Friday, July 17, 2015

Celebrating with Whimsy

How else to celebrate marriage to a mad scientist but with a molecular dining experience? Uli and I spent over three hours eating a seventeen course meal at an small, inventive Jakarta restaurant Namaaz, where we found something to marvel at in each and every course. Thematically, each course had something to do with the chef's Indonesian childhood. he came out to explain each item and to share in our delight at the unexpected takes on traditional dishes. Let me give you a taste...

Course #1: An edible pen and piece of paper (flavor chicken curry) with the Indonesian writing basics equivalent of "See Jane run." Delightful. Crackers in the pencil sharpener and can opener in the pencil case.

Uli looks doubtful, but he did roll them up and eat them!

Course #2: A special orange soda (called Green Spot) with basil caviar.

Course #3:  Hard noodles with edible plastic packet of spices.

Course #4: Coins in different flavors to which broth was added to make soup.

Course #5: Commemorating memories of snail races, this was squid stuffed into a shell together with a spicy, edible black spoon.

Course #6: Looks like a sea urchin but it was actually a rice dish once you cut it open!

Course #7: Remembering sucking the juice from honeysuckle, this yummy nectar was served in a test tube from which you had to slurp the jelly.

Course #8: Edible cigarettes! The first ones were dipped in dry ice so that we could smoke them. These were served with spicy sambal ashes and also to eat.

Course #9: Looks like a donut and tea, right? Nope. Add the donut to the teabag with some hot water and it turns into beef curry!

Course #10: Commemorating swigging, this was a chicken on a dried bean skewer.

Course #11: Fish on a salted cutting board and served up in a cold, steaming salad (below).

Course #12: Something spicy and extremely yummy.

Course #13: Corned beef served with rice and egg in an unopened can.

Course #14: Icecream with caramel "toothpaste" to put on top (guaranteed to cause cavities).

Course #15: Something with melted candy as topping (sweet).

Course #16: Pacman marshmallow eating a raspberry.

Special Course served up for our anniversary!

An edible ring!

Course #17: Making a green balloon (connected to an Indonesian children's song).

Blowing it out of the candy mixture.

Adding liquid ice and smashing it up...

Eating the green balloon with its other colors (flavored capsules of watery substance).

The two of us, still smiling after eating so many fun foods!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

At home on the prairie

After almost a year in the jungle, I jetted for the prairie to celebrate Independence Day with family in North Dakota. The clover never looked so yellow nor the air smelled so sweet as it did on this sojourn. The one week visit back home rejuvenated me, cementing family relationships in celebration and a fair share of mourning. Choking out my disdain for everything urban, the skies restored my wholly Western heart with their wide open blues and cool night-time breezes.

We made new memories. Some of those that are stuck still deeply in my soul include making ginger snaps with my nephew Cohen, my mom posing like a supermodel at the 4th of July parade, Grandma Fern's 90th birthday party and the colossal family gathering of aunts, uncles, and cousins galore at Aunt Kim's, sitting at "the Ponderosa" lodge and looking out over sheep, bull, and other animals while breathing the sweet air deeply, getting bitten by vicious and hungry mosquitoes, setting off fireworks with my brother and his family in the middle of the street in Hettinger, chatting with uncle Steve about the origins of coffee and other trivia that he has such a good memory for, eating breakfast with my dad, the trauma of seeing our cheeriest, cutest, ball-chasingest, cuddliest dog get sick, wither, and die, the disbelief and tears that still follow memories of Skip, planting marigolds and tomatoes for my dad, and holding each and every moment tightly to my chest so that I can remember each one even after a 30-hour, multi-continent plane ride.

Here are a few snapshots of the journey.