Saturday, June 30, 2007

Food, Friends, Freedom

I’m sneaking in a last moment post for June. Even as I being writing this, I’m unsure of what all I’m going to say. That means this will probably be a fairly scatterbrained post. Bear with me.

Melanie and I have had a lot of opportunities to invite people into our home lately. That’s been really nice. Both of us have always wanted to be those kinds of people who have a home full of love that people can feel good and safe and happy to be in. As simple a thing as it is, it means a lot to me to have had people here and to have felt positive about it. This morning, I had a couple of school friends and their spouses (spice? Uh oh, I hear a Mary Kate and Ashley song coming on – consider yourself blessed if you don’t get that inside joke) over for breakfast. These sweet people brought Edison a birthday gift! It’s a stuffed, sock-like frog. Eddie really likes it too, which is wonderful. The moment he pulled it out of the gift bag, he just embraced it all lovingly. It was really cool. And these kind people also brought Melanie a daisy, just for the heck of it. These are people I’ve only hung out with once outside of school time. Talk about generous.

Regarding the food, we had watermelon, cantaloupe, red grapes, strawberries, and bananas (the latter two largely intended to go on the waffles we made), waffles, sausage, and scrambled eggs. Melanie’s waffles are always a hit (I’ll write more about them later—seriously), and I was pleasantly surprised when people acted so enthusiastic about my eggs. The only thing I aim for when it comes to eggs, besides cooking them thoroughly, is to include lots of cheese and lots of seasoned salt. A sprinkle of regular salt and some black pepper is also thrown in. But that’s it. Still, it’s apparently a recipe for success. I know I like ‘em that way, but a little validation never hurt anyone (as anyone who’s had to pay full price for parking can tell you).

Tonight, Melanie and I went with another friend of ours to a vegan (re: vegetarian, but worse) restaurant. I was a bit scared of that, but I braved it. It was our friend’s choice. For the sake of giving you the proper perspective, I should note that this friend is a charismatic, black gentleman who was born the same year as my parents. In his own words, he’s a “long haired hippie.” Probably not what you’d picture if I just left it at saying he’s a friend, so I don’t want you to be misguided. Anyway, he chose the restaurant, which Melanie and I were not all that excited about in the first place, but then we come to find out it’s clear on the opposite side of Atlanta. Not too big of a deal, being that it’s a Saturday, but probably more adventurous than we’re accustomed to, what with li’l Eddie and all. But then as we’re pulling off the freeway, our friend cheerily announces that we’re going into “the black part of town.” Having grown up in Salt Lake City, I didn’t know what exactly that was supposed to mean. Was this just a casual observation, or was this comment to be regarded as a courtesy to me, a heads-up to get myself psychologically prepared for the rest of the evening? Am I going to feel completely out of place or something? Well, whether or not I really should have, I sort of did feel awkward at first. But it ended up being a very pleasant experience, with incredibly friendly people. Not that that’s even the point I wanted to make here. Still, it was part of the experience, so there you go. The real point is that Melanie and I weren’t too keen on the food. In some respects, it was better than I thought it might be. But whatever that main ingredient is in vegan food, I don’t think I care for it. It sure ain’t straight up vegetables, I’ll tell you that. There’s something else, a kind of … indescribable flavor that accompanied every dish. One or two bites of the stuff was tolerable, but my taste buds quickly lost their momentum. I can almost compare it to when something doesn’t have enough salt, but it wasn’t just the absence of something, it seemed to be a bona fide presence of not-so-goodness. Actually, the soy ice cream, which our friend made us get before we ate dinner, was quite tasty. That was the only thing I didn’t mind eating more than a few bites of. Aside from knowing I never want to go to a vegan restaurant again, I did gain one thing from this experience: I can now say I’ve had tofu. BBQ tofu, in fact. That’s something. I guess.

The final thing I’ll make mention of is that Monday is the midterm for the summer class I’m teaching. Because we’re all a bunch of graduate students teaching for our first time, the department chair is providing all of our class materials for us. That’s both good and bad. Good for preparation time, bad for having any control over how your class is run. I can understand not giving us full control at this point, but sometimes it sucks. Sometimes I don’t fully agree with the way something is phrased on a quiz or on the homework, and yet I essentially have to defend it when a student asks me about it. The point is, I was ecstatic when the department chair sent us a copy of the midterm. (Again, we didn’t write these ourselves.) Some of the test questions I’ve seen this guy use in the past have been pretty hard, I think. This time around, they’re fairly straightforward. I’m not only grateful for myself, since there aren’t any questions I feel aren’t fair and yet will have to defend, I’m also grateful for my students, whom I do sincerely hope to see succeed.

That’s what’s been going on in my neck of the woods. Because Monday is the midterm and Wednesday is Independence Day, I don’t have to prepare any teaching for this week. Yippee! I’m hoping it will be a rather joyous seven days. I certainly know I’ll be appreciating my freedom on July 4th, so if I don’t talk to you before then, I hope you’ll be enjoying yours as well.


  1. I'm not vegan, I'm not even vegetarian, but I think that going without meat, dairy, and eggs sometimes has it place. Don't give up on vegan food just yet. I've had some very tasty dishes. Maybe don't go to a restaurant for a while, but someday give it another chance.
    As for tofu, you should be daring and buy some and make something with it. I'm a big fan of the firm and extra firm because I haven't figured out exactly where to use the soft and silken. Check out some recipes on the internet and have fun.

  2. I was wondering if someone would be offended when I described vegan as "vegetarian, but worse." That was meant as a form of humorous hyperbole. I wouldn't be afraid of a vegetarian restaurant (or recipe) in the slightest. And I wouldn't outright reject the idea of something vegan, either. It might take some convincing before I'm prepared to invest time or money into experimenting with tofu in my own home, I'll admit. But I'd happily try a tofu dish again if it were offered to me. (The restaurant's BBQ tofu wasn't the worst culprit by any means -- kind of squishy, but the BBQ sauce masqueraded the "weird" flavor that elsewhere seemed more domineering.)

  3. Oh man I'm coming to your house for breakfast -- you guys throw it on it sounds like. Cool. And good luck to you and your students. It's nice you don't have to defend sucky questions. Your students will love that.

  4. Man your breakfast sounds good.
    The vegan restaurant sounds like quite the adventure and pretty fun despite my dislike of tofu and soy. (Yes I have had tofu. I would describe it as "negative flavor"-almost tastelss, but there is something less than that...)

  5. lol... yeah, you're not going to believe this but i've been going out for sushi! NO i don't eat the fish. but i have found i can eat afew calafornia rolls if they're wraped in soy and not seaweed (you have no idea of the difference!) and avacado rolls are pretty good. brandy will eat more stuff than i do. everyone i talk to recommends eel but come on? NEVER going to happen. but i stray. i only say this because of your tofu comment. yeah, i had a sweet breaded tofu once that wasn't too bad (the rest of the food was unedible apparently i'd rather die than eat the worms of korean food!!) but i could never eat it. i don't like the texture at all. steph keeps threatening us with tofu tacos, yeah okay, that thought that just went through your head i agree with. anyway to be fair i'll have to try them but shite, not appeal to me at all. although i'm getting to where i like the arganomi bean things (i know i'm not right) if you ever have to try it.