Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Two Roads

It started out very promisingly. Our itinerary included food shopping in a huge outdoor city market an hour away, and a trip to the airport for the lucky one who was blowing this icicle stand for a brief stay in the promised land (Texas). There were five of us, two over 35, and three under 24. Here is where you need your imagination. Pretend this is one of those movie trailers where you see flashes of picture and dialogue:

"Don't look to the right." "I looked already." "He caught MY attention!"

"Don't start with me, I'll have you arrested".

"Are we parking like this?" Long pause. "Oh, I see (the no parking sign)." Freeze frame.

Now drop all of this into the milieu of a downtown major metropolis, crowds of people, vehicles, and street vendors. Did I mention crowds of people? And don't forget the olfactory overload from all the exotic ethnic food shops. Maybe add in a soundtrack composed by. . . James Horner.

We were about 30 minutes into our outing. Having fun. Teasing each other. Being jostled by the crowds. Carrying bags of goodies we had purchased from the Asian market--for me it was fresh lemongrass and sesame seed cakes.

[Here I digress to explain how you, too, can have the lemony goodness of lemongrass in your home.

1. Buy a few fresh bundles of lemon grass from an Asian market. Go here to see what it looks like and follow steps 1-3 at that site.

2. Place in a recycled jelly jar or beautiful thin vase.

3. Fill container about 1/4 full with water. Refresh water daily. Roots will appear quickly.

4. Plant in a wet place in your garden in the spring. The lemongrass will multiply rapidly.

5. You are now ready to revisit this website for steps 4 and beyond on how to use lemongrass in Thai cooking.

We now bring you back to your regularly scheduled programming.]

For the others it was rice,

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and a longing glance at a package of dried multi legged sea creatures.

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That was definitely NOT on my list. I adhere to a strict diet that prohibits the consumption of anything with eyes still intact, or possessing more than four legs. The only exception is shrimp. I don't care HOW many eyes or legs they have. Shrimp fried, shrimp boiled, shrimp cocktail, shrimp gumbo . . . sorry, I flashed on the wrong movie. Where were we?

If I had indulged in those multi-legged dried delicacies, I would probably have needed this:

(The detox tea.)

Next stop was a small biscotti shop brimming over with people and baked goodies. Fresh biscotti, chocolate radical cookies, and hearty artisan breads all enticed me with their beautiful textures and aromas. Now THIS is MY kind of food. No eyes or legs, just lots of flour, chocolate and sugar. Yummo!

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We dodged this bus--
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to cross the street and get this picture (I wonder what that wonderful little old building has seen in its lifetime).
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Nearby was a Polish shop. What do Polish people eat that I don't? Evidently, lots of jelly. And they have their own parking signs at sporting events.

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Then on to the Italian shop. It was there, surrounded by a horde of people jockeying for their turn at the cheese deli counter that I made the horrifying discovery. (horrifying discovery music, please-- dundunduh).


I hurriedly searched through my bags(which were numerous by now). I replayed the events in my mind. Two of my friends dashed back to the biscotti shop where I remembered taking my last picture. Nothing. No camera.

Where WAS it? My mind was numb. I was moving in slow motion. Had someone taken it? That camera was like a child to me. Had the dingo eaten my baby? (name that film)


I resigned myself to the fact that there was nothing left to do but leave a phone number and name at the two shops, then continue on our way.

I prayed my precious bundle of digitalisciousness was not languishing with a tiny gag wrapped around its lens in the trunk of a nearby car. I hoped little Lumix remembered family emergency procedures.


Two hours later, as we approached the bakery on our way back down the street, I stopped in for one more hopeful query. The baker greeted me. He tenderly handed the camera to me and said, "I'm glad they brought it back."

Insert Handel's Hallelujah Chorus sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Party time!!! We headed across the street for the Spanish market to buy a humongous bag of fresh tortilla chips(it was still warm when I picked it up), the best guacamole I had ever tasted outside of Texas, and some Mexican soda. I still have some chips. It was a BIG bag, but the guac was gone quickly.

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We filled the trunk with all sorts of non perishable culinary delights and headed for the airport.


(No, I do NOT consider dog food a non perishable culinary delight, that is, unless you are a dog. THAT found its way to the trunk prior to our big city adventure.)

After saying goodbye to our traveling friend, we began the hour and a half drive home. There was a reflective mood in the car. (We couldn't believe we'd eaten the WHOLE guacamole!)

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As we neared home, the sun was setting. I was grateful to have left the chaos and crowds far behind.

I was grateful for my friends.

I was grateful for my camera.

But mostly, I was grateful for that stranger who faced temptation and walked away a better person. He or she made a good choice.

For both of us.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.--Robert Frost