Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cooking What I Crave

There was a lot of stuff I was craving that I could not get in London. Every time I ran into this situation I am so glad that I was not scared of cooking things myself. Everything on this list is funnily something that I have never made before. So the list goes:

  • Peanut butter cookies: this is funny since I never had a craving for them or even really liked them when living in the US.
  • Avocado pizza: I've always made this on English muffins but I made it with this time with hand thrown dough. I think I was craving the dough more than anything.
  • Enchiladas: This I actually made before but I couldn't resist since my friend brought back tortillas from their US visit.
  • Fish tacos: It's weird I've never made this before as restaurants make it with the shredded cabbage and such. But I had this craving since I had the corn tortillas from my friend I felt I needed to savor.
  • Horchata: made for the Mexican party.
  • Hand-made tortillas: made for the Mexican party.
  • Chicken noodle soup: craving the home-made thick noodles.
  • Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies: My sister sent me Oreos and I didn't know what to do with them.
  • Gingerbread men: Christmas craving.
  • Cheddar biscuits: Famous from the restaurant Red Lobster. I had this craving for Christmas too.
  • Cornbread: I bought corn meal for the first Thanksgiving I was here but didn't get around to making it until my second Thanksgiving.
  • Pumpkin pie: Thanksgiving craving with a home-made crust too.
  • Persimmon pudding: I've made this before but I couldn't resist making this since I had access to persimmons.
  • Biscuits and Gravy: Every time hearing about British biscuits I got the craving for American biscuits.
  • Macaroni and Cheese: I thought this was not an American food so I found it funny when I could only find this at the American grocery store. I didn't feel like paying £4 for what would cost less than a dollar in the US.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St Partick's Day Party

Talk about luck, the last day of the term was on the 16th. St. Patricks Day was on the 17th. Of course this should be the theme for the end of term party in the student village. In thought it makes perfect sense. The reality is that most of the students went to their own St. Patricks Day parties so they came to the student village party as an after party or did not show up at all. Hind-sight is 20/20.
Which meant for the people that did show up there was extra of everything. We had decided to make Irish stew so each of the wardens and everyone on the planning committee got two bags of potatoes (I did not know that there are different textures of potatoes: waxy and starchy) onions, carrots, spices, and sheep's neck bone. The stew I made never even got used so I ended up eating stew for the next two weeks until I got tired of it.
A leprechaun hunt was also planned out so me and another warden C. went in search of chocolate gold coins. After striking out at 3 different grocery stores and 2 candy stores we found them at a little connivence store that a last ditch effort. I decorated the place with all the green lights we had while everyone else put up shamrocks. The fridge was filled with (predictably) Guinness. There was also a Ceilidh caller (Irish barn dancing, no I don't know the reason why this is so popular for college parties) . With the lower turn out the party was much more low-key but it made it easier to deal with the drunk people since that is what St. Patricks is all about.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Meditation Flash Mob

I learned about a flash mob that was happening at the British Museum. It was for a group meditation. I thought it would be interesting to take part in a flash mob so I headed over. Even after a year in London I arrived late because I mis-judged how long it would take to travel by tube. I walked around the outskirts of the group and found an empty spot to sit.
The first part was to be silent meditation with the second chanting. I sat quietly trying to clear my mind of being late and concentrate on meditating. Of course since I was on the outskirts I was prime fodder for being photographed by the media that was there. It is a little hard to concentrate on anything with a constant shutter clicking from a camera inches from my head. Sure enough I later saw a picture of me on one of the news websites.
At 6:30 at the center of the circle the second part started I heard the low chanting. The volume of each “ohm” slowly rose with every exhale and I could hear it creeping closer and closer to me as people joined in. Finally it reached me, then flowed around and surrounded me the other late comers joined in. It sounded as a complete surround stereo but no one person was chanting loud enough to stick out so it was not distinguishable to be coming any certain point. The thing is though is that no one breaths at the same pace. So instead of the volume rising and falling with each breath it slowly became waves of sound as ohms bobbed up and down around me. Listening to the waves as they crashed into each other was an interesting thing to listen to; amplifying in volume as people joined rhythm for a short time.
Then with the ring of a chime everyone went silent again at 6:45. With a few relaxing breaths people started to get up. It was surprising how refreshing the whole experience was. Of course I did the exact opposite of meditating since I was paying attention to the everything going on around me instead of focusing on the meditating like I was trying to. But the feeling of being part of the larger group helped me to understand why there are so many people that do meditate with others.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The Oldest Pub in London?

I thought it was interesting how there were so many old buildings in London still in use. It seems like the buildings that were the oldest still in use where the pubs. So I did a little research to find the oldest one in London. As it turns out, it seems to gets a little hazy around 1666 since the great fire of London seemed to burn most of the records. There are a lot of pubs that all claim to be the oldest and one with one of the more reputable stories is the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.
Apparently, it’s been a pub since 1538 but the wine cellar is from a 1300’s monastery wine cellar that monks would sell wine out of to support the monastery; good enough for me. T. and I headed down to check it out.
Of course a building that old had a different level for each room. The other problem with buildings that old is the low roofs. So, of course with my height, as we explored the building I was constantly forced to look up and down bumping my head and tripping a few times. The worst was in the basement where the door to the toilet didn't even come up to my shoulder. We explored the whole building from the sub-basement wine cellar up to the private dining rooms. I was amazed at how large the place was, because it was pretty obvious that each room was added on one at a time as needed.
One of the rooms really caught my attention; not because of the decoration but because of the smell. It had what I thought was the acrid smell of old buildings. It made my skin crawl and I can only describe it that it reminded me of death. T. told me it was the smell of a burning coal fireplace. The way she said it I could tell she was surprised that I had never smelled it before.
In such an old place I felt like we had eat something traditional. We ordered meat pies for dinner there since it seemed like the most traditional thing to have but they ended up being ready made pies heated up. So much for being historical when we were eating the equivalent of a microwave dinner.