Enough is Enough

You know that person who receives and/or makes a big plate of food, and is able to stop eating when they feel full no matter how much food they have left in their plate?  I do, and that person is not me. That person is the complete opposite of me. But she is my best friend, a best friend that will remain nameless unless referred to by her name, Michele.

One upon a time Michele was “starving” wanting – no, needing – food.

“I’m so hungry I could die. Not die but I could really faint. SERIOUSLY!” She complained.

I know how awful those hungry headaches can be so I gave in so I gave in even though we were meeting a group of girlfriends in two hours time. We settled for the best hold-you-over snack I know… a good old grilled cheese sandwich. They are delicious, filling and small. Brilliant!

Important side note: My “healthy” version of the grilled cheese is made with wheat bread, Michele only keeps white bread at her house. I succumbed to peer pressure.

Long story short, the grilled cheese was made, it smelled delicious and tasted great. The two perfectly toasted sandwiches would have made it straight through to Snack Heaven. We both had a bite and  before we could comment on how nice the warmth of a fresh grilled cheese felt on our fingers, her phone rang. I wouldn’t have picked it up for fear the cheese would get cold but Michele had to take it; it was her boyfriend.

When she got back, my grilled cheese was gone; hers was still neatly situated on her plate with only one bite missing. What happens next may not shock you but I was floored, alarmed, taken back. Michele said she was full and couldn’t finish the sandwich as she pushed her plate over to my side of the table.

What! Full? FULL? I had thoughts in my head I wanted to yell but decided it would be better for our friendship if I kept them to myself. The thought process basically went as follows:

  • I was not the one that wanted a snack in the first place. You traitor!
  • How can you throw away perfectly good food! Especially a grilled cheese!
  • Don’t you know there are people starving out there!
  • It wasn’t that big, finish it if only as a thank you. You are very unappreciative!
  • You are a liar.
  • I don’t believe you are full! I don’t believe you were ever hungry!
  • Was this some mean ploy to make me fat?
  • Why couldn’t I Just Say No!
  • But it was so good.
  • I guess I can just finish it.
  • I hate you for doing this to me.

The thought process should have been as follows:

  • What a shame.
  • I’ll wrap it up and see if anyone else wants it tomorrow.

I remember reading that if you eat very slowly  your body feels full and you don’t eat more than you need. I have always been told I eat way too fast and that’s why I can finish an entire plate of whatever is in front of me. I’ve tested this theory and it does not work.  Correction, it does not work for me.   When do you stop? How do you know when you’ve had enough?

I know that sometimes I overeat, but I never seem to be able to know my limit. I make the conscious decision to think about it,  but by the time I’m done thinking I have already finished eating an entire plate.  I  tried to count calories but that turned out to be more of a running joke. I hate math. It’s not as if I feel overweight or I think it’s a big issue or I’m embarrassed that I eat more than my boyfriend…

Home Away from Home… In My Belly

In the US, by the time most people have graduated college they are living away from their parents and are not coming back. I am no exception. I was working in NYC for 2 years before moving to Melbourne, Australia to work and holiday with the best of them! Since I’m in a completely different time zone it seems okay to feel a little hint of homesickness.

I not only miss US/NY type of things like, say, Hulu, Spodify, Netflix, driving, Broadway, I also miss the food. Mostly, my favorite restaurants in New York. I will now name a few: Meatball Shop, Bianca, Freeman’s, Crif Dogs, Westville, Grey Dogs, Caracas*, Clinton Street Bakery, Eataly, Socarrat, the fried chicken and bread pudding at Blue Ribbon Bakery. I could go on forever but I won’t because you’ll get bored and I’ll get hungry. The good news is that there is an abundance of delicious restaurants in Melbourne to keep me occupied and not wondering how long the line at Shake Shack is right now.

I’ve been a wanderer since I was 14 and have lived away from my family for some time now so I couldn’t figure out why this trip to Australia was different than all the others. There was something that was keeping my home sickness alive and present to the point where I’d lay in fetal position to speak on the phone with parents or send my sister pictures of everything in sight, begging for some in return.

See, I grew up eating Venezuelan food: Arepas, tequenos, empanadas, caphapas, flan, tres leches. I found a few “Venezuelan” restaurants here, but they were liars. It wasn’t the same at all. They have no idea what they were doing and I’d just leave angry every time! I didn’t throw anything but I was definitely at that level. Then one day the skies split in two, a bright light came down and landed directly on a Venezuelan flag swaying beautifully in the wind in front of an Cruzao Arepa Bar down Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. I walked in and heard the music my mom use to play in the kitchen while cooking, I didn’t hear it metaphorically, this is literal. I looked around as if I were the host of a cooking show on the verge of giving my verdict! It was almost the spitting image of what it should have been. Big, messy plates of food, arepas overflowing with different meats, avocado and beans, cheese perfectly melting out of the side of the cachapa, juices offered in every color a crayon comes in. I felt my heart smile. I was home, in the form of food.

I think the problem was I’d never gone longer than a few weeks without eating Venezuelan food, the food I so easily associate with my  family. Now, I’m not saying that the complete reason for feeling home sick was not eating a certain type of food. No. What I’m saying is that eating Venezuelan food, took the sick away from home sick and made me happy. I felt normal again.

That is one of the main reasons why I’ve always loved food. I think it’s a clear representation of different cultures and helps keep memories alive. Food is not only essential in every day life; it’s the best way to connect with others. As cheesy as it may sound, having a bite of that arepa took me on a 30-hour plane ride back to Florida, straight to my parents house.

Do you have certain meal or type of food that you associate with home or family?

*If you’re in NYC/Brooklyn, please go to Caracas and try anything. It’s brilliant Venezuelan food.

Losing It at the Market

The idea of getting fresh produce from a farmers market or local out door market has always intrigued me. I always thought I could some day recreate a page from a magazine where the girl looks cute as a bowtie for no reason. You know the one… her hair is down, silky and flowing. She looks effortlessly cool, but also comfortable because the only thing she’s carrying is the cute tote her groceries will call home. She has her iPod with her and even though she’s taking her sweet time she looks completely in control of every aisle she turns on.

My hair is always too dirty and up in a ponytail on days when I would have the time to go to the market so it never seems worth it to take the trip.  But once upon a time the stars aligned! The perfect opportunity for a field trip to the beautiful South Melbourne Market in Australia showed its face. My 8am boxing class was cancelled Sunday morning and I still had what was left of my blow dry from Saturday night.

What happened next is not essential but still important. I put on my comfortable but stylish navy blue pants, a white button down shirt and my brown Oxford shoes. I was going after the whole J.Crew catalogue look. I took $50 out of my wallet, my tram card and shoved it in my pocket. I was really going for it! I don’t know if you can imagine how giddy I was, but I had my playlist of Broadway songs on shuffle to match my excitement.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I know what an out door market looks like, I’ve walked past hundreds of them for fruits sake! I thought getting in and out of the market would be a breeze, a walk in the park. But I’m here to tell you… it’s not. Not for me at least. Going to the market on a whim proved a bad choice and extremely unsuccessful. With so much produce to choose from, coming up with a meal just seemed desperately impossible. I found myself completely frozen in time awing at all the people and colors around me.

I couldn’t understand how they were moving around so fast, knowing very well what they wanted and what to grab for. Either everyone was on high speed or I was in slow motion (I think we both know which one). I felt so out of place I decided it was best to ‘stop and smell the roses’ both literally and metaphorically. I decided to make this first trip to the market about observing other people, taking in the smells and colors, getting to know all the different shops, witnessing how some people would buy corn at one shop but prefer buying capsicums at the next one. Why? What’s the secret?

What makes one better than the other? How am I to know if I should buy green grapes from the Fruit Seller rather than green grapes from the Man Who Sells Fruit across the way? I don’t think I’ll ever know but I did learn the following

  1. Prepare a list of items you want/need before the trip. Maybe even look up recipes you want to make during the week and work from there.
  2. If you accidentally bump into the tomatoes and they fall to the ground one by one, in slow motion, don’t panic! No one will yell, they’ll be very kind.
  3. Stay away from the cupcake section, even though they look and smell delicious it’s not what you came for.
  4. Keep repeating number 3 to yourself until you’ve made it back to the fruit.
  5. If you buy half of the items you need at one shop, and half the items at another not one person will give you the stink eye. They most likely don’t know you exist.

In the end I ended up buying two huge sweet potatoes, two medium sized white onions and a lovely bouquet of flowers for myself. While I was too overwhelmed to get enough groceries that actually contributed to being anything close to resembling a Sunday Night Dinner, I was very happy I took the time to go. I swear, here and now, I will do a better job on the next go around.  Maybe next time, I won’t even have to go to my usual supermarket for the rest of my groceries afterwards.

Cookie Time!

You know when you’re on holiday and you come across a place you wish was in your neighborhood? Then you think about it a little more and you become thankful that you don’t have it at home because it may or may not become the reason for your obesity.

Well maybe you don’t, but that’s what Cookie Time is for me. If Cookie Time was in my neighborhood I would absolutely, without a doubt go in everyday and order a Hot Chocolate Chip Cookie. As Charlie Brown said, “You’ll never convince me there is more to life than Chocolate Chip Cookies”.

These cookies come out of the oven and straight into my mouth. The staff seemed to be making them every 10 minutes. It never bothered them if we decided to wait for the next batch either.

One cookie is $2.50 New Zealand dollars which isn’t bad at all. But they have an amazing thing called Happy Hour. Yes, Happy Hour for cookies! Buy one get one free! What! (I’m sorry The exclamation marks are out of my control!)

I’m not saying you should fly half way around the world to New Zealand for a cookie, but if you happen to stumble upon Queenstown, New Zealand, as many of us do, go to Cookie Time. Sit at the beautiful park on Camp Street and enjoy the Cookie Happy Hour with a friend. Or enemy. I’m positive anyone will enjoy.

Fun fact: Cookie Time held the record of World’s Biggest Cookie for 12 years! The cookie covered an area 487.15 square metres, and contained 24,000 eggs. Impressive! Oh, no the exclamation marks are coming back.