CSA Challenge, Round 2

This week:

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Je bois et je mange

Boire et manger literally translates into English as “to drink and to eat,” which made it seem appropriate for my first post from Paris, where I’ve been very happy doing plenty of both. But in Paris, boire et manger can also mean you win some, you lose some. The second meaning also seemed fitting. Notable Paris wins include making friends with the neighborhood baker (a big moment for me), figuring out the basic geography of the city, and having had some real luck so far with the research. Overall, Paris is a wonderful place, and I’m lucky to be making some new friends here (they aren’t all in food production, but that’s ok too). Image

Notable losses include making the first person I met in Paris, the customs agent, hate me (he asked if I spoke French. I replied “oui, et vous?” He was not amused), taking 90 minutes to get to the archive my first day, when it’s about 40 minutes from my apartment, and burning myself pretty seriously the first time I lit the stove. Those moments aside, though, it’s been working out pretty well here. The only thing that hasn’t really come together for me yet is cooking on the regular. Continue reading

Potato Shrimp Salad

After days of scorchers I have finally remembered how to survive high temperatures: turn all fans on. Leave all windows open. Keep water (or better yet, manzanilla) cooling in fridge. Wear practically nothing. Take a bracing shower when all else fails.

Together, Alex and I also remembered why turning on the oven is a bad idea at the height of summer, rediscovered our hatred of actually cooking anything in June, July, and August, and learned that eating a post-dinner Klondike bar in the park across from our apartment is the epitome of that special sultry decadence you can only experience in summer months.

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Summer Borscht

It’s not even June yet and already it feels as if we’re in summer’s sway.  The city is HOT today, people – and it was hot yesterday and the day before that, too, and it will be hot again tomorrow.  Perhaps this is the weather gods’ way of showing remorse after our unseasonably cold Memorial Day (a day on which I went sailing IN TWO LAYERS OF FLEECE AND WEARING FULL FOULIES, GRR).  Or perhaps climate change is a reality that we ought to be paying more attention to.

I’ll leave you to guess which I think is the likeliest scenario.

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Tomato Eggplant Curry

When I was studying for my written exam, about two years ago, I reached an all-time low in the quality of my cooking. I would estimate that during my first year of graduate school, 50% of my meals were egg burritos (scramble eggs. Put them in a burrito, roll it up, and let it sit in the pan for a minute), but that summer I let it escalate to at least 75%. I think 10% of what I ate consisted of meals that I had when I went out on dates with the ginger hipster I was seeing, and the other 15% were things Kat cooked for me when I showed up at her place showing signs of uneven nutrition.

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Eggplant Lentil Salad

A couple important thoughts came to me while I was eating dinner tonight. The first was that Spanish fútbol announcers are so adorably poetic and enthusiastic – even when talking about teams that aren’t Spain (tonight’s game was Russia v. Poland). The second was that in my hands I was holding proof that I’m the most boring person alive. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I was eating lentils and eggplant topped with a poached egg. Normally this wouldn’t be cause for reevaluating my lifestyle – but good GOD. I’m in SPAIN. Land of PORK! And it’s worse than that, actually, because really I should more properly say I’m in CATALUNYA, land of FISHS! Situated as I am smack in between Mercat de Santa Caterina and Mercat de San Josep, both renowned markets and resplendent with animally deliciousness of all kinds, it’s abominable that I have not yet in this trip purchased pork or fishs.

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Barça Barça Barça

Hello from Barcelona!

Alex and I arrived a few days ago and have, in the meantime, been trying to convince each other not to run back to the Cunard ship we took to get to Europe. The transatlantic cruise we did was the first true vacation we’ve taken in our 7 (!) years together, and it was glorious. We didn’t work, we didn’t use the internet, we didn’t even read the newspaper. Instead we sat around and ate a lot and drank champagne while sitting in the ship’s jacuzzis. We also read super trashy books and played a shit ton of chess. We hoped the latter would cancel out the former, though we understand it probably doesn’t and you now think less of us.

Anyway. Vacation is over and now we’re in Barcelona for a month for work. Well, work/play. Alex’s Spanish family would never allow one of our trips here to be solely about our research – in fact, we’ve only been here for one full day and we’ve already had a dinner date with Alex’s uncles and a visit with his grandmother! Now I’m finishing up settling in. I spent the morning unpacking our suitcases and making our Barri Gotic flat homey. Then Alex came back from his archives so we could have lunch together and though the meal was a simple one, I thought I’d share.

We had store bought gazpacho and boquerones to start, then I sautéed/steamed spinach and tomato in Spanish olive oil with a bit of salt, spooned it over bread, and topped with a fried egg. See? That was the recipe, folks. It’s that simple. But I picked up the ingredients yesterday as I wandered through Barcelona’s famed Mercat de Sant Josep (which I also just call the Boqueria) and remembered once again that fresh ingredients + simple preparation is really a stellar combination.

Plus, with a view like this to enjoy while you eat, what’s not to like?

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Grey Strawberry Tea

I am a terrible sick person. I whine and moan, I go out into public places, and I will cough in otherwise silent libraries for hours rather than admit defeat and go home to my ever loving bed. I would try and lie about this, because I have my pride, but Kat has dealt with (read: cooked mac and cheese for) my sick corpse too many times for me to get away with a noble façade here. It was my mother’s good luck that a couple days after arriving in Portland I came down with a nasty cold.

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