Thursday, December 22, 2011

Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Food

I missed my cooking lesson today. Oops. I got the run down of the ingredients, so at least I typed it up, but I wasn't there to see how the mixing looks or any of that good stuff. The cake is only half done, however, so tomorrow I get to help with the gelatine and fruit part. Should be interesting. Being a cross cultrual international person is just something that sort of happened to me. I always wanted to travel, but I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be blessed to do so much of it. Especially not with the sort of budget I have. While I firmly believe that people should expose themselves to different cultures whenever possible, I realize my lifestyle is not avialable to most people for one reason or another. Their time is taken up in other ways. That's just the way it is. So I'm not going to say that everyone should travel, because I know that isn't possible. And I won't say that people who travel are better, because that isn't true either. But I know that the traveling I have been blessed to do has changed me in many ways. And one of those ways revolves around food. Today I'm going to talk about something pretty simple. Baguettes and yogurt. These are the sort of things you can get pretty much anywhere in the world. But everywhere you go they're different. I've never been to France, except passing through on a bus ride to London, so I can't speak to the beauty of a true French baguette, but I've had some pretty good ones in my day. I can still remember a time my first summer in Hong Kong, when I went for a little trip to Stanley Market all on my own. I was twenty years old, and so fascinated by being some place so totally foreign and fascinating and beautiful. In my youthful mind I wanted to do something that could be equated to really feeling like a traveler. So I found a little cafe and bought a baguette, then got a bag of the most enormous red grapes you can imagine. I took them to a big concrete barrier near the water, and I climbed on top and sat there watching the waves and the sky and feeling like I was having a very existential sort of moment. I don't remember how the baguette tasted, but I do remember there were huge seeds in the grapes, and that I had a horrible time finding a place to wash them before I ate them. What I really remember is just the feeling of being alive and oh so very present in the moment. I grew up on your basic white wonder style bread. The reason for that was because I refused to try anything more interesting. I loved my mom's homemade bread too, but even there I went for white and fluffy and avoided the crust. It wasn't until my summer in Italy when I was seventeen, that I discovered the beauty of a nice crusty loaf. The bread there was so tough that it took some work to chew, but somehow that made you value the experience all the more. I have now discovered that, in my opinion, a really good baguette should have an almost buttery flavor. The crust should be flaky and crisp but not too tough. Today I ate such a baguette. It was part of my breakfast, and it made a bit of a mess as it flaked away, but it was oh so good. With that baguette, I also had yogurt. Here is where American sensibilities get things wrong. In America, it's all about health. Or someone's idea of what health should look like. Low fat, sugar free, artificial but somehow natural. I've had some good yogurt stateside, but it's nothing like the stuff you can find here. The Czechs, it seems, are not afraid of fat. They aren't afraid to use a nice thick cream, and boy can you tell the difference. The yogurt here is thick and creamy and just all kinds of amazing. So my day started off with a nice crusty baguette and a smooth creamy strawberry yogurt. I'm not really sure where I'm going with all this. I think it's largely due to the fact that I finally finished reading "Julie and Julia" as well as the fact that I've been watching two cooking challenge shows every day all this week. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to turn into one of those people who lives to eat, but it sure is fascinating to watch the people who love to cook get all excited about it. I'm just hoping that one day being faced with the task of preparing a meal for more than myself (since I'm quite happy with another baguette topped with meat and cheese and a nice creamy spread as a meal thank you very much!) won't fill my entire body with dread. Here's to hope says I.

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