Saturday, May 31, 2008

Stranger than fiction

This reads like an Onion headline: Giant Vulva Bicycle Taxi is Freudian Wet Dream
And to warn you, the bike is anatomically correct. I'm not sure I'd be willing to crawl on in there myself, but maybe for the sake of art... In any case I respect someone who's willing to take their beliefs to such an extreme. I haven't got that kind of faith.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Foto Friday

This guy is our President. No, really.

Belgian Fries

So I was in Brussels a couple weeks ago, trying out my new Italian accent in French, and felt obligated to eat some French fries and drink beer made by monks. I stayed in a youth hostel to the north of the city and got a funky, youth oriented tourist map from them that had a couple locations labeled as 'the best fries in Brussels'. I picked one that was basically just a little trailer pulled up in the plaza behind a church. There was the smell of hot grease, a confounding list of toppings choices and a huge mound of once fried, thick cut fries, ready to be popped back in the oil.
I have to admit, I was expecting thinner fries; these were nice meaty steak cut style fries, and definitely tasted like potato. Actually, my first bite was sort of mediocre. I was disappointed, they seemed a little bit limp, and the deliciousness factor was low, even smeared with mayonnaise. Eating fries with mayo is a habit I picked up in Guinea, I love it. But there I was with a lap full of hot potato product, resigned to pick out the crunchiest bits and make it through at least half of what I'd paid for.
Five fries later I started thinking "wow, this tastes a LOT better than the first bite!" By the time I had made my way to the bottom of the paper dish, I was relishing every bite, and I wiped up the very last of the mayo with a hint of regret that it was over. I don't know how they could get better as I ate my way through them, but in the end, those were some of the best french fries I've ever eaten.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Food for Foto Friday

I wanted to give you a great shot of some Pho side plates, mmmmmm.

Unfortunately I struggled with Flickr and the Washingtonian so instead take a look at the June cover and follow the link for the Cheap Eats slide show.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Foto Friday - Late Edition

Nature is insane. Check out this image of a storm converging with the Chaitén eruption in Chile two weeks ago.

(from National Geographic News)
(see another photo of the storm here)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mmmmmm, Hashbrowns.

Because xkcd should be on your rss reader, and I haven't had any potato products recently...

All I need now is a little bit of ketchup.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Foto Friday

Since I'm no longer trapped behind a desk day in and out toiling away lo those long hours, I've decided to throw out some weekly features. Over on the Political side of things we introduced Two Truths & A Lie on Tuesday and today we're happy to bring you the first installment of Foto Friday (yes that would be the royal we, man). Please enjoy, and keep an eye out for other exciting A/V bonuses coming soon...

Today's Foto comes from the BBC News via Mark Bittman's NYT blog, Bitten.

This image of a peppercorn and a grain of salt taken by David McCarthy is the overall winner (and close-up category winner) in this year's Visions of Science Photographic Awards. The competition is sponsored by Novartis and The Daily Telegraph. (©David McCarthy)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Corner of Nebraska & Connecticut Finally Safe Again

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Frank Winstead has cleaned up the corner and removed the scourge that was the beloved ping-pong table in front of Comet Pizza.

If this just sounds wrong to you never fear; Marc Fisher has handed out an exceptionally raw take down of Winstead over on his WaPo blog (that's a joke people, his blog is called raw fisher). Check it out for the full story and keep an eye on the links (Marc always does a great job with them) for the opportunity to thank Commissioner Winstead yourself (there are also photos and video people).

I suppose the only reassuring tid-bits are that the table still exists, its back inside, and that outdoor seating might be coming to Comet.

Now raise your hand if you remember the Thai Room.

P.S. this brouhaha has created quite a nice little comment stream at DCist.

Standard Operating Procedure

so Errol Morris, the Oscar winning director of The Fog of War, has a new movie that was released April 25th and I can't go see it because I'm in the wrong country. It’s called Standard Operating Procedure, a documentary about the people who made the Abu Ghraib photographs and how they came to light. He’s also written a book on the subject with Philip Gourevitch, the author of We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda.

I really enjoyed going to see The Fog of War with my father when it came out, and I'm hoping this will me more of the same intense confrontation with reality. Morris has a unique approach to difficult subject matter, he said on the podcast : "I don't see it as my job to get people to say they’re sorry. I don’t want to hear your confession, I don’t want to hear you apologize... I just want you to tell me your story!" I have a lot of respect for someone who attacks a problem without seeking to lay blame or exonerate.

As for the other half of this pair, I finally finished Gourevitch's book about Rwanda last summer and it was one of the most heartbreakingly bleak books I've ever read. And I'm really glad I read it. It was a gripping, well written account of an incredible tragedy. It's hard to face the darkest parts of who we are as human beings sometimes, and I'm thankful that we have people like him to help us try to understand.

Oh and did I mention that Danny Elfman composed the score? One of the things that made Fog of War so intense was the relentless score by Philip Glass, a mad genius of noise/sound composing. I don't really know how to describe his work, go check out his site. but embarrassingly enough, I've loved Danny Elfman since his Oingo Boingo days and I've been consistently impressed by his work in film, and I can't wait to see this movie.

Unfortunately, my geographical location makes it somewhat improbable that I'll be seeing it any time soon. In the meantime I'm going to be reading Morris and Gourevitch's recent New Yorker article on Abu Ghraib, that my brother recommends. But I don't have time to tonight because I have to learn il congiuntivo and I'm going to Brussels for the weekend. Ciao!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Taste of Orzo

So I’ve been in Italy since February. My mother already knows all about the exciting/stressful series of events that brought me from one continent to another and, since I’m pretty sure she’s the only one reading this, I’m not going to bother catching you up. Instead I’m going to write about the holy grail of caffeine consumers: Italian coffee.

Before you say to yourself: “wait, the last time this woman wrote about coffee, she was expounding the joys of Nescafe…” let me just explain two things about Italian caffeine intake.

First: Italians aren’t obsessed with coffee. I haven’t met any that drink more than 2 – 3 a day. Most commonly Italians drink a latte or a cappuccino in the morning and that’s it until maybe an espresso after dinner every once in a while. And let me stress that the portions are much, much smaller; we’re talking about a couple of tablespoons of coffee in a big cup of hot milk here.

Americans have a different set of ideas and expectations about Italian coffee than Italians do. There are bars full of people drinking cappuccinos and lattes all afternoon in the piazzas in Florence, and they’re almost overwhelmingly tourists.

All of the foreigners I meet gush about how good the food/coffee is here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the coffee. I just think you could hand a tourist a foul, totally off cup of coffee (maybe Nescafe) and because they’re in Italy it would be transformed into a spectacular liquid joy.

Second: Orzo. What, you might ask, is orzo? Orzo is the Italian word for barley, or Hordeum vulgare. In Italy, it’s roasted, ground up and steeped to produce a dark, coffee like substance that many people drink in the morning as a substitute. I believe that it was widely used during WWII as a coffee alternative because the actual stuff was unavailable.

Why are Italians drinking burned grain product? I don’t get it. I tried some, in the spirit of scientific inquiry, and it tasted pretty much like it smelled. I felt like I was drinking a cup of whole wheat toast that had been cooked until it was just barely shy of being a lump of charcoal. Mmmm, nutty.