Archive | September, 2013

solo

25 Sep
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Hummus and pita. Made onsite. When in Chicago’s Greek town….

Many moons ago when I used to watch Friends, I recall an episode when Rachel was trying something new: eating out alone. Apparently, there was this whole bru-ha-ha about her eating alone because apparently, only pathetic people eat in a restaurant alone. Admittedly, I thought this was a strange issue to tackle on a TV show. I eat alone all the time. In fact, I enjoy it. (Yes. I’m eating alone right now. In a cafe. In Chicago. And I really don’t give a shit about what the people around me are thinking.)

Granted, I understand why people don’t like eating alone. Our class readings addressed this issue, stating that eating alone is embarrassing and no one likes to admit they eat alone. Perhaps this is why I do so with such pride. Sometimes I need to be by myself so that I can escape my crazy life. When I eat alone, I take my time. I indulge in the menu and order way too much, just so I can have leftovers to take home and reflect on my marvelous meal alone.

For my students, I know that this next assignment was to share a food experience with someone else. I also know that I’m not quite addressing the assignment. However, I do want to tackle this notion of eating alone. For women, eating alone becomes this stigma because the assumption is that you have no one in your life. In contrast, men eating alone has a completely different meaning. Personally, I believe in these small acts of rebellion. Maybe this is why I have no problem eating alone. Besides, just because I entered the restaurant alone, doesn’t mean I’m necessarily alone.

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When traveling, I try to catch up on work. This is why I like eating alone. The waitress suggested this dessert. It was kinda’ custard-y inside with phyllo dough outside. It was okay, but definitely not a total stand-out.

When the Manpanion and I started dating, we reached the point where I would take him to my usual spots. He was impressed that I actually knew the owners and the people that work in the restaurant. For me, establishing this relationship is important. I like to know the story behind the restaurant. How did the restaurant come to be? What compels the owners and workers to do this work? What are the popular dishes? How is this different from the chef’s specialty dish? (Yes, there’s a difference. Always opt for the chef’s speciality!) Admittedly, I have made some wonderful friends by simply starting conversation and community while sitting alone in a restaurant. (OMG. There was this one time, this guy next to me paid for my meal because his daughter happened to be a professor whose work I was familiar with!)

I have this relationship at certain places I shop too. This past summer, I was taking a dear friend to my favorite shoe store to meet my “dealers” (a term I use to refer to the shoe pushers who work at the store). After he purchased two pairs of shoes, he said, “Joanne, the people there aren’t your ‘dealers,’ they’re your friends. They actually enjoy your visit and vice versa. You have an actual relationship with them!” I responded, “Of course! How else does one interact with other people?!”

Maybe that’s the key to navigating solo: make meaningful contact. Living in Phoenix, I’m alone a lot, but I don’t necessarily feel like I’m alone. I try to make conversation and make good company when I’m out and about. On occasion, it’s not  me that starts the interaction. I consider myself a fairly sociable person, so I respond accordingly. If I’m not feeling social, I make that clear too.

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Heaven in a glass.

Yes, I’m here at Artopolis, a bakery/cafe located in Chicago’s Greektown. The wait staff are very kind. The woman helping me is particularly chatty and I like her recommendations. I’m enjoying the Frappe, a cold version of a traditional Greek coffee. It’s delicious, but without all the grit of the traditional hot version. Of course, I’ll snack on other traditional-for-Chicago Greek fare. I’m glad to be here alone because I don’t think I’d have the patience to wait for a group of people to join me. Everyone should experience this Frappe, as I’ll surely miss it when I head back to Phoenix.

Live deliciously,

-joanne

back from the dead

12 Sep

I can’t believe it’s been about a year and a half since Fritzie and I had posted. A lot has happened and I apologize for the neglect. To make a long story short, I finished and filed the dissertation, taught my last class at Berkeley as a graduate student, and then hopped on over to Phoenix to assume my new position as an academic lecturer. I work at that place the Sun Devils call home:)

I’ve decided to upkeep this blog a little better because this semester, I’m teaching a class on Asian Pacific American Literature. When I teach this course, I typically focus on a particular theme. This time around, we’re looking at food in APA lit. Wa-hoo! As part of the class, my students have to maintain a flood blog, where I give them various assignments that reflect the ways in which APAs have incorporated food in the literature we are reading. To honor my students and to sympathize with the work they have to do, I’ve decided to join them in their blogging assignments.

For this first assignment, I had asked them to create a post where they share a recipe, along with a story or memory around the recipe they have shared. (Since this is an upper division course, there are other things they are expected to do, but I won’t get into the details.) Here it goes….

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I made this batch for an Easter celebration. It was the first time the Manpanion was going to meet my family. I figured if he entered the room holding these, they’d love him already:)

Chamorro Shrimp Patties

Yup. That’s right. These babies are a signature dish of mine. Because they’re a signature dish, I will never EVER reveal my secret recipe! (Well, at least not on this blog.) However, I did find this recipe online. While I don’t usually trust recipes, I will say that this one looks pretty legit! (I’m basing that on the reviews and how the ingredients and proportions measure up to my personal recipe.)

Growing up, shrimp patties were such a treat. While they were usually available at the various fiestas I went to, shrimp patties can sometimes be hit-or-miss. Some people over batter it. Others skimp out on the shrimp and use imitation crab meat instead. When I bite into the patties and find no shrimp, I feel disappointed. In short, not all shrimp patties are made the same.

It wasn’t until college that I started taking cooking seriously. For some reason, I felt this need to uphold the culinary traditions of my childhood. Since I was always unsatisfied with other people’s shrimp patties, I decided to embark on a quest to perfect  Chamorro Shrimp Patties.  It took a while to figure out which veggies worked best and what technique ensured they patties would stay round. However, I can confidently say that I have it down. My ultimate secret is love. Really. It is. I don’t make this dish very often because it’s pricey and time consuming. However, when the shrimp patties make an appearance, the family is always happy.

I try to make this at least once a year to celebrate the new year. In my family, a new year’s feast was to include as many round things as possible. Hence, why this is the treat of choice. When my cousin Ray visits, I make these just so he can feel at home. When the family first met the Manpanion, I made these for the Easter celebration. I figured that if he were holding these, they’d have no choice but to love him:) Since it seems they love him more than me, I’m convinced that my plan worked!

The last time I was on Guam was 2008. While there, I went to the ballpark where each week, there is collection of vendors selling food and goods. Naturally, I ordered a plate that had shrimp patties. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the over-doughed, under-shrimped, bland concoction.  Alas, ’tis the curse of perfecting the shrimp pattie.

Live deliciously,

-joanne