Living in the sunlight, loving in the moonlight

…having a wonderful time.

(Thought I’d ruin all your good-weather moods with a little earworm-maker known as Tiny Tim. Just try getting it out of your head.)

Today I had the most wonderful 19C picnic. Early spring (still technically winter), grass sprouting, sun warming the earth (and waking up the bees… oh, the bees), and two out of three of my siblings in the park near my house with a manwich apiece. Well, my brother’s was the true Dagwood, but he’s also 17, tall, and skinny, so that’s to be expected.

Anyway, I brought my trusty guitar Monty along with us and set up an impromptu jam with my brother. Baby sister said we should get a busking licence, because “well, you’re not doing anything, and he’s not doing anything… except lie around the house and be lazy. He should get off his butt and do music.” Which was her way of telling her plenty-older siblings to get a job. I WILL WHEN YOU DO

So there you have it. Summer employment opportunity in an entrepreneurial musical venture as coerced by an almost-ten-year-old. Sounds almost fancy when you put it that way.

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The Bestaurant

That was the basest pun I have ever written. You now as reader get to make the choice whether to be awed by its majesty or stop reading right now because I’m obviously the worst person ever.

Now that that’s overwith, I’d like to elaborate on my nomination for the Bestaurant. It’s the place I work now – a restaurant aptly named “93 Harbord” – and it is quite easily the best place I’ve ever worked. (Except for that one time I worked for the CBC, that job was cushy as hell. What other national broadcasting station will give a 15 year old her own office??)

Anyway, now that my days as Maeby Bluth Funke are over, I’m working off my little tootsies at a restaurant curiously no longer titled Cafe Metaforia. It’s a Middle Eastern/Moroccan restaurant owned by a jovial, charming man who likes to sit down with his guests over a plate of dessert that he made himself and has offered on the house to people he likes (and sometimes people he just likes the look of). I’m working right now as a hostess/bartender, as training to become a full-time server, and even so my tipout has often been higher than the tips I was making at my old bar. My boss is there every single day, in the kitchen and out on the floor, and it’s pretty much a guarantee that he will have a conversation with every single person in the restaurant by the time he leaves. His personality, his business acumen, and not to mention his delicious menu are the reason there are so many repeat customers – I’ve even seen return visitors in the two weeks I’ve worked.

But I have to say the number one reason why this is the best place ever is the free food that front of house staff are given at the end of the night – a night which, by the way, is over by midnight at the latest. Kitchen staff always prepare too much food when the restaurant opens, which means by close, the servers and I are treated to couscous, rice, or quinoa piled high with tagine, kebabs, biryani, or whatever melange the staff has simmering still by the time the guests have left. Sure beats half priced cheeseburger springrolls at Joe’s.

Gung hey fat choi!

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year. So my half-Chinese, half-Irish family is celebrating in the traditional manner of our people: going to a Mexican restaurant.

Happy Year of the Dragon! Next year’s my year.

More blogs, dieting, technology, OCD and rats: A day in the life

So, statistically it seems that the more posts I write, the more views I get. Weird, that. My blogging’s kinda fallen flat over the holidays, but one in a slew of resolutions I made up last week is to write more. Easy when I don’t have a job. A, so that my blog becomes somewhat interesting (the more posts, the more likely one of them will be interesting) and B, so that I can get ready for grad school (if I’m accepted, and spend the next few months till September weeping alternately in joy and despair). (Come to think of it, that’ll be the response no matter WHAT the outcome, so I may as well start stocking up on tissue now…)

Another resolution was to lose the 14 pounds I’ve gained since summer. So far, not going very well. Granted, I only resolved this last Tuesday, after eating an entire bucket of pulled pork poutine and having my stomach decide that was all I was allowed to eat for the day; but since last Tuesday I’ve lost 3 pounds and decided that Tuesdays will not only be comic days, but cheat days. This will entirely cause me to remember to update comics regularly, as I most likely stuff my face with as many carbs will fit at a time. Carbs = comics. And possibly coronaries, depending on which oil is used to fry them mercilessly.

A resolution I really should make is learning not to be afraid of technology. My beloved 7 year old phone died by beheading almost a year ago, and the phone I’ve had since (still a flip phone) has encountered more physical damage than any phone known to mankind, yet – and this is the strange part – I have not once dropped, hit, soaked, crushed, stepped on or even so much as dampened it. Yet despite my care of it, it is currently being shipped back to Nokia to have its USB charging port reinserted. Yes, that’s right – the charging port fell out. How does that even happen? Especially to a phone that still has its plastic screen protector still on it. Anyway, the point of this long paragraph is to explain that I am terrified of the loaner smartphone they’ve given me. QWERTY keyboards don’t work with just thumbs! My nails make an odd clicky sound that I hate and the screen is so big and what protects it when it doesn’t have a cover to flip down? A text from my brother derides me first for being a hipster, then when the truth is revealed, for just being too plain stupid to use this thingummybobber. My denture glue is enough technology for me.

One more final resolution that I just came up with now: stop being so damn OCD. I once read a book where a girl developed extreme OCD and then through sheer will power became OCD about losing her OCD. For example, she would dare herself NOT to touch the doorknob three times before leaving a room, and eventually, NOT touching doorknobs became her tendency. Unless she had to use them, I assume. I also forget which book this is, so I don’t remember how it ends, but if she ends up dying of bacterial infection after NOT washing her hands constantly, this resolution’s off.

(Bonus points to anyone who can spot the OCD tendency I ignored in this post… I’m off to a good start!)

P.S. Rat update… the stripey dominant son is named Buster, the spotty adventurous son is named Bowser, and the cinnamon blue hooded Papa used to be named Barney (but for some reason I kept calling him Bryan) so now his name is Babydaddy. Nice and simple and alliterative.

A few firsts for the year

Happy new year! May 2012 be better than 2o11 (and a day longer too)!

Fun first facts:

– First American baby born this year was Jenna Carly Tudela at Guam Memorial Hospital… wait what??
– First thing I ate this year was rosemary garlic mashed potatoes because we are out of bread and cannot have toast
– First day of spring will be March 20 at 1:14 a.m. Start your countdown now!
– First American album released is set to be Let’s Go Eat the Factory by Guided by Voices 
– First song to get stuck in my head this year is, for some reason, Bowie by Flight of the Conchords
– First billboard hit of 2012 is Sexy and I Know It by LMFAO (how did they decide that already?)
– First thing I’m gonna do tomorrow is sleep through it.

Goodnight! I hope your New Year’s Eve celebration was as wonderful as it could possibly have been. I’ll blog you all later on in 2012!

Home for the holidays

We’re listening to a food show mashup where they took all the innuendo and put it in a two minute sequence. Food has quite a lot of innuendo.

This is a family bonding moment.

Yay!!

Okay, so I promised to write about my last food class, and how my presentation was based on Dio de los Muertos. But may I interrupt that announcement for another announcement? Good, ’cause I’m gonna.

I’M GOING TO THE FINALS IN U OF T IDOL!!!!

Okay, awesome. Fun times, I can eat dairy again, all is well. (I don’t eat dairy before a performance. It drives me nuts but at least gummy throat is one less thing to worry about come showtime.)

So for my final Cook the Books class at U of T, my group presented on Barbara Kingsolver’s non-fiction work, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about her and her family’s year of eating only food they either grew themselves or traded for food that their neighbours grew (like a chicken for a lamb, or eighty pounds of tomatoes for the equivalent in salad greens, that sort of thing). We thought, great, give us the presentation on local food in December. But, as it turns out, our local farmer’s market The Brickworks (shuttle running from Broadview Station on the TTC) was teeming with local produce.

We managed to put together a Dio de los Muertos feast for 40 which included traditional Pan del Muertes, not-so-traditional sweet potato quesadillas, handmade tortilla chips and homemade salsa (our professor’s contribution), and not-even-a-little-traditional baked apples. Paper skulls adorned the room, along with an altar that we prepared with a centrepiece reflecting the four elements (because it was too hard to represent the 150+) and a motherflippin’ pinata. WE HAD A PINATA. I think that counts as an instant A.

The pinata was full of seeds (contributed by our Chef) and we had soil in which to plant them so our classmates could take them home and continue the local-food journey, even living in the city. Someone quipped that “oh no, the SOIL isn’t organic!” But of course, our group thought of that already, and yes, the soil WAS organic. So there.

The tea we served with dessert was an artisan tea, foraged by a native Canadian woman in the woods of Northern Ontario. It was, according to Hart House’s dishwasher, “like drinking a forest, yes?” Yes.

All in all, a good time was had by all. And I will admit, though somewhat begrudgingly, that not all locavores are snotty arrogant holier-than-thou hipsters. The farmer’s market was pretty cool.

AND I’M CONTINUING ON IN U OF T IDOL!!!!!

Whether Meat is Meet

Today I found out I’d rather eat dog than be a vegetarian.

This somewhat startling revelation came about as a result of my previously-mentioned English/food class at the U of Toronto, which has now been featured in an article on the UToronto Media site (http://media.utoronto.ca/media-releases/arts/new-class-has-students-cooking-up-literature/),  and also in the Toronto Star (though I haven’t found the link to that yet). Today’s class was based on a radically vegetarian book, Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. I have to say, I did not at all enjoy this book; I found several arguments based on erroneous data or invented facts, an extreme bias which led to instant dislike on my part, and an overall sense of extreme patronising coupled with the fact that the author has raised his son vegetarian – meaning his son did not get to make that choice himself. Indeed, much of the narrative reads as if Foer believes he is the all-knowing father to all of his readers, finding reasons (and sometimes making them up) to force us into vegetarianism.

That being said, the group that presented today (though mostly comprised of vegetarians) were not radical, were not pushy, were not patronising. They prepared us a delicious salad using more than just the customary iceburg and kale, and followed it with a tofu stir-fry on jasmine rice. Throughout the meal, however, diners were somewhat nervously aware of their meat selection – a styrofoam tray with nine Ikea-meatball-sized hors d’oeuvres, a pinky flesh tone with bits of white and black speckled throughout. This mysterious offering was simply labeled “Thing.” Diners were offered “Thing” as their meat serving (which, with the iron in spinach and the protein in tofu, was not technically needed). Being as hardheaded as I am, however, and as affrontedly opposed to the message being shoved into my eyeballs by Foer, I ate one. It wasn’t bad. I ate another. In fact, I ate two-thirds of the serving in front of my little group of horrified classmates.

Growing up with a Chinese side to my family, strange meats and unidentifiable foods are not out of the ordinary. My cousin loves fish cheeks and eyeballs. A walk down Spadina will bring you face to face with bright red marinating pigs, golden brown dripping fatty ducks, freshly plucked and seemingly shivering hanging chicken, and the ubiquitous neon orange cuttlefish. Seeing meat in its original form does not fase me. Seeing meat as curious globs also does not fase me. I’m still not sure what was in my yin-yin’s jook meatballs, but they were crunchy and delicious and – motto of my childhood – try one, you might like it.

That was the attitude with which I approached “Thing.” Try it, you might like it. That simple phrase has led me to my love of Brussels sprouts, artichoke, steamed pork buns, chili… the list goes on, because that phrase has not yet led me wrong. I tried “Thing.” I liked it.

The presenting group then took suggestions as to what “Thing” might be. Was it Spam? Pate de foie gras? Ground chicken liver? It was revealed to be dog, possibly Chow-chow, picked up off the black market by the presenter’s Korean friend. Instant disbelieving gasps shot through the assembled diners. Was it really? How could they have done that? My only thought was, I guess this makes my palate more diverse.

Once, when travelling in Vienna with my father, we were given the chance to eat horse at a Mongolian barbecue. (As a sidenote: I’m not really sure whether horse as a food is native to Austria or Mongolia.) I had to pass it up at the time, at the age of seventeen, because my palate was not quite in line with my psyche, and I couldn’t help but correlate the dark reddish-brown slices of meat to the horse-drawn taxi cabs waiting on the street below. Given the chance now I’d definitely take it.

Foer raises the issue in Eating Animals that thousands of dogs are euthanised in the US alone due to failure to spay and neuter, or pet negligence. His argument, supposedly towards vegetarianism, is as follows: Why not just eat all those leftover dogs? There’s tons of meat simply rotting due to societal ideas. I understand that his argument was intended to shock the audience into a repulsion towards dog meat, and meat itself in general. When I read that section I simply began to wonder what dog meat tasted like, and kept digging into my chicken salad.

As it turns out, “Thing” was canned corn beef (a food product that, incidentally, I find slightly more revolting than dog meat). Its alien appearance (as we are used to seeing cooked beef at a brown colour, not this sickly pink) and foreign smell was intended to throw the diners off the, ahem, scent. The presenters asked how we’d felt about “Thing” both before and after finding out it was “dog,” and again after we’d learned it was really cow. I explained that I followed my “try it, you’ll like it” upbringing, was proud of myself for stomaching, nay, enjoying an alien food source that not many North Americans have had the chance to try, and then disappointed when I found out it wasn’t as exotic as I’d thought. But I was surprised at my reaction to “finding out it was dog” – initially, my stomach dropped in disbelief, and then I came around and began to be quite at ease with the thought. After all, Chow-chow is a breed that originally was specifically bred to become food.

So that is the story of how I would rather eat dog than be a vegetarian. I figure it can’t be worse than anything found in modern-day street meat. (And a slight confession – though I definitely tried “Thing” in the hopes that I might like it, I also ate it slightly in spite of the vegetarians. Make meat as disgusting looking as you can, I will still eat it. That’s the evolutionary purpose of incisors – and who am I to spite evolution? It made me what I am today.)

GUYS I MADE COOKIES

THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER

FOOD BABY

I did a most shamefacedly embarrassing thing today. As a result, I think I’m going to die.

After falling asleep in class, I headed over to my friend’s house to play Kinect with another friend. (I’ll mention here that I’d like to be able to distinguish them easily for you, but they’re both redheads who were in my Second City class/teen troupe so there’s nothing I can particularly use to differentiate them. Bear with me.) I was like, sweet, video game time, what do video games need? Snacks! So I headed off on my bike to grab some maybe chips or something I don’t know, but discovered I needed to hit an ATM first. On the way back from the bank I passed Krispy Kreme.

Oh no, you say. Oh yes, says I.

I bought a dozen. (This isn’t even the most shameful part.) Twelve delicious icing-soaked calorie behemoths with assorted flavourings to share between three girls. I am so glad that the model party wasn’t tonight instead because I would’ve been twice the weight, in addition to being half the height of everyone there.

So I biked over to my friend’s, which was stupid because she’s like four blocks away from me, and I headed in, doughnuts in hand. They were heated for 8 seconds and absolutely ravaged. Doughnuts were rent limb from limb (if doughnuts have limbs; if not, they were most certainly rent asunder). Icing was everywhere. And we Just Danced like crazy, pretending the calories were being burnt off then and there. (I still haven’t looked up the caloric value of a single Krispy Kreme, but I ate about four, so I’m pretty sure I don’t have to eat for at least three months.)

Time passed and one girl had to go, so my other friend and I went to get some dinner. I know. Dinner. After all that. Getting closer to the shameful part, but still not quite there yet.

We headed on up to Bloor to partake in some delicious cuisine from one of the many varied eateries. Sushi, sandwiches, salads, soups and all manner of healthy fare were practically at our fingertips. And after all those doughnuts, where did we choose to go for dinner?

Smoke’s.

If you don’t know what Smoke’s is, stop right now (thank you very much) while I expound a bit on the deliciousness of poutine. SMOKE’S Poutine.

Poutine on its own is one of the most glorious creations of Canadiankind. Forget basketball, penicillin, the Canadarm and Robin Sparkles. Poutine should be our prime minister. Poutine should be on all our currency. Trudeau was eating poutine when he decided how to lead the country through the October Crisis. There was a poutine shortage the day Rob Ford was elected mayor of Toronto. And that’s just poutine on its own, just naked fries coated in thick gravy and the squeakiest cheese curds imaginable.

Now cue Smoke’s Poutine. Smoke’s has done the near impossible in making poutine even more enjoyable and meal-worthy by modifying its basic structure and adding ingredients to yield such succulent delights as Pulled Pork Poutine, Nachos Grande Poutine, Deli Smoked Meat Poutine, and at least a dozen others including several vegetarian options (but vegans GTFO).

Keeping this gastronomical wonder in mind, try and guess what my remaining redheaded comedienne friend and I chose to eat for dinner. Also remember that the title of this post is FOOD BABY.

That’s right. Four Krispy Kremes and a Regular Sized Philly Cheese Poutine are now duking it out as residing ruler of my stomach and nobody is winning. I biked around my friend’s house twice before heading home, hoping that the extra exercise would do something – anything – to quell this feeling that I am going to die.

It’s no use. Everyone involved in today’s junk food disaster agrees, death is imminent. I’m pretty sure the only way I won’t die is if I drop out of school, quit my job, and concentrate every fibre of my being on digesting this lump of lard, icing, grease, cheese, beef and potatoes in my stomach.

But man, if I die, what a way to go.