Sunday, April 30, 2017

So there was grocery shopping and dinner making

Not everyone's idea of fun activities but something I prefer to waltzing around museums looking at art. I'd rather go grocery shopping than visit, say, the Munch Museum. Oh sure art is dandy but getting out there with the natives and then fetching, and making, your victuals is, to me, more compelling than looking at some guy screaming in a painting, I'll buy I calendar if I need to see that. Besides, I like to grocery shop and I love to cook. You can tell a lot about people by how they shop and what they shop for. For instance, in Norway they have the mayonnaise in the dairy cooler, some eggs are refrigerated but others are not (they are not in France) and there's not much in the cracker department, mostly thick, dark, deeply-crisp, seeded things with names like Sløtso. As far as the meaning of all these weirdnesses goes, I haven't a clue but I'm guessing that Munch's iconic painting of The Scream had something to do someone trying to locate mayonnaise in the condiment aisle or finding anything like a Triscuit.

Family was coming in for our not-wedding and I made dinner, the shopping was just the beginning of the fun. Cooking without my familiar accoutrements is like camping. It's not that the Royal Indian Mounted Food Control is without a broad selection of kitchen equipment (see below for an abbreviated glimpse of the available cookware). It's that the equipment is unfamiliar and locating things like baking soda (which is called bakepulver in Norwegian and it is an unfamiliar container, and, yes, one might jump to the conclusion that it's baking soda but it may just as well be fish paste for all one knows of this odd language and these odd, largely fish-eating people) or flour (The Royal Mounted Indian Food Control Police has many containers of various flour colored powders) is a challenge among many others. And so making a meal becomes an adventure and one I like having in a foreign land. 

Dinner was pot roast, a concept I had a hard time explaining to the butcher, but we got through it and when he saw me the next day he smiled and proudly said "pot roast!" Dinner was served, along with a great deal of vodka, red and white wine, and aquavit (a rye bread or possibly cracker flavored liquor).

I did make it to the National Museum, FYI, The Scream is housed there not in the Munch Museum after all. Ida made us proud by insisting on posing next to it, something I imagine has never been done before. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

I need an explanation

Why is this delicious concoction not available in the United States??!! This is wrong. I blame Donald Trump despite the fact that it has never been available as far as I know. But if he was planning on making America great again, this should have been in the top 5 of his immediate action list. The asshole.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


I'm guessing it is pronounced something like "yam" although I am not super sure because my Thai is a little rusty. I had lunch there at Ngam on the lower east side last Friday in Manhattan with my college friend Gail (though she looks waaaay younger). If you blinked you'd have missed it, the place was the size of a closet, the food was absolutely fabulous, to use a phrase. We shared sweet potato fries and that, in and of itself, could have been lunch. But I had the Pad See Ewe and she had the...I'm not sure what...but it was not, in checking the menu on line, "Hung Lay," (Farm-raised pork belly and pork shoulder, Hung Lay powder, pickled garlic, ginger, peanut—as seen on Iron Chef)." Whatever it was she was eating smelled good, like I imagine a hung lay might, but I didn't try it at the time. The Pad See Ewe was delicious and more than enough for me, the noodles were really amazing. And while Gail's dish smelled amazing, it's the hung lay that seems to stick in my head, I'm not sure why.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Yes, of course he was

As I imagined, the chair-dancing, manically laughing guy in the business class lounge was of course sitting next to me on the airplane in actual business class. This was not so much a problem as you're really not exactly sitting next to anyone there. You're essentially in your own little uncomfortable world. Granted it is more comfortable than, say, economy class but it is not a king sized bed with an eider down comforter either.

So he waltzes (actually he practically moonwalked in) in and puts his magazines in the magazine holder—there are special magazine holders in business class (of course, tooth sucking noise). His magazines were GQ and Mannschaft. Now, I realize I do not speak Norwegian but I don't think it's too much of a stretch to assume that this probably translates to "man shaft" and that this is most likely not a mining trade publication dealing with vertical tunnels into the earth. As it turns out mannschaft means "team."

So... a sports magazine? Nope. LGBT. I wasn't so far off.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Arrivals and departures

Don't get me wrong. The problem with my arrival was not the subway, the streets, or the surly public servants. The problem was my suitcase. It is twice the size I needed and for some reason and I seriously do not understand why, it is uncarriably heavy. There is nothing in it that is heavy except for 2 bottles of Chilula. And they're not big ones. (At the moment I am hoping they are appropriately wrapped and cushioned 'cause that would be a world class nightmare).

The real takeaway was the amazingly easy arrival from Newark. This was eye opening. The trains run every 10 minutes and took maybe 15 minutes from start to finish at Penn Station, OK, after that you're on your own but really getting from LaGuardia is a good hour, possibly 2, and $75 later. This cost $13. Once you're at Penn Station you can get to anywhere. Including the F train and it's a lot easier if you are not wheeling a refrigerator with you.

Right now I am in the SAS business class lounge in the Newark airport. I'm not complaining. I have worse things to complain about like the thing we have as president, but this place is completely packed. I hope they have decent wine. I am a little perturbed by the guy sitting near me who is eating an apple (boring) and drinking a glass of water (double boring). Oh God, I have to move way from him. Not because of what he is consuming but because he is watching his iPhone and laughing out loud. I wish there were somewhere to move to.

On further reflection maybe he is not drinking because he is high on drugs. He is dancing in his chair right now. I am relatively certain he will be on my flight in the seat next to me. That's how things seem to work out. Maybe I'll go get a cookie.

Friday, April 21, 2017


For the first time in a year and a half I am going on vacation. Over 3 weeks out of my office (muffled scream of elation), first stop: New York to visit my niece and nephew. Then on to Oslo for an audience with the Royal Indian Mounted Food Control Police and a meet-up with sisters and brothers-in-law, then off to Nice, France, for what was supposed to have been but isn't, a joyful honeymoon (not that it won't be joyful, just not a honeymoon at this point in time) with a side trip to Rapallo, Italy, finishing with 4 more days in Oslo.

I started in Milwaukee, flying to Newark since for some odd reason Newark has the only non-stop flight to Oslo. Newark is fine, it's a short train ride to Penn Station and from there I could catch the F train to Brooklyn where Charlie and Madeline live. Or so I thought.

I bought a new super, hyper-giganticallly enormous suitcase for the voyage. Think steamer trunk on rolly wheels. I have no idea what possessed me to do this aside from a sheer lack of forethought. I mean I needed a suitcase but not one into which I could fit ALL of my clothes and shoes and still have room for my pots and pans. When I packed, and I packed for several different weather eventualities—think Oslo (North Pole), South of France (palm trees, Mediterranean breezes), Italy (pizza)—I pretty much took all my clothes and the suitcase was still not full. It's a good thing I am in the process of moving because I needed to put bubble wrap in the goddam thing to fill it up and I had plenty of it laying around (see below).

So here I am in Penn Station with my rolly suitcase which pretty much the size, shape and weight of a refrigerator trying to find/catch the F train to Brooklyn. I was remaining calm but Penn Station at 4:45 is NOT AT ALL calm. It is freaking pandemonium. "Um, excuse me sir, do you know from which platform the F train departs?" I asked no one in particular on several occasions, waving the instructions I had printed out from the google.

Eventually I found and asked an officer of the New Jersey Transit Authority seated aggressively at a desk obviously marked "Information." I believe his exact words words were: "Ain't no F train." Or perhaps it was "Ain't no F-in' F train." Whatever it was, it was helpful in a New York-y kind of way.

I suppose there were many ways in which I might have responded and I am guessing that showing him the printout from the google where it clearly states that you can catch the F train from Penn Station was not one of them, nor was it particularly helpful, and if it was, he did not seem to indicate that. As it turns out, the F train is not a "train" it is the subway and no subways leave from Penn Station. Only trains, none of which are named F (thank god or I'd have gotten on it). The F train leaves from Chapel Hill or Rosemont Park or some damn place that is not Penn Station. I'll spare you the rest of the details, and there are plenty more, I was able, despite the shrieking morass of New York humanity, the not-exactly-even nature of the floors, and appalling lack of escalators, exit Penn Station and walk the 4 blocks rolling my refrigerator the entire way to Claremont Green or whatever the damn place was and find the F train. What you can see here is my suitcase blocking the "down" escalator entirely. In front of me is an escalator with no people on it. Not because there were no people, there were thousands of them and they were in a freaking HURRY to get somewhere or other but they could not. They were all behind me.

You will notice that despite the alarming nature of the situation, I had the presence of mind to take out my iPhone and record it.

Souvenir tuna

Karen went to Portugal and all I got was this lousy can of tuna. That's the t-shirt I need to get.

When I opened it it wasn't how I think canned tuna ought to look and I was a bit baffled by the carrot coin and the pickle.  But it was really, really good. And spicy. I'd take this over a t-shirt any day of the week.