When we started discussing about our trip to Europe, the first thing I was super excited for was – breakfast. To rephrase, breakfast in Paris. I am a sucker for all things loaded with carbs, and bread, is my weakness. I’m the person who loads up on free bread and butter in restaurants although a good main course is next. There is this Italian restaurant near my house that serves mediocre food but their whipped butter and fresh bread is killer. I LOVE that place. So obviously I was very psyched to try all the different croissants and baguettes.
I’ve had my share of decent croissants but guys, believe the hype when I say that the French take croissants to a whole new level! The first day we decided to have breakfast at one of the many cafés that were strewn around our hotel. All cafés in Paris follow the same theme – red, they all have outside seating and EVERYONE smokes. The tables outside these cafés are placed so close together you could totally join in the conversations and pick food off each others tables without even stretching. One day we decided to have lunch in the outside seating area and this guy was blowing smoke in my face throughout the whole meal. It was unpleasant to say the least.
While visiting most cafés we realized that the ‘locals’ had their coffee standing at the bar. We were the noob tourists “sitting down” for coffee. We later realized that coffee served at the bar is infinitely more cheaper than if you “sat down”. Its one of those “European” things that I don’t get.
Most cafés have a set breakfast menu offering one of each treat – croissant, baguette, pain au chocolat. We tried the breakfast set for a couple of days and switched things up with the Nutella crepes (chewy, chocolatey goodness) and Norwegian smoked salmon with the fluffiest, creamiest, most decadent scrambled eggs I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Coffee in Paris is good enough, but the coffee in Rome was the best. If you are visiting Paris first I’d recommend holding off a little on the food until you visit Rome, because that is where the magic lies.
If you were wondering where I’ve been these past couple of weeks well, I was prancing around Europe, seeing beautiful things and eating scrumptious food. We visited Paris and Rome for a week. While we did not manage to see EVERYTHING in Paris and Rome this trip was by no means a vacation. I was exhausted from walking on the first day so we took it easy for the rest of the trip.
Paris is a charming city. There are tiny cafes serving overpriced coffee at every turn, tourists as far as the eye can see, freshly baked baguettes and croissants. I consumed an insane amount of carbs in that four day period. While I did try some French food, it was not made for my Indian palate.
I love to people watch, and Parisian women are now my favorite. None of them brush their hair. They’ve all managed to perfect the just-got-out-of-bed look while still looking like a million bucks. They don’t wear a jeans and t shirt with sneakers like how Americans do. They either wear dresses or knee length skirts. Most of them wear practical, yet chic flats, blazers and no make up. How is it physically possible for you to look so perfect?! I think fifteen minutes is all a Parisian woman takes to get ready in the morning.
Note to self: Master the art of looking put together in fifteen minutes.
It took less than a day to feel like Paris owned me. At the end of four days I did not want to go back to my seemingly monotonous life. There were too many places that I hadn’t explored yet. The Parisian life of hanging out in cafes on a Monday morning, smoking and drinking espressos called out to me.
Tamil Nadu has a bustling “snack scene”. While most Tamil households practice the “tiffin” culture, (a small meal between lunch and dinner at around 4 o’clock) that consists of idli, dosa, adai or such, my family partakes in the “evening tea”. And no, we’re not British. I have fond memories of my extend, boisterous family spending our evenings talking about politics, religion and sharing anecdotes (some even for the millionth time) over bottomless cups of tea and golden brown masala/paruppu(dal) vadais.
The combination of tea and vadai was the most popular item in my house. My mother would fry batch over batch of crispy vadais, enough to satisfy the endless stream of guests that waltzed in to my home (many of whom I think came just for the tea).
I remember hovering impatiently over the hot kadai pestering my mother to “make it soon”. ‘Cause Lord knows, I was always hungry. Considering the amount of time I spent talking to my mother in the kitchen, I never actually managed to cook anything. So when it came to the vadai I took care of the consumption while she did the manufacturing.
Cut to last week when I decided to make these vadais because what’s Ramadan without some oily goodness clogging up your blood stream . I scanned the Interwebz high and low for a recipe that fit. Nothing managed to click. Finally I gave up and decided to just wing it. I soaked the dal and chopped the onions, green chillies and ginger. Few hours later I was frying up slightly misshapen, but delicious vadais. Turns out the time I spent in the kitchen was of use. While I didn’t pay attention to what or rather, how my mother made the food, my brain was passively recording everything for future use.
And that, my friends, is why you should never take yourself for granted.
Also, y’all are welcome to my house anytime for tea and vadai.
“My dramas don’t help me sleep, they simply allow me to pretend that I’m somebody else, someone who’s not lying saucer-eyed on a sweat-drenched mattress, watching minutes flap forward and awaiting the dawn of another dry day.”
.. not the movie. I’ve been doing a lot of self reflecting this Ramadan (don’t laugh) in order to become a better person on the whole. I was thinking about grudges and how some of them consume us like a fire. I have decided to not hold grudges against anyone and not feel so strongly when someone else holds a grudge against me. I realize that everyone is dealing with their own issues and holding on to one hurtful thing that someone said eons ago is not going to make my life any easier. Holding a grudge is like adding on an excess weight to my shoulder that I do not want. I don’t want to waste precious time in my life from wondering why so and so was mean, rude, etc.
I’ve decided to be carefree about these things and not let them gnaw at my brain. ‘Cause really, no good can come from these resentful thoughts.
P.S : How horrible was that movie The Grudge? I despise the entire horror genre.
The white screen with a blinking cursor is very daunting. This was one of the reasons why I was away from this space for a long time. I felt like I didn’t have anything to say and my little pot of “inspiration” was shrinking, smaller and smaller until it stopped existing. Although the empty screen did call out to me, coming back to it was like an elastic pull – forced but meant to be.
The past few weeks I have been in denial that I don’t have a procrastination problem. I’ve also been fasting for long hours. While it was hard for the first couple of days I have now got in to the groove of it. Eating bajjis and pakodas might cancel out the process of fasting, but this year I told myself I will not waste food. So we’ve been having leftovers every alternate day. And its been good so far.
I have also written so many amazing blog posts IN MY HEAD. My creative juices only start to flow when I reach the stage before REM. So right after I nod off to sleep I come up with these amazing ideas and story lines and tell myself to “remember this Zarine, you’re going to type it out in the morning”, and then I fall asleep. I wake up and all that amazingness is gone. Its a terrible, terrible thing.
Last week I sprained my neck sleeping on a flat pillow. Not just one, but both sides. I couldn’t turn left or right. Straight was the only direction. Not only were my movements hindered, it was also painful. I slathered myself with Tiger Balm (tiger not included) and wrapped my neck in a heat pack. Last night I was desperate for some relief so I Googled ‘neck pain cure’ and found an interesting acupuncture remedy. You guys, trust me when I say that it WORKED LIKE A CHARM. All you need to do is press the area between your forefinger and middle finger at the back of your hand. Press hard and make small circles while you turn your head from side to side. Do it on the hand that is in the opposite side of the sprain. I know it sounds like some voodoo, mumbo jumbo but it honestly works. The pain begins to subside and you get a greater range of motion. I woke up this morning with the pain reduced by 50 %. The next time I sprain my neck (it happens quite often) I know that I have a handy cure.
You ask, in order to entirely eliminate this neck sprain situation, Zarine, why don’t you get a harder pillow? Believe me, I’ve tried. This is my third pillow. Ikea has a terrible collection of pillows when it comes to the firmness. They have various pillows for side and back sleepers. I’ve tried both. They suck equally. In Madras I used a decent, solid pillow that didn’t sink to the floor when I placed my head on it.
I am venting over a pillow and a sprained neck for half this post. Either I’m really angry or my inspiration comes from bedroom textiles.
I had a terrible Sunday, you guys. I woke up (with great difficulty) to a breakfast of Turkish sausage and eggs. And that’s where the nice part ends. Since I wanted to eat a steak for lunch I thought it would make sense if I exercised a bit before. So I decided very enthusiastically, to go swimming. On the way to the pool my stupid allergies flared up but I pushed it aside and swam anyway. Once my arms were the perfect shade of grey I decided it was time to get out. Note: Was still very excited about the prospect of steak.
We drove to the store to get my Kosher certified Angus beef steak only to find that it was the ONLY MEAT ITEM ON THE SHELF THAT WAS COMPLETELY SOLD OUT. How is that even possible? Did the Universe decide that it wants to mess with my cravings? ‘Cause I’ve been wanting this steak for over a week. I even bought organic Yukon Gold potatoes to roast AND I AM NOT AN ORGANIC PERSON.
Depressed and defeated I settled for Kosher Angus beef burgers. I put Jay to work on the new cast iron skillet we bought for the steak WHICH WE NEVER GOT TO EAT.
The beef burgers were good and I roasted the potatoes anyway because.. well, just because.
Note: Allergies decided to party IN MY NOSE and I could only breathe through like, half a nostril.
At this point I realized that I didn’t dry out my wet hair and I felt feverish.
SIDE BAR: I told Jay I am feeling “somewhat”, which is Zarine for sick. And he asked “somewhat as in?”. I said I feel hot and cold at the same time AND HE LOOKED AT ME LIKE I WAS MENTAL. Feeling hot and cold is a legit sickness. He just doesn’t know it yet.
Now added to my 99 problems my left heel decided it wanted to join the shindig and started hurting like a little *beep*.
I didn’t feel like eating the dinner I made (methi bhindi masala) so I roasted two corn(s)? Cobs? Slathered it with Amul butter and salt. I was tired from all this drama so decided to go to bed early. I kept tossing and turning throughout the night. I always sleep on my side but now when I do, I can only breathe through one nostril. So now I sleep on my back, this way I have access to half of each nostril. I was out of Zyrtec so Jay offered to buy me a huge pack in the morning. After he left for work and after I treated myself with a mango to cancel out the crappy Sunday I had, I took one pill. I didn’t know antihistamines were this strong because I literally went through the day in a haze. It is a wonder I didn’t fall asleep over my cooker while making lunch.
I just inhaled one third of a watermelon and am now waiting for 8 PM which is a respectable time to go to bed.
I’m not big on Hallmark holidays but once I heard that Friday was National Donut Day (yeah, its a thing) I had to get some donut in to my system. We woke up bright and easily on Saturday, excited to try out a local donut shop called Stan’s Donut and it was such a disappointment. I had to erase that memory of the bad donut so Sunday evening we went to a good ol’ donut corporation – Krispy Kreme and I had my favorite original glazed chocolate donut. To further quell my greed I had two more. Go ahead and judge me. It was worth it.
I have this terrible sickness where if I start watching a tv show or a movie I have to watch it till the end no matter how terrible it is. This past couple of months I painfully sat though Desperate Housewives. It was so exhausting but I HAD to know what happens in the end. Now I am watching the last season of Beverly Hills that I stopped while I was in college with a bit of 30 Rock on the side. I’m itching to watch Orange is The New Black but waiting for my finals to end before I get sucked in to that vortex.
A couple of nights back in order to save the mutton from getting burnt Jay mutilated my tea vessel to place it inside the pressure cooker. I haven’t had my Lipton tea in two days now and I’m going just the tiniest bit insane. Speaking of tea, Oprah came up with a new tea. Starbucks sells it, so if you want one you have to ask for an “Oprah Chai Tea Latte”. Its a mouthful. N is a huge Oprah fan so I tried the tea for her sake. It tasted like sugar water with ground cloves. Americans have such average taste buds. They should taste my mother’s ginger tea. It’s so good that she could mass manufacture it.