Word and Image

Food

Nature

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I dive to see the fish (in the sea). I take pictures. Hey! It’s what I do for fun now. Some people like watching paint dry. I don’t watch golf. I played tennis. They told me there are golf courses in Jeddah. Imagine that?! Too hot!

The flip side – go to a fish market and they have displays with untold numbers of squid and octopus. It’s a very big part of the seven fishes feast at Christmas for Italian Americans. I heard about this for years from Ginny.

I will insert an aside – non sequitur – but sort of related. When I was a kid, my dad came home with a live carp. How? He, like many Chinese, love fresh fish. How? He brought it home from the market in paper and it was still alive. How? He put it into the bathtub and it swam. Ah! No more baths for me…ever! I tell you, that was exactly my thought process in that moment. A bit later he slaughtered that fish. Yes, he cut off its head and I saw blood and the tail flopping. I was changed forever. And that memory sits burning brightly. I also realized that baths would resume shortly after.

When I learned to dive, I quickly found out that seeing octopi is rare. They do not congregate. They are very shy and solitary. Which translates – they are hard to see and harder to photograph – if you see them in the first place.

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Ah! I was early to the resort. I was meeting some other divers. There are tourists in the water. And! Whoa! One caught an octopus bare handed. I moved in for a photograph. No problem. Then… he strangled it in his bare hands! It turned all colors and tried to camouflage itself till it died and reverted to plain brown. The killer left it in the Styrofoam cooler with life juices on the bottom while he sought other prey.

Yeah, I was stunned. If I had to slaughter my own cow, for sure I’d be a vegetarian… It was pretty graphic to watch him kill dinner in front of me.


Egg

IMG_4789Which came first? The chicken or the egg? I confess that now when I dive I compose a post to go along with the fish I shoot (images of). 99% never make it to post. Forgot. Too many images and only one post a day. I don’t try to do more. It’s TMI. And besides, who’s looking? Thank you to you kind readers who put up with me.

This mundane photo is like Proust’s Madeleine. It’s a BLT. Uniquely of my childhood. And beside it is a latte. Uniquely of my past two years. The BLT was in my life from childhood. My mother made them. Bacon was ok to eat then. She even did deep fried shoestring potatoes in the grease. I ate them whenever we traveled to Morgantown, WV for my orthodontist appointment. There was a diner. I ate one and if I could – two. My treat. I don’t know why I needed a treat. It was someone’s mom or my own who had to drive all the miles to the dental appointment.

And second, when I was in college and off to school, my mother would make BLT’s for lunch every Sunday. It was like clockwork. A habit. And I remember them fondly enough that the method and recipe remain about the same. The essentials are the bacon, tomato, and miracle whip. Yeah, yeah…but that’s how I ate them. So change the bread and do a different lettuce….

Third…latte. Didn’t know what one was till a couple years ago. Starbucks, not me. Didn’t go. Immune to coffee. I like the aroma. Never drank the stuff. I either slept or stayed awake but did it without coffee. Now we have a machine. I get flavored latte. Maple syrup, chocolate, hazelnut, and all other manner of tastes. Actually, the best coffee I ever noticed was Kona. Hawaiian. Grown on the Big Island. Smooth, no after taste. Expensive. Usually sold cut. So there’s Kona with 5% real Kona. Don’t fall for it. And so I’ve become a latte fan.

Where is this all going? I take pictures of everything. So here’s the picture. I was editing my recent trip to Chicago and this is a shot from home. I’m far from home again. This is a reminder of fond memories I left behind.

 


Demera

Ethiopia is just across the way from the Middle East. And, I traveled to Chicago to eat in an Ethiopian restaurant. The sites on the ‘net recommended it. The food is typical. It has a pancake bread called injera. It’s a sourdough tasting spongy kind of pancake looking bread. That help? You gotta try it. My kids don’t like the taste of the bread. So you order up. The stuff comes on a large flat pan with injera as the base. You get extra injera to dip and eat with. No forks. Fingers! It’s communal. Sharing. You dip in and go. There is an option for gluten free injera. You don’t go away hungry. The place was packed and they’ve been in business a long time.

Did I tell you my birthday adventure many years ago in NY. There was an Ethiopian restaurant a few steps from where I lived. It’s still there. I’m not. I liked it – the restaurant. The family did not like the taste of the bread. So we never went after our initial adventure. On my birthday I was instructed to dress for dinner out. Then I was blindfolded, led down the elevator, and we all got into a waiting cab. The destination was whispered so I had no clue. After a few minutes we arrived in front of the restaurant. Surprise! Sometimes your family makes sacrifices. It was the last time we ate in this restaurant. Fortunately, they did not depend upon us to remain open.

Sadly, a very nice Italian restaurant has closed in Jeddah. It was expensive and had a great veal dish. Their high price was too much for them to survive. Many a night I walked past them to eat in the cheaper Italian place next door. Yeah, cheaper by half. I did have a very nice meal there before it closed. Restaurants come and go in Jeddah. You have to have customers in order to survive. Many a time I have been in places that are nearly empty. Perhaps I go to eat too early.

Conclusion: Ethiopia is a long way away. I stopped there in the airport on the way to Tanzania. I did not eat there. And otherwise my experience with Ethiopian food is less than once every ten years. Don’t bother to leave the light on for me.


Good Eats – Jeddah

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Everyone enjoys a good meal. Around these parts are several restaurants that do a lunch special. This means extra value – usually an appetizer or dessert and a drink. It’s usually available on the weekdays. That means Sunday to Thursday around here. Neat trick the afternoon prayer time is near 4PM so the hours are from around noon to 5PM. I won’t do the addresses. Some places have more than one location. Use your Google map. Unfortunately these are all local Jeddah restaurants. So unless you are in Saudi Arabia, you may look but you can’t have.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill

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This place is my current favorite. It hasn’t had its grand opening yet. Nice place. Good food. Hot. Attentive excellent service. 52SAR – appetizer, main course, and drink. Lots of choices. Tastes great. I know I said that already, but, I mean it. Really.

Rosspomodoro

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This restaurant closed a year or so ago and reopened in the same area but with a nicer space. Lunch is 49 or 59SAR with entrée, salad, drink, dessert, and coffee. Service is great.

IMG_2458                            Nutella doughnut

IMG_2457                            Chicken, pasta, salad, veggies

IMG_2455                            Bread with spread, it rhymes!

Food is good. The entrée varies. The lower price is for pizza. Entrée can be good or so so. The rest is fun. It’s great to find this restaurant again.

 

Texas Roadhouse

I just noticed the lunch special. The place was packed with people eating lunch special and a la carte. I’m single. And at this hour most places are empty. Ah! That’s why they try to get you to come! There are multiple entrees to choose from. One side dish. Peanuts, Bread. And a drink. You will not be hungry after this. Once again the price is below 100SAR

 

Chopsticks

Business lunch is a good buy. There are multiple entrees to choose from. Side dish, noodles or rice, and drink included. There are small extras brought complementary as well. It is a good meal. I have enjoyed it several times.

 

Piatto

Until Romano’s this restaurant was my favorite for business lunch. I was stuck in the Chicken Marinara which came with penne pasta in four cheese sauce. Bread, salad, dessert and drink are included. Great meal, great price, good all around. I would eat there regularly until I discovered Romano.

 

Chun’s Bistro

It’s a lunch buffet. Multiple dishes with appetizer, soup, entrée, rice, noodles, drink, dessert. It’s a very nice value. The waiters are pretty lame. I wish they were more helpful. But then again you don’t require too much help piling up a heaping plate. The menu changes daily so you will find variations when you go. All in all a good meal. And all for 45SAR.

 

Applebee: Tuesday’s: Paul: Steakhouse: Outback

These other places have listed business lunch specials. I’ve been in all of them. There is a time and place but I do not go there on a regular basis. Steakhouse and Outback surprisingly do poorly in grilling their steak. Paul changes their choice according to a fixed schedule. That doesn’t work for me. Tuesday’s meal was bland. Once only. Applebee is a chain. You have to like chain food. Sometimes I do. Mostly not.


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Sandwich

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Second Thanksgiving

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Amy is taking an iPhone shot of my next bird. It’s a bit more browned. Better oven and more experience. Hey, you get better with practice. My soup sure did get better. (see previous post) And we made another breast (wings included) because there were 23 people scheduled to show. Note: about a pound a person – we did not need the extra breast. Other note: when all is said and done, it is the trimmings that make the meal.

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So the dishes that surrounded the meal and that were contributed by the guests really made it all great. I learned a new tradition – sauerkraut over mashed potatoes. (Hint: I could have done without ever knowing that.) I did stuffing on the outside – too heavy to transport a stuffed bird to a second location. It worked. I’m a crockpot (stuffing) fan now – not a crackpot. More family showed up and a good time was had by all. Dinner was scheduled for 6PM. We arrived at 6:08 and were the last ones in the joint. Do you think everyone was hungry? More family, more friends, more stuffing, success again!


Disaster Strikes – But I saw it coming…

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No, this is not the second Thanksgiving. Wait patiently; it’s coming in a few days time. This is the annual chestnut cake. I’ve not made it myself. So I had to improvise. The food mill was a cheap piece and barely was serviceable. Caveat: get a good tool if it is important to your project. Yeah, yeah. Hey, it’s a nice looking cake! And I got someone else to do the whipped cream. Yes, I’ve whipped it into butter once upon a time. But that is not the disaster. For a change but not extraordinarily, I don’t have an actual picture. Nice cake huh?

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It starts with the making. We prepared the soup near midnight the evening before. The next day was a full day’s ride to Elkins, WV. The soup was secure in the rear of the SUV in a pot with the lid taped shut. Insufficient for the task I might interject. You can see the disaster happening in slow motion already? In the dark, as I opened the hatch and moved the cooler, the pot beneath was precariously leaning on the edge and went on over. About two cups remained in the partially overturned pot. The rest was on my shoe, the bumper, and the driveway. (Note: see spot.) Salvage was not an option. Folks would have noticed road dirt not pepper in their soup. Off to the market on Thanksgiving eve. Yeah, it was a beat market. No, butternut squash, and then hours of cooking that I did not count on was a heartbreaking prospect. Acorn squash to substitute, until… light bulb – pumpkin! Yes, pumpkin puree for pie; it works. Substitution! And with the right seasoning….the soup was a success! Really, and not out of sympathy; I made it again, same formula and it was a smashing success two days later. And I will appreciate it if you don’t tell Jules about my improv soup recipe caper.

 


I Don’t Drink Coffee

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Never have! Don’t. Nada. No. Nope. It’s not coffee. It’s an eggnog latte. I don’t do latte either! Well, there are exceptions. This is exceptionally good stuff. First you need a good latte machine. Who knew? I’m stuck at Mr. Coffee. But you do things right and with good coffee and good ingredients…. A friend Margaret Whalen introduced me to Kona coffee decades ago. It’s from Hawaii – Kona and expensive as all get out. But that is the start. And then, what’s not to like about eggnog? It tastes good therefore it’s bad for you. Forgo the barrista designs. I’m in it for the taste and mouth feel. Ah! A new sin to repent.

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Sadly the machine suddenly quit. I’m contrite and swear to repent, now! The machine went to the coffee repair man with the hope it will recover and produce latte again soon. Meanwhile there is sadness on the counter. An empty space waits to be filled again.


Artichokes Have Flowers

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There is nothing picturesque about an artichoke in the market. You can barely make one out behind this flower. So you can imagine (maybe not) my amazement to see this flower and find out it was an artichoke blossom. Ok, if you’ve never seen an artichoke, just smile. I find that most people are unfamiliar with the vegetable and how to eat much less prepare it. There really isn’t too much to do. It’s what you season with that counts. Garlic or garlic and lots of bread crumbs, either way it’s gonna taste good. And no, I will not tell you exactly how to eat it. Look on the ‘net. Meanwhile this is an artichoke flower. Neat! I learned something too.


Pot Pie

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We were up in San Luis Opisbo. It was dinner, fast, before heading to the drive-in movie. IMG_6922Pot pie – it’s comfort food. I was in the mood. It worked well. Nothing fancy, it was still memorable. IMG_6920Add – fried artichokes – it was a California dinner after all. I’m surprised how many people don’t know artichokes. So, you can’t see the food. The artichoke is batter fried. About anything fried and battered is good. And the pie crust covers the pot. Yes, but you didn’t taste either. I assure you that this was good.


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