Thursday, January 24, 2013

pho sho

If you are having trouble pronouncing the title of this post, imagine you are a part of this conversation:

Me: "Yo _________ (insert your name here--this works especially well for you G-bob), you down for a bowl of noodles in C-town?"

You: "Word, T-dog--'Chow-Mein Palace'?"

Me: "Fo sho."

Only this time, i changed the 'Fo' to 'pho.' As in the noodle dish. I know: pretty clever.

But this post is not just about Pho; it is about all noodles in general. Its about how nearly every country around the world has some form of noodle (or pasta, depending on where you are). Mostly though, it is about how i have been eating a different noodle dish from a different country every night for the past fourteen days. Two weeks of noodles. Now thats dope.

It all started somewhere in Morocco, when Cindy and i began pining for anything besides white bread breakfasts overcooked vegetable dinners, respectively--Cindy looked forward to her first bowl of oatmeal in her new home, my "first-meal-back" was to be slurpy noodles. A big ol bowl of brothy, gingery, slightly spicy, very slurpy noodles, with big chunks of tofu and something green and cabbage like. The sort of dish you have to eat out of a deep bowl, held close to your face so that your slurping of the slurpy noodles doesnt end up everywhere but your mouth, and so you can tip back the broth when there isnt risk of choking on cabbage-y bits.The thought of this bit of comfort got me through the rainy days of our trip (mind you, so did various street food forms of chickpeas, and large amounts of sherry). Then, in the Frankfurt airport (the grandest airport to wile away seven and a half hours in, by the way), there was a Pho food stand, aromatic and displaying fresh, green, cabbage-like things. Only i had just downed a tub (yes, it was tub-like, that container of cereal) of mueslix. So i showered instead. Thats right, showered. Because the Frankfurt airport has showers. Dope.

Back on the (fast) track. Craving for slurpy noodles still fueling my mind more than body. Lots of rice in Nicaragua.

Home. Christmas. Christmas-y food. No noodles.

Today. Day fourteen. And still loving noodles. Perhaps more than ever. Certainly more skilled with chopsticks. Only, I am running out of countries. I started with udon, my favorite (so much so that i have five, five, varieties of udon/soba--same noodles, different flours, all five of them.), with the gingery/garlicky/tofu/green cabbage blend of my cross-country dreams. I drank sake. Then i had my other favorite slurpy noodles, slurpy pasta. Linguine that i could spin around my fork. Linguini vongole that didnt have nearly enough briny clam juice to tip back. I also had linguine made even more dangerously slurpy from a can of my yellow tomatoes, because i remembered after the first dish that i love slurpy pasta the most. Then there was coconut drenched rice noodles with big wedges of pumpkin. Then there was coconut drenched rice noodles with tamarind, fresh turmeric, and prawns--an open can of coconut milk only holds so long. Twice (good things come in twos?) there was fideos--broken strands of vermicelli--when i missed spain and portugal. I even missed Moroccan food, and steamed capellini in the Moroccan fashion, much the same as they do couscous. Ramen with a soft poached egg. There was brothy five spice Pho, naturally. And tonight was Chinese egg noodles with shitake mushrooms and eggplant i roasted and preserved this summer. I even curried noodles, Carribean style, and toasted strands for Mexico's "Sopa Seca"--a gem, by the way. Iranian "Resh-teh". Somewhere in there, i made speghetti squash, kinda like noodles, but a welcome change. Tomorrow marks the end of this noodle sojourn-- "Balaleet" from India, traditionally a sweet dish--unless you know of any others. Unless i have the other four varieties of Udon in my cupboard--because I really dont tire of slurping or twirling up noodles or pasta--thats pho sho.

(oh wait! i havent had pad thai yet...friday is looking fine indeed.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


i believe i owe those of you who have been paying attention to me in the last two and a half months a few words about all i have been drinking. And how appropriate: it is new years eve, a holiday that is celebrated with drinking. It was now or St. Patricks day, folks, so here we go.

First there was orange juice. Not just any ol Tropicana, but freshly squeezed from a mountain of freshly picked, rather gnome-esque fruit. Sure the skin was wrinkled--more deeply, roundedly grooved--and certainly not polished like our dear imported citrus back home, but the juice was so sweet. And cold. And thick with pulp and humble, genuine, orange-ness. And just a minutes walk from our home(s). And about thirty cents. And so it was enjoyed everyday. Every single day.

Then there was espresso. Screw the free coffee offered with the "breakfast included" riad price (screw the "breakfast included" for that matter--we are still in Morocco here...). Cindy had a hell of a time finding her ideal espresso to hot milk ratio, usually ending up with too much of the latter no matter the request for a cappucino/latte/machiato/(with her luck)espresso con panna. But for me and my unadultered shots, there was only one of the whole lot that wasnt smooth, rich, earthy, and thick with crema...and we drank espresso as often as we drank orange juice. Maybe more.

Then there was orange juice with orange blossom water. And that changed my life.

Then there was espresso et espice, with a blend of spices that is not even available here to try and recreate. And, sigh, my life has changed again.

Then there was "hot sweet almond milk" at Cafe Clock in Fez. It was literally just that: hot and sweet milk made from almonds. No sugar involved here, only a tall glass of comfort for those rainy days there, with gritty bits of nuts to spoon out of the bottom when emptied. It was like my ma and porridge when i needed them most in one delicious drink to melt away all that, really, didnt matter. Its like a revel or fudgsicle when you are a kid in the summer and it is melting faster than you can eat it and the sweet, semi dry bits clinging to your skin are the last drops of the most wonderful part of your day. But without the chocolate. And grown up. Sigh. I am not doing this treat justice. I wish you could have some right now, or maybe tomorrow, when you are feeling shitty after all of tonights own drinks...

And then, and then there was Spain. Or i should say: sherry. Cind and i wiled away an early afternoon in Malaga in a sherry tasting room, where our double shots were poured straight from the barrels, for $1.50. We learned alot about etiquette here (yes, etiquette, while we got tipsy in the middle of the day, right after breakfast, actually). For example: real aficiandos know to mix sec sherry with a splash of the sweeter stuff for a whole new double shot experience. They also know the Spanish word for ice (sounds like yellow), and that only a silly Canadian girl would spend twenty plus minutes trying to request some (including drawing a diagram) instead of simply using the english pronunciation to even more foolishly order a glass of dry (not sweet) sherry with yellow and lemon in a tall glass. I was that silly Canadian girl. I am lucky i wasnt kicked out. I think we made many a spanish mans day that day. I love sherry.

There was also alot of Rose and Cava. There were drinks we didnt try that i wish we had: avacado juice for one; the likely very sweet yogurt drinks in Morocco; sherry from the sherry triangle--probably best we didnt.

On my own in Portugal, drinking was part of walking. You could stop on the street, even in the central square of a bunch of ritzy shops and touristy hotel eateries at a little newspaper stand-esque shot shop. I love porto bianco as much if not more than sherry. I had one every day. I do that with things i love.

The drinking didnt stop in Nicaragua either. It probably should have, it was yoga teacher training after all. But there was nothing there like hot sweet almond milk. There wont ever be anything like hot sweet almond milk.

Tonight, though, there is sparkling wine. It is after midnight and i need to celebrate 2012--it really was a year to highlight my life with. So much changed that life as i know it, even now as i am back in it, is not at all what it was going into 2013. Cheers.