Sunday, September 15, 2013

What is Taco Rice?

Tonight I was at a Japanese Temaki Sushi Bookalokal night. It was a truly inspiring experience, beautiful from start to finish. It was delicate, tasty, looked like a feast was a FEAST and showed such amount of dedication and attention to detail that it was hard to break the delicately set table to start eating.

When we started eating, the main topic of the conversation was Japan, our hosts talked about their country and what their life is like being away from home, things they miss and things they like. And typically Japanese things. So they told me Taco Rice is a Japanese thing. Uhm.


Turns out the high amount of Americans populating the island of Okinawa required, at some point, some kind-of-Mexican food to be provided for them (Americans, in Japan, wanting Mexican food, it makes a lot of sense!), since their taste buds were missing the taco thing that they had going on in the U.S. the Japanese came up with nothing less than Taco Rice. Talk about reinventing. Yes. Since they didn't have tortillas, they say, "we replaced the tortilla with rice, and we made Taco Rice". It sounds a little funny.

I found the following definition on Wikipedia:

 Taco Rice is a Japanese dish and a popular example of Okinawan cuisine. It consists of taco-flavored ground beef served on a bed of rice...

I do have to say that I have a problem with "taco-flavored beef". I know I am gonna get technical here, but there is literally no such thing as taco flavor, since "taco" is the way the tortilla is rolled while containing any ingredient available at one given time, or even without any filling at all. The taco is the rolled tortilla, so it's quite impossible to give meat the flavor of a rolled tortilla, if you know what I mean. It would be like saying you will make sandwich-flavored chicken. You can't.

However, I do reckon that tacos are a well known Mexican meal around the world, and often get more credit than they deserve. In Mexico, tortillas are put on the table instead of bread. So the meal itself will not really consist of tacos, but people will eat whatever dish is served accompanied by a tortilla, which if they roll it with the dishes on the table will become a taco.

Later one of the hosts asked me if we had transformed other countries cuisine adjusting it to Mexico's tastes and ingredients. So I went ahead and took the sushi example, how we have a lot of sushi in Mexico but it includes ingredients like cream cheese or peppers. And how we've managed our own version of soy sauce with chiles toreados (roasted peppers). We actually mix the roasted peppers with soy sauce, sort of like a conserve and then we dip our sushi rolls in this supper spicy soy sauce. It's addictive.

 So I guess we're even in culinary terms, as long as there's someone to eat it we're all happy. And hey, next time I'm in Japan I will go hunting for the real Taco Rice for sure (they say even KFC serves it, it's THAT popular).


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tonight I went to Brazil...

Sometimes, a certain subject comes up, and then it just populates into every conversation you have, anything you do, and you wonder what's with this?

Like the time I dated a Persian guy. And then when he dumped me rather abruptly disappeared, my friends kept having conversations about everything Persian, including cats and rugs.

Well, recently it has been: Brazil.
The world cup, I know, or is it the Olympics?

Well, a few weeks ago my boss and I had a conversation and she said we're opening offices in Brazil, it's not like I saw myself walking on the beach of Ipanema drinking a caipirinha. It was lying on the beach, not walking, everyone knows I hate to walk.

Anyway, that day, a friend of mine announced me he was moving to Brazil.

And then I saw this girl with amazing hair, and she gave me the name of her hairdresser: Brazilian. I might as well buy a ticket to Rio. NOT.

This girl said her hairdresser had a tiny salon with no sign outside and she couldn't remember the name of the street, so there I went on a first recognition mission, exploring the streets of down town Bruxelles, until I found the creepy hole in which it is said, there was an amazing hairdresser. I made the appointment and hesitated all week, should I cancel, should I not.

I had come to a point where everyone, including me, knew that I urgently needed a haircut, but no one spoke about it. And with the so-called "California blonde" style the tips of my hair were completely dead, I have to say though, I love the style, just as much as I love raggedy clothes, faded jeans and everything that has been treated with acid.

So with the little push of a friend, allegedly effect of the moon, etc. There I went. The guy managing the salon had about 5 people being treated (all of them for brazilian blow-out) and other 5 waiting. I sat and waited for an hour. Every second seemed like the perfect opportunity to leave. But I stayed. Because every black girl who went in with the hair in an afro came out with swishing beautiful and (what looked like) soft hair.

At some point I was called from outside the salon, I came out and a guy randomly said: follow me, watch your step. I obediently did (because that's what you do right? follow a stranger into a dark room) and followed him into a dark, dusty, broken down room that looked like it was either being demolished or refurbished (more the first). Stairs were tiny and he ran them down like he knew them with eyes closed. I on the other hand, couldn't find a smart way to go down those steps without risking my life. As I entered the cellar of that dumpster I smelled what could only be chemicals burning, and started hearing laughter, children, women and blow-dryers. A cloud of smoke, extraction pipes, girls with curly hair, and others with amazingly sleek hair, a child whose mother hadn't figure out that the kid was inhaling all the chemicals in the world (but she was getting the hair straightened) and me.

I found H, the hairdresser. I showed him a photo of one of the Olsen twins. Even though I had been told a million times not to show the photo of an artist when going to the hairdresser but I think I learned my lesson and I stopped showing the photo of Meg Ryan. He looked at it for one millisecond, so short I had to really show it again, he said "I got it". I tried to find a place to leave my bag, jacket, scarf. There was no surface in this place that wasn't covered in hair. I sucked it up and left it on the floor (with hair). He took me to a washing station and when he was ready to go he whispered to my ear: "the water is going to be cold, we finished the hot water this afternoon". You can imagine I wasn't offered a coffee and all the magazines were in Portuguese. I could have ran away, and I didn't. I stayed for a cold shower and the roughest hair washing session of my life. No one has ever rubbed my scalp with such devotion.

After the shampoo he started trying to de-tangle my hair and I could see how annoyed he was with the knots. My hair is (and has always been) impossible to brush. He looked for different brushes, he took those of other stylists, he changed to a comb, two combs, and then he took his scissors, and cut the chunk of knotted hair off. By that time it was too late to leave. And I felt like having a heart attack.

I let him finish the job. He whispered to my ear: don't be afraid to use hair treatments at home. Ok, I got it.

By that time I had a migraine, my eyes were red and stinging, I had inhaled all the crap in the world and seen all the afros in, and the sleekies out of that window-less underground room, I had seen a dozen girls buy their Brazilian products there, I learned the numbers in Portuguese and as much as I tried I could still not figure out if the people talking were arguing or agreeing. While he vigorously dried my hair the boss came to tell him (what I think was) "hurry up, she's not the only one to be served". He left my hair half dried. He wrote "15 euros" in a piece of paper no bigger than a square inch and told me to go pay two numbers down the street, at another shop. He threw my cut hair all over my sweater and my bag. And he sat the next person where I had just previously sat, while I got the best (and cheapest) haircut in the history of my adult life (apart from that mohawk I got when I was 23, which was awesome and free). And that's how tonight, I went to Brazil.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The post on Online Dating

There was a time when I was so brokenhearted, love wasn't much of a friend of mine.

Although the tables haven't exactly changed and love isn't yet a friend of mine (it's more like an awful neighbor that occasionally shows up to crap on my doormat) I have a better attitude towards it. And I don't try so hard anymore, which in my case is just wonderful, I live a life full of everything else and I am saving to buy 15 cats when I will reach the age of 65 and will still be free, single and happy.

Unless I am one of the one-on-three people who meet the love of their life, on the internet. Which really puts in perspective the concept of "the love of your life". It means that people before the internet era weren't entitled to find that love due to simply being located remotely and literally having zero chances of meeting or crossing paths.  They were only finding that love across the street, in the farm next door, in the mail man, or the occasional cousin of the friend of your neighbor that had a flat tire and stopped by while you entered the building, at the same exact time, the clockwork of the Universe. And it was love at first sight.

At some point a few years ago I -literally by coincidence- came across a dating site. I joined and have ever since been a member of the free, most extended, dating site on earth (?). I occasionally go on it and see, more for the fun at this point than for anything else, what kind of messages I have in the inbox, and browse through the photos. I have also joined other dating sites but never met anyone there. I have met what I think is about 10 or 15 guys in real life. Ones more interesting than others. Ones more handsome than others. Like real life. But I won't discuss this further. 

What I will discuss is, how to screw your chances to meet me if you see my profile online and you think that I am the perfect candidate for a date, and god knows what else.

First off, if you are 21, and you have the face of a 21 year old, please do not write saying you're 33 and work in Business Development  I will find out that you're 12 years younger and work at Belga while you study first year of graphic design. And believe me, as much as I like Belga, and as much as I like graphic designers (and I am sure you can draw very well) I will be disappointed. And you don't want that.

Secondly. If you are a professor in China, and you are very qualified and serious man as you say in your politely written letter (not that I don't believe you), you could check for some communication tips with people of other cultures before going ahead and sending me your kindest letter saying that you "Will make a respectful husband and you are sure I will love China, you will teach me Chinese (thank you) and you will make sure I have all comfort and luxury (yeah!) when I move in with you. And even though you would like me very much to go there you would also be willing to sacrifice it all to come and live with me in Europe (how kind), because you are a devoted man (all I've been looking for all my life)". Sorry, but I need you to buy me coffee before we talk about moving in together. And now my friends say that when I finally get a kind, respectful and educated man that wants to give up everything for me, I am not pleased. Whatever.

Third. Make sure you don't know me in real life. I am pretty good at faces. And names. And when you send me a message asking "Where have you been all my life?" I will think it's a bit cliché, then I will think it's cute. But when I will realise we have actually met. In real life. Several times over an extended period of time, I will give you a list of the places and people we hung out with, and I will tell you that you even came to one of my birthdays, and I will finish off by saying "THAT's where I've been all your life". And that will be embarrassing for you. Not to mention the next time I see you, I won't miss the opportunity to bring it up. Just so you never forget my face. Kidding. Not.

Fourth commandment. If you sent me 5 messages and I didn't answer, please don't send a 6th one. Women don't always appreciate the persistence and enthusiasm that men show and we sort of make it obvious from the beginning. No message, IS A MESSAGE. We don't always agree that we are meant to be for you. And that shows when we don't answer a message. It can happen too when we are busy and we don't reply, but you will know if this is the case by your second message, when we apologise for not getting back to you before and we make contact. If we don't make ANY contact, then maybe it's because we don't want any. And this is no reason to send us an angry message because we didn't reply. That just makes you a freak.

The best messages I have gotten?

"I'm getting in the shower, shall I wait for you?"
-Of course! let me just put my life aside and join you, I haven't had a shower today anyway.

"I'm a voyeur and I am looking for someone to share this passion with, I do not intend to offend you, please accept my apologies if I do"
-No problem, see the issue is: I am more into SM, than voyeurism, excuse me for that, but if I know of anyone who is I will, for sure, send them your way.

"For you I will swim across an ocean full of sharks"
-VERY nice, but I can't let a 19 year old risk his life, especially because we are on the same side of the ocean, so you would be swimming in the opposite direction. But thanks.

Now, when doing my latest search I found the filter settings offer to find:

-Girls who like boys
-Boys who like girls
-Girls who like girls
-Boys who like boys
-Straight men
-Straight women

Can someone explain to me the difference between "Straight men" and "Boys who like girls"? I am not sure I am using my filter set properly and that might be the reason I am still, not a friend of love.

There you go my dears, please bring this post up next time I fall madly in love, get married, have children and shut down my online dating profile. Just so that I can recall the magic moments of the single, free, online, life.

Cupcake Heaven

I don't rate restaurants.
Not that I don't like going to restaurants, but I just don't get the feel. I, however HAD to write this post, it's just to sweet not to share.

The other day after yoga class (what else right?), I went for a walk in my neighborhood under the sun, to make sure that I don't miss it, there might not be another time. While I walked the sunny side of the street the bright pink of the Lilicup cupcake factory shone right into my eyes and, Sold! I was in for half an hour of dying and floating in cupcake heaven.

My reservations about cupcakes:

-If it's fluo, I'm not eating it
-It it's called Smurf and I cannot identify the main ingredient I won't eat it. Yeah, like the time I asked what the blue ice-cream was, and the guy behind the counter said: Smurfs, and I asked: but WHAT is it? he said: Smuuuurf... Whatever.

I immediately I went on I-cannot-choose mode. The moment I walked in I was surrounded by towers of cupcakes of all flavors (except Smurf), colors (but not fluo), and it smelled so wonderful I never wanted to leave.

There were a few clients for take away orders and after 5 minutes of looking at all cupcake descriptions and smelling it all, and walking from side to side like an indecisive child, I settled. For a "Scone, served warm with whipped cream and strawberry jam". What a classic!

I ordered a (very good for Belgian standards) coffee that came with a tiny slice of something that tasted like sugar pie, but had a hint of savory, so I reckon it might have been something like salty caramel, or Beurre Salé. I would take the coffee just for the tiny treat.

I sat at a table for 4 (how comfortable). And the waiter immediately asked me to move to a single sitting table in a very belgianly way (yes, Belgianly is a word that exists in my dictionary, and only if you've lived here you'll know what it means). Given that all tables were empty, and no clients were coming in except for take-outs, it sort of make them lose one point, but I was somehow not surprised. I moved. But the experience continued, would only get better (this is not sarcasm).

I then waited 10 long minutes, worth the wait, for a wonderfully cute vintage china plate that contained a perfectly fluffly-in-the-inside scone, steaming warm, with a little cream plate, and a little jam plate. It was perfect.

I told myself I needed to come back for the cupcakes, with a clearer mind. It was like being in a Chinese restaurant and having 473 different dish choices. Too much choice is detrimental for my ability to choose.

Fortunately, the Monday after, there was some cupcake talk in the office. My boss, knowing I live nearby the cupcake factory, told me: Tamara, tomorrow, I allow you to come in late, if you go buy us all cupcakes. So the order taking started, pink was spread on all screens of the Marketing floor, guys and girls looking at the Lilicup website and trying to figure out which to pick. I even received an sms later, with further last minute orders.

I walked in the shop the morning after, I had died twice, and gone twice, to cupcake heaven. I had a list with me, the very kind employee packed all up in what summed up 3 boxes of cupcakes, and I even ordered a few more for the colleagues who hadn't been there on Monday. I kept receiving messages saying: miam, were waiting, miam. I took carrot cake for myself. It was almost as amazing as my lovely Elli's carrot cake. I still don't know why she doesn't open a carrot cake factory.

Needless to say the Marketing floor had a very nice and colorful tea-time, and I even sold the extras I had picked for the last minute gourmands.

If you're in the Chatelain neighborhood, please let yourself die and go to Heaven, by walking into Lilicup. If it's a rainy afternoon then walk in anyway, it will get sunny inside!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why do I hate bananas?

After yoga class.

I walk in the dressing room, place my mat on the table, drink some water, change clothes and start wearing my yellow, very much loved and favorite, sneakers.

If you know me you'll recognize these shoes!

I do notice something is wrong with them but since the winter isn't quite over yet, and these have been living in the box with "Summer clothes" tag I reckon they only look weird because I haven't really seen them a lot lately. But that's fine, we'll work on getting re-acquainted.

But it still doesn't feel right.

Of course it is not right. Because these aren't MY shoes!

-She carefully places the shoes back where they were and checks if anyone has caught a glimpse of what just happened.

The awkwardest thing is, MY shoes (boots), were like 25cm away from HIS (or hers, since these shoes are unisex). And during the whole 10 minutes that I was sitting there, it never occurred to me to wear them.

This immediately made me thing, what if I HAD taken these home?

On a similar topic:

When I was in first grade, a school mate of mine had the exact same, yellow, Bugs Bunny, lunch-box that I had. I guess there weren't too many stores in our town in the 80's (yeah yeah, born in the 80's!!). So one afternoon he accidentally (although I thought stupidly, and if I would have been taught a few bad words I would have sworn a few, but I was never too patient, even as a kid) took MY lunch box home. When I told the teacher that my lunch-box wasn't there she pointed out there was one left behind and it looked like mine. I explained it wasn't mine and she, clever teacher, suggested:

Take HIS lunch-box home, and tomorrow you'll bring your lunch in it, and after lunch break you switch boxes.

I half-heartedly agreed (I actually strongly disagreed but I was left with no option) and I took the replacement lunch box home with me. I remember thinking, how could someone mistake their own lunch box, it has our name on it! Well, the same way I almost took someone else's shoes home today?


When I got home I told my mother the whole story and she laughed a bit, told me it wasn't that big a deal. She told me to clean the lunch-box, as I was requested to do (with mine) every day, and (this is one of the first memories of my entire life) when I opened the bloody box HE had left inside a half eaten banana that was full of black spots and had completely leaked all its juices, that were now spread around the entire thing, with the 35 Celsius temperatures and summer heat wave hitting hard, it just turned the box into a stinky and disgusting surprise oven. I can recall the fetid smell and the vapor that smelled of rotten banana. I have since then been traumatized, by a 6 year old who failed to identify his, own, lunch, box.

20 years later, well, a bit more maybe, I have come to terms with my banana hatred, mostly because for a while, right after I became a fan of juicing and smoothies I was missing the smooth smoothness that it gives to a shake or a smoothie. So I have since then agreed to buy only organic green bananas that are put into a blender before the first black spot appears. I also don't touch the banana's inside, I peel it off and drop it directly in the blender glass, to avoid the slippery feel of IT.

Banana cake though is one of my favorite things ON EARTH. How did that leaked through the banana hatred filter? No idea.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Customer service week

There are admin weeks, doctor weeks, shopping weeks, post office weeks. Tax declaration weeks. Weeks when you have to do just a little too much of something.

This week: Customer service week!

It started off by me having inherited the love (and being crazy) for Lululemon from a close friend and peer. I went on and ordered:

-A top
-A biggers size of the first top AND some pants, AND another top
-A bigger size of the first pair of pants
-Yet another top, AND another pair of pants

There's gonna be a lot to return since most of it didn't fit, or fit wrongly, or was so sheer that I could read the etiquette from the outside of the material. Who said Lululemon sheer scandal was over? for me it is just starting.

So I tried to return the stuff and the online form wasn't working. Then had to contact CS, they assisted me with all kind of forms to return stuff, they apologized for the IT failure. They also sent me a note saying "Your order has been shipped" when I HAD NOT made another order. So I had to contact them once more. Then I contacted them to ask if the sheerness is the quality I get for 120 euro pants. They obviously said it is NOT, and offered to pay for the shipping fees back to the factory.

I just want a pair of my newly favorite pants, is that so hard to get? In the meantime I have been going to yoga every day for the last 9 days (go read my adventures at Yoga Teacher Training) and trying to work on the non-attachment to objects and material things, which is extremely difficult to put in practice because most of us have a purely materialistic life these days. I am working on a balanced plan for the future.

At the same time the Lulu customer service was busy with me I put to work the Amazon CS, after having ordered 12 liters of CHI Cocunut Water my package was lost (what in fact happened is the mailman is new).

The mailman left a message to indicate I should pick up the package, without even having rang my doorbell. As I tried to pick up the package they told me it had been delivered. Which didn't make sense, but anyway. Amazon sent me another 12 liters of the same. Which made for the best customer service ever, no questions asked, just shipped another pack, how cool is that. Right after I finally found the package, after having spent one hour on the phone with the not so amazing customer service of BPost. But you probably read that in my other blog already.

The cherry on the cake was today's Expedia little surprise: cancellation of my flight back from Mexico on August 7th. I could just not believe it. Although it wasn't exactly Expedia's fault I am extremely unsatisfied with their lack of service at all. Maybe I should be grateful they, at least, let me know in advance that the flight was cancelled, and that I have to choose another flight, which by the way is 10 hours longer and has an extra stop-over. No one does anything for the customer anymore these days (except Amazon?), it seems like you have no choice between anything and you have no right to anything, and there aren't any compensations because these are extreme force majeure or something. So when they suggested me to take a flight the day after, which has the same creepy itinerary, and I realised I would have to take 2 more days off work, I asked them to them put my flight 3 days later, so I at least benefit of the bloody schedule change by enjoying a few more days and weekend with my family. To what they answered: This isn't possible, since that would be a voluntary change and for that you would have to pay.

Of (BLOODY) course I would have to pay! Because already the UN-voluntary change of itinerary isn't enough hassle, and because they are unwilling to give me ANY kind of compensation. But wait. The story isn't over. Before booking my flight to Mexico I booked a return flight to Rome for the (much expected, unmissable) wedding of my two good friends. After having carefully planned to take a late flight out and an early flight in to be able to still work on both travelling days, Brussels Airlines went ahead and changed BOTH flights dramatically, which means I now have to take 2 more days off to enjoy the Roman sun with an Italian summer punch in my hand doing yoga and drinking ice-tea by the pool of my hotel, which is not such a horrible outcome to the little schedule modification, except that right now it pisses me off.

I guess my boss is going to be getting an e-mail from me very soon saying that I need 4 extra days off this summer, and while I don't have any days left this year (yes, how did that happen? a month in Mexicow) and there is nothing I can do about it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The way I enjoy Spring, etc.

So, Spring, right?
Well, this is how I sit outside to enjoy the evening breeze. In. Brussels.
You know the movie "In Brugge"? Well, it should have been "In Brussels" (he should have gone: In fucking Brussels).

The only thing that keeps me going is to know that in 108 days, 2 hours and 1 min (not that I am counting or anything) I will be landing in Can-Cun, Mexico! Ready for my 4 week holiday-yay! A little over-excitement cannot hurt anybody in these times of meteorologic crisis. To illustrate this, a photo of the weather since October.

On other topics. I just recently stayed in a hotel that handed me a key. An actual key. So I thought the key must be implanted with a magnetic chip or sim or whatever card, that when I swipe it through the door the door will open. Well, no. It turns out it was a real key, and I just couldn't remember the last time I had been given a key in a hotel. I am missing the photo of the key but I do have a better one. When I walked in my room I couldn't help noticing the following item:

Since I didn't know what it was I decided not to try using it, I thought maybe it's a calculator but with no screen. A telephone from the 80's? If you have information about this unidentified object please send it my way, I always like to learn new things.

And I will let you go now. I have to get back to Army Wives. I know, shame. But I stand by it, plus you saw how cold it is outside? we all need a little trash in our heads once in a while.

Today is not paper day, etc.

I am one of those who think that the new trash collection schedule sucks as much as the contents of the trash bags. I have absolutely hated every second of having to, not only sort the trash but, organize the right bag for the right day, with one week yellow bag, one week blue bag. With all the travelling and all it is just as painful as doing some kind of administration. And I don't like to do things wrong, I like to do them right. And I get pissed off easily.

For the last 3 months we've been on this new schedule thing and it was confusing in the beginning, I even read "tips to make the transition easier", which included "peak at the color of the bags your neighbor has put out to get the right bag out on the right day". And I was like, yeah, sure, because my neighbors DO know? Blue and Yellow, and White, and GREEN?? We don't even have gardens around here! And bottles in the green bag (which is for garden waste?). Seriously. It has taken a bigger proportion since I saw a neighbor put out the christmas tree in March.

I called Bruxelles Propreté, and they told me to request a control in writing. So I did, the very next day. Coincidentally I saw an elder lady picking up trash on a sunday and putting it in bins, and bags. And I couldn't help myself. I asked her what she was doing. She said: Oh dear, I am retired, the world sucks, and I have a lot of time in my hands, so I walk the block picking up other's trash because people are just pigs, look at this mess (pointing at a pair of old shoes that had been left on the sidewalk).

Today, I came home at peak rubish time. The truck hadn't come by but I saw someone putting out the wrong bunch of trash out. So, with my utmost politeness and willing to be a good citizen (of a country which won't even give me a long term visa, but that's another story) I approached the man.

Me (in French): Hi sir, excuse me, I see you are putting the trash out and I thought I would just point out: today is not paper day...
Him: English?
Me: sure -repeat exact same sentence above-
Him: Oh! Not paper day?
Me: yes, I mean today is plastics day, blue bag, you see? -I point at other bags surrounding us
Him (not doing anything): Ah, yes, no paper day
Me: So, would you take it back in until next week, which is paper week, otherwise it will stay out and get wet with the rain/snow, and it will leave us a dirty street because the truck doesn't take paper on plastics day...?
Him: Yes, I take it -He lifts the boxes and cartons and waits for me to go-
Me: Thank you SOOO much!
Him: Yes

So I go in my flat and I (obviously) peak out the window, and see he's not only left the trash he had pretended to take back in, HE HAD PUT OUR MORE, of the BLOODY wrong trash. And here I go and tell myself that I am making a big deal out of it. But you know what, I hate to step out of my building and have to walk through trash, and I refuse to do it.

So I peak again, and I see him putting more trash out there, then I see him walking to the front door of the Indian restaurant below my place. And with all my detective skills I listen carefully, check the other side of the street, in case he's gone the other direction: nothing. Then immediately I hear the door to the restaurant open and (heavily) close. I get in my coat, gloves, bag: ready for a battle.

Walk down, confirm the rubbish situation. Knock on the door of the restaurant. Handsome, well dressed guy comes out. He speaks French (unlike the other employees).

Me: Hi, I am very sorry to bother you, I just spoke to one of the employees, who put the trash out, it happens to be the wrong day for this kind of trash and it's been going on for a few weeks so I would like to ask you to take it back in
Him: Of course, I am very sorry!
Me: I know it's a pain but it really bothers me, I live here and the street is quite often very dirty and full of waste that the trucks don't pick up because it's the wrong day
Him (holding the trash): Absolutely, you are right, no problem at all
Me: Thank you, by the way, I also made a petition for a control because it happens week after week, so Bruxelles propreté will be coming around on "trash" days to verify who puts out what...
Him: Ok, we will keep it up

Me: happy.
Damn! It just felt like a tiny war had ended. I had been very angry for weeks without knowing WHO was doing it, and now I know, and I've spoken to them, and I hope they will keep up with the good practices. And otherwise I will have to complain to the restaurant owner, who I know because I also complained about the noise. My friend told me today that I would be an excellent old lady. I can't wait.

Next mission: Operation Dog Caca (I will go out at 6am and wait, patiently, until the dog-pooers come by and leave their landmines behind, I will then approach them with a plastic bag and kindly invite them to pick up after their lovely barky friends, and if they don't I will make a photo of them and make an album of the less desirable neighbors of my block).

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Supermarket Chicken and things that pissed me off today...

It is about the time when I realize my bikini lines are long gone. It will soon be over, the winter mood, but not the weather. Which is fine by me. I chose to live here so I assume full responsibility for not having sun 364 days a year. I was born in the Caribbean and I probably had all the sun in the world, and then I decided to move to Belgium. And it is my utmost desire to pester other's dreams of living in the sun by telling them how awfully uncomfortable is to wear clothes when you go to work and every bit of everything feels like hot wax being poured all over your body. Makeup becomes a dripping matter of disgusting consistency and sometimes you feel hot sweat drips roll down your legs, how's that for sexy. At 8am. And then you know it's gonna be a hot day.

Back to reality?

I came back from Mexican holiday in April of 2012. When my boss first saw me sitting at my desk on my first day back he said hi to everyone, then he stood next to me and said: and you... your color should be illegal. I have to admit I am quite intense when it comes to sunbathing. I have methods and rituals and it is still the number one thing that I ever like to do, apart from smelling new bed sheets. Ok, you didn't ask for that information but I thought it was the kind of irrelevant point I like to make.

That day, when my boss looked at me disgusted and spoke about how miserable people around me would be just by looking at me. I was looking like this:

9 months later, I have the skin tone (and probably the sex appeal) of a chicken at Walmart.

At this time of the year all hopes are gone, I have stopped shaving my legs (not that I was ever assiduous to that task), all faith that love will come while I cross the street, my hair lose waving to the summer breeze on my way to a garden party in the middle of the evening sun, a stranger picks a flower from the sidewalk (yes, sometimes they grow there) and puts it on my hair. I need to remove my sunglasses to see the stranger who with a sexy  Italian  Flemish accent says: what's your number name? IT IS ALL FREAKING GONE. I don't remember the sunny days anymore. And I look like this:

And I have been swimming in a bed of used tissues with a cold that just makes everything more miserable, making bets on how long the box will last since I haven't stopped blowing my nose for the last hundred thousand years. The winter has taken the toll on me, and my bikini lines, and the hope of anything sunny and breezy, the hope that it WILL one day come back, at least for a brief couple of hours. Instead I have huge eye bags, my skin is dry (if not dead) and my hair lives in a permanent nest that I don't even care de-tangle anymore. I look like a fakely blond Amy, if you look close enough my hair is building up there, below, like a bee-hive in the dark cold life of Brussels.

Can you feel the pain? Let's just kill February. I want to see the Japanese Cherry Blossoms by the lakes and have the hope, that we might, maybe, perhaps, have a sunny day tomorrow. Until I can go back to my chicken maple glazing roasty skin color. So I can say to everyone: suck it! What a lovely day huh?

Bonus post: things that pissed me off today (or another day)

1. Everyone in this country seems to have the unbearable habit of exiting the roundabouts from the inner lane straight into the exit, has it occurred to anyone that it might be wiser to take the outer lane first and then exit? ARGH

2. I have acknowledged the fact that I am incapable of keeping ONE SINGLE pair of socks in a pair. I invariably lose one of the two, and never find it again.  ARGH.

While making the photo I found the pair to one of the socks above. Chuckle.

3. My doctor said: you should find a boyfriend, otherwise you're fine. I am still digesting this one.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Tired pasta recipe

I had a long day today.
Didn't start too early though. In fact I woke up 3 minutes before my alarm. Which I love because I hate alarms. So I try and set my brain to do the waking itself. And it works most of times, but for a backup I need an alarm, or I won't sleep thinking I might sleep too much.

I took a train to Amsterdam, then a taxi to work. I have to say I forgot my passport, which literally has NEVER happened before, and there was a police control. So I did get the sweaty look at some point while handing my id card only. I mean, with being Mexican and all. But I got away with it. Phew.

I worked and worked. Then at 7pm I took a taxi back to the train station, I stopped at Starbucks and got a chai latte (which is terrible because I can't do milk) and a lousy carrot cake (they need to review the size of the slices, or the size of the box they pack it in, it looks so tiny inside I almost didn't want to eat it). I ate it.

I hopped on my train and tried to relax. Only thing is: sitting next to a group of 4 overexcited-screamy-ohmygoddy teenagers who of course had to try all their ringtones in public and giggle constantly reaching decibels that would be worth a visit from the police makes it very difficult to relax. I kept thinking: was I so goddam giggle-jiggle when I was their age? I mean it's only been like 4 years, hum, hum.

And then, the train in front of us broke down. That's the thing with trains. I mean, gosh, all I wanted was my bed. So train breaks down, misses jiggles on one side. Baby crying on the other side. Guy walks by and hits me on the face with his backpack (like proper backpacking backpack, not school backpack, face still hurts). And so it goes, the trip of hell, slow, living, hell.

Finally make it to Brussels. Take taxi. Taxi man wants to chat. About Mexico. I try to appear interested while I text a written impersonation of Barry Kripke (The Big Bang Theory for the non-nerdy ones) to a nerd friend. Sooner than I expect I interrupt the taxi man to tell him this is where I'm going. Thinking my pillow, oh my pillow. I need to eat as well. And I start the mental debate with myself. It's 10pm. Sushi will take 45 min. The Viet is closed. Rice? 20 min. Ok, I'll just make a tired pasta. 6 minutes:

Chop in even or uneven slices, cubes or pieces as you please the following (1min):

1 echalotte
3 mushrooms
piece of red pepper
piece of fennel

Throw in small pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover with lid in medium-low fire (2 min)

Cut a piece of feta in the smallest bits possible.

Throw 4 nests of fresh tagliatelle on top of the veggies
Add half a cup of water.
Throw feta on top.
Turn to medium-high and cover with lid until water turns creamy and stir. (3 min).

Serve and devour.
Please note this doesn't work with pasta that is not fresh (I go for Delhaize's 3 min pasta packs, find them in fridges section).

Oh, as I walk out of the kitchen with my smokin-licious bowl of pasta this little red chili looks at me from the kitchen table and says: "spicy, spicy, you know you want it..." That makes me think that I am now having conversations with food. Note to self: assess state of mind. So I take him and chop him and sprinkle the final touch on top of everything else. And it's very delicious. And then my friend texts me: "are you even supposed to eat at this hour?" but it's too late. Right now I am just starved.

And by the way. No one knows the melting properties of Feta, until you live with a Greek. I would have to write a post about melting feta recipes but I am not sure yet I want to give away the amazing secrets of the Greek domestic goddesses.

Will think about it.