Monday, January 11, 2016

How I Inadvertently Became a "New York TImes Food Critic"

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a big joker.  I will often say wild things with a straight face to get a laugh.  (Ha ha, you're a pisser, no harm done.)  The problem is that when I travel I sometimes forget that the person I'm joking with doesn't know me. The results can run the gamut from shocking to ridiculous, leaving me to explain myself.  (Ha ha, you're an idiot, no harm done.)

In my most recent case of miscommunication, however, I found myself trapped in the web of my own silliness.  Uh, oh. What do I say to this?

Indochine restaurant in Wilmington had been recommended to me by my real estate agent.  Judging from the full parking lot and waiting line when I arrived, I knew she had steered me right.  Solo, book in hand (there's a tip for you - you'll never feel uncomfortable about dining alone if you have a good book for a companion), the hostess offered me the choice of sitting at the bar or waiting twenty minutes.  I opted for the bar.

The place is decorated with objets d'art from all over Asia and local paintings with Asian themes.  Anywhere you look your eyes will land on something colorful and interesting. All of it is for sale if you inquire.  Because of the crowd I wasn't able to get good shots of the interior but here is a photo of the LADIES' ROOM.

The bartender introduced herself as Lolo.  A very pleasant woman, she was doling out drinks and conversation with equal energy.  When I told her that the place had been highly recommended she said that she was the manager and proudly proclaimed the food to be absolutely fantastic. I replied: "Really?  Well I'll let you know what I think because I'm a New York Times food critic and I know food."  Ha ha!  Ummm.  Ha ha.

Uh oh.  

I immediately got the impression she had taken me completely seriously.  I was about to explain that I was joking when a waiter arrived with a drink order and distracted her.  Worse.  She introduced me to him as "a special person here" and suggested he discuss their many and varied curries with me.

Now I'm in it.  It was deer-in-the-headlights time.  The mouth opened but it didn't know what to say so I listened to the waiter and accepted his recommendation of the Penang curry.  Then I ordered a drink to loosen up my inhibitions about carrying on a charade with these good people.

One Night in Bangkok - a mix of Tequila, raspberry Schnapps and pineapple - was strong and delicious.  I'm a lightweight with booze and sipped it with a lot of reserve while I waited lest it turn into One Night in the Gutter.

In spite of the full-to-capacity house, my curry arrived without an overlong wait that was made to seem even shorter by Lolo's conversation, my yummy drink, and a side of crunchy Thai cabbage salad I was given to munch on.  

The curry came garnished with a sprig of parsley and a conical carrot curl, chicken and vegetables swimming in a fragrant yellow sauce served in a bowl so large it looked as if it might have fed three people.  I couldn't wait to dig in.

Oh wow.  Was my little lying mouth ever happy.  It was creamy with coconut milk, perfectly hot (mouth warming without burning the taste out - exactly the way I like it), fragrant, and tasty with a melange of spices.  Instead of the ubiquitous vegetables I've experienced in Thai curries all over the world (not exaggerating  - from the US to London to France to Singapore and beyond), this curry contained green beans and sweet potato that added delightfully smooth and crunchy textures to the dish.  If I had actually been a food critic I would have given it five stars.  Seriously, I wanted to lick the plate after I had stuffed myself with two portions that left me with enough leftovers for two more.

By now I hoped that my unintentional prevarication had been forgotten, but that seemed to be unlikely when I was offered a free sample of their smooth, creamy, house-made coconut ice cream and a free side of rice for my doggie bag.

When they brought the owner over to introduce me I was absolutely certain that I was still in up to my neck. I gave my effusive albeit non-professional praise of the food to Solange, a Vietnamese woman whose biographical blurb on the menu is so heart-warming you want to hug her after you read it.  You could tell she was very proud of her business.  And she was sweet and sincere - unlike stupid writers who like to joke around and tell people they are food critics.

I'm going to hell.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Is This Traveling?

Is it still traveling if you are away from home searching for a home?  I'm currently staying in Wilmington, NC (aka "The Hollywood of the East" - since I have some experience character acting, that nickname was partially responsible for my choice).  Of course, I'm checking out the sights, but what I'm really looking for reads like a list for

Um....not this one.
Let me preface this by saying I'm being run out of my own state.  Not by the people, no.  I get along fine with most of my neighbors (with the exception of one household, the owner of which I have nicknamed "Breaking Bad"). It's the taxes (my sister is paying around $12K for a home that would go for around $250K or less here in NC), the insurance costs (house/car/medical = all high), the cold, the back-breaking snow shoveling, the twenty-one bags of leaves that constituted ONE bout with autumn last year, and finally - my bad here - the twenty-seven raised beds and six level waterfall I personally built with my bare hands on a steep, rocky hill over the space of ten+ years that I love but no longer want to spend time keeping in Better Homes and Gardens condition.

Just about HALF of my massive garden.  (All rocks dug and placed by yours truly.)
So the epic journey begins.  Again.  I've been considering a move for years. California.  Costa Rica.  Oregon.  Love them all but the distance from family gives me pause. "Do I belong here?" is the question that has been at the back of my mind in many of my travels.  I tick off the laundry list of things that make me comfortable and happy.  But, once again, the thought is at the forefront and the list is on paper and includes "fenced in yard".

So, is it traveling when you're looking for that place you will eventually call home?

Thursday, January 7, 2016


I believe there comes a time in everyone's life where they are faced with a question:  Do I continue to do the fun things that everyone around me is saying I'm too old for or do I ignore the naysayers and continue enjoying myself?

This could apply to anything from hairstyle (too long, purple, whatever) to a particular activity (comic books, video games, Star Trek conventions, etc.) or sport you like to participate in (Mom!  Grandpa took my skateboard again!)

This past weekend I attended Mermania 2016, a mermaid convention in Greensboro, North Carolina.  A what?  Yes, a mermaid convention in which I dressed as a mermaid, swam with mermaids (both professional and non), talked/sang/played/danced and hugged with mermaids.

The pool was too cold for me to swim much (I have cold-induced urticaria - a literal allergy to cooler temperatures) but I was surrounded by so much warmth it didn't matter.   It was one of the best weekends I've had in a very long time.

Wait.  How old are you?, you might ask.  This blog is admittedly written by a senior.  Yeah.  I guess.  But it hurts to admit to the chronology when my soul has somehow - through child-raising, hardships, bouts of depression, responsible home ownership, a stable career and a credit score over 800 - retained so much of the child within.

Perhaps this is what has kept me going all these years.  I don't have much truck with Muggles. My home was always open to D&D games. I read and write fantasy novels.  I enjoy sci-fi, fairies, the Renn Faire, and dressing up for LOTR and Star Wars movies.  I own Star Trek and Tinkerbell pajamas.  I've attended Who Con, sci-fi cons, Comicon, and Harry Potter weekends.  But by far my favorite was/is Mermania.

I wasn't the only young soul in attendance.  Merfolk come in all ages, sizes, shapes, colors, genders, and sexual preferences.  None of it matters.  We are all together, tailed and glittering.

The fact is, I believe that none of this matters IN LIFE.  But when we walk the streets in our various and sundry "real faces" it's less easy to recognize that we are all one.  We focus on our differences "out there".

If only we could look at the world as one big "Human Con" we might enjoy more of the love, respect, and camaraderie that I enjoyed this weekend in pink wig, seashells, glitter, and tail.  Proud to be a "Mermom".