3.04.2005

It’s been a while, and I’m working hard on several fronts—research, preparing for midprogram conference in two weeks, new apartment—so I’m just going to write some random stuff and toss it in here. Email me or post a comment if you would like coherence or perhaps actual narration of past events (Sri Pada, Sri Ross and Sri Betsy…) then post a comment or send me an email.

In The Department of:

Apologies, or, Ms. Compulsive Fixes Guacamole

I would like to formally apologize to anyone who’s ever cooked with me. In a rare moment of out-of-headspace consciousness, I observed myself chopping vegetables for a simple guacamole the other night. I was “dicing” onions into near-perfect 3mm cubes, and the tomatoes slightly larger, because their flavor is less intense and you want bigger pieces to get the right mouth-feel-balance; I was making garlic into powder with only a knife. I realized that I am ludicrously attentive to these kinds of details in my cooking and that this quality is probably what makes people nuts about helping me in the kitchen. Last weekend Gavin was over and making tuna melts and even with, like, four ingredients (tuna, mustard, salt, pepper; I don’t keep mayo) I was fussing with my portion once he had moved on to melting his.

So, I’m really sorry, people. I’ll try to not be so picky.


I Am So Psychic

Generally I’m not that fond of blue. It’s a shallow color in many incarnations. (In carnation, it’s not blue at all. Yuk, yuk.) So why did I purchase all blue towels, you ask? Why, on the several occasions that I added to my towelstash—I bought them each individually—did I always buy blue*? Clearly: because all the fixtures in the new bathroom are blue and I am just that psychic.

*okay: I have a floormat that’s sort of blue-green, and a hand towel that, according to the hang tag it came with, is “ginger” but I think of as pink or maybe peach. Still!


Things You Never Knew About Sri Lanka

Finagle A Bagel™ set up shop here a few years ago, initially to blitz the breadlovin’ Sri Lankan public with a new craze: the bagel. I can only imagine what this country would look like if bagels had caught on.

Standard breakfast: Chillie Bagel with Dhal. With tea: bagel-cream-buns, filled with frosting. Late-night takeaway: Chopped fried bagel kotthu, available with your choice of beef, fish, chicken, mutton, or egg.

As it is, the only bagels available here are frozen and far, far worse than Lender’s. Imagine if someone took a package of Lender’s, left them in the freezer a few months to get lightly burned, took them out, defrosted them in a dusty room, put them in a shipping container on a six-week sea voyage, then refroze them for sale in Cargills. Needless to say, I do not eat bagels here. In 2002, I started dreaming about Everything bagels with hummus and mustard and romaine and red onions. I bought a bagel of that description in Heathrow for some ridiculous amount of money—£4 or something—and though it was mediocre (a British bagel, come on) it was so, so good.

Thus imagine my joy when I sighted a Finagle truck on Galle Road in Colombo a few weeks ago, and salivatingly (ugh, saliva-tingly?) begged Prakash to tell me where their retail bagelries might be. I imagined I might even find a spinning bagelsaw, which would bring me back to the days of Commonwealth and Mason’s toddlerhood.

Alas! Prakash told me that they started out doing concessions contracts for garment companies, a lucrative and more-or-less assured way to make money. It’s risky to open retail shops and wait for customers; easier to get a contract to provide X number of snacks at Y time and Z location every workday, deliver, and profit. Thus they started out making ordinary Sri Lankan short-eats (variety of snacky things; rolls, buns, rotis) and though they made bagels too they didn’t catch on. Then the company started making bread for commercial sale and I guess they gave up on the bakery-café thing.

I bought some of their “health” bread today, which contains various grains including millet. Am hoping it’s better than the Prima wholemeal bread, which reminds me of that US commercial where a guy sands his antique rowboat with a slice of wheat bread. The purchase was a little melancholy-inducing, because of no bagels, and a little bizarre; Finagle A Loaf of Bread just ain’t that catchy.

I am going to make toasted Gouda with avocado for dinner.

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