Colombia In My Mind’s Eye

Anticipation is the sweetest nectar. Here are some photos from my last visit to Colombia. Who wouldn’t look forward to more of this?

Night in the old city of Cartagena with touristy horse and carriage ride.
Night in the old city of Cartagena with touristy horse and carriage ride.

I also remember dancing at every turn, the Jack Daniels at the weddings, the fruit juices squeezed fresh, the soups topped with avocado, the fried cheese bread balls served in bags, the burger topped with shredded chicken, donuts bought at the airport like a duty free item, jeans worn tight as second skin, the fort in Cartagena hugging the town of dreams… will the Colombia of the future outdo what I can see in my memories?

Beauty for the tourists.
Beauty for the tourists.

 

A Day at the Races

At Pimlico.
At Pimlico.

Recently, I went for a day at the races. Not having grown up going to the horse races, attending the Preakness was all new to me. I wasn’t sure if it was all about the hat (or my new fascination — the fascinator), the horses, the betting, or the concerts. It turned out to be a bit of all of it, a sort of combination country fair, concert, picnic, tailgate party, and excuse to dress up and drink cocktails at 11 a.m.

This is the sign above the betting windows...
This is the sign above the betting windows…

I’m not sure if I would go to a horse race again, although maybe in Colombia, as the actual races are very short (a few minutes) and it all goes by in a blur. But, the people-watching goes on all day!

Father and son in matching seersucker.
Father and son in matching seersucker.

One of the hats for sale was about two feet across and cost $496. Yes, almost $500 for a hat. Speaking of fashion, I enjoyed the variety of men and boys in seersucker suits and the ladies and girls in their dress and hats. Also, people were super friendly out at Pimlico in Maryland.

The Preakness.
The Preakness.

 

 

Artfully Learning Fun(ny) Spanish

La esposa y las esposas.
” La esposa y las esposas.

Learning a new language (and culture) is both fun, and sometimes, funny. The general assumption about Spanish is that you can put an “o” on the end of the wordo (see, like that) and that this “o” will make it Spanish. Lots of the words are the indeed the same or similar in English and Spanish. These are called cognates. An example is dictionary: diccionario. Looks the same, must be the same. But, how easily one can land, mouth on foot! Here are some other words and phrases that can make for sticky or embarrassing situations (does my quick doodle better illustrate the point?).

“embarrazado” = to be a pregnant man (the “o” means that you are a man). To be embarrassed is “avergonzado” which makes me think about modern journalism being “gonzo”…
“las esposas” = the wives or handcuffs (useful if you are talking about two or more wives or handcuffs). Perhaps somehow related to “ball and chain?”

Also, today is “martes trece” or “Tuesday the 13th” which is the equivalent to “Friday the Thirteenth” — a day of bad luck, a day not to leave your house, not to start a new business, etc. in Spanish-speaking countries. Perhaps a day to stay indoors looking up funny cognates online. I am taking note of these as I go along, so if I get them wrong, please comment! I look forward to trying to avoid too many encounters of foot in mouth once I get to Colombia.

10 Iconic American Eats In Washington, D.C.

Recently, some of my Bangladeshi friends visited the U.S… which made me think about iconic American foods to make them try while visiting D.C. The following are some of my recommendations.

1. Krispy Kreme: Who does not love a freshly fried yeast doughnut, hot and fresh from a sugar glaze waterfall?

2. Five Guys and Shake Shack: The last decade has seen the rise of the new hamburger restaurant which makes me happy. Freshly made with fresh French fries – it sounds simple but we, the consumers, put up with so much less for too long. Five Guys is a nationwide chain that started a few miles from D.C. and if you have peanut allergies, you must stay away…

A burger from Shake Shack.
A burger from Shake Shack.

3. All-American classic restaurants and bars: These are classic modern restaurants and bars in the “old boys’ club” style of dark wood, etc. — The Hamilton, The Lincoln, and also Old Ebbitt Grill, the Willard, and Ray’s the Steaks.

4. Ben’s Chili Bowl: Visitors like this historic place which has recently become a chain and it will soon be opening a branch at National Airport.

5. Honey Pig (noisy Korean BBQ restaurant), To Sok Jib (hole-in-the-wall Korean restaurant), and Bon Chon Chicken: Annandale, Virginia is a well known Korea-town but Bon Chon has just opened a branch in Clarendon. There is also Lighthouse Tofu which serves more than tofu and Oegadgib which serves all-you-can-eat Korean including shabu-shabu (shabu-shabu are the words you should say to time how long you swish your meat in the broth to cook it.).

6. Pho soup: Eden Center is a little Vietnam in Falls Church, Virginia, where the restaurants serve pho and other Vietnamese food.

Vietnamese pho soup, fried rolls, and summer rolls.
Vietnamese pho soup, fried rolls, and summer rolls.

7. Ravi Kabob: It’s a northern South Asian/Pakistani place that is “hole-in-the-wall” and serves delicious food. The most famous local chain is Moby Dick’s.

8. Edy’s Chicken or El Pollo Rico: It’s Peruvian style rotisserie chicken. Anthony Bourdain went to El Pollo Rico but I like that Edy’s serves yucca fries. There are also several other Peruvian style restaurants in the area where you can explore some of this world famous cuisine, although I’m still waiting for the celebrity chef level restaurants to open.

9. Ramen shops: This is a fairly new trend in American food, thanks in part to David Chang of Momofuku, and I like the trend. Yummy, homemade soup. It doesn’t seem like a big deal but it is.

10. El Salvadorean food: Try a fresh pupusa as the El Salvadorean population begins to emerge on the culinary scene (there are not that many Mexican places in this area but Jugalita is authentic).

Of course there are also many Ethiopian restaurants to try and loads of food carts serving all manner of new American foods (Korean kalbi taco, anyone?). Every new group of immigrants contributes a new flavor to American cuisine.

When tourists visit the U.S., many want to try Chipotle and other famous restaurants. I recommend using Yelp to find the locations. Speaking of American foods, there is, of course, pie, lobster, grits, collard greens, chicken and waffles, barbecue, etc. to be had here in D.C., but, maybe I’ll write about that another time. And not to forget, I’ve done some research and it looks like there is only one Colombian restaurant in the area… y claro, por supuesto, voy a visitarlo.