A Blog Mainly About Food

If by "mainly" you mean "sometimes"

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Stephen King, Eat Your Heart Out

Ghost Wars is the scariest book I have read in a long, long time. And the timing of my class the day afterwards -- an analysis of the 9/11 hijackers visa applications -- was alarmingly apropos.

In reality, the fact that the Mohammed Atta et. al. entered the US fradulently is a small, small portion of the story. The entire story is much deeper, and frankly, much more tragic then that one day. The years leading up to September 11th were a symphony of mistakes played by both political parties in the US and all the involved agencies. No one had the whole picture, and the whole was much, much greater then the sum of its parts.

If you haven't read Ghost Wars, you owe it to yourself. It isn't an easy read, and it isn't a short read. There are no heroes and who the antagonists (beyond the obvious) are may surprise you. You'll look at that Tuesday in an entirely different light.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Happy Birthday to Blog

Congratulations, Mainlyaboutfood! You turned one a couple days ago. This time last year, posts were numerous, recipes were delicious, and complaining was ubiquitous. Now? Your blogger posts perhaps twice a week, frequently survives on Morningstar Farms fake meat products, and actually likes his life.

Being that the original trends/themes of this site are now at the best nascent, or at the worst gone, there's one logical option: infanticide.

In exactly eight weeks, I am going to kill this blog. The time has come. Previous ideas like "islamablog" (cute, but geographically limiting) have also been tabled. A new blog -- this time also announced to my parents -- will debut in its place, and will detail my travels and travails in South Asia and various airport lounges. Name suggestions are welcome and encouraged. Please, nothing that involves any part of my real name: anonymity, once impossible, is now preferred.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Vino Bleg

Carrying on from my last entry: through some online friends I won a spot for two at Ray's the Steaks Monday the 5th. The dinner is a great deal and since it's a private event, it's BYOB. Which is awesome, except I don't want to roll up with a bottle of Yellow Tail.

I'm thinking, as usual, a full bodied Syrah. My date's not a big fan of the oaky Cabs and I'm not as good with wine as I was this time last year, so I figured a standby wouldn't be so bad. But in addition to knocking off an item on my to-do list, the dinner is a special occasion (a birthday). And I ALWAYS do Syrah/Shiraz. I'd like something different.

So, readers, can anyone suggest a good bottle of Red to go with outstanding steak that will run me around $20, maybe a bit more? Vendors where the suggested wine is available would also be appreciated. I do have easy access to Schneiders, but can get pretty much anywhere.

Yes, this is a ridiculously easy bleg. But if you look at what I've had for dinner the past few days, it would become obvious how low I've sunk culinarily. No daydream time = no recipe contemplation.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Big To-Do

Like Catherine and RJ3 before her, my thoughts have wandered to how I will spend my last couple (quite literally) months in the city. Though I can't claim to have been here as long as the Zuntas, I've certainly done some time within the boundaries of 495 -- but there are many things I haven't done. Couple that with the fact that I'll be going some place where certain activities will be impossible to enjoy, and you have the foundations of a theoretically infinite list. Perhaps unsurprisingly, much of this list involves some sort of consumption (hello, blog title peeps!), a predeliction that I will embrace with a fullness.

Unfortunately, some of the things I've never done are limited by the unpredictability of DC weather. So though I haven't, for example, watched planes land at Gravelly Point, I think I'll only include such ideas as suggested if weather allows.

So here goes the first go at a list:

1. Hear Handel's Messiah at the National Cathedral.
2. Watch the White House Christmas tree lighting.
3. For that matter, get a tour of the White House.
4. Eat at: Acadiana, Ray's the Steaks, the back room of Palena, Colorado Kitchen, Kaz Sushi Bistro (let's leave Citronelle and CityZen for when my differential pay comes in, okay?).
5. To echo Catherine, get drinks at the Mandarin Oriental or the Hay-Adams.
6. Take a walking tour of Anacostia.
7. Watch the sun rise over the Capitol (preferrably as the end to a looooong night).
8. Go back to Nation one last time.
9. Crap, another from the Zunta list: go to the top of the Washington Monument.
10. Eat as much good, fresh seafood as humanly possible. And for that matter, pork.

There are, of course, a number of other things I plan on doing here before I go -- but these are some priorities. If you have ideas of other things I need to do, hit me up -- especially if you can facilitate #'s 3 and 4, or want to join in on any of these (ad)ventures. I've got some time, a digital camera, and the wind at my sails. Let's do this thing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Gone Way Up to Mars

As I sat down to read super-interesting Immigrant Visa Law this afternoon (sidenote: man, this stuff is awful. I never realized the fine differences between "child" and "son," and how the U.S. government runs one of the few lotteries where you pay them (sidesidenote: "In Capitalist America, Winner Pays Lottery!")) I decided that instead of a CD I'd enjoy some of the fine music offered up by DirecTV. Imagine the surprise when I clicked over to channel 800 and saw that as of yesterday, DirecTV had teamed up with XM Radio. No more intuitive channel titles like "Classic R&B" or "Adult Alternative (Uncensored)" -- instead, now we have Fred, Ethel, Lucy, and Fish.

For the last half hour the new radio options have proved fairly entertaining. The DJ on "Soul Street" is entertaining, the metal channel played my favorite Tool song, and unlike the old DirecTV music stations, the actual names of the songs showed up just as song began instead of thirty seconds in. This move by the two companies is certainly smart marketing. Were I a more frequent driver, I would probably consider subscribing. But I doubt that you can get satellite radio in Pak. Of course, cell phone use has probably spread to the FATA, sp I might be wrong. For all I know Opie and Anthony are incredibly popular over there.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

He Got That Ambition Baby

This was one of the best weekends I have had in recent memory. No in depth recaps because I don't feel like it, but...

-- Chief Ike's Saturday night parties are awesome. Yeah, there's a cover, but the dancing is almost as good as the old Kingpin Saturday nights.

-- My mother can still cook Indian food well. But she needs pointers in everything else.

-- I ran into more old high school friends than ever this weekend. Kids, I come back to Perry Hall about once every few months. Why now, all of a sudden?

-- Waiting, drunkenly, for the 90/92/96 bus at 3 AM is a great time for a heart to heart. No, really.

This was a weekend of realizations. Paramount is the fact that I have 10 weekends left in the United States -- 9 now. Forgive the language, but holy effing ess. One step at a time, I suppose. If you are a friend who reads this blog but hasn't been in touch with me recently (and if you haven't received a reply from me via my gmail account, this includes you, I suck...), I implore you to leave a comment on this entry with your email addy. The truth is I've been a jerk about staying in touch with people, and I want to change that. The best way is to start fresh.

9 Saturdays to go....

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Girlfight Ends with One Woman Dead, One Iraqi Livid

Arrrgggh. Lost!!! Now where am I going to get my Maggie Grace fix? The internet kind of works, and yeah, her character was a spoiled brat. But she was a spoiled brat with issues, my favorite kind.

That said, loved it. I was spoiler free and didn't know someone was going to bite it before Catherine blogged about it, and even then I was skeptical. But the whispers! The, err, Walt-spers! And no annoyingly long-winded Party of Five guy. As long as they have some Kate to compensate, I'll be happy. She's hotter -- the fact that she can shoot guarantees that. Jury's still out on the tail ender with the gun skills; will evaluate after they clean up a little. Jeez, just cuz it's a deserted island doesn't mean you can't wash a little, people.

No Vaccine for It

What I've learned after two days of Consular training: "American" nationality is much closer to an STD than I ever thought. Transmission, legitimation, small "freedom bumps" that develop near your nether regions. Who knew.

Also, though I like the sentiment behind Scott's bovinity thing, that particular neologism seems incorrect. If anything deserved the "bovinity" tag, it would be a steak. But we're talking ground beef here -- it's already the spare bits of beef mangled beyond recognition. It's creative, and the "platonic ideal" thing is a bit played, but bovinity seems a bit to close to "cruncheweesy".

Off now to school (with direct deposit). Today I begin LU930, Teach Yourself Urdu for Fun & Profit. Teaching yourself a language is awesome!

(total double quote pairs in this hastily assembled blog entry: 5. New record?)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Deserves a Quiet Night

In other, more personal news:

The personal terror alert level has reached the Zen-like level of "Acceptance of the Complete and Utter Fear that Consumes Every Day." What do I do with my car? When will I have time to cash out a portion of the old 401K and pay off my debt, rolling the rest over? Do I keep some of my crappy furniture for when I return or just purge? As far as the latter, I'm leaning towards a grand purge. Tutoring is over and not a second too soon; if I had to keep that crap up, I'd really be up the proverbial creek. Of course, I have yet to receive my travel orders, which makes things a bit more complex. There are a few plusses on the horizon, the tops being some trips back to Perry Hall to drop off possessions that I'd rather not keep in storage but want to save nonetheless -- and valuable time relaxing with the parents (who knew, I find time with Mr. and Mrs. G relaxing now). Books are highest on this list. Still need to confirm this arrangement with the 'rents but I think they won't mind.

The car is the other big thing on my mind. It's certainly not traveling with me, and Reenee doesn't get back into the States until June. She won't have permission to retrieve the car from storage and frankly, I'd rather not put it there. This needs serious thought, and I don't want to sell.

Dinners of late have been good. Went to Ceviche in Silver Sprung (what the heck is that kind of space doing there, anyway?) with Audrey Monday night, which was tasty. Unfortunately, the service was maddeningly slow and I wanted to throttle someone by the end of the meal. Had Indique with Katie on Sunday night and spent too much money on good food and even better wine. Brunch at the Bombay Club Sunday -- moderate quality, but great company. A very nice homemade dinner Saturday consisting of a tomato sauce made from scratch (tomatoes, onion, garlic, anchovies, chili flakes, Valipolcella) and served with chicken and artichoke sausage, asparagus, and linguine. The cooking is beginning again, albeit slowly, and I'm back at the gym with some regularity after developing a healthy layer of diplofat during A-100.

Still. The horror, the horror. Waking up in the middle of the night, every night -- not because of the usual insomnia, but because of some nagging nightmares. Maybe it's time to investigate OTC remedies for this situation. But of course, this is stubborn Kanishka. For the time being, I'm powering through.

Less than three months until I depart. Despite my subconscious, I hope that things work out smoothly. Inshallah.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

So What So What So What's The

Another day, another great South Asia class. We had Pamela Constable come in to speak to us on Human Rights -- fresh of an interview with Mukhtar Mai last night. It was much more powerful than I was expecting, and the Human Rights situation in South Asia is rather scary, women's rights in particular.

Later in the afternoon we heard from Ambassador Ashley Wills, who's now with USTR. He's a South Asia expert and served as Ambassador in Sri Lanka. Much of the talk was about the coming election in Sri Lanka. It was a little sobering. A paraphrase: "Sri Lanka is one of the most Edenic countries in a world... with the scar of 25 years of civil war running down its face." Yikes.

On the Metro home I cooked up a nightmare scenario. If you're even slightly familiar with South Asian politics, does this make sense?:

Please note: The following represents my prognostications and views and not those of the US Government, the State Dept., or any related organization.

Currently: India is led by a delicate coalition that includes vote support from the CPI(M) of Bengal, though they are not formally part of the coalition. Through this most fragile of alliances, Singh has risen to power. He has begun a thawing process with Musharraf, bringing the two countries to a state of careful detente. But we know how these things can change...

Sri Lanka has been through civil war for years, and Wickramasinghe is apparently (this according to Wills) running for PM with a policy that would be very offensive to the Tamils. Right now he's behind in the polls but only by a few points.

So: Wickramasinghe wins in Sri Lanka, and his more left-wing allies (LVP, right?) push him to implement the ant-Tamil policies. This inflames not only the Tigers, but Tamil Nadu. Civil war (or at least civil conflict) starts again, and India perceives the happenings in Sri Lanka as anti-Hindu. Singh's ruling coalition falls apart from increased pressure from the BJP, who ride a renewed crest of Hindutva to victory in Parliament. In the meantime (this is where I'm really stretching things), the Pakistani government sees weakness both in the increasingly accomodationist Musharraf and the Indian government... and the Pak military does what they are wont to do. Of course, we're watching Musharraf's back, so hopefully the latter part of this prediction is less likely.

So: a new BJP led government in India, a civil war in Sri Lanka, and (possibly) a new dictatorship in Pakistan that could be more hard line than Mr. Musharraf. And after that? Well, if you remember Kargil, and 2002, and so on, you know where I'm going.

Of course this is all speculation. Will someone with more expertise in South Asian politics please tell me that all the above proves is that I'm a crappy political analyst with no idea of the realities involved here? That would make me feel much better. Also, State peeps: should I delete this entry? I know, I won't be able to write like this at post, but by then I'll have a different blog.

UPDATE: Clarifications are needed. I don't think violence would spread to Tamil Nadu -- but feelings of anger leading to a BJP revival certainly could. And my feelings about the Pak military could be off the mark, which is why it's really just a nightmare scenario. I think Musharraf is stronger than how I characterize him here.