cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I'm Full of Myself

updated photography portfolio of--oh, me!The staff here at the Salty Cod is quite diverse. We have many positions filled by people who are all very qualified, in their heads. Our staff positions include writers, bakers, chefs, researchers, editors, photographers, regional marketing agents, international marketing agents, traveling correspondents, and dancers. As the greedy cod-monger that I am, I take part in all jobs listed above. But only part mind you, for the rest we hire only the best, meaning the ones who don't cost us any money. Our marketing agents are superb--bellowing uncles and fellow cuisine and travel bloggers. Our editor is a non-native speaker, and our traveling correspondents are everyone whose ideas i steal. The bakers and chefs who i hire to feed me at restaurants are also only the best, or worse depending on how the review went. But I will not share the writing though, and while yes I will do the dancing, I hope that there is one gracious enough out there to put me out of my misery and help me out on that one.

Alright, I am announcing a new version of our head photographer's (moi) portfolio--after countless horas of anger lost on that headache known as PDF, she has updated to the internet. While the majority of her work is done for the Salty Cod and for selfish reasons, she does in fact work as paid staff in her University's publication department--the newspaper, yearbook, and website. Well, money is money.

Please do me the honor of inflating my ego and visit the new portfolio, c'est tres chouette.

Mallory Elise Photography

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


oh boy the excitementSome of you, well rather very few of you, ok maybe just one, are aware of my great disappointment at having missed last weeks annual National Lentil Festival in Pullman, WA. I know what you are thinking; how could she have missed that! It's almost as idiot as say, missing the Sequim Lavender Festival! Which I did indeed miss this year. What can I say, I am a failed adventurer, but none the less, the lentil is deserving of our attention, I know you will agree. So on y va.

There is a festival for absolutely everything. And it is not just an American thing. If it exists in the world, there is a group of people somewhere celebrating it. Party everyday eh. In my own town of Poulsbo we celebrate Norwegian heritage by consuming lutefisk and spit roasted meat at our annual Viking Fest held in May, in neighboring Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula the Lavendar festival is held every July to make known the worlds largest producer of lavendar outside of Provence, here in Spokane the lilac festival is held every May, in Walla Walla the onion festival is held late july, and the Wenatchee apple harvest festival in late September celebrates the regions apple bounty before they are shipped off to grocery stores around the world (including Paris). These are a few of the hundred in my state alone, multiply that by fifty and then add in 3 million from around the world. It is a notion as common as two eyes and a nose, we like to celebrate.

Driving my housemate S to the Spokane International Airport for her evening flight to Washington DC from where she will be driving all the way back to Spokane in a little car (yes, cross-country, but more on that later) we hear on the radio the voice of the weather woman announce, "and what beautiful weekend weather we'll have for you to get out there and enjoy the end of the lentil festival with.." What did she say? Lentil festival? Ahk! When, where? Did we miss it? S just stares ahead, clearly relieved by her immense fortune at finding herself en route toward the opposite side of the country from me. Home from the airport, I phone E, E there is a lentil festival! We must find out about it. E: I love lentils! Alas, as we discover too late, the lentil festival is but a few hours shy of finishing, and that being in Pullman, a no-nothing town about an hour and a half's drive south of Spokane. Perhaps next year. Only kiding--Spokane next August? Not on your life.

The Lentil Festival in Pullman is actually a national festival, as it commemorates the largest lentil producing region in the nation. Over one third of the lentils grown in the entire country come from the Eastern Washington region known as the Palouse. Eastern Washington, for as unromantic hic farmer-town as it sounds, is an agricultural paradise of rolling fields and peaking hills studded with farm land as far as the eyes can see. Potatos, wheat, onions, apples, barley, alfalfa, grapes, and of course lentils. Lentils are consumed all over the globe; in Europe, Asia, throughout the Americas, the Middle East, Africa--the lentil is as communal as wheat. They have been discovered filling grain sacks in Egyptian tombs since before 2000 BC, and like everything else to the Egyptians (did you catch Bourdain eating the pigeon on Monday?) lentils are famed as an aphrodesiac. Food in general is eh. Lentils are more of a bean than anything, though flat like a fan or a lens. Rich in protein, soluble fiber, and iron, the lentil is a little health pill.

(photo borrowed from Photo Quarry)

Green, black, yellow, brown, red--lentils are as diverse as the countries in which they are consumed. Though the Pelouse region may be the greatest lentil producer in America, the greatest in the world is the Saskatchewan province in Candada. Go Canada. An international legume, though I have always associated lentils with French cuisine, for I have never had a French soup de lentilles which I did not swoon over. Velvety smooth, or with whole beans, savoring of chestnuts, or swirled with rasperry coulis and a drizzle of creme sauce. However, soup is the common preparation for the lentil throughout most of Europe and North and South America, while in India and the Middle East lentils are prepared relatively dry, cooked simultaneously with rice, producing mejadra in the Middle East and Khichdi in South Asia.

Following is the winning recipe in the festival, by Lindhda Sagen--an actual Pullman resident. Go figure. Poppers, quite the unappetizing name I will say; inspires images of something sticky that comes in a bucket from say a large fried chicken chain. But we must remember, we are in Eastern Washington--a land all its own.

Fabulous Lentil Mushroom Poppers: By Lindha Sagen

30 medium-size white mushrooms (remove stems and set aside. Scrape out all the gills using spoon)

1 tube Jimmy Dean original flavor sausage

¼ c. finely chopped mushrooms stems

1 c. cooked lentils

¼ c. finely chopped onion

¼ c. celery

1 tsp. breadcrumbs

4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 of package)

½ c. shredded Italian cheese (divided)

¼ c. Parmesan shredded cheese

1 c. Marinara sauce (optional)


Place clean and hollowed mushrooms on baking sheet. Preheat oven 375 degrees. In a separate medium size pan, combine sausage, mushroom stems, lentils, onion, and celery. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally to break-up sausage.

Remove from heat when sausage is cooked (10 minutes). Add bread crumbs, cream cheese, and ¼ c. Italian cheese. Stir mixture until uniform. Using a spoon, scoop mixture into mushroom caps (fill to the look like a cooked cupcake).

Sprinkle remaining Italian cheese and Parmesan cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and serve alone or with heated Marinara sauce for dipping.

The lentil, lentille, lentilha--where would humanity be without the lovely lentil. Stuck with chicken noodle soup that's where. Lentil soup is an ambrosia, one which I would unhesitatingly be proud to list in Bourdains "what would your death row meal be?" game. They celebrate the lentil in Pullman every year, but we can award it equal justice without throwing it a party. For none of you will ever (hopefully) travel physically to Pullman for the festival, so make soup, share soup, we're all connected by soup! Vive la lentille!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Salty Traveling: A Sister In Copenhagen

we're all invited to DenmarkAnd she's off. She is the cute one, not the funny looking one who looks like she just did something wrong. She's off to travel. Salty wants to come too.

To travel does not mean to vacation. And if it does, in the end if it really does then we are a very lucky modern species to be gifted travel everyday. We here at the Salty Cod hold a sentimental outlook on the concept of travel; that it let's you see who you are. It changes you, changes. Change is like everything else in this funny human life, sometimes good and sometimes bad; a double edged sword. Have you learned the words yet? The good and the bad? If not get your head out of your ass. Oftentimes is the case when there is need to sacrifice one good in order to achieve another good. Whether it's leaving the familiar for the unfamiliar, trading the role of the classroom know-it-all to the stuttering fade-away foreigner in the corner, finding one family in place of another, swapping material and political comforts for the unknown, or leaving the center of the world for reality. In the end the sacrifice is not a sacrifice, it is a compromise; if we had it all without pain then we would never know what it is to want. This is traveling, whether for a day, for a few months, or forever. Learning how others do it, how others live, that's travel, that's when you learn that your way is not the only.

Traveling is an everyday event. We travel when we communicate with each other, when we care about what others see, do, feel, find--my adventures in the backyard are travels for a New york journalist whose walk in Central park is a travel for the dentist in Madrid, and his visit to the butcher is a travel for the architect in Argentina whose newest skyscraper has allowed the Japanese business tycoon's imagination to travel thousands of miles on streams of sparkling window panes. The Parisian baker makes her way into Australian ovens forming pastries steaming in kitchen windows in Arizona, and the story detailing the pies fall from the second story windowsill sends the lawyer in London into a fit of laughter. And your story at the office water cooler, at the family barbecue, at the new starbucks, your voice is travel for me. We cannot all travel, perhaps for some cross-oceanic voyages will not be possible in this lifetime, money, time, work, life is a fact but that's why there is more than one human on this planet. Television, internet, books, magazines, friends--just listen to others stories, read them, watch them, share them, talk about them, want them, open yourself to them and you can go anywhere, there's more than one way to travel, I circle the globe before nine each morning.

Is there a point to this--sometimes no, but this time yes! My younger sister is traveling to Copenhagen Denmark to fulfill a semester of Architectural study through her university. She will be there until Christmas and has invited the rest of us to join her through--gasp yes a blog! (whose making fun of who now) She is offering us a look at the Melancholy Prince's land, through the eyes of an artist, a Seattleite, a Salty Cod sister--Denmark! What the hell is in Denmark? Dunno let's find out. Ryan will take us. Who knows, perhaps she might even be able to string a few words together to form a sentence. Venez! Den Reisekammeraten.

Bon Voyage sister! What can I say, we're travelers. Well, welcome to blog world.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jazzy Blue (Coco) Nuts

coconut pinwheels in a rainy ballparkdisclaimer: This is Salty's 100th post. This means we talk, write, move, dream, and bake too much. Oh well.

Swiss cake rolls are not Swiss, ironically they are quite unpopular in Switzerland where they are called biscuitrolles or roulades. No the Yanks and Brits dubbed such a cake as Swiss for what appears to me as... well for no apparent reason whatsoever. English speakers around the world also refer to the sponge as jam roll or jelly roll, yet it does not belong to them. It does not belong to Little Debbie either. Then who does it belong to? No one. Though we the food historians may hypothesize. Yes we can. And here is the thesis: we all own it.

(painting above by Hall Groat II available at the artists Blog)

The Chinese egg roll (卷蛋糕) first appeared in daily pastry shop window in the early nineteenth century, undoubtedly snaking its way north out of the ovens of British Hong Kong. In Spain the gypsey's arm (brazo de gitano) is often rolled with a lemon curd, and its brother of the same name in Mexico is swirled with chocolate and rum filling. The Fins call it sweet roll, the Brazilians rocambole, and the Swedish Drömrulltårta (dream roll cake) made completely of potato flour. In Malaysia they are filled with coconut and pandan, in India with pineapple and regional fruits. The Japanese are known for dyeing the sponge green with powdered teas such a matcha, and in Indonesia the Bolu Gulung is most popular with locals in its many cheese sauce varieties. Here it has been stated and argued, the rolled spongecake with a layer of jam, cream, curd, or cheese is owned by the world. The world has named it, but the Salty Cod will rename it. For this silly simple little pinwheel, but what language could be used? What language represents and translates to everyone? Perhaps then the only thing to call it is a Salty Cod.

This cake is for my buddy E on his birthday today, big 22. Happy birthday to you as we sit in a rainy minor league baseball park, our mutual disinterest in the game will get us through.

Spokane, Spokane, Spokane. A day with a high of 41.7 degrees (107) followed by a night of window shattering wind illuminated by celestial scaring places the region in a meteorological state of drizzle and a high of 22 degrees(67). Welcome to Spokane. The Spokane Indians baseball team is playing Boise Idaho. Joy. For those readers outside of the country (and outside Japan) who understand little of the pull of interest for the slow stick-ball game, I hear your groans, this parrot has outlived her attraction to the game through phaseal obsession. What can be said other than perhaps the fact that it is, like most other sports, a sport. And In the history of sports and their need by humanity, is the need to escape, rally, and be part of something greater, something collective. Perhaps a Visa Go World commercial here. Salty Cod advertising. We do everything here. What do you need. We can do it.

Salty Cod Coconut and White Chocolate Pinwheel Cake
ingredients: ~.5cups flour ~4 eggs separated ~1tsp baking powder ~ 1 packet vanilla sugar ~ pinch of ginger ~.5 + .3 cups sugar ~ powdered sugar ~ 2 sticks butter ~ coconut ~ coconut water ~ white chocolate

method: (sponge sheet cake) mix flour and baking powder. beat egg yolks with .3 cups sugar until custardy. beat egg whites until stiff and add .5 cups sugar. beat until stiff again. fold in the yellow, and fold in the flour. Line a cookie sheet (with sides) with parchment paper. spread batter out on the pan. cook at 375 for about 12 minutes. immediately when you remove from oven transfer cake to something like a towel. (well thats what i did, but i think it can be done better) peel off parchment paper, and roll cake WITHOUT the goop, roll it like rolling sushimaki, use the towel for the bamboo mat. when it cools, unroll it and slather a layer of the cream (jelly, custard, whathaveyou) on and then re-roll, using this time a piece of parchment as your sushi rolling mat. Eh voila!

A mizzling day, a lazy game, a worldy jelly roll cake... jelly roll.. jelly roll jazz; perhaps the recent depressing listenings here in the office of old school jazz and blues has somehow mystically pulled this entire day together in themed accompaniment. A jazzy blue cake, to make a rainy blue day, a little brighter, a little brighter for those birthday blues. The wind will dry the grass, and the wind will turn the pinwheels, so baby blow out those candles, cuz i wish you bluebirds in the spring, but spring where? Jupiter or Mars? So in other words you better save the last dance dance for me, and if you take my heart please don't break it, cuz cake was made for you and me!

100 down. A hundred more to go.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Grapefruit In The Grass

et ça c'est un gâteau de pamplemousse
So what do you think about grapefruits.

Moi, I think of little Flo back in Paris; the sole chocolate-less child on the playground who insisted in constant conviction that she did in fact prefer the sour pink pamplemousse over the chocolate biscuit. We call that uniqueness. I hear you ma petite, the koolaid kid understands. There is something about citris and its near unpalatable bitterness that draws us in. Maybe the colors; bright greens, oranges, yellows, and pinks. Could a lemmon's personality be anything other than perky? Citrus screams summer in lemonades and sorbets, yet it also screams winter in spiced oranges and satsumas. Therefore citrus, on the whole, is a screamer all year round.

(the photo above the grass is my entry in this months contest of food photography at Click! The Photo Event themed citrus)

Grapefruits, also known as the forbidden fruit of Barbados (oh yeah...) are surprisingly produced in the greatest quantity in the United States, China pulling a not-so tight Second by around 50% fewer the export capacity. If only the gold count were the same...High in vitamin C, and antioxidents (yes let's get our levels checked) grapefruits are that "classic" diet food. But my friends, did you know that the flesh of a grapefruit is 90.48% water? Perhaps it is why we reach for one when we are parched, when we are thirsty and tired, burned a little by the sun, and sweaty even at a standstill. Refreshing, a slap in the face, cool and sour refresh us. But if it's sour, you can't forget to add the sweet.

So a summer cake, what would you make a summer cake from? Too hot in the kitchen, that is the correct answer. But if you can handle the heat (we here at the Salty Cod are building our heat tolerance) then fire up the ovens. But we must have a reason to make a cake, cakes need venues, need purpose, that is what solidifies a cakes being. Give me a reason, and I will make you a cake. Then let's swim in the lake.

My housemate S is having guests, that's a reason. Ancien amis from my first two years in Spokane expecting the revival of mallory-experimental baked goods, that's a reason. How about a selfish reason. I dedicate this cake to my knee! Yes, my little knee who has come back to me. Who bakes a cake for a knee. So perhaps, maybe this one time, I will write for grapefruits, as my editor told me, why not write about grapefruits for grapefruits? they deserve. So, I baked this cake for the sake of grapefruits. 14 August/Aout/ Agosto is now grapefruit day. Hey, so on y va.

I'm pulling out the flour and pre heating the oven and my phone whistles. It's E, what are you doing. i'm bored. The reply--i'm baking a cake. Why? Because. You can help if you bring me some mint. From where? the store, unless your new backyard herb garden is open for business. Ha Ha. I'll go. 5 minutes later, they're out of mint. grrr, get basil. They're out of basil. Do they have any bloody fresh herbs? Thyme and lemon grass. Fine, get the grass. What the hell am I going to do with lemon grass? Make Thai style noodles? Oh and E, get another grapefruit, we'll candy the peel. We'll what?

The cake itself is a variation cross-breed between the classic lemon pound cake and herbal short bread. Grapefruit and powdered lemmon grass went straigt into the cake batter divided into two rounds for thinness. While the cake cooked, we candied. Salty Cod first: never candied a peel before. Proud moment. The leftover syrup from the candying was quite fragrant, hmm, lets make the same thing from the lemon grass and have a glaze to wrap the cakes in before the grapefruit buttercream frosting. Voila, c'est un gateau pure Salty Cod.

Grapefruit Grass Cake:
Ingredients: 1.5 cups flour ~ 2 tsp baking powder ~1 cup yogurt ~ .5 tsp salt ~ 1 cup sugar ~ 3 eggs ~ 1 packet vanilla sugar (ha ha suckers! I brought mine back from France) ~ .5 cup oil ~ .25 cup squeezed grapefruit juice ~ 2 tbsp grapefruit zest ~ 2 tsp crushed lemon grass

mix dry ingredients. in a seperate bowl beat sugar and oil, add eggs, add yogurt, add juice, add zest. Combine the wet and dry. butter and flour two round cake pans, and cook for ~30 minutes at 350.

Candied grapefruit: carefully remove peel from grapefruit, cut into thin strips. boil in water in a saucepan for 1 minute, and repeat for times. In a skillet, dissolve 1 cup of sugar into half a cup of water and bring to boil. boil peels in syrup for 10 minutes. Remove and let drip dry on a rack for minimum 4 hours. Once dry and sticky, roll in sugar. Et voila! Use leftover syrup for glaze, or repeat procedure using lemongrass, though dicard the grass when syrup is acquired.

Grapefruit buttercream: .5 cup butter beaten, 4 cups powdered sugar, 1tsp vanilla, 1/3 cup grapefruit juice with pulp. Whip it all together.

En Francaise

Ingrédients: 200g farine du blé ~ 2 cuiller à café lévure chimique ~ 200g sucre ~ 8oz yaourt ~ 110 ml d'huile ~ 3 oeufs ~ 1 sachet de vanille sucré ~ 2 cuiller à soupe de zest du pomplemousse ~ 50 ml de jus de pomplemousse.

mélangez les ingrédients séches. dans un autre bol, fouettez les oeufs, sucre, et huile, ajoutez le yaourt, ajoutez le jus, ajoutez le zest. Mélangez les deux. Diviser la batture entre deux ronds. Faissez cuire pour ~30 minutes à 180.

Pamplemousse Sucré: Enlevez le peau doucement, et coupez en petite tranches longs. Faissez bouillir de l'eau dans un petite casserole avec les peaus pour un minute. Repetez 4 fois. Dans un auter casserole, faissez bouilli 200g du sucre et 125ml de l'eau. Mélangez les peaus dans le sirop pour 10 minutes.Enlevez et se dessécher pour 4 heurs. Roullez dans sucre.

A cake for the sake of grapefruits. They deserve. Pink is such a happy color, we do not eat enough pink food. Though I made this cake from wheat, I enjoy it none the less. Sight and smell may be just as powerful senses as taste. No not really, but you look, and I look. We look together. And next time, we try it with gluten free flour. Eat a grapefruit, don't think about the heat, think about...think about the grapefruit.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Air Travel Security...Protection Against Who?

Americas greatest defense against itself No one likes the airport. Why is it that unanimously in travel it is always transportation that presents itself the greatest bane in the entire process. For Americans it isn't dealing with foreign languages and unfamiliar customs around the globe that is the greatest hurdle on a voyage; no that one would go to traveling through and getting out of their own country.

In this months National Geographics Traveler magazine columnist John Rosenthal dives into the pol-it-i-cal big brotherhood of yet more airport security programs by the US homeland security department. In short, get ready for yet even more difficulty at the airport. The TSA have found a second passion aside from protecting transportation against the irksome pests known as travelers and commuters--cattle ranching. Since January of 2007 Americans have been required to carry passports to the previous safe-spots, ok happy neighbors of Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The next airport security jumble appears now to be the mandatory holding of a REAL ID card to travel in and outside of the counrty. Have you heard of Real ID? I hadn't. Why? Perhaps it is because our states are finally starting to fight back.

The Deparment of Homeland Security passed the REAL ID law in 2005 by an endorsement of the 9/11 Commision. The law went into affect May 2008. Haven't seen it in your state yet? Then chances are your state is one of the fifty that have "put it off" through requisition of extension. Fifty? Why yes fifty of the fifty. A national identity card? In the United States? Are Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry rolling in their graves? They've been rolling for almost eight years now as our states rights have been exponentially deteriorating, so maybe they'll start doing summersaults. Are there any states rights anymore? United States, states states states of America. Aiiiia. Major opposition to the REAL ID is played by States rights advocats and the American Civil Liberties Union with arguments nesting in high costs, loss of privacy, and the kicker: how the hell does this protect anything against terrorism?

Along with the REAL ID, the TSA has come up with yet another brilliant idea in protecting US citizens against themelves--Secure Flight program. Nothing new, Secure Flight is a Federal screening program that runs all passenger names against two No Fly lists before granting "permission" to fly about the country. Meaning in effect, that now all passengers in the US would be granted or denied permission by the Government each time they fly. Though with the institution of the Known Traveler Number, those who fly frequently and have proven not to be a security threat to our nation may avoid those "sticky" yet common "oops" of harrassment and boarding denial that occurs to thousands of innocents each year. Who is on the no-fly list anyways? Author Bruce Schneier puts it quite elegantly, "The no fly list is a list of people so dangerous they cannot be allowed to fly under any circumstance, yet so innocent we can't arrest them even under the Patriot Act." Even? Now that's saying something.

Are we safer in the airport? Are we just meant to feel safer? Why should an innocent citizen, for example, myself, feel absolutely paranoid and guilty for just trying to board a plane in or to her own country? US flights cannot be attempted or managed while sober at risk of nervous breakdown, while in contrast air travel in Europe is quite relaxing. Personal experience has provided me a great loathing of American air travel. Remember San Fransisco? Why do my 35 minute air time flights from Seattle to Spokane routinely take a head pounding 6-7 hours of my day? Is it really necessary to take flip flops off during boarding security? In Europe never are you asked to remove your shoes. Experience gave me the impression that travel and transportation in the European Union is there FOR the customers, for the travelers, while traveling in America one recieves the feeling of "how dare you be trying to travel you nameless cow" just one in the hurd of millions of numbered passengers awaiting government "permission" to use a service made for, paid by, and created by us, we, the people. Yes the people.

Since Spetember 11, airport security and federal control over the skies has grown astronomically in protection against terrorist threats. But there is a line between protection and power lust, also known as abuse. A law should be deamed usable only if that law actually proves useful to its end under its justification. Otherwise, it is what the English language denotes a smokescreen.

What needs to be changed--many things. But above all others is the need to abort the practice of treating individuals as criminals. Racial profiling is still if not more so a major practice at American airports.

Salty Cod anecdote: My return flight from Paris, looking a complete mess with shaky arms and ghost-tear stained cheecks, i crossed the French security checkpoint of Charles de Gaulle into the International wing. "Titre de Séjour s'il vous plait" the agent demanded. Hmmm, c'était epuissé au debut du mois, savez-vous ca? yes, I replied still sniffeling, but it's not my fault that my green card expired, you should ask your government why they would give me such a card. He turns to his buddy who shrugs, and he in turn shrugs and returns my card to me, "ok well have a nice flight, and don't be sad miss, you'll be back soon" Merci. I reply as I smile thinking if I were in the US with an expired green card there would be a SWAT team already pinning me to the ground with tasers.

Stumbling through the next security screening with my two laptops, carry on roller, and violin, I eventually crawl down the mile-long red carpeted hallway to my gate. May I help you carry some of that? I look up and a man is holding out his arm to relieve me of my laptops. Looking pathetic still I reply, Oh please thank you. He asks, Wow are you going on a long holiday? -No, I am coming back from a year long one. -Oh, how lucky for you. One life story later and I'm actaully laughing for the first time in the past 24 hours, my new friend A is detailing his month stay in Palestine visiting his parents, whom (as a permanent US citizen) he hadn't seen for nealy 6 years. Humans are wonderful company are they not? As we line up an hour later for US security boarding, we are let through like clockwork--the French travelers, the German travelers, oh but not the American citizen.

A was held aside from the rest and made to wait while the rest of the passengers went through. He offered to hand me my laptop over the railing so i could board without waiting for him. I refused, no i'll wait for you this is ridiculous. Twenty minutes more of security screening, phone calls, and then finally the "ok, you can board." I had never been more ashamed to be an American in my life. A merely shrugged, you get used to it, in the end they always let me board though! This is crime against himanity.
Something needs to change in how we move around in the United States. Power where it shouldn't be is as great an issue as possible threats are. America is protecting itself against its citizens. The world is getting smaller, but we are trying to make it bigger. Why, in a free country, do we not have the freedom to travel within it? To travel out of it, and back into it? Travel is our right as world citizens, to obstruct it should be a punishable crime. Headache, paranoya, harrassment; that's Americas invitation to take to the skies. Going to the airport? Bring a couple extra bucks, you'll need it in duty free. And good luck, particularly to those flying off to Maine and Coppenhagen in the next couple weeks. Are they trying to discourage us from travel? I will be flying out of the country again, I hope you will too.

A bientôt

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Miss Browns Passport

She has quite a few stampsThe Travel Channel. They Travel, you sit and pay the cable bill. Is it a cruel joke? Do we find the punchline of "enjoy the world from the comfort of your couch" unjust in mockery? Who wouldn't rather be out there doing the travel themselves? Exactly. However, we cannot travel all the time. The wretched truth is that many of us cannot travel at all, and a book, a blog, a photo, a show is no replacement for a pressence. But it's a start.

For some, the medias are inspirations to get out there and travel soi-meme, while for some they are reminders of being there, for others tools for planning the next months voyage, and yet even for others a secret peek at an exotic land that otherwise would never have been dreamed. We travel when we can, we prioritize travel over other luxuries, but when we can't be out there getting sick off of pickled Portuguese bar-beans, missing night trains in Prague, and performing animal sounds in cheese shops, we turn to the words and experiences of others to give us thrills, smiles, slaps, and wonder.

You are all aware of my very public adoration of the vagabond writer Anthony Bourdain, his books, cookbooks, novels, blog, dead Food Network show (A Cooks Tour), and current Travel Channel Show (No Reservations), but there is another traveler on the tele--Samantha Brown, and she travels...well everywhere.

Passport to (insert destination here) is a hit series on the Travel Channel; previous editions include passport to Latin America and Passport to Europe, and now Passport to Great Weekends (in the US, Canada, and Mexico). Now the show is not food-centered like Anthony's, it is a more rounded "guide" similar to Rick Steves show...though you don't find yourself in a drowsy comotose stuper at the end of the hour that is often a result of a Steves viewing (sorry Rick).

Sams Passport to Lisbon sent my mind realing with anticipation before my own trip to the city--I recall thinking as i slid just short of falling on my face, she was right, the stones are deathly! As a preperatory guide, the show is quite useful.

The new show Passport to Great Weekends explores destinations all across the US, Canada, and Mexico as well, weekend vacations. Not big trips, but destinations more local than say Timbuktu. The show emphasizes the idea of travel as travel---that travel is anywhere that you do not live. The next town over, an hours drive north, a new side of the city, anywhere you have not seen, have not yet discovered is travel. You can follow her travels airing on the Travel Channel (new episodes thursdays at 10:00 eastern standard time) or at the Samantha Brown Blog.

Orlando, Austin, San Fransisco, Myrtle Beach, New Hampshire, las Vegas, DC, (hell she just had a panda on her lap in China)--Samantha is entertaining, (appropriate to watch with the kids) and helpful if one of her many locations also happens to be a future destination of yours as well.

We put travel above a lot of other luxuries--but when we cannot, we explore through the travles of others knowing that someday we will go too.

à bientôt