The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

back to Temple, some chocolate, Chinese take-out craving, scared of Paris

my plate
veggies and more veggies!

I'm not necessarily back on the "eat everything" trail, but a plate of various cooked vegan-friendly foodstuffs for the grand sum of $4.29 from my second visit to Temple in the Village served my appetite well. My digestion feels fine after having to deal with the most cooked food I've eaten in a week. (Lunch consisted of an orange, a banana, and a smidgen of my mum's Larabar. I found that I don't have a problem eating a fruit meal as long as I get some kind of nut/dried fruit snack at the end.)

What's on my plate? [squints] Broccoli, miso-flavored kale-esque stuff (not bad, but made me realize that I'm not a big fan of miso), sesame-flecked baked potato chunk, kabocha slice, mung bean noodles, seaweed salad, kimchi, marinated cucumber slices (marinated in...something tasty), and chopped cabbage salad. Such a meal would probably make my meat-centric brother cry.

Stephanie's plate
Stephanie's plate

Stephanie and I cleared out plates of all the healthy deliciousness before moving on to less nutritional possibilities.

ice cream sammiiich!!! ice cream cones!
ice cream ice cream!!!

Jacques Torres, what...what are you doing?! You didn't have these last summer!

holy crap
that's a lotta sammiches


Of course, I didn't try any of these monsterous ice cream sandwiches, but I've made it my goal to get a taste of the roasted banana before the summer ends. If you ask me, $5 is extremely reasonable for what I'm sure is one of the tastiest ice cream sandwiches you'll ever find. The cookies alone cost $2.50 each, if I remember correctly. Wouldn't it be great if you got a cup of thick hot chocolate to go with it? Dip in that sucker! Oh god.

...Man, how is it that I come up with some of the most unhealthy things while trying to eat more healthily? Or did I just answer my own question?

I gave into the chocolate scent that fills every cubic foot of the store/your brain and bought a bar of Pistachio Pleasures. While the website describes the bar as having "tiny crunches", the actual label says caramelized pistachios. Indeed, the bar only contains tiny, nearly microscopic crunches, which is fine if that's what you're expecting, not so fine if you're looking forward to pistachio chunks. My first bite was disappointing when it returned so little pistachio-ness that I didn't see the point of including it at all, but the experience became better after deciding that I really liked the plain chocolate. Not too dark, not too sweet, and surprisingly smooth. If you really like really dark chocolate, this bar would be too mild for you. However, I don't. (If prefering milk chocolate over dark shows that I have an unsophisticated palate, then...yeah, that's true. I also like that sometimes detested white chocolate stuff. Of course, I'll eat any chocolate as long as it doesn't suck.)

After gazing at mountains of chocolatey things, we went to the nearby Film Forum to see The Motel. Stephanie commented that most of the employees at Film Forum were tall guys with an inability to express emotions beyond the one of "staring into space". It made me miss the friendliness of Norway. [sigh] At least the guy who ripped my ticket gave a smile, unless that was a mistake...

The movie was surprisingly short and akin to many indie movies lacked a satisfying conclusion (it kinda just...ends, and then the credits roll), but I enjoyed it enough. The range of sad, troubled characters should make you feel better about your life. Unless your life is really horrible, in which case...maybe not.

Off the Broiler is giving me the biggest craving for Chinese-American food I've had in years. Is shimp with lobster sauce on anyone else's "Favorite Food" list? Ye know, the somewhat gelatinous, cloudy sauce laced with silky egg goo, chopped scallions, clumpy pork bits and plump, tightly wound shrimps? I'm not a big fan of shrimp; for me, it's all about the sauce, turning every grain of rice it coats into an object of crack-like addiction. The shrimp does give color though, resulting in an somewhat eye-pleasing array of yellows, pinks, and greens, all swimming in a substance that becomes gloppily mucilaginous after cooling in the fridge (a phenomenom I've had much experience with after reheating plenty of leftover lobster sauce since I was little).

So. Is it just me?

My family's favorite Chinese take-out in Hawthorne was run by a very petit, slim Chinese woman who spoke a smidge faster than a Chipmunk. Her tone wasn't Chipmunk-esque, just...the speed. There were usually three male chefs who would heed her barked orders and quickly stir fry the demanded foodstuffs in big, flaming woks. Sometimes I'd watch them comically pack the contents of the wok in a container that looked too small, but after some not so careful smushing and jabbing with a large utensil (hey, this ain't brain surgery), managed to fit the previously overflowing mountain of food snugly undernearth the plastic lid. Thank god nothing ever exploded.

My Chinese-American staples were a rotation of shrimp with lobster sauce, beef and broccoli, and chicken curry. I could count on my brother to get General Tsao's Chicken and my mum usually sprung for chow fun (flat, wide noodles?) or mei fun (thin rice noodles). Despite that the standard Chinese take-out meny is freakin' huge, I had no desire to explore the other options when I had a handful of safe options. (A few summers ago at a Chinese take-out near Vassar, I decided to try the dumplings. I like all dumplings! ALL. DUMPLINGS. But no, not these dumplings, which consisted of at least 50% evil. Thick skins wrapped insufficiently meaty morsels of...some kind of meat. Pork, I think. It was odd and failed to contain any dumpling soul. That I still remember the experience—my huge Chinese take-out splurge after kicking the raw food diet—is a testament to how bad it was.)

Ah. AHH. AHHHHH OH JESUS, I'm not pregnant; I shouldn't be craving these random things. (Not that being pregnant would be the only reason; but ye know...preggers have that reputation and I aim to exploit it.) I haven't eaten Chinese-American food since going to school in NYC after I realized that there wasn't much need to get standard Chinese take-out when I lived so close to Chinatown. Admittedly, most of the food I ate in Chinatown was from bakeries, tasty wheaty things that are difficult to get in locations that lack large populations of Chinese people. (Sarah told me that she planned to hoard a crapload of "China buns" to bring back home to Kansas. It's not hard for me to imagine her toting a suitcase stuffed with buns back to the midwest.)

Last weekend I sat at the dinner table with my mum as she engulfed chopstick-fulls of mei fun and my brother as he ate crispy golden pieces of General Tsao's Chicken. I ate an orange. Boy, that was fun. Let's do it again.

I'm still on my diet, so no greasy, MSG-ed Chinese-American food for a while.

Famous Fat Dave has an awesome new theme song (at the bottom of the page)! Cool beans. Now I want to make my own theme song, except I don't have close relations with first-rate musicians. Doh! If I make a theme song, it'll have to be by myself. If anyone bangs out decent lyrics, I'll turn it into a song. Seriously! It can be a fun summer project., I might let you listen to it.

After looking at one of Dave's food tours, I realized that eating with him would probably kill me by sucking out all of my digestive energy. But would that really be an objectionable way to die? Maybe not.

Although I've been reading David Lebovitz's blog for at least a year, I've been paying closer attention lately to prepare for my next semester in Paris. (If you don't read it, ye should! Besides that he's hilarious, he talks about the best foods in the world: baked things and chocolated things.)

Not that I feel prepared at all. The problem that I've encountered is that the more I try to learn about Paris, the more woefully unprepared I feel and frightened that I'll die of confusion. ...Or at the hands of angry Parisians I'll unintentionally piss off for being a stupid American who forgets to address everyone as monsieur/madame (will people really hate me for that?). Luckily, I don't have the habit of eating/drinking while I walk (I've seen people in NYC chomping on a slice of pizza in one hand and holding a plate in the other while walking down a busy street), but I do have an abnormally loud speaking voice and I'm very shy and lacking in communication skills, so speaking to every shopkeeper is going to be difficult. It seems like there are a gazillion cultural differences I need to pick up to semi-fit in. I've never felt like I even fit in in my own hometown; what's gonna happen in Paris?


Of course, I'm still looking forwad to it. The moutains of bread. Not the doom.

Ah, I love Overheard in New York:

Cold Fish Is the New Warm Vegetable

Girl #1: Want to get take-out?
Girl #2: Sure. I feel like something warm and vegetarian.
Girl #1: Like what?
Girl #2: Hmm. Oh! Like a tuna sandwich.

--Upper West Side


jo / July 7, 2006 2:49 AM

I spent a month in France a couple of years ago and I did not know any French except for a few words. I also did very little research on the country since I am used to traveling to a foreign country and just observe the locals and to act accordingly. I find that everyone I came across were very friendly and helpful even when we didn't understand each other very well. Paris should not pose a big problem if you are limited in your French skills; most people seemed to be able to speak some English. I spent time in Lyon, Nantes, and Le Man as well, and I didn't find anyone who spoke English in those cities. I am a pretty observant person, so I picked up a lot of French while I was there, so being in those cities weren't that bad. Overall, the French are very nice people, but they may be not be so forgiving if you are one of those obnoxious, tacky tourists.

eunice / July 7, 2006 6:12 AM

I think after a few days in Paris, you will start understanding what the people want or say to you even before you understand the language. That's what happened to me during my very short stay there. I hardly knew the language but with all the French bombardment from the Parisians, I somehow managed to understand what they want from me. Maybe French can be learned through osmosis, it just start seeping through your pores! It's amazing how we actually managed to communicate with each another. The Parisians (at least those I met) insisted mostly on speaking French to me even though it's clear that I'm a foreigner and do not speak French. But other than their reluctance to speak English, I found them to be quite helpful and friendly. And their breads are out of the world!

janet / July 7, 2006 10:39 AM

omg. i need those ice cream sandwiches like yesterday. they all look so good!

glad you got a chance to check out the movie. it was sort of a sudden ending wasn't it? but i think it had nowhere else to go and i like how after all the activity, it ends with this silent moment.

sigh. france. i'm sure you will pick up some french really quickly and you'll be ordering all sorts of baguettes and brioches and cakes and pastries with the best of them.

maria~ / July 7, 2006 12:37 PM

Paris? How awesome! I'm oh-so jealous! I've never been to France and I think that you'll have such an awesome (not to mention, bready) gastronomic adventure. *Droolz* Buttery croissants *Droolz* Rich dark chocolates *Droolz* Do take lotsa pix!

I bet those gi-normous ice cream sandwiches are good. Have you tried baking your own cookies and then making ice cream sandwiches with them? Yumz! I think I'll do that today. Anyway, I love the exchange you overheard. What a signature blonde moment ;)

roboppy / July 7, 2006 1:04 PM

Jo: Thanks for the info! I know more than a few words of French...but I've never had to use em before. :O I'm also taking an intro French class during the semester. Even though I've traveled to a bunch of foreign countries, I tend to not...pick up anything, probably because I'm usually with my family. Eek.

Eunice: OSMOSIS! I hope that works for me. I would rather speak French than English since speaking bad French will make me feel less stupid than speaking English...somewhat.

Janet: I wouldn't know where else to make the movie go, so I guess it's good that it ended where it did. But...sad! It's just. Like. DOH.

I guess it's like real life. Everything turns to poop! Haha!...

I'll eat nothing else besides baked goods. Oh lord.

Maria: I'm kind of afraid about taking photos because I think that may annoy the hell out of people (and give out the touristy vibe)! :( I better learn how to ask that in French. I have to get "Excusez-moi de vous d�ranger" down first...

I've never made homemade ice cream sandwiches, but I've made cookies...and ice cream. Gotta make em at the same time though, hehe.

Unfortunately, I didn't overhear that exchange. Actually, I never overhear anything particularly funny in NYC after living there for almost two years. Either I'm not paying enough attention or I'm not hanging around the stupid talkative people.

Lutkie / July 7, 2006 7:06 PM

AHAHAHAH I WANT ONE OF THOSE ICE CRAEM SAMMICHES!!! I can't believe I missed those!!!! I have to laught because we really do have the same taste buds....I was like...hmmm ROASTED BANANA all the way!!! I hope you are feeling better. Glad to see that you are eating!!You have to go to cafe mogador and get the cous cous!!! It was amazing!!!! I am going to bug you until you do!!!

tom / July 7, 2006 8:44 PM

Learn a few words of french. When I went there and tried to speak french, I found most people opened up and spoke very good english, and were quite friendly. But a lot of them wouldn't speak english until I tried to speak to them in french.

My wife, who doesn't speak any french, confirmed this. We got a lot better treatment when I was around and at least tried to speak to them first.

roboppy / July 8, 2006 12:32 AM

Sarah: Oh nooo, now you have to come back! Heehee. A lot of chocolate shops bust out ice cream in the summer, but I've never tried any. Hmmmdeedum. Better get on that this summer. And Cafe Mogador, hopefully.

Tom: Thanks for the info! I know basic French, but am afraid that it won't even be understandable. ;P I guess it will be...somewhat. Er. I'll find out. [shudders]

william / July 9, 2006 9:05 PM

Oh, the cookie sammiches! And I have to be going in November. Unfair! Bah! Now I gotta plan a trip in Ice Cream season. Huh, that's funny. I capitalized Ice Cream without even thinking about it. Not that it doesn't deserve caps.

And any theme song for you would be an interesting affair. And probably the only song in history to feature the words "sammich" and "innards" in it.

Can't give you any guidance on Paris. Never been.

Cathy / July 10, 2006 8:21 AM

I think you'll be fine. I know I would be a little nervous considering their reputation towards Americans. But you're not the a-typical redneck American. Plus you're really not a tourist since you'll be there for an extended period of time. Politeness is the key, I think. I can only dream about the pastry goodness that is waiting for you there.

Ani / July 10, 2006 1:13 PM

You will be ok! It's normal to have fears! You get a chance that most people only dream of, including eating some great things and seeing wonderful sites! Fear is part of it.

roboppy / July 10, 2006 2:11 PM

william: Ice Cream should be capitalized, yes!

The whole song could just be made of the words "sammich" and "innards". Kids would love it. Maybe.

Cathy: Yaay, not a redneck! By the time I get used to being there the semester will probably be over. Doh.

Ani: I'm hoping that the food will be so good that it'll act as a non-fear drug and I'll walk around zombie-like in search of bread.

Rose / July 10, 2006 4:59 PM

I spent a month in Paris several summers ago, as a break between a job and graduate school.

I was supposedly there to "learn french" at Alliance Francais, but really, I was there to have a damn good time. And boy did I! It was one of the best moments in my life, hands down.

I went with only the knowledge of a few words and of course I was "in class" learning (little that did). Really, what I found to be the best method was just ATTEMPTING to speak in French. Even if it came out horribly or wrong, I just made the effort. It really really helped because they a) saw I was trying b) tried to help me back or spoke to me in english. No one was ever rude to me when I made an attempt.

One thing I noticed was that a lot of shops and quite a few bistros were owned by Chinese people. Yes, chinese-speaking chinese people.

I have one single foodie recommendation:

Bagels & Brownies
12, Rue Notre Dame des Champs, 6th arr.
Metro: Saint-Placide
Business hours: 9 AM to 8 PM. Sunday closed

Yes, I realize it's american fare but it was also some of the best food I had in Paris, hands down. When you get homesick, GO THERE!

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