Chicago · Cooking & Kitchen · Family · Food · Friends · Holidays · Life On The Road

Thanksgiving Post-Op

This is largely a stub post, so I don’t forget what happened this year on Thanksgiving with me on this side of the Atlantic, and the hubby on the other.  I returned to Chicago from CowTown the day before Thanksgiving.  Did the usual 9 hours straight, with multi-purpose stops…. gas, use the restroom, and grab a quick drink or cookie.  At the end of the drive, where all I ate was a  cheap hotdog and lots of blueberries (let those antioxidants at work while I drive), I was, well, tired and hungry,– surprise surprise.   The nice coincidence is that my best buddies who are based in Kansas City were in Chicagoland area — for a totally different reason other than to visit me.  They took the time out to drag me out of my apartment for food.  We went to the new Sun Wah.  “New” because it  moved from its former home of 20 odd years on Argyle  a few steps east, on Broadway.  Sun Wah is one of the  hubby’s favorite Chinese restaurants in Chicago.  Well, actually, one of many.  He loves Chinese food (I wonder why?  :)), and agrees that the Chinese food in Britain does not compare to the ones in the US.  Notwithstanding the sizeable mainlander Chinese and Hongky population in the UK.  We ordered a white fish in black bean sauce, a large portion of honey pork belly and char-shiew (see below….)

bittermelon in beef,  ma po tofu, and soup (their “small” fed all 3 of us a bowl each plus spare); we also had 3 portions of rice, 3 rootbeers and a coke.   Burp.  I was a piglet, and we had a ton of leftovers to box up to bring home.  The bill came to a grand figure 51 dollars which included a 10.25% tax.  That means, pre-tax the bill was around 46 dollars or roughly under 28 British pounds.  Best of all, it all tasted delicious.  I don’t know that you could get a deal like that in the UK.  I went home stuffed, exhausted from the long-drive, and too happy to be back in my own bed.  I had the perfect sleep.  

Next day, … Thanksgiving, great….  What do we do? I had totally made no plans, having hit the ground running and kept going since I flew into the States 2 weeks earlier.  Carla and Rose (my Spanish teacher) were supposed to come over to my place for dinner.  But Carla has a new apartment, and this time, we agreed to use her kitchen.  As expected, Rose was late (to be fair, she had to work, even on Thanksgiving, …. ay pobrecita!), and Carla could only make the salad (following everything in the recipe book to the letter).  We had no turkey, … so I whipped up what best I could manage.  Anyway, in the end it’s all about having good wine and wonderful conversation and bonding time.   Never mind that I was half-groggy most of the time. :)  

Around 8:30 I had to go home over Carla’s insistence that I just sleep over.  I still wanted my own, familiar bed.  We were planning on our Black Friday activities just as I headed off.  I promised Carla I would look into the coupons I could use the next day and would call so that we can plan which stores hit the next day.  That call didn’t happen.  I intended to wink, but woke up the next morning.  But no one took it against me.  Carla let me sleep in heavenly peace without calling to follow up. 

I still woke up at 7:30 the next day, and yes, we did the post-Thanksgiving American tradition of shopping like it was an Olympic sport, although we played like a Third-World team.  Never mind, we saved more money that way. :p

Yeah, Thanksgiving was alright.  Wish you were here, hub. ;)

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.  No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.  ~H.U. Westermayer  

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American · Asian · CowTown · Favorites · Food · Life On The Road · Restaurants

Comfort Food

It’s a funny thing about being away :  When I come “home” to the US, I catch myself “missing” food I used to take for granted.  I want tastes that are familiar.  Sweetness that’s sinful; saltiness that shoots your blood pressure out of the stadium; and deep-fries that churn out oil shamelessly, in OPEC proportions.  I want huge chunky pieces in my ice cream, drippin’ juiciness in my hotdogs, everything with “everything on it” overflowing from containers that can barely contain all that weight.  Yup.  I want the all the overload and diversity that American food is known for.   

And all this gets deadlier in CowTown (can you guess yet where that is?) — where I drive down to everytime I fly back to Chicago.  Middle America is not known for healthy food.  Not here where you can buy $10 worth of food for $3.  But after a stressful day taking care of client’s needs, I feel the need to reward myself with comfort food.  Now more than ever, when I will be returning soon to a country where I can buy GBP2.00 worth of food for GBP10.00 –AND be charged 10 pence for ketchup.

Since I arrived less than 10 days ago, I’ve swung quite a broad range of food.  Ethnic to American.  I’ve eaten at ChoGa while in Kansas City (Overland Park, actually, in the “Kansas side” of Kansas City).  I love Korean small plates (“banchan” — appetizers that generously come with your main course) :

and my favorite main dish from that restaurant is the “seafood and mushroom soon to fu.”  Very spicy (*Korean spicy is DANGEROUSLY spicy) and …. healthy. :)

And good ol’ Culvers for a big, fat juicy “Deluxe bacon” hamburger:

and oh-so-comforting dessert, i.e., my strawberry shake —

Yum, yum.  I’m lucky that I have a metabolism that still hasn’t given up on me.  I hope it never does.  There’s too much food out there to enjoy.  And anyway, let’s not forget that on days when I work and overwork, I do the “appropriate” thing of settling for good ol’ this —

La vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin. 

"Britishisms" · British "stuff" · Fitting In · Life On The Road · Lost In Translation · Road Signs · UK

Legalese In The Loo

“Separated by a common language” — how often have we heard that screech used to describe the divide between good ol’ Jolly Olde, versus the Colony across the pond.  You know the proverbial usuals —

“MIND THE GAP” instead of “watch your step”;

“TO LET” instead of “For Rent”;

… “TOILET” instead of “rest rooms”


and the list goes on.   I’ve seen a road sign that said —

“BEWARE : These Roads May Tend To Flood During Rain”,


and pointed out to C how “CAUTION – ROADS MAY FLOOD” would’ve made a much smaller signboard.


The uber-nice hotel we stayed in Canterbury brags of “Easy and Quick!” (note exclamation point) access to the Internet. But where’s all that quick-and-easiness that when the textually-challenged guide/instructions tell you this?   —

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Yeah! — “24 hours from 12 to 12 unlimited usage”. (or 11 to 11, 10 to 10…. so on :)). Ok, let’s go through the instructions. Step 1, check. Step 2, check. Now, Step 3 — serious stall. “Select ARGUMENT”? — Hmmm, I had to consult the hubby on that one. Might we even draw swords at some point if the argument gets too heated? [Note: To be fair, the hubby confirmed that he, too, was “a bit confused” by the use of the word “argument” here, and that the usage is somewhat questionable.]


And then just last week, at the women’s restrooms at the lobby of the hotel in Falkirk, Scotland, that we stayed in, THIS sign —

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“Whilst” is still happily used in everyday conversation. “Licensed Premises”? — ok. “Within sight of an accompanying adult at all times” — yes. Just dig it. This is all “PLEASE KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR KIDS” in legalese. or in English. :)
Life On The Road · UK

Star of Wonder

The day I arrived in the UK exactly a week ago today, I had to pack up a smaller bag that same evening for a trip to Scotland for 3 days.  As usual, Craig had his projects in power generation plants located, as always, in the middle of nowhere.  And I had my own eagerness to tag along to explore the UK.  And as long as I have my map, a bus/train schedule, and a compass (now nicely found in my iPhone), things have become more efficient as I manage to avoid finding myself, uhm, in the middle of nowhere.  But enough of these dramatic sentences — I went to Glasgow for 2 of the 3 days, for a few hours each time.  One day I just stayed in the hotel, consumed WiFi like a cyberspace drunk, worked up a frenzy and fired everything across to the other side of the pond.
And so finally, we were driving home from Falkirk, Scotland, down to Manchester.  The terrain was amazing as we drove up- and downhill, our ears popping from altitude changes as we passed grazing lands and mountainsides, little storybook towns, now all quiet, in the pitch dark of night.  Except that up there, right in front of us, was this very shining, very solitary, light in the sky — just that in an otherwise very black sky.  And how crazy can a conversation between a male Engineer (meaning:  black-is-black-white-is-white), and a jet-lagged female lawyer (meaning:  black-can-be-white-depending-on-your-arguments) get?
C:   Look up there.  Very bright huh.  Must be a planet.
Me:  How do you know it is a planet, and not a star?
C:  Because it is unusually bright and I seem to recall reading somewhere that Jupiter is highly visible these days.  That might be Jupiter.
Me:  Well, what if it’s a star?
C:  THAT bright?
Me:  Yeah, what if it’s the North Star?
C:  Unlikely.
Me:  Why?
C:  We’re headed South.
Me:  Oh, ok.
Marginal note 1  :  I SWEAR I do not have blond roots.
Marginal note 2  :  I was and am still heavily jet-lagged, which most likely explains the “lapse”.
Marginal note 3  :  True enough, I checked online and indeed Jupiter dominates the October sky.   This is fun to view:  http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/tonights_sky/show.php?month=october&year=2009
Marginal note 4  :  Meanwhile and wonderfully coincidentally, blaring in the background was Gustav Holst’s “JUPITER, Bringer of Jollity” from “The Planets” (version of the London Symphony, Sir Colin Davis conducting).  How perfect is that?

The day I arrived in the UK exactly a week ago today, I had to pack up a smaller bag that same evening for a trip to Scotland for 3 days.  As usual, Craig had his projects in power generation plants located, as always, in the middle of nowhere.  And I had my own eagerness to tag along to explore the UK.  And as long as I have my map, a bus/train schedule, and a compass (now nicely found in my iPhone), things have become more efficient as I manage to avoid finding myself, uhm, in the middle of nowhere.  But enough of these dramatic sentences — I went to Glasgow for 2 of the 3 days, for a few hours each time.  And on one day I stayed in the hotel, consumed WiFi like a cyberspace drunk, worked up a frenzy and fired everything across to the other side of the pond.  And so quickly those days flew by.

And so finally, we were driving home from Falkirk, Scotland, down to Manchester.  The terrain was amazing as we drove up- and downhill, our ears popping from altitude changes as we passed grazing lands and mountainsides, little storybook towns, now all quiet, in the pitch dark of night.  Except that up there, right in front of us, was this very shining, very solitary, light in the sky — just that in an otherwise very black sky.  And how crazy can a conversation between a male Engineer (meaning:  black-is-black-white-is-white), and a jet-lagged female lawyer (meaning:  black-can-be-white-depending-on-your-arguments) get?

C:   Look up there.  Very bright huh.  Must be a planet.

Me:  How do you know it is a planet, and not a star?

C:  Because it is unusually bright and I seem to recall reading somewhere that Jupiter is highly visible these days.  That might be Jupiter.

Me:  Well, what if it’s a star?

C:  THAT bright?

Me:  Yeah, what if it’s the North Star?

C:  Unlikely.

Me:  Why?

C:  We’re headed South.

Me:  Oh, ok.

Marginal note 1  :  I SWEAR I do not have blond roots.

Marginal note 2  :  I was and am still heavily jet-lagged, which most likely explains the “lapse”.

Marginal note 3  :  True enough, I checked online and indeed Jupiter dominates the October sky.   This is fun to view:  http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/tonights_sky/show.php?month=october&year=2009

Marginal note 4  :  Meanwhile and wonderfully coincidentally, blaring in the background was Gustav Holst’s “JUPITER, Bringer of Jollity” from “The Planets” (version of the London Symphony, Sir Colin Davis conducting).  How perfect is that?

Skylights from the atrium, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Glasgow Museum, Glasgow.
Skylights from the atrium, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Glasgow Museum, Glasgow.