The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

I could go for some mashed potatoes right now

I'm afraid I have no food porn for you today—nothing I ate today was very special. Tasty and indulgent and something I'll regret later? Probably.

  • a lot of onion & olive focaccia with olive oil (bread from the Greenmarket)
  • two nectarines and a bunch of grapes (also from the Greenmarket)
  • some stir-fried green beans (...Greenmarket)
  • a milk chocolate brulee bar from Jacques Torres

The bread and chocolate were the major no-nos of the day. Lesson: I absolutely cannot buy large portions of bread and I can't buy chocolate bars from anywhere. It's ironic that with a kitchen as bare as mine (the non-condiment food I have left consists of a container of Greek yogurt and 4 white peaches), I can still consume way more calories than I'd ever need in one day. What makes this worse than a normal day is that I spent my entire day inside and I'm still sick. Obviously, not sick enough to fast or sleep later than 12:30 PM (I wanted to, but my body wouldn't do it) but still. Sick. I barely got any work today and I ate a crapload of food. Physically, I don't feel any bad effects from the food, but mentally I obviously feel like I shouldn't have eaten (or bought) all that food.

Sigh. It's ridiculous that with so many more pressing issues in the world/life/whatnot, this is what stresses me out and moan about in blog-format. I didn't mean to eat the portion of bread I ultimately did consume, but just half of it. Obviously, it was really tasty after steaming it, thus leading me to return to the kitchen for the other half I had wrapped up in a paper bag and placed in the cabinet, to be eaten later. I bought the chocolate bar last night, of course not intending to eat the whole thing, but before I knew it, I had already eaten half. And then 3/4ths. And then...the last 1/4th. It didn't stand a chance; I've never had a solid caramel flavored milk chocolate bar before and it was divine.

Whatever. (pokes belly) I probably gained a few pounds. Oh well, not like I have to be svelte to live. I have to be healthy to breathe correctly though. Sneezing triggers my asthma for a short period of uncomfortable breathing and I sneezed a few times today. Damn...sneezing.

So. Still reading? This will be a boring, not very amusing entry.

...still reading? ALRIGHTY!

Tonight I watched What's Cooking as an assignment for my food film class (one thing that annoyed me was that my school, which must have a gazillion movies, didn't have this movie, meaning that I had to join Blockbuster, which is a bit rarghy). The movie follows four culturally different families who live around the same block in LA on Thanksgiving. Each family has their own special dishes for the holiday, besides the quintessential centerpiece-turkey. Each family also has a set of different problems that blows up on Thanksgiving from the obligatory gathering of the whole family, whether or not they want to be together.

I enjoyed the movie. It wasn't terribly substantial, kind of in between something I think would be on TV and a theather, but it's enjoyable and cool to see if you're American and familiar with the idea of Thanksgiving (or if you don't know anything about Thanksgiving and are somewhat fascinated by it; the director, Gurinder Chadha, is British). It made me think about Thanksgiving in my house, or the idea of Thanksgiving being pounded into my head ever since I was born.

Every year my family has been in America, we've celebrated Thanksgiving, turkey, potatoes, cranberry sauce and all. I suppose my parents got used to the idea during grad school (they lived in Taiwan before that), probably going to Thanksgiving celebrations. The only times that we didn't celebrate Thanksgiving in a traditional way was when we lived in Taiwan. However, we still had the Thanksgiving weekend holiday, during which we'd go to Tokyo Disneyland (which is definitely a more fun way to celebrate Thanksgiving than eating turkey!). One year when only my mum and I were home, we ate a Tofurky, and when I was a raw foodist I suppose I just ate salad and a homemade "raw pumpkin pie" (didn't come out that good; human bodies just don't want to digest raw squash, hence WHY YOU COOK IT). The movie showed how each family brought their own culture to the table, but I don't recall my family serving much traditional Chinese food. We probably had rice, but I remember also making bread one year and wild rice another year. Or maybe we didn't need rice since we had the potatoes. Last year I made mashed sweet potatoes but we probably had rice too.

dinner for three

I guess our table was kind of sparse last year. Besides mashed potatoes (which I've been in charge of for years, although I never used sweet potatoes before), I also made Norwegian cookies from a recipe my friend gave me that I'm sure came out nothing like they were supposed to.


Not having any idea what they were suppposed to taste like, I don't think there's any way these could've been successful, working from a translated recipe. Oh well, can't say I didn't try.

Uh. What was I talking about? Crap. I didn't mean to just describe food, but hopefully the pictures are a little interesting.

When I was younger, Thanksgiving dinner involved familiy friends or other family members besides just the four of us. It whittled down when the family friends that we'd always celebrate holidays with moved to California, my dad spent 50% or more time in Taiwan, my brother went to college, and so on. We never had any big conflicts at Thanksgiving though, thank god. I'd go insane if that happened.

However, we did have a conflict at a food related event this year. For my brother's birthday, my dad forced us into the kitchen with a cheap cake none of us really wanted to eat for a photo opportunity (he always takes photos of us when we really don't want to have photos taken). As none of us wanted to eat the cake or celebrate my brother's 23rd birthday this way, we were ...silent.

"I don't understand; why don't you guys speak?"

Oh, great question, dad. Even though my knowledge of Chinese is worse than stray dogs in China, I've heard him say "I don't understand" enough times to know what that sounds like in Chinese. However, he said it this day in English and mainly directed the question to my mum (but said it in English so we'd all know what he was saying; my brother doesn't know Chinese either). I should probably fill you in on the status of our family. (My mum wouldn't appreciate it but really, I don't think it's a big deal.) It's not so good. Or rather, it's fine between my mum, brother, and myself, but not so good with our dad who after recently going to a counselor with my mum has come upon the stunning realization that yes, their marriage sucks. Oh gee, that's what my mum, brother and I have been saying for years. I guess that also shows how well he comprehends this stuff. It's easier to swallow when you pay someone to analyze your relationship. However, from what my mother has told he, he still doesn't really get it. He's apparently informed the counselor that he has a good relationship with me (well, better than with my brother or mum, if that can be used as a scale; by the end of the summer I was the messenger between us and him) and that we'd speak for 20 minutes each day, or something. Which is just a lie, but there ya go.

Anyhoo, after that question my mum got quite angry (replying to his question in English) and still, I don't think my dad got any kind of hint from her unsurprising anger. ...You know, even though my mum sometimes eats a lot, she's quite slim, probably from all the stress.

One part of "What's Cooking?" strongly reminded me of my mother. In a scene between a college-age son and his mother who had been cheated on (the son has a poor relationship with his dad), he asks why she's "weak", in that she still lives with his father. Of course, she's not weak; she puts a lot of energy into trying to keep the family together.

I've asked my mum a similar question before, getting a similar answer. If only you knew my grandparents. In-laws are stereotypically known as nightmares, but haven't met my dad's parents. It would take too long to explain them though.

Uh. I don't know what point I'm trying to make...probably none at all. I'm also not getting out of the film what I probably should be getting, as in something about the food and how it's portrayed in the movie and whatnot. Well. There was a lot of food. Yes. I liked how the scenes panned between the four families making different dishes with similar ingredients, or making completely different dishes to go with their backgrounds (Vietnamese, African-American, Jewish, Latino). Unlike the other movie I just watched for my class, "Like Water for Chocolate", the food wasn'y necessarily a major component of creating conflicts. Obviously, it's a major part of Thanksgiving, but it was the holiday itself bringing families and friends together that lead to conflicts. Ish. I think. Maybe not—I'm supposed to read an essay about the movie but I haven't gotten the book that contains it yet.

One thing that I thought was hilarious was how in the Vietnamese family, the mother had to prepare to meals; one Vietnamese, one American, for the parents/grandparents and children. The turkey (before it turned into charcoal) had been half covered in what looked like a spicy paste while the other half was left naked for the children's American tastes. My mum has a Korean friend who apparently has to do the same thing since her children don't like Korean food. This makes me want to cry since this woman can probably cook amazing things and Korean food is undeniably awesome. I'd love it if my mum cooked Chinese food all the time!

...actually, on that thought of having to cater to the kid's american tastes, that does have to deal with the movie's conflict. The mother is stressed due to having such Americanized kids who don't follow the same principles as her, but she loves them and gives them what they want. And blah blah blah...I suppose I'd have to talk about the conflict for this to make sense, but I don't want to spoil the plot. An epitome of American-ness is shown towards the end, when the family resorts to KFC after the turkey burns to a crisp.

In the African-American family, there's a conflict between tradition (the grandmother) and the upper-middle class (the grandmother's son and wife). To the wife's chagrin, her mother-in-law questions the shitake mushroom stuffing and insists on making an additional macaroni and cheese dish. Not that there's anything really wrong with that. Although her heart was in the right place, the grandmother was pretty annoying to the wife; of course, EVERYTHING TURNS OUT ALRIGHT IN THE END! Kinda.

Uh. I'm tired. Or rather, I should get off the computer and read more stuff for school. Of course, it's all food related....good lord.

I ate a whole chocolate bar today. Um. Yeah. I know I already mentioned that. (sigh)

As much as I wish I wouldn't eat tomorrow, I know I will. I'll still be sick. Veselka is tempting me.


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