A Blog Mainly About Food

If by "mainly" you mean "sometimes"

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Like a Record Baby

First, obligatory via blog title food content, long time coming. Pictured is my first real substantial cooking in a pretty long time. It's kind of like my usual roast chicken but not at all. I took some beurre composee I had made (chive and garlic) and stuffed some medallions under the skin, and then wrapped the entire bird in bacon and roasted it for about 1.5 hours at 300 degrees. The results were predictably greasy and delicious. The salad was, you know, for my heart. I'm trying to get as many tomatoes into me as possible before the season ends. Photo of the bird carcass available on my flickr account. Some, most likely Missy, may note that this is not my first go at bacon-wrapped entrees, but I don't do it very often. But it's great once in a while.

Today was one of the most interesting days at A-100. We had a fantastically dynamic lecturer teach us a seminar called "Composure Under Fire" -- basically, dealing with hostile, challenging questions. Prior days have been spent learning about public speaking from the page. I really suck at that. But today was different. Extemporaneous speaking is where I'm Viking. The emphasis was on the fact that we're all now representatives of the American government, and when at post will be such 24-7. Yeah, that's not pressure at all.

A-100 continues to go well overall. Monday and Tuesday will be incredibly stressful for me and one of my colleagues, not to mention the fact that I have a Bengali test Tuesday. But the weeks are really flying by (tomorrow is Friday???) so the flag should be coming soon enough. The class is going from cameraderie to some good friendships and I'm really happy about that. Oh yeah, and we got our first paychecks. I'm a thousandaire!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Soapy Soup

It's been fun to watch my readership plummet due to my complete lack of blogging. Chalk being MIA up to the fact that I'm no longer in a cubicle and not in front of a computer often. We're on a rare 15 minute break right now, having just had a rather interesting lecture from the Director General of the FS.

It's impossible to encapsulate the last weeks via a non-verbal medium. The best way is the mantra I came up with this weekend: it's amazing to move from a job to a career. The people, the training... the only real bad part about this whole dilly is that we're ridiculously overcrowded in a teeny room. Really, I'm not feeling any other negatives.

Unrelated: the Tom Yum soup at Spices tastes like lemon pledge, and if you have a chance to buy a Mr. Stripey tomato from Cinda Sebastian at Eastern Market, I highly recommend it.

Maybe I'll actually start cooking again at some point... but dudes, no time now. Balancing happy hours and culinary pursuits is hard yo.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Le Deuxieme Semaine

So week two is over, punctuated by an fantastic dinner that I cannot adequately describe in prose and a happy hour well attended and extremely fun. The stress of the last two weeks was palpable as my classmates and I prepared our bid lists, turning in a list of missions around the world we'd love to work for. I posted an early draft of this list, but here are the final "High" posts:

Abuja
Accra
Addis Ababa
Astana
Chennai
Dhaka
Islamabad
Kiev
Kuala Lumpur
Lahore
Moscow
New Delhi
Peshawar
Pristina
Sarajevo
Sofia
Warsaw

For those who don't know, the 126th A-100 class (that's us) will find out where they are going on October 11th in a peculiar little ceremony known as "Flag Day". A miniature flag representing the nation of a particular post is held up. The peanut gallery yells out the name of the country, the MC announces the job and who the lucky person will be. Before that point very few Junior Officers know for sure where their first tour will take them. I really cannot wait.

This week was also a little odd as I had a rare sleep in day Thursday, my French test yesterday, and a bunch of lectures that ranged from interesting to godawful boring. I was very nervous about the French test, since I haven't spoken francais since 2002 -- and haven't formally studied the language since 1999. But seven years later, my basic reading remains at the intermediate level, though my spoken is, in a world, pathetic. No matter; I'm happy my reading is still strong.

Next week: two days in DC training and then off to the wilds of West Virginia and The Woods for fun and frolic. But more immediately, time for food in my belly and the market.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Contemplating Blog Name Change

Do you remember your first week at college, or in a new city, or that study abroad trip that after the first week had you absolutely bubbling over with stories of complete awesomeness and utter terror that you were so totally sure your friends would totally want to hear about? And then you wrote an email/made a phone call/(for you early adopters) wrote a blog entry and ABSOLUTELY NO ONE CARED. Yeah, well I'm trying to avoid that. For example, do you care that today I took the ridiculously hard MLAT? Probably not. And you couldn't care less about the fact that I know no less than 20-some Pickering Fellows, am learning how to write a diplomatic cable tomorrow, reconfirmed the fact that I'm an ENTP, and am basically back in a college-type environment -- except I'm wearing a suit, amongst a group that ranges in age from 23 to 51, and oh yeah, getting paid to do this.

It's nuts. Really, there's nothing else to describe it. A new lesson, and new insights, every day. It's been a while since I've had this much fun, been this (productively) busy, worked with so little sleep but so much energy, and met a group of talented, amazing people. Though frankly, there's no reason you should care. It's quickly becoming clear that I'm moving swiftly into the world of esoterica. Not that that's a particularly bad thing (if the shoe fits...)

Life is such that I'm not cooking nearly as much, and all my pathetically defined regular patterns are being disrupted. Despite this (I was at one point a rather unexpected fan of rigid structure) things are very good, if a little unsettled. Wednesday our first draft of the dread Bid List is due, after which we meet with our CDOs (Career Development Officers) to discuss where in the world we'll be. Though Dhaka looks like a distinct possibility, I'll still try to make a pitch for some other, more interesting destinations (though Dhaka ain't bad).

And I think I've spent more time in Virginia over the last week or so than ever before in my life. This, I'm not so happy about.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Where In The World Is

Here's a prelim rundown on where I may be bidding High:

SARAJEVO
ISLAMABAD
KIEV
NEW DELHI
DHAKA
DHAKA
LAHORE
SOFIA
ISLAMABAD
ISLAMABAD
ST PETERSBURG
CHENNAI
PESHAWAR
PRISTINA
ASTANA
ADDIS ABABA

The multiple Islamabads and Dhakas are for different type tours. Also, note that this list was compiled out of pure gut instinct; I'll be doing research to refine it, and some of my mediums (not listed) may move up to high.

Yes I will have a recipe for you, and soon; it's currently sitting, mingling a little so the flavors settle. Still have to determine whether the balance is on (there may not be enough cilantro).

(If anyone has insights into the cities above, or questions, or whatevs, holla)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sensitive but not Confidential

Hi everyone. I know I promised a blog entry about my first day at State, but the truth is everything is jumping around in my head like Mexican jumping beans. Appropriate considering that 20% of our bid list is Mexican. Who know my decision to not learn Spanish was actually helpful?

So yeah, the day. What a long, long, long, stressful, awesome, long day. Did I mention how awesomely long it was? But it really was something. There's alot I'd like to say but no way to express it without relative diarrhea of the blog.

One thing looks pretty certain, and that's the fact that soon(ish) I'll be headed to a certain third world country beloved by George Harrison and not-so-coincidentally my ancestral home. This isn't a lock but it's as close as anything is at ItDependsiversity. But I'll know for sure Oct. 11. Maybe I'll put a list of my high bids up at some point. That, friends, is still TBD.

And being a suit kind of rocks now that it's not hot as heck.

Flutterbies

Remember that feeling you had on the firsy day of high school?

Yeah, multiply that by like eleventy-seven.

Back later today with such fun as bid lists and a report on the day. At least the part I'm allowed to tell you about.

PS: Guarapos -- you need to change the lightbulb in your upstairs men's room. And can you make your mojito less sugary? Thx.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I Might be Wrong

From someone who has seen both:

"I was in New York during September 11 and the weeks that followed and I say the following with complete certainty: this disaster is so much worse than September 11 that they are not even comparable"

Original, eye-opening, bowel-shuddering post here.

If it weren't for the new job I would be on the first bus/train to NoLa.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Auf Wiedershenist

Previous post is not in reference to this, but other goodbyes are also happening this weekend.

Transition time ain't easy, but it's welcome. Change is good, friends, change is good.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Feeling I Haven't Had in a While

Okay, this is totally cheesetastic, but it also happened:

Sunglasses on. Radio blaring. Driving 75 on the highway, bad vibes behind me, the road open ahead. The sky's blue and I'm leaving for good, off to a life that's simultaneously terrifying and amazing. Finally, it's over. There's nothing holding me back and the feeling is indescribably euphoric. "Solsbury Hill" comes on the stereo and I speed up, beaming, glowing, completely adrenalized.

That's a rush everyone needs to feel, once in their lives. It's like nothing else.