Monday, May 28, 2007

Travel pangs

I've been having Europe pangs lately, so I googled a route from my hometown in California to my old residence in Denmark. Turns out I'll have to "swim across the Atlantic Ocean" around step 28 of the directions, but at least I'll be entering through France! We all know there's nothing I love more than a swim in the Atlantic and some pain au chocolate!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Cinco de Mayo brings cravings for Mexican food, relaxation, anti-social amusement, and reruns

It's Cinco de Mayo weekend, but with my big East Coast bakery hunt trip nearing, I'm taking it easy. After working this evening, I was craving a genuine good night IN, and a good meal from my favorite taco joint. I made my way over to Taco Mesa and ordered some grub to-go. It's amazing how the familiar flavors of your favorite food can work wonders for the weary soul. And speaking of wonders, I caught the tail end of an old Wonder Years episode as I was finishing my meal.

I don't know what it is about that Kevin Arnold, but that show makes me nostalgic and sentimental to no end. Perhaps it's because the writing in The Wonder Years exploits all of the adolescent insecurities that the average American experiences throughout his or her own lifetime. But I think it's something even deeper-- there's a little bit of the Arnolds in all of us, and some families, such as my own, even have the classic rock collections to prove it.

Whether your situation reflects the typical nuclear family or not, the show captures something basic about being human that we can all relate to, and I guess that's what I love so much about it. Also, The Wonder Years reminds me of a more sincere time in consumer entertainment-- before writers rested on their laurels and began relying on the easy shortcuts of reality tv.

Even though The Wonder Years dealt with highly dramatic scenarios of tragedy, loss, and war, it always managed to do so with the spirit of light-hearted innocence and a killer soundtrack. Arnold's often humiliating and heartbreaking moments of adolescence always seemed so authentic, and so unlike the calculated, formulaic, and scripted representations of youth that appear on "reality" tv today. And who, I ask you who, can resist a show with a vulnerable inner monologue in the background? Take the success of Scrubs as evidence.

Tonight's episode was classic. First, a scene from Kevin's French class, where all poor little 9th grade Kevin Arnold can remember to say en Francais is "Do you want some butter?"
After a very long day of 9th grade, Kevin feels that he is smack dab in the middle of an existential crisis. Luckily, he runs into Winnie Cooper, who saves the day by making him feel "like home" again.

Sometimes it's a person that reminds you what it's like to be home, and sometimes it's partaking in a great meal at your actual home. As much as I absolutely love being out and about and around people, I also revel in the joy of a truly anti-social night of relaxation, syndication, and good food. Sure, we all need a little help from our friends, but you can't trust a man who doesn't know how to be alone with himself, watch a little Wonder Years, and eat a few tacos.

Plus, this time allows you the luxury of asking all of life's important questions: Was the nerd-influenced Paul character (Kevin Arnold's best friend with the thick-rimmed glasses before thick rims were cool) the inspiration for the modern liger-drawing Napolean Dynamite persona? Did people just watch Boy Meets World because they were upset Fred Savage had finally grown up? Or was Mr. Feenie just that charming? Who's hotter-- Winnie, or Topanga? If Fred Savage owned a bakery, would it be called "Savage Delights"? The list goes on and on!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Great American Bakery Hunt journeys to New York...

Bakery hunters, my long awaited trip to New York is just days away. I'll be visiting my brother, a journalism student at NYU and a California transplant to Brookyn. I can't wait to hunt East Coast bakeries like a champ, running amok all throughout Manhattan and the outer boroughs on a permanent sugar high. Since I'm going for only 5 days, I'll have to increase my meals from 3 a day to roughly 5 and a half a day to cram all of New York's tasty delights into my gullet!

I'm salivating just thinking about it. Of course, I am trying to do my fair share of research so I hit all the culinary gems. I'll be armed with some great tips from some industry folks who are in the know, and I'll also be digesting some reading material for the hunt. So far I've compiled all your regular Michelin and Zagat guides to New York, as well as The Slow Food Guide to New York (thanks to this guide, I gained a great listing of local farmer's markets in the city. And a side note about farmer's markets, they were featured in the food section of the LA Times recently. Sadly my vendor friends and I didn't get even an honorable mention for the Laguna Beach Farmer's Market, but no hard feelings. I suppose every farmer's market girl thinks hers is more charming than the rest!)

I will let you know how the hunt turns out...Though I am going prepared with some destinations in mind, I am most excited to stumble upon the neighborhood haunts that guides like Zagat have not yet discovered-- the places that will touch my soul, and my stomach, with local treats.

Happy hunting!