Tag Archives: food

“Summer Starts with Us!”

In my youth I lived in a tiny town called Tremont.  Every year they kick off summer with the Tremont Turkey Festival, which celebrates the high school’s mascot by eating  it: big fat turkey sandwiches.  And oh nally are they good.  Add on a bag of Kitchen Cooked chips and I’m in heaven.

I moved away when I was a wee lad and rarely get the chance to return to the festival.  However, I crave those sandwiches year round.

Last year when I was still living in Champaign I’d convinced Christine that a roadtrip for a mound of turkey on a bun was worth a Friday night’s effort.  Heck, we’d even stop by the o’ grocery store and pick up overly frosted sugar cookies that I so fondly remember from my childhood.

Upon arrival we decided to forgo the carnival rides (I’m too old for throwing up anymore) and went straight to the Turkey Pavilion.  My mouth was watering so badly I could barely hold a conversation.  The line, which extended into the street, was a small sacrifice for years and years of cravings.

Just when we reached the pavilion’s entrance a shout was called from the sandwich assembly line.  “We’re sold out!”  Sold out?!  Surely they must be kidding.  Surely there must be at least a few more sandwiches to sell to the desolate looking women who’d driven for hours for turkey on a wonder-bread bun.

They were not kidding.  I cried a little.

On the way back to the car I made a stop at the grocery store, determined to drown my disappointment and frustration in sugar cookie with a frosted-on dog face.   When I asked the girl at the register why the cookie case was empty (EMPTY!), she snapped her gum and calmly told me that they’d changed owners last week and haven’t had any since.

Sorry Christine.  That was a waste of a road trip.

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I seriously just did that.

Joe took me out to my all-time favorite restaurant for dinner last night.  It was actually the second time we went in the last 3 days, but the chance to eat at Radio Maria comes but few times a year so I didn’t mind taking generous advantage of it.

We decided to sit outside to enjoy the Champaign air and our last evening together before corporate training held him captive for the next few weeks.  Near the end of dinner Joe left for a few moments and I sat alone contemplating my day.  Slyly checking the area I decided it was about time I got rid of that annoying booger that was ailing me.  A quick swipe to the nose and then a brush to the napkin and I was free and clear of that nostril-clogging monstrosity.

I look around again and there is Joe, catching a glace at me through the window on the way back to his seat.  In his adoring love he’d also decided to capture the evening, including his fiancee, on film. This was just about the time I was checking around for onlookers, completely not thinking to look inside the restaurant.

Not only did he catch me digging for gold, he also caught it on camera.

I. am. so. awkward.

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all kinds of delicious

The best part about Maria cookies is that the packaging doesn’t have nutritional information.

Some three years after Stephanie brought them from Spain, I’m still hooked.

They go great with tea.

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Melissa only liked them green

In Belgium there are about 4 different types of garbage cans.  After we had to get rid of our backyard chickens due to the looming bird flu, the house actually had to start using the small green-ish garbage bag for compost materials.  It was always rather gross to be around, and worse to be the one who’s job was to take it our for the week.  Flies usually hung out a lot in that corner of the kitchen.

Drew, dressed in overly-warn thrift store pajama bottoms and hemp flip-flops,  went to throw out the remnants of his toast one morning when he noticed a banana.  It was seemingly unharmed and unguarded, lying on the top of the heap in the green-ish trash bag.  He looked around.  No one else was in the kitchen.  He bent over from the waist and picked up the banana gently with his thumb and index finger, careful not to touch anything else in the bag.  He held it up, inspected it.  Nothing unusual…just a bright yellow banana with a few small brown spots.  He peeled it and took a bite.

“Hun?”  Sara Rae said.  “Did you just eat that banana from the garbage?”
“It was totally fine.  And its got its own natural wrapper!”  He showed her the half-eaten fruit.  “See.  Still good.”

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Poland, place of rest

I’ve been asked to comment on my travels abroad. So here it is. Sorry for the delay Mr. Parkinson.

First of all, why Poland?
Well, my friend Elizabeth had been suggesting I come visit her in Paris for a number of months. But as the year went on time and money began to dwindle and I’d brushed it off. Unfortunately, after sitting around with my parents and a bottle of wine (a bottle? make that 2) sometime back in the spring I started to get the travel bug. Liz said, “pick the place. I’ll meet you there.” Poland: relatively inexpensive, holy, and wouldn’t be mobbed by beach-crazed Americans. Poland it was.

I arrived a few hours late and was met at the airport by my friend Jake, who I’d met a few months earlier in Pennsylvania at the Theology of the Body course. He was a bit confused as to where my luggage was–as was I. Amsterdam, supposedly. My layover there had been interesting, it was the one place in the world where my limited Dutch skillz came in handy. Everything was also in English as well, so really, Dutch continues to be a useless language. Lekker!

I met the travel-weary Elizabeth at the hostel and we spent the evening eating perogies in Old Town Warsaw.

After our visit with the very helpful reference librarian, we took a few moments to show our apreciation.

Day 2 we ventured to the library to attempt to find out where Liz would go to do family research. The reference librarian was VERY helpful, despite the old school computer catalogs and our lack of Polish.

Still not quite sure what this cake actually was...we dedcided coconut and goodness.

The afternoons (this one being no exception) were often spent going to mass and having a cappuccino. Jake drove us to Krakow via Częstochowa–in which lies the Black Madonna and Polish National Shrine. This place is a big deal, but I felt completely stupid as I 1) don’t speak Polish and 2) don’t really know anything about the Black Madonna. But, I was able to stand about 20 feet from her for mass–which I presume has some sort of special graces attached to it.

Day 3 was spent milling around the Old Town of Krakow. Eating the usual picnic lunch (large pretzel looking things, cheese, fruit), shopping and mass. On this particular day I made friends with the cute security guard at the Cathedral, who snuck me into the sanctuary for free to pray before mass. It is a good thing he didn’t ask for my number because my grandma made it very clear I was not to fall in love with a Polish boy and get married. Whew. Close call.

Day 5. Sunday. Papal Tour.
Jake had told us to catch a train to Wadowice, birth place of Karol Wojtyla, and on the route back we’d also be able to stop at the convent of St. Faustina. So Liz and I ventured to the train station about 40 minutes before the scheduled departure (the train station was across the street). Despite our best efforts at Polish and pointing at the printed email from Jake, the ticket ladies kept telling us to go “Hall” “down there” “left!” After about 5 tries to buy tickets we were eventually brought to a tiny office where we bought official PAPAL TRAIN tickets. And once on the platform this disneyworld ride pulled up:

more to come..

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Food for Less, Twice the Experience

I have discovered a new grocery store, thanks to my friend Tracy.  Although Caputo’s is a good 20 minutes away, it is so worth the drive.  Today I bought 1 1/5 weeks worth of produce for $20.  It was nearly as satisfying as those Aldi trips we used to make in Belgium.  But the store is more than just the produce.  Walking in is like a mix between the crazy grocery store I frequented in Manhattan and any of the grocery stores of Europe.

No one is speaking English.  Even the music is unrecognizable to my ears.  There are fresh breads–some so fresh they they steam the bakery cases.  Half of the products have labels in another language and I have to make an educated guess from the picture as to what is contained inside.  The aisles are narrow and the people move too quickly for their own good.  They have Prince Cookies, Nutella, milk in a box, pasta in shapes I’ve never seen, sugar waffles, maria cookies, and strange British teas that make no sense to me.

I love it.  And in some weird way, I feel at home.

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“I have both those things!”

I had a miserable day yesterday due to an error (that was wholly mine) that I made at work.  I was frustrated and embarrassed and knowing that Jake and I had plans for the evening, I sent him a message: “Bad day.  I need you and tiny cakes.”

At 5pm the city was lively and warm and we talked some three miles for cupcakes and ice cold skim milk.  There was also a beer stop somewhere in the walk too.  Amid the joy of it all the knot in my stomach untangled and things were back to good.  We’re so city.

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