Sushi Fridays

So life can’t be CRAZY EXTREME ADVENTURE all the time. I don’t think so at least. I’m sure there’s a 1% somewhere who is going sky-diving one day, climbing Mt. Everest the next, then wrassling sharks with lazor beams on their heads for dessert.

Yeaaaah. Not the other 99% of us. But I love finding everyday adventures, whether it’s a impromptu trip to our favorite out-of-the-way smoothie shop, going on a run and taking roads I’ve never explored, or even just acting like a tourist and doing things I should’ve done years ago.

One of my favorite adventures (and somewhat of a tradition now) is trying a new sushi restaurant every week or so with a few of my friends. They started the tradition on their own and I’ve sort of glommed on. It’s a pretty delicious adventure.

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And I mean, I especially benefit because sushi is generally gluten free! Win!

(Though fun fact, I ate California rolls for ages after being diagnosed with celiac, because I didn’t realize the imitation crab was full of gluten and thus out to kill me)

We’ve gone pretty hardcore dorky with this hobby. We even have a Google spreadsheet we share with each other, where we rate restaurants on very important things: ambience, price, food, and of course, the quality of the miso soup.

There’s a section for comments too, which was meant to talk about specific dishes, but has devolved to our comments about weird things at the restaurants. Such as, ‘families with mail-order brides here’, ‘children eat here by themselves’, ‘drunk, creepy man pawing at woman in pink pantsuit’. We’re nothing if not honest.

The furthest we’ve gone for sushi together is Massachusetts, though only because we were there for a wedding. Still, we’re traversing the county and surrounding areas that we’ve spent the majority of our lives in.

Maybe it’s not the most exciting thing to that 1% skydiving, mountain-climbing, shark wrassler. But I love reconnecting with my friends after a week, and going somewhere new. It’s our version of a weekly family dinner, except… sushi.

One of my favorite things in college was the ‘family dinners’ my roommates and I occasionally had, or meeting up at Starbucks and chatting away for hours. We were in Starbucks nearly every day. Sometimes… three times a day, no shame. Thank goodness they took my meal plan.

So now I get to repeat those mini-adventures again. I love sushi, I love my friends, I love car rides and seeing new places. So it’s win-win-win.

We do branch out to other cuisines too–smoothies (totally their own food group), tacos, and whatever strikes our curiosity. I’m sure once we have our own places, we’ll cook more too, and I look forward to future potluck dinners. That’ll be the next tradition!

Love always,
Gabriele

My Gluttonous Wishlist

There are things you take for granted before you have a food allergy. Like, being able to eat anything and everything without your stomach mutinying your body. Saying hell yes to the coworker’s birthday cupcakes. Trying those little samples at the mall.

Then food allergies change your life. There’s things I’ll never do now. Being able to join the Peace Corps. Being able to travel to far flung countries, point to oddly colored and pungent foods from random street vendors and give your all-accommodating digestive system a real adventure.

Back when gluten and I were still pals.

A food allergy, though. That’s Gandalf standing right at your sphincter, wielding his staff and yelling “YOU SHALL NOT PASS”.

Suddenly, you’re like your friend – the one who rattles off his allergies like they’re the weather report. You’re like that kid you saw in elementary school, the one the lunch ladies would have the special tray ready for. And some foods can be made allergen-free. But not every food, and sometimes the attempted concoction just makes you even sadder.

Luckily, being allergic to gluten isn’t going to kill me the second it touches my grain-hating body. There also happens to be a vaccine in the works. The gluten-free craze could be over as quickly as it started.

I don’t know if I would take it – I’m so used to the gluten-free life, and new medications can be a tad iffy. But if the universe was to give me a reprieve from celiac (and calories) for one day, I have a ready to go list of the foods that I would gorge upon. I just imagine a heavenly culinary angel telling me to start doing one of those old Supermarket Races, where I sprint up and down the aisles, stuffing my face with wheat.

1. Crusty Italian bread
This was a staple in my Italian-American upbringing. It came in a long, white paper bag. I used to scoop out the fluffy white inside and leave the crust behind when I was little.

2. Pizza from Silvio’s in Thornwood, New York
You can’t beat New York pizza and Silvio’s is my ambrosia of the pizza world. A crust papery thin, red sauce, and just the perfectly prerequisite amount of greasy cheese… Yum. I’ll trade in my lactose intolerance for this opportunity too, thanks.

3. Snyder’s Honey Mustard Pretzels
I don’t know why. But I want them. Unf.

4. Quaker’s Oatmeal Squares
Real talk. In high school, I once ate an entire box of these. I don’t know what it is, but those rough, oat-y squares are strangely addictive. Other contenders in the world of cereal are Special K, Life, and Cap’n Crunch.

5. Cinnamon Raisin Bagel
Of course, only from a New York bagel shop.

6. Thanksgiving Stuffing.
Oh, also Jiffy cornbread muffins. Oh gosh, is it November yet?

7. Whoppers
A lot of people hate these malty, chalky candies. I LOVE THEM. But malt comes from barley, and barley’s all buddy-buddy with gluten. It’s like a fun little club, Barley, Rye, and Wheat. Sometimes they let Oats come and chill with them too, so they can plot new ways to wreak havoc on my internal organs. Also, Kit Kat bars. I hate Kit Kat bars, but now that I can’t have them, I want them,

8. Munchkins
Why not continue the unhealthy trend? Getting Dunkins coffee is just sad when all those donuts are staring at you from their waxed paper shelves. I sometimes buy one and force a gluten-eating friend to eat it so I may vicariously enjoy it.

9. Naan
If you’ve never had this Indian flatbread, then you haven’t lived.

10. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
Oh, now I’ve made myself super sad. I want to go stab one of those tubes and roll up those little triangles, and have them turn into magic in the oven. One day, little doughboy, you and I shall meet again…

My brother, who also is GF, said his first choice would also be pizza, but ruminating on this is too depressing for him. So I’ll turn it to whoever’s reading this – do any of you have a food allergy? What would you eat if you didn’t have it?

Love Always,
Gabriele

Inspiration 06.09.13

Good morning on this summery, shining Sunday! I always get confused to whether the week begins anew with Sunday. Monday we all go back to our little ant mounds of work, and Sunday is considered part of the weekend, but calendars always start with Sunday on the left. Wikipedia seems to have conflicting views on this important matter. Regardless, hopefully you can rest today and enjoy the sunshine if your weather permits! Personally, I’m slogging through this morning – got up at 6 yesterday and 8 today. I’m a morning person, really, but sometimes I have to kick myself into remembering that. Anyway, here are some lovely links for your weekend!

Enjoy!

 

Camping is nearly on my unbucket list, but maybe I’d survive with some of these innovative hacks!

As a foodie and nutrition junkie, this rainbow food poster is awesome

Trover is like photo geocaching! It’s so fun to punch in your zip code and discover little hidden wonders right out your front door.

100 Years of Style makes me want a time machine, just for the fashions!

And I’d definitely make a stop in 1969 at this groovy high school.

I talked about my little dream English cottage this week. This flickr album is gorgeous inspiration.

My inner journalist is drooling at this utterly fascinating GQ piece on Kim Jong Il’s personal sushi chef.

Your art muse of the week – People in Order, four videos showing people from various stages of age, pregnancy, love (relationship length), and homes (salary amount).

I wear a lot of black – a fashion bucket list challenge might be to add lots of color! These people rock the rainbow!

And self-appreciation and love should always be part of your bucket list or expectation. Here’s 24 dates to take yourself on.

 

Love,
Gabriele

Janie

Name: Janie
Hometown: Westchester, NY
Age: 15
Current obsession: Sloths

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If I was still in high school, I hope I wouldn’t have been too shy to be friends with Janie. Silly, self-deprecating, and smiley, Janie is full of stealthily clever quips and observations. She has about a billion friends she’s always texting and is rarely seen without her trademark infectious smile. Unlike many of the other teens I’ve encountered in my hometown, Janie has a truly good heart, even if she hides it under her teasing nature and goofy expressions.

–       Travel abroad in Europe for a month

–       “Eat the Vermonster at Ben and Jerry’s by myself”

–       Maintain good grades for at least a quarter, [one term]

–       Order everything off the menu at Starbucks

–       Eat a whole box of Twinkies, Yodels

–       Be a high school English teacher at a really good school, “because I like English – I enjoy essays and papers, analyzing things”

–       “I want to have a really pretty garden with a whole rainbow of color – red flowers, orange flowers, and so on”

–       Have two border collies named Max and Ruby, after the bunnies of the same titled show.

–       “Buy one pair of extremely expensive shoes and have them the rest of my life and never lend them out to anyone. Huge heels – I’ll probably never wear them but I’ll be proud to have them”

–       “When I grow really old, I want to live in an apartment over Central Park”

–       Have three daughters

–       Marry her soul mate: “He’s going to be obviously taller than me and a year or two older. Freckles, either a hazel or blue eye color, brown hair. I don’t care if he has perfect muscle tone or body. Same interests as me, like literature. I don’t really care about his job.”

–       Move far away from home.

–       More on her soulmate: “I want him to be really cute and believe in romantic gestures. I want to be sad one day and come home and there will be roses. And I’m going to cook for him, but every blue moon, he’ll cook for me”

–       Attend college at Skidmore or University of Vermont

–       Eat all the spiciest wings at Buffalo Wild Wings without dying

–       “Have a really good relationship with my mom for the rest of my life, because we fight now, and I want us to be able to go out for lunches and things.”

–       Be able to watch the three scariest movies – Human Centipede, the Omen, and the Exorcist.

–       “Get a charm bracelet and each place we go, get a new charm with my husband.”

–       Every year, take a vacation with family (siblings/parents) to a tropical place.

–       “Change my hair color for a period of my life, but I don’t know what color”

–       Get bellybutton pierced

–       Plan a spontaneous trip and just go

–       Get her one (barely!) crooked tooth fixed

–       Keep a journal regularly

–       Have a cute little orange cat that looks like a Creamsicle

–       Learn how to sing; “I want to learn so bad”

–       “In the summer, have a place on the water, that I’ll have to save up a long time for. In my forties or something.”

–       Go on a really cool rock climbing adventure

–       “Kiss a giraffe. Take that back. I want to meet a real sloth.”

Your Stomach’s Bucket List

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Despite my last post, we’ve had rainy, rumbly days lately, sending rivulets of water down and soaking the world into a Technicolor dream. But it’s all the better to coax out summer like a butterfly from its cocoon.

One category that is on my bucket list as a wannabe-world-traveler is trying out strange and peculiar cuisines. As a mostly vegan celiac, my options for gustatory adventures are often limited. They’re limited at least on a traditional standpoint. I firmly believe that the Travel Channel should give me my own food-based show, where I gallivant and teach the world about far-flung vegetarian dishes.

Anyway. Point being – maybe there’s been some food you’ve always wanted to try or make. A flaming baked Alaska? Every Ben and Jerry’s flavor? The restaurant that’s entirely in the dark, where you’re served by blind waiters?

Dream big, my culinary compadres. Food is a shared experience for every human, and you too can be a gourmet. In Italy, there’s a saying, “Non si invecchia a tavola”, which means one doesn’t grow old at the table. I’m not encouraging gluttony, I’m just saying if you’re stumped on your list, food is a fun baby step of a category to think about. It doesn’t even have to go on your bucket list. Just trying new things is a part of life that we should never stop.

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Around this time of year, I’m always excited for the local farmers’ markets to start up again. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a place that has them, definitely go! Last year I would challenge myself to try a new ingredient every week. Radishes, beets, Swiss chard, Tuscan kale, and squash all yielded under my novice hands and bite of the chef’s knife.

Ethnic supermarkets are another way to expand your palate. I love H-Mart and the other Asian markets nearby. Half the time I can’t read the label, but that’s part of the fun. Last year I embarked on making sushi for the first time and an elderly Japanese man stopped me in the aisle to point out a better type of pickled ginger.

Food – building bridges between awkward college students and wise, wizened foreigners.

So, whether you’ve hosted your own Julia Child shows to an invisible audience as you made Lunchable pizzas or you’ve been more likely to use your oven as extra storage, try something new. Don’t even cook it if it’s not your forte. I even managed to cajole my brother into trying sashimi at a gluten free restaurant last week.

Unfortunately, he still hated it. But, he tried!

And this is all about trying and doing and living. Have a lovely weekend, darlings, and stay dry.

Love,
Gabriele