Sunday, January 29, 2006

Bringin' home the Tomatillos

The loot

This morning at 10 o'clock, Baker and I embarked on an epic journey known as an Ethnic Grocery Tour, a four-hour expedition through the north-side of Chicago with an extremely knowledgeable "expert ethnic tour guide" who led us up and down the aisles of several local markets featuring products from various immigrant cultures. It was really pretty fascinating.

We visited two Mexican markets, one Cuban market/fast food joint, one Bosnian almost-supermarket, two Indian places, a Vietnamese market, and a Middle-Eastern bakery (called, appropriately enough, "The Middle-Eastern Bakery.") We tasted cactus, yucca, plaintains, sour oranges, freshly-baked bread, feta, crispy Indian cornflakes and coffee beans.

We also couldn't resist making several purchases. We bought Abuelita Mexican hot cocoa, a box of dehydrated eggplant in cashew cream sauce, mango chutney, tomatillos (those green tomato-like things), Thums Up cola and Limca lime soda, frozen naan, bitter orange-flavored Abdobo seasoning, gummy candies, red lentils, small bowls featuring an Asian motif (perfect for holding soy sauce), and apricot-nougat-pistachio candies. (The herb-covered pita bread was indeed purchased at the Middle Eastern Bakery, but it doesn't really count because it was bought there yesterday.)

Of course now I am brimming over with plans to cook exotic ethnic dishes many times a week, and I have sworn that I will never again set foot inside one of those overpriced, corporate, big box supermarkets that suck the life out of the community while robbing people blind as they force down our throats nothing but American cheesefood, Wonderbread, and chemically-enlarged Red Delicious apples. As of today, I am enlightened, empowered, and ready to cook!

Of course, none of the aforementioned ethnic markets appeared to sell Raisin Bran...

So perhaps I'll have to strike some kind of a balance, splitting my time between the bland American ubermarts and the charming little ethnic markets I now know so well. In any case, the tour was well worth the time, the money, and the jerky jaunt in the crusty Corolla station wagon, circa early-1990's, driven by our expert tour guide. I highly reccommend you seize up any opportunity to take part in a similar activity in your own hometown.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Happy birthday, Wolfie

Today is, or would have been, Mozart's 250th birthday. The classical music world is going nuts. Me? Well, I'm excited because I get to go see a world class performance of some of his work and because I get to partake in a lavish dinner beforehand. And though I know next to nothing about classical music, my favorite piece by far is Mozart's Requiem.

But to be honest, the whole event seems a bit arbitrary. I mean, no way, even if his genes for longevity were of the caliber of his genes for musical ability, would he have actually lived halfway to the age of 250. So why do we celebrate the anniversary of his birth, the day he did nothing but pop out of his mom and start wailing, instead of the anniversary of his first performance or of his completion of a particularly amazing composition?

Obviously, these questions have but one answer. Anything we could celebrate would be completely arbitrary and have no real meaning in the great scheme of things. But why turn down a chance to get dressed up, enjoy some beautiful music, eat cake, and drink champagne afterward? Who cares how you justify it?

p.s. I do find it a bit bizarre, however, how WFMT, Chicago's classical music station, seems to be covering the "event" in Salzburg as if it's late-breaking news. I have a feeling it's kind of a freak show there right now, what with the "pilgrims" flocking to the city and crying in the concert halls.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Beach


I'm trying out a new format for the pictures in this post. The theme of this mini-gallery, as you probably noticed in the title, is "the beach." Clever, eh? Anyway, pay particular attention to the last photo in this group. It's a shot of the monstrous waves that crashed into Southern California as a result of a gnarly storm out near Hawaii. The high surf attracted much attention from the local news and even killed a guy. But for me it was simply an excuse to take even more pics. Enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2006

My Christmas Vacation

Wayfarer's steeple

Because I know many people are eager to see photographs from my time in California, I've decided to dedicate a couple posts to satisfying this demand. Today's little gallery features Wayfarer's Chapel, a small church designed by Lloyd Wright (son of Frank) in Palos Verdes.

Wayfarer's chapel

As you can see, the chapel itself is virtually transparent because it is constructed almost entirely of glass.

Wayfarer's courtyard

It's perched up on a hill, but the land around it is pretty elaborately landscaped.

Wayfarer's ocean view

And the view out to the ocean is nothing to sneeze at.

Wayfarer's wreath

We didn't get a chance to go inside the chapel because a service was being held. But I did get this shot of the horizontally hung wreath that seemed to hover above the pews.

Wayfarer's perspective shot

There were also other "architectural elements" around the chapel, such as this colonnade.

Next time: perhaps some big waves or roses from the Huntington Library... try to contain your excitement!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Thunder Road


We just heard thunder. It's snowing out. That means it's a thunder(snow)storm. Bet you thought that was impossible. You were wrong.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I got my baby back!

computer keyboard

I saw the little paper tag flapping in the wind when we got home last night. It was stuck to the outer door of our building. It was from DHL. They had attempted a delivery yesterday.

It was my computer.

So this morning, of course, I woke up early, stuck the tag back on the door with my signature on it, authorizing them to deliver the package even if no one was home. And I proceeded to sit by the front window all morning anyway. I even cancelled my plans to meet a friend for a study date at 11.

Just after lunch, a big yellow and red DHL truck zoomed by the window. I shrieked. I watched the truck drive down to the end of our street, turn around in an alley, and zoom right back by.

"Come back!" I yelled.

After pacing the floor of our living room for what seemed like hours but what must have been about a minute and a half, I raced out into the vestibule of our building on my way out to the street. I was more than prepared to chase down the truck, which was obviously lost.

But there it was. A big cardboard box with my (mom's) name on it. (Long story.)

This time, my reaction was a bit delayed. I grabbed the box and brought it inside. A full thirty seconds elapsed before I began jumping up and down and whooping with delight.

Needless to say, the roughly 15-inch square, 5 pound piece of machinery on which I am entirely too dependent is now back in my possession. It still has all its old idiosyncrasies, and most of me is very aware of the fact that having a computer again will not all of a sudden free me of all the problems of modern day life.


It sure feels pretty fabulous right now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

No Joy in Mudville

I know there is much disappointment abounding as a result of the derth of posts made to this blog in the past few weeks. But have no fear, I am clutching on to a whispery thin shred of hope that my computer is, perhaps, being considered for release from the depths of the impenetrable pit of secrecy that is the Dell factory.

In other news, it seems that Chicago is enjoying the warmest January warm spell since the Depression. If you check out this nifty graphic, however, you'll notice that our come-uppance is, in fact, on the way. Hooray for Lake effect snow!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

B Mine


'Tis a weekend of B's, my friends. And hence, a poem:

B is for the Brew n' View, where I will be tonight
B is for the Bears, who tomorrow will put up a fight
B is for the Brauhaus, where one can eat lots of wurst
And B is for my 'blog; today (finally) updating it came first.

So there you go. I never claimed to be gifted in versification.

Enjoy your weekend...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Down but not out

Computer is still M.I.A. Dana is not happy 'bout this. She will rise from the dead. Check back tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Welcome back

Back-to-school day. Everything is going fine so far except for these nagging moments of realization I keep having: as nice it is to settle back into a routine (definitely my comfort zone), there are aspects of every routine that suck.

My first moment of realization, slamming into me like a hammer on a nail, was the alarm clock this morning. In case you haven't already experienced it in your life, six o'clock is EARLY, too early in fact, as to allow for comfort and refreshedness upon awakening. I have felt slightly sick all day because I had to drag myself out of bed at this ungodly hour.

Meanwhile, my computer seems to have disappeared into the abyss that is the Dell factory in Tennessee (or somewhere similarly remote) and no one will tell me what has happened to it or when (or if) I might expect it to return. And when I took off my bathing suit after swimming this morning, the thing basically disintegrated in my hand. The lycra fabric seems to have been compromised by my contortionistic method of getting in and out of the thing and so now it is nothing but a lifeless shrivel of stretched-out blue mesh covered in a whitish elastic dust. Fan-tas-tic.

Meanwhile, since I have no computer, I still have no pictures to post. You will all have to wait.

Thank goodness I have a day off tomorrow. This first day back has been exhausting, and I haven't even had class yet.