coffee and some sparkling water.
When my food came I almost passed out. The coffee which I expected to be just a coffee came with a small glass of fresh whipped cream with a cigar biscuit dipped in some delicious yellowish liquid, and a piece of chocolate so divine it was made of dreams accompanied by a clear unidentified liquor which I gulped in an instance. And the sparkling water! It looked like an over-priced cocktail in some fancy nightclub complete with a wedge of melon hanging on the side of the glass and there were long pieces of lemon and orange zest floating in there! Right away I panicked! I grabbed the menu to check in what price category these sumptuous delights belong to. I almost lost it when I saw that all of what they serve including the ones I have are priced 2-3 euros less than most restaurants I know fancy or not.
The fairy tale continued down to the bread that was brought to my table (the best-looking bread I’ve ever seen so far) the small salad accompanying it was wrapped in a cone-shaped banana leaf, there were pieces of fruit on the side, some resting on scribble of balsamic cream, one physalis was speared and put on top of the bread looks like an airborne fairy. In short, my plate was more resemble a painting on a plate than just A bread. I have a glutton and lactose intolerance but I attacked most of what they served with gusto. I will worry about consequences later.
Why I was surprised getting the quality of food and service they offered in that one particular restaurant? Because like smiles, quality is so hard to come by these days you have to look so hard and pay a lot in order to obtain it if you’re lucky. We become a world where the demand has to be higher than produce they messed up with the quality in order to maintain that balance. Durability is a thing of the past and like I mentioned somewhere in my previous post semper fi it does not only apply to products alone but relationships as well. Someone from the medical field told me that it’s the same story with medicines out there. The main purpose of them these days is not to cure but to make people dependent on them to assure a continuing productivity of the business. But we will not explore that alley, would we? Too complex and too shifty ground to stand on.
I could yada-yada-ya a lot more about various things that question my sanity and understanding as well as whether these things are an insult not only to my intelligence but to fellow humans and consumers as well. But I have a long walk to make and the sun is sinking too fast on the horizon and I’m afraid it will be one of those follow the yellow brick road sorts of walks again. But yeah, in this life, we can never have everything we want, can we?
The only regret I have about the whole visit is not being able to take pictures of the food. But my camera was in the car and I don’t use a cell phone to take photos. Besides, mine is a Jurassic piece I doubt if it can produce decent images. And I am not sure if I want to be caught photographing my food by those shiny happy fashionable people.