Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The sweet and the low

I'll start with the good.
The weekend in Germany was incredible. I took a night train from Bologna to Munich- 7 hours next to a man from Napoli who expounded without stopping on his views on immigration (against), evolution (impossible), and the youth of today (drug addicts and drunks, all of them). The 17 year old Italian across from me insisted in touching my legs with his legs throughout the trip, stretching out across the compartment and innocently changing position whenever I tried to shift away. I finally made it to Munich at 6.30 in the morning and camped out in a cafe until Tabea arrived at 11. After a lovely cup of coffee in downtown Munich, we went to drop off our bags at her friend Flo's house, conviently located about 3 blocks from Oktoberfest, which was already in full swing by 2 o'clock in the afternoon. After a quick lunch (of pasta... go figure) we made our way down to the site. It was jam packed with more people in lederhosen than I have ever seen. There were giant carnival rides, stands selling traditional (pretzels and bratwurst) and not so traditional (beer ice cream?) Bavarian treats, and of course, the famous beer halls- giant tents filled with people drinking litre-mugs of cold, savory, foamy German beer. We made a halfhearted attempt to get into a tent, but there wasn't much chance. People had been waiting since 9 am to get in, and there was no sign of anyone coming out. Instead, we walked around, went on a carnival ride, and then decided to go get drinks in town before dinner.
We returned to Flo's house for a lovely traditional meal of sausages, potatoes and saurkraut, and afterwards we were joined by some new friends for cocktails, german board games, and a midnight snack of nachos. The next day Tabea and I returned to Stuttgart for Jason Mraz. It was lovely seeing her family again, they are some of the most welcoming people I've ever met. The concert was spectacular, even better than I could have hoped. We were second row from the front and we danced and sang without stopping for the entirety. Sadly, the weekend was over in the blink of an eye. Monday I packed up and left for Italy, enjoying my last few moments of the incredible German public transportation and overall good organization.
On arriving in Pisa around 9 pm I learned that the only train to Bologna left from Florence at 1.47 am. As I sulked, waiting for my first train to arrive, I got a call from my dad. He sounded strange on the phone, and after asking about my weekend, he said he had some terrible news. I felt my heart drop straight into my stomach. At first I thought it must be to do with my mom's heart- she's still having some trouble and they're thinking they might have to operate again. But I could never have guessed what was coming.
"I don't want to tell you this, but Fiona died." His voice broke, and I felt my throat close up.
They think she must have eaten something poison, since one day she was healthy, and the next she came home horribly sick. The morning after, she was gone, having fallen asleep on her favorite leather couch in the living room. My parents are destroyed, it must be so much worse for them than me, living in the suddenly very empty house.
It's amazing how much an animal can steal your heart, and how much losing them can break it. I still can't believe her little smiling face won't be waiting for me at home this Christmas. She's still so alive in my memory.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What I've been eating, part 1...

White Wine Sangria

  • 1 bottle decent white wine
  • 1/4 bottle white rum
  • Sprite
  • 2 small, sweet apples
  • 1 mango
  • handfull lychees (or grapes, in a pinch)
  • 1 peach
  • 1 nectarine
  • juice from 2 large oranges
  • simple syrup to taste (equal parts sugar and boiling water)
  1. Chop fruit into approx. 1 in. pieces and place in a medium sized pot. Add rum, wine, OJ, and sugar. Don't make it too sweet, since you'll be adding Sprite later.
  2. Refrigerate at least 3 hours, longer is better. Serve over ice, topped off with Sprite.
Hot and Spicy Salad

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 medium red onion
  • handfull brown mushrooms, handfull cherry tomatoes
  • Sambal chili garlic sauce (or Sriracha)
  • white wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • cumin or curry powder
  1. In a large skillet, saute the onion until softened, but not browned
  2. Cut zucchini and mushrooms into similar sized pieces and add them to the pan. Season with salt, pepper, and your spice of choice. Once they're mostly cooked, add quartered cherry tomatoes and hot sauce
  3. Using a mandolin or a standard vegetable peeler, grate the carrots into long, flat strips, like tagliatelle noodles. Add the carrots to the pan and add more salt and hot sauce.
  4. Finish with a dash of white wine vinegar.
Fig and Brie Appetizer

  • 1 baguette, cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds on the diagonal
  • Brie or similar soft cheese (I tried a goat cheese that was similar to brie, but lighter)
  • either standard honey or date honey, which I assume could be found in a middle eastern market - it's amazing!!!
  • fresh green figs
  1. Brush the bread slices with olive oil and toast them very lightly in the oven.
  2. Drizzle with honey and place a slice of brie on each, then return to the oven to melt the cheese.
  3. Once the cheese is melted, remove and place 1/2 fig on each slice of bread

Almost as long awaited...

First, let me apologize for the ridiculous break I took from updating. I guess I was waiting to have something to write about. Unfortunately, my own journal has seen similar results of this crafty waiting plan. Now that I'm back in school I don't see myself getting that much better in my own journal, but hopefully I can at least keep up here.

I still can't believe that summer is over, even though I've been in school for two weeks now. I guess because I spent so much time with David (The Graduate), I never really realized that I would be going back. I feel like I spent the whole summer expecting summer to start and then it ended. Really, it was an amazing summer. It was so relaxing and laid back. It was nice living with David, working full time and coming home to each other at the end of the day, catching up on some reading and watching really good movies. Towards the end I started getting antsy that I hadn't gone anywhere, but I realized it was only a psychological complaint. I decided I didn't have a good summer without looking at the facts. In all honesty it was one of the best summers I've had.

Things I accomplished:
  • I listened to three years worth of This American Life archives. On those long grueling days at work I would sometimes listen to three or four a day. It was beautiful.
  • I read A LOT. I caught up on a lot of things I've been meaning to read, plus found some new favorites. like Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation.
  • I studied a bit for German before starting class, not enough really, but some.
  • I studied a bit for the GREs, again, not enough, but some.
  • I co-habitated successfully with my partner and continue to do so, which I think is a major accomplishment for both of us.
  • I managed to save up some dough.
  • I cooked A LOT.
  • I welcomed lovely new roommates into my home.

But... I never went swimming! Can you believe it?

So now, the new semester. I'm only taking 13.5 units but I feel totally overwhelmed. Deutsch is kicking my little butt. My two history classes are great, but I'm having a hard time trying to keep up with them while not falling behind in German. I hope conditions improve.

That's all for now.

P.S. I edited our list of comrades. Everyone is blogging these days.