Friday, March 30, 2007

55 Friday

The 55 Friday "I Feel Fine" Edition from Sepia Mutiny, gave an R.E.M. song as inspiration. Here is my contribution:

* * * *

Where the Adriatic and the Mediterranean meet, I am on the cusp of inarticulable things. I am waiting to touch the original-blue of the Aegean Sea.
“The world is bigger and smaller than ever before,” I say.
“Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn,” he says as the salt spray dusts our faces.

* * * *

crossposted on The Black Jaguar and O.W.L.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


Well duckies, my site tracker has informed me that I have had (as of now) approximately 40 visits to my page. That, my friends, is what we call an audience. In honor of this round number (and the potential of surpassing it), I give you this little gem via Jane of All Trades:

Those of you who know me, know that if there is anything I dig more than noshing and mid-day napping, it is all manner of monkeys, big cats and elephants. Well, two out of three ain't bad. Two baby Orangutans and a set of Sumatran tiger-cub twins engaged in a snuggle-fest after a play filled day at the Taman Safari Zoo. The tigers and the monkeys have sustained a month long friendship, which unfortunately, is likely to end once the tigers grow out of their early babyhood and begin eating meat.

You can read the full story here.

Personally, I find this story utterly charming. These tigers and orangutans were clearly able to set aside any potential differences and focus on the things that they have in common. For example, they are all orange. And cute. Sigh

Wednesday, December 6, 2006


There was one ladoo perched on a dinner plate between the two of us. Mr. Masala and I were at a face-off. As I stared at him across the wide expanse of the white plate I contemplated my options.

1) I could give it to him. That would be altruistic. I would be a good wife, generously sacrificing the satisfaction of my sweet-tooth for my spouse.

2) I could pop the whole thing in my mouth and run away before he knew what hit him, leaving him only few crumbs on the plate.

3) I could swindle it away from him. (Here, love, you don't want that. It's rich. It will upset your tummy. Let me save you. Let me take that ladoo away from you. You don't want a cavity do you? I will eat it for you.)

4) We could cut it in half and share it. Sigh.

For the uninitiated who are reading this and wondering what a ladoo is, behold. It is a ball made of ghee (clarified butter), sugar, cardamom, a flour base of some kind and well...other good and magical things. Some have almonds, raisins, etc. (I don't make them, I just buy them). They are approximately the size of a golf ball (slightly bigger, in fact) and are orange in color. They are dense with a hint of sugar crystallization, but I wouldn't call them crunchy.

In Deepa Mehta's film "Water" a ladoo is presented to a widow on her death bed. When she tastes the ladoo, it is the fulfillment of a decades long dream that she had been cultivating for the better part of her long life, having been widowed at a young age. Such is the magic of a ladoo.

Ladoos are not, in fact, my favorite Indian sweet. When I was a kid, we used to drive out to "the Indian food store" (ours was called Bharat Bazaar) and along with groceries, we would pick up a variety of snacks. My Dad would walk us over to the chilled counter and with glittery eyes of his own tell me to "pick out some sweets," his face boasting a smile laced with mischief. I didn't know what most of them were called, but sweet they were. I always wanted to eat them in one sitting.

Inspired by the ladoo scene from "Water" I have compiled a list of ultimate satisfaction foods. If I were faced with choosing a "last meal" I would want to eat the following:

1) cheesy cheesy pizza. with extra cheese. and cheese on top.

2) barfi

3) rasmalai

4) a small cheesecake from Ferrarra's bakery in NYC. This cheesecake is the lightest and best cheesecake that I have ever eaten. If clouds were made of cheesecake, they would be produced by this bakery. I have not eaten one in nearly ten years. I still cherish the memory. By the way, I wouldn't waste time on the crust. No offense to graham crackers, but crust on a cheesecake is just a waste of space. Also, I would eat it with my hands, 'cuz that's how I roll.

5) buttered popcorn jelly-bellys. I once had a childhood friend who claimed that buttered popcorn jelly-bellys taste like plastic dolls. Having never eaten a plastic doll, I can neither confirm nor deny their similarity to dolls. However, plastic dolls or not, I love them.

6) Angel hair pasta with pomodoro sauce, fresh tomatoes and pine nuts.

7) Tomatoes and fresh mozzarella with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

8) An entire brick of cream cheese. Don't laugh, it's good and this is a last meal we're talking about here.

9) Tomatoes in general, with salt or just plain. I love tomatoes.

10) Peanut butter on a fudgesicle. This is good. I shouldn't have to explain.

I have to go now...I'm hungry

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sin Azucar

A cappuccino in California is often a frothy but singular moment of disappointment. We are creatures of efficiency, whizzing around in our cars with our non-fat, no-whip, double-shot lattes slopping against their no-spill lids inside recycled paper cups. We shout our orders out over the din of early morning breakfast-skippers, early power-lunchers, cell-phone conference calls, people meeting people. We don't entirely care how they taste.

A cappuccino prepared in the morning rush is a hasty pull of espresso, a dash of milk and foam piled on top in clumps. When I was a young Masala, in my early coffee-shop days, this was the cappuccino that I always had. Lusting for sophistication, I would order it and then gulp it down with four sugars, guilty that I didn't really like it.

It was only years later, when I saw a documentary on the drink itself, that I learned what a cappuccino truly could be. Glued to the TV screen, I watched as barristas in swanky urban coffee shops extracted the perfect shot of espresso from the machine. The stream of coffee as it comes from the filter, should resemble a mouse's tail (oh yes, tell me more). It should consist of three levels, the topmost having a caramel covered froth of its own. This is poured into a cup to wait for the milk. The milk in the pitcher should be no more and no less than what is necessary for a single serving. This is steamed to the perfect temperature. If the milk is scalded, it has to go. It must also be frothed.

All of this is good, I thought to myself. But where is the magic? Where is the trick that yields a heart at the top of the glass? A heart, you ask? The heart is the product of the perfect calibration of milk and coffee. After the milk was frothed, my TV barrista tilted both the cup and the milk pitcher and with quick flicks of his wrist, whipped the milk right into the coffee. The foam was not held back as in other cafes, only to be slopped on later. It was allowed to flow into the coffee with the milk. At the end, the barrista flicked his wrist once more and drew the last of the foam down the center of the cup leaving a brown and white striped trail on the surface of the coffee creating a heart. (Oh bliss) I had never had one of those.

Months later, I found myself in Europe. In Rome, after an evening of wandering to the Colosseum, the Spanish steps and the Trevi fountain and watching the advancing night cloak the buildings as they gave off their own effervescent glow, I found myself in a cafe. It was urban. It was chic. I thought nothing of it. It was the evening of the Australia-Brazil game during the World Cup semi-finals. I sat down with a smattering of friends from Down Under and ordered pasta with tomatoes. It came to me on a clear-glass plate swirled in to a disheveled cylinder. Somewhere between fancy footwork on the field and a mouthful of pasta, I realized that I was in Rome. In Rome, where I spoke Spanish because it was better than nothing, I ordered uno cappuccino.

It arrived, heart intact with a light dusting of chocolate on top. It was bliss and I savored it sin azucar.