always look on the bright side of life (aka my non-Thanksgiving dinner)

The past 12 hours, in random order:

Got caught in the rain, again. Decided having an umbrella when it's raining and windy is about as useful as having an English bowler about on the first day of an Ashes test.* Had the brilliant idea of buying a bunch of flowers for my aunt**. Did. Had some random person on the train tell me: "Oh, the man who got that showed good taste". So, let me walk myself through this here:

a) girl with flowers must have had them given to her
b) girl with said flowers must have had a bloke give them to her
c) girl with flowers can be randomly talked to (at)
d) really, isn't (c) enough? I used to be intimidating once upon a time. What has happened?
e) it's a holiday. Let me be friendly and talk to random girl with flowers.

Odd. And oh-so-very non-Washingtonian. Though I did notice a lot of people were more talkative yesterday. I had to do the trek from my home, across two states (and a district) to reach my destination so I noticed the increased tendency to talk upon the part of the Washington population. I didn't enjoy it much.

But, on to the main course of this post. My dinner. I believe most PTSD readers (or those who know me IRL) are aware I spend my holidays looking after people's houses or pets while said people jet off elsewhere. This time, it's a familiar place--same one as last Thanksgiving--and a familiar pet--a rather grumpy but quite enjoyable cocker spaniel. The family's from Nepal but has been living here about 30 years. Through my time here, they have frequently fed (and sometimes even housed) me.

Dinner last night consisted of:

Rice: Proper, white, fluffy rice.

Daal: Yellow daal, with some moong beans added. And jhaneko. Not quite sure what that is, in English, but it's when you heat up a couple of tablespoons of butter, put spices and suchlike (especially jimbu***) and then add it to the daal. It makes it all taste better.

Gundruk: This was the best part. It reminded me of home, cold winter evenings and eating gundruk and rice while watching bad shows (This is my family we are talking of--think Star Trek, Doctor Who or Dad's Army or the latest sports, no matter what that may be) on television.
I'm not quite sure how gundruk can be described. Oh, thank you Google. Read here for a (almost academic, no less!) description. And, yes, my family tries**** this at home.

This is how my lot do it (with comments added):

"The leaves (of any plant, really, but mostly radish and cauliflower or anything spinach-like) are beaten with a wooden hammer or a large stick (a good sight to see--grown-ups beating up small, defenceless, dead plants with sticks), and then squeezed to remove moisture. The residue is pressed into an earthenware vessel or bamboo basket, and then placed in a sunny spot until it starts to smell salty (a very intersubjective notion this. There's always a lot of discussion about when exactly things start to "smell salty" with debates about temperature, timing and the lunar shape. Fun stuff. Often, the oldest person summarily decides the plants have been left out for long enough and the discussion ends right there.)."

The next item on the menu was golbhedako achar (tomato pickle) but with tito (bitter) karelo added. This latter item is a Nepali veggie*****--we happen to have it growing in our back yard--which is very much an acquired taste as it's extremely bitter and quite often leads to much coughing and choking******. Yet, Nepali folk not only eat it at home but (from last night's evidence) search for it when halfway across the world. If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about Nepalis, then I don't know what would.

Finally, saag. Or, spinach. But, not like how Giant conceives of spinach but basically a bunch of green leafy veggies cooked together. One is never quite sure what one is eating when having saag.

Today, while those of yous here in the USA eat turkeys and stuffing and green bean casseroles (if you happen to be hanging out with E), I have entered my hermit phase. I have opened up the file I have to work on, said goodbye to the family as they jet off to Florida for a week, made sure the dog is still alive and about and been quite thankful about all sorts of things. I have leftover gundruk, rice and my uncle's version of the Great American Tradition--ground turkey meat, fried with onions and garlic because "you have to have some turkey today, Priya"-- to keep me going for the next few days.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks. I guess the foods are different for some of us but I do hope all of yous are having fun (and eating well).

* Yes, well, I know it's only the first day. I do hope things don't improve for the English though.

** One of my Bostonian resolutions was to think "what would a regular person do?" at odd moments and try do that. I think people who visit people usually take stuff there. I never did before--just showed up and smiled and ate and then played on my computer. This time, roses. Roses, mates. My aunt was well-pleased, which shows how lax I have been in the normal social niceties of life. PTSD has to remain hidden from my Mum or else she will be confirmed in her opinion that she's raised a "jangali" ("wild" in the sense of being at home in a jungle--usually allied with "bhoot" which then becomes the much more fun phrase "jangali bhoot" or "wild ghost". Often used to slag off people with little or no evidence of ever having been taught manners--rather like me, in fact).

*** My father, the forester, tells me jimbu is a "perennial herb found in high altitudes, usually over 3500 metres, in Nepal, Tibet and India". It looks like small pieces of wood, chipped off a tree by a woodpecker.

**** Tries but doesn't always succeed. Thankfully, gundruk is easily found in shops or acquired through means which involve dodgy blokes popping up at 5am to slide a jar of gundruk over the wall of the house. This then leads to discussions over which gundruk (cauliflower? radish? or something different?) is better.

***** I have been told it is found in other parts of South and Southeast Asia as well but apparently the Nepali variety is much more bitter (and hence, called "Nepali" karela by our Southern neighbours) and considered to be uneatable by all except Nepalis.

****** For those of you with this experience, think of slathering vegemite on toast and eating that. It is a very similar feeling.


At 11/25/2006 12:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great. my thanksgiving dinner consisted of nothing. literally - the school dining halls were closed and i couldn't be arsed to cook. well not nothing but a few packets of crisps. :,(

At 11/25/2006 10:00 PM, Blogger Priya said...

Oh, how miserable. I can send you pictures of the food I ate/am eating?

I'm sure those will help.

At 12/08/2006 1:35 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I'm thinking it's less spinach than it is greens, the southern (and midwestern, sometimes) term for a variety of green leafy things cooked until you can't tell what they were.


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