The Magic of Coffee and Caffeine

I didn’t regularly drink coffee until reaching my thirties. I didn’t need it. People used to make any variety of this faux-joke, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my first cup”, and I thought that was just a nice way of telling me to shut up or go away. It seemed like a bad idea to start habitually using a “drug” that could so enormously impact your day. Continue reading

Italy vs. Korea: Living Life Abroad

I’ve been to 10 countries this year but spent the bulk in either Italy or Korea. I think somehow I’m fully American diluted with Italian and Korean blood now. My roots spread far. Both countries have their pros and cons, but which is the better place to live? Continue reading

NYC Pizza Tour–2012

Bread has been cooked in many ways, in many places and with many flavors. Pizza is essentially bread with toppings. As with most food, Americans received pizza from immigrants, Italian immigrants specifically. However, Italians owe their modern pizza to the New World. Tomatoes were shipped home with (the aptly named) Francisco Pizarro, that famous conquistador of the Incan Empire. Continue reading

31 Flavors of Anxiety

I’ve never been happy with my order at an ice cream store. The one I get is usually the one I’ve sampled and order half out of guiltiness for a free taste and half out of lack of desire to waste more plastic spoons.  The fact that I always have so many choices leads to my apprehension and ultimate unhappiness. When you look in the freezer, and find only one box, there is much less choice and a higher probability of being happy in your decision to eat flavored frozen cream. I’ve even found myself angry leaving the Wendy’s drive thru with a Frosty in my hand thinking, “Damn, I should have gotten the vanilla.” Continue reading

Taiwan by Train

Leaving Taipei:  Tropical trees mingle with dense brush growing through giant, ancient boulders; gentle curving rivers meander below the green landscape in a quiet rhythm of eternity. This is Formosa. This is a busy land of high-speed rail, modern technology and independence. This is Chiang Kai Shek’s land. This is a place made for train travel. Going fast or slow, you will enjoy the old temples peeking out from ledges and the endless, endless green. Continue reading

America and Food

Of all the culinary concoctions and gustatory delights conceived and created in America, we have few originals—Twinkies, cheesesteaks, Buffalo wings and maybe sweet potato pie, but that could be a derivation of an American Indian tradition. Most American foods, as American people, are a consequence of the extreme influx of 18th-20th century immigration. Germans brought hot dogs and hamburgers; Italians brought pizza and pasta; English brought fish and chips; Polish brought water ice, but it melted on the way over and they forgot the recipe—it took years of trial and error before they figured it out again. 😉 Continue reading

To: Ice Cube RE: “Today was not such a good day.”

“In my younger and more vulnerable years” my mother used to read me a book called: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Paraphrasing, it was about some punk kid who was having trouble tying his shoes, got gum in his hair, got yelled at by the teacher, his sister took his favorite lunchbox to school, he didn’t get a toy in the cereal box and perhaps some other little kid problems. At the end, I think he got a hug from his mom, and everything was better because tomorrow is another day is Australia or something. Continue reading

Small Pleasures

Hungry after a long day at the hagwon with a slight headache breathing through my temples, I wandered into a local eatery. There were no less than 7 policemen in their full blue and gray gear, loudly, violently and quickly consuming a crowd of plates. They ate with typical Korean gusto. However, one always feels good eating where the local cops eat. I ordered my mandu-gu soup and leaned back in the chair. Continue reading

Thanksgiving

I look forward to the day of thanks like pedophiles look forward to the first day of school. I am gluttonous and ravenous and prime myself for the day. I always eat an early breakfast, drink water and try to excrete fully before the call of “it’s ready” comes from the kitchen. In Texas, we have Thanksgiving on Friday so we can watch the UT-A&M football game. It’s odd because everyone on the TV tells us that its turkey day, but I know it’s not. We watch the Cowboys and Lions and Longhorns, but we know our day isn’t until tomorrow. I wait patiently and stuff myself. After the initial fear of puking from overeating passes and I begin to digest, the realization that 364 days of longing has passed and the holiday season has begun settles in to my gorged brain. It is a purely American holiday. It is secular and not based on love. It is a family and friend based celebration. We, who can, eat all that we can. Those on a diet curse their body and those skinny few with high metabolism. The most fascinating part of the day is the traditions and foods that are on our table were probably not similar to the Pilgrims. It’s almost like we created a holiday based on true events but situated to be palatable to American tastes. The Natives gave the poor Pilgrims gifts and they ate together sharing each other’s good humor and feasting on the bountiful harvest. Shouldn’t we then bring food to the less fortunate and eat with them? It would change the meaning of Thanksgiving greatly. The banquet has become such a selfish occasion that most of us couldn’t possibly imagine spending the day away from our couches and dining room tables to spend the day with the unfortunate ones without associates. I know it would be hard for me, but I think it’s something I’d like to try. It would be an easy thing to do it on Thursday and then have our Friday buffet to continue our familial traditions. Let’s take the next year to think if that’s something we’d like to do and give thanks for our blessings, of which there are many.