Tuesday, November 29, 2011


This is me about the age of 3. Yes, I was born a blond. Good thing nature has a way of correcting itself. I was a quiet, timid kid who would do somersaults in the living room to entertain anyone who would watch. Some things nature can't correct. This is who I am. Although I stopped somersaulting in the living room a few years back now, I'm still the same goofy kid who wants to make you laugh, at my expense.

When I was about 5, I was in the backseat of the car with my sister. My mom was driving on Niagara Falls Boulevard when I leaned up against the car door, which wasn't shut properly. I tumbled out of the station wagon and landed on the hard asphalt in the middle of a busy thoroughfare. Obviously, this was in the days before seat belt laws. I picked myself up and starting running after the car. The one that wasn't stopping for me. My mom did have 5 other kids, but I'm pretty sure she wasn't trying to ditch me. Finally, my sister was able to convince her that I did indeed just fall out of a moving vehicle. She pulled into the mall parking lot and that was one of the few times I ever saw her cry. Miraculously, I was perfectly fine, except for my scraped up knees.

I’ve always been a tomboy and that was just the beginning of lots of scrapes and bruises to come. I loved being outside, riding my bike, skating, making worm farms, playing catch with my brothers and adventuring out past the perimeters safety. But even with my carefree ways, I always felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Because, I was also an extremely sensitive, self conscious kid. A total people pleaser.

But, I didn’t know how to make myself happy because I was always concerned about what everyone else thought. Or telling myself if they knew the real me, they probably wouldn’t like me. So, I also spent my days trying to shave off my square edges to conform to that round hole. Edges, you see, hurt people and caused conflict. Neither one appealed to me. No, it was my goal to make the world live in peace and harmony like a coke commercial. Cause I'm also a perfectionist. And an idealist too.

My twenties were spent in college and grad school, volunteering, working part-time jobs and full-time jobs and eventually becoming a professional in the social work field. Where I could do my do gooding. I was newly married, super busy and making a difference in the world. I didn't know it at the time, but I was still shaving the edges off to try to fit that elusive hole. I was so busy then, I didn't even know there was a hole to fill.

Then, in my thirties I became a mother to four amazing kids. I gladly gave up my career, because I wanted to be a mom more than anything. Days were spent changing diapers, playing at the park, reading stories, picking up little bits of play dough from every surface and watching them grow. This, no doubt, is the best, most challenging thing I have ever done. Even so, there's still a hole. Only now, I'm starting to see it, in all its roundness. And here’s me in all my squareness. And I realize that I didn’t know who I was because I shaved off so much of myself over the years.

To make things peaceful.

To give people what I think they want from me.

To not hurt anyone.

To achieve.

To make a difference.

To be perfect...

And in the process, I’ve whittled myself away.

Now, I'm 42. Looking back I can see it all so clearly now. What the f*&k have I been doing? I have shaved off some of the most important parts. The ones that may sting. The imperfect ones. The ones that make me, me. The ones that make me happy and fulfilled. You see all these years I felt like I was chasing that car in the middle of the boulevard and no matter how fast I ran, I just couldn't catch it.

And you know what? I'm tired! So, I'm done running after the car. Oh, I still want to get in that car. Don't get me wrong. But now, I might skip, dance, long jump, skate or saunter my way to it. What's the worst that can happen? I get bruised knees? I've already got 'em. Plus, now that I'm in my forties, my skin doesn't turn over as fast. So, it's a little thicker.

Wait. What the hell am I doing? You know what? I have my own damn car in the garage. And it's a sweet orange 1969 convertible Kharmann Ghia, my mid-life crisis car. Now why the hell would I want chase any other car?

I am square. The world is round. But at least I'm not a blond.

The End.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


The day started like any other Thanksgiving, with the call to prayer and the smell of burning garbage wafting in the air. We had been invited to two houses to celebrate. I had guessed correctly which cheese was the cream cheese at the supermarket and had made the pumpkin cheesecake the day before. But, there was no good lettuce to be had, so I made Curry Waldorf salad instead of a green salad. Then I whipped up some mashed potatoes. Now I would normally add horseradish to them, but didn't have any. That's when I found the wasabi paste in the cupboard. And I couldn't stop myself. Then I had just enough time left to make my belly dance class. Is there a more appropriate day to jiggle one's belly? I think not.

We arrive at Jenny's house. Now Jenny is my extrovert, fun-loving, organized, crafting, competitive friend. In other words, she and I are total opposites. As evidenced by the fact that she made place cards for everyone, which she hand stamped for the Thanksgiving table. Never would you ever get that in my house. Which is one of the many reasons I love Jenny. Another one? Well, when Craig told Jenny he had 2 Peace Corps Volunteers from Togo and Liberia who had no place to spend Thanksgiving, she rearranged her whole seating chart and invited them. And I think it goes without saying that she hand stamped some more place cards, cause she's anal like that. And I totally mean that lovingly.

Here is Jenny and Thanksgiving morning to do list. (As if she needed the list and hadn't rehearsed and memorized it or anything...)

Let me tell you, if you want to truly feel grateful on Thanksgiving have some Peace Corps Volunteers over. No one comes to Thanksgiving dinner more thankful for just the fact that you have toilet paper in the bathroom. Everything else is bonus and might make them cry. They also come with great stories that make you want to retch, which is great on Thanksgiving because now you have room to consume that 3rd plate you were considering.

This is the point in the post when I confess I'm a member of the clean plate club and a wino. Please note the picture also depicts Mark's post mocking someone face and Faith (who's face was blurred for anonymity) berating someone for not watching the double rainbow video on youtube. And Kevin over in the corner? Well, he was propped up like Bernie from Weekend at Bernie's after injuring his back playing in the Turkey Bowl that morning.

It's almost time to head to Sara's house. The thing that both Thanksgiving tables will share is the cranberry sauce. See, you can't get cranberries here in Morocco. So, someone at the Embassy drove to Spain to buy cranberries to make the biggest batch of his grandma's recipe to share with anyone who wanted it. And it was amazing. And not like Peace Corps I-just-haven't-had-it-or-toilet-paper-in-2-years amazing. No, the you could can it and sell it kind of amazing. Then it would come out in one gelatinous glob with those familiar can ridges, just the way a lot of Americans like it. Instead, it was so fresh it needed refrigeration.

We arrived at Sara's house to the sound of about 20 kids under the age of 7. (Actually it was the sound of about 100 kids about age 13, coming from about 20 kids under the age of 7.) The turkey had just been pulled out of the oven, tanned to perfection. Not that fake spray tan either with the thermometer that pops out. Her house was filled with it's aroma and the largest group of non-Americans I'd ever seen at Thanksgiving. They were from Jordan, France, Austria, Morocco, England and Italy. The Italians even came bearing tiramisu. You know, like the original thanksgiving, but way better. Sara made sure of that with her delicious homemade, wholewheat, organic spread she made by herself.

So during all the meeting people and eating, I forgot to take pictures. So I don't have pictures of all the sumptuous food and all the beautiful people.

But, the boys found my camera.

Obviously I wouldn't have taken this picture.

Or this one.

But they did a great job of capturing our beautiful host Sara.

And their angsty dad.

And funky-cool Alma.

And Tarik's casual-elegance.

And the other Sara's sweetness.

Then of course the sweetness that is all over Liam's face...

I'm thankful for all it (oh, and toilet paper too)!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Something About England

There is something about England. The thing is, I can't pinpoint what that thing is. Is it that it has the largest city in the European Union? No. Is it that it's one of the fashion capitals? Definitely not. Is it the annoying, condescending accent? Maybe. Or maybe it's that the damp, cold winter months make it pitch dark by 4:30pm. And what is that conducive to? Depression, eating, watching the telly, hibernating and going to pubs.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying England is a horrible place. After all, if it was, there wouldn't be so many damn foreigners there. And thank god there are, because it's all the damn foreigners who make London, in particular, such an interesting place. And if there ever was a country in need of an infusion of melanin and a pinch curry, it's England.

The thing about the food in England? The best food in England is NOT English food. Because English food is bland and weird. And I'm being kind here. I am not a picky eater either. In fact, there are very few foods I dislike. But, after two years of ethnic food, I was really looking forward to the exoticism of uncomplicated, straightforward hygienic food. And since I like virtually everything, I don't bother asking pesky questions about what I'm eating. So pot pie? Chicken. Beef. Veggie. Whatever. Can't go wrong. Serve it up. Because again, I like everything. Except organ meats. Oh holy hell! Who would put a disgusting kidney in a perfectly good pot pie? Sweet Jesus. This must be a remnant of the World War II rationing we-mustn't-waste-anything mentality. Or maybe it was just leftover from World War II, like SPAM was in Hawaii.

Do you know who the big four of the fashion industry are? (Ok, I admit, I didn't until I researched for this post. And yes, I actually research stuff for this blog. No joke.) New York. Paris. Milan. And of course, London because why else would I bring it up? Walking the streets of London, you see stores from all over the world. Which makes it all the more perplexing when you look at the people walking down the street. Cause they were the biggest conglomerate of some of the unfashionable people I've ever seen. And consider the source here. This is coming from an American woman who wears ripped jeans and balled up t-shirts every day of her life. Which has got to make you think, oh my god, this must be dire. And I assure you, it is. It's like walking into an episode of "What Not to Wear" and to my surprise I'm Finola Hughs. (Don't laugh. It could happen.) It's like the English get dressed in the dark or something. But that's probably because they do. Because the sun doesn't come up until like noon, if it ever does. This might also explain the real obvious super long fake eyelashes. They're probably wearing several layers of lashes cause they can't tell they already have them on. Thus creating this effect and reinventing the new black trend. All I can say is, it's better than wearing white athletic ankle socks with brown scuffed up shoes and a grey suit.

London is also a world financial market. They did originate the gold standard after all. And I don't know what they did after that to keep the title. But they did bravely cling to the Pound while the rest of the European Union switched to the Euro. Really smart or really dumb? The debate continues. Check any newspaper for the day's take on that one. And England has lots of them to check. Oh you'll have to wade through the crap in it to get to the financial section. Oh right. Cause guess where the tabloids first debuted in 1900? England. And in 1969, the page 3 girl debuted to increase readership. Or oogleship. Whatever you want to call it. I mean one would hope that as a world financial market, journalists would cover the hard hitting news. Like whether converting to the Euro would have taken the sting out of the exorbitant cost of the wedding of Kate and Will. But, on second thought, I'm pretty sure they did cover that.

I think it goes without saying that all big cities carry the burden of high crime rates. London is no exception. Jack the Ripper? British. Ok, so that was unfair. That was a long time ago and things have changed. Violent crimes have actually decreased in London, but the flip side is that other more petty crimes have increased. Today it's Jack the Ripoff. See, young hoodlums don't want your money. They want something far more valuable. They want your music. You see, England used to be an exporter of good music. Very good music. Remember. The British Invasion. Punk. Then, The Spice Girls. Ouch. Obviously, the good years ended at punk. And the British youth are desperate. So, if you find yourself in an alleyway in London with a knife to your throat. Don't reach for your wallet. English thieves don't want your money. Instead give them what they want, what they really really want. Your ipod.

Luckily, culture is everywhere in England. After all, it is the birthplace of William Shakespeare, the greatest writer in the English language. Says who? Says Wikipedia. So it must be true. His plays were translated into every modern language. And you'll be happy to know that the rich tradition of live theater lives on here. The evidence of it is everywhere. Big, pink posters declaring Legally Blonde "fantastic" and "blows other musicals out of the water". Uh, REALLY? Now I didn't actually spend any money to see it, because I hate musicals and being raped by the Pound, personally. But, (and I'm just guessing here) it's no Shakespeare. So it's yet to be determined. Will Legally Blond be pronounced legally dead or will it be translated into Swahili? I'm on the edge of my seat in anticipation and sitting here reading the dictionary while I wait for the verdict.

I know, you're thinking I'm being too hard on the British. And, you're thinking but, it's quaint how they drive on the wrong side of the road and everything. Once upon a time, I thought so too. I even drove on the wrong side of the road in Australia, Scotland, Ireland and Malta. Sure I almost killed some people. But, as I tell the kids, almost doesn't count. Neither does that ticket I almost got in Malta for not following roundy-round protocol. But, the most treacherous thing about London traffic? It's walking across the street. You see 99% of the world drives on the right side of the road. And by right I mean right side of the road. And 99% of those crossing the street in London are foreigners. So, 99% of people are going to look left, even if your condescending crosswalk reminder says to look right. (Caution: Statistics are overinflated for effect.) And who the crap looks down at their feet when crossing the street? Not my brother, a casualty of looking left when he should have looked right, who got assaulted by a mirror on a double decker bus right after we said goodbye on that fateful day. Don't worry, he's ok. I was hoping he got a really cool eye patch out of it, but he only got some stitches. I think he should make up an elaborate story, wear and eye patch and start talking like a pirate. Well, that's what I would do anyway.

So what's my point? Good question. Do I have one? Ah yes, I guess my point is every destination is a collection of small oddities and contradictions steeped in history. That's probably the most fun thing about travel, making your own adventure (or misadventure) while unraveling the hidden story of the place. And then slowly falling in love with all it's endearing intricacies.

Unless it's for the quest for collecting random facts that may aid in us winning the World Trivial Pursuit Tournament someday.

But let's be honest, it's probably for the collection of priceless trinkets like that commemorative crown in a box I forgot to buy...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

London Calling Part 3

Wednesday. It's our last full day in London. Wait. How can that be? It all went so fast. There's still so much to see. And so much to do. And we can't possibly see it all or do it all. Crap. Now we're down to last day vacation pressure. Should we see a museum? Go shopping? See the Tower of London? Meet our friends, the Phillips, for some fish and chips? Yeah, all of that.

On the way to the Victoria and Albert Museum we make a detour to King's Cross station. If you need to ask why we would go to see this particular tube station you are obviously not a Harry Potter fan. As this is the station that has platform 9 3/4 that you take to get to Hogwarts. Well, it used to anyway. We searched the entire station and can't find it. Then, we ask. It has been moved. Outside. Where it is now diminished to a niche. Yes, a tiny little niche with a sign that says Platform 9 3/4 with a cart half way through it. That's all that's left of it. What a huge disappointment especially considering this tube stop is no where near where we were actually going today.

As we make our way nearer to the Victoria and Albert Museum, we walk through the shopping district and our pace slowed to a saunter. The store windows were already decorated for Christmas. And did I mention there is a Starbucks on virtually ever corner here? And I don't know if you know this, but Starbucks has a Christmas blend coffee that is my absolute favorite. And it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Which gets me in the mood for carols...

O Christmas Blend
O Christmas Blend
Your caffeine fix unchanging
O Christmas Blend
O Christmas Blend
Your caffeine fix unchanging
Not only bold, but also spicy sweet
Take away cup, I can drink it in the street
O Christmas Blend
O Christmas Blend

This may come as a shock but, Morocco doesn't have Starbucks. Or take away cups. Or beautifully decorated shop windows that look like Christmas, complete with falling snow! So this? This is magical!

After our leisurely morning ramble and caffeine fix, we finally make it to the Victoria and Albert Museum. We walk in and are immediately awestruck by the chandelier above the reception desk. Ok, I was awestruck that it was made by an American glass blower, and that I pulled his name, Dale Chihuly, out of my ass. You know what I mean. So we start chatting with the docent about it, anxious to confirm my cultured, worldly rightness and all. When I hear a voice. It's calling my name and coming from right behind me. And who is it? It's my brother!

Here is photographic evidence that I did not make this up.

Yup, it's him. My brother Jim. Turns out his flight back to the states is later than he thought, so he came to the museum to see if he'd bump into us. What are the chances right. Not only that, the day before when we were trying to find each other, we went to all the same places, but were just off by 1/2 hour or so either way. Weird right? We walk through the museum, grab a very cramped lunch and catch up for about an hour and a half before he needs to take off. Literally. So, we said our goodbyes and then we headed across town to the Tower of London to meet our friends.

Except that their youngest got sick and they headed back to the hotel early, so we didn't see them. We took the tour and I made the kids pose for goofy pictures.

It's our last supper. Well here anyway. And what haven't we done? Eaten fish and chips. And I've got it on good authority from my friend Kim that the best place in town for it is Rock and Sole. And one would think, it's only cod, batter and oil how can it be the best in London? I really don't know. But it was definitely the best fish and chips I've ever had. Thank god because the bill came to over $100. We got rocked and stoled!

As we packed up our suitcases the next day, I thought about our friends the Phillips. Last year we coincidentally went to Gibraltar at the same exact time. And we didn't see each other that whole trip. Just like this trip. It's like our families have this weird British jinx or something. Maybe next year our families should plan a trip to the British Virgin Islands together. Third times a charm, right?

Before we got on the plane back to Morocco we all stuffed our faces with greasy Krispy Kreme donuts and Starbucks coffee, just because we could. Maybe England's not so bad after all...

AND NOW A WORD TO OUR SPONSORS: All the kids pants in the whole London Calling series were brought to you, or us rather, by Aunt Christy and Uncle Ryan. THANK YOU!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

London Calling Part 2

In London Calling Part One, I left off when we arrived at the airport in London at midnight. And we were there for at least another hour waiting for a driver that never showed. Because of course that apartment we found on the internet in zone 1 and rented for the week was a scam. And no, I didn't forget to pack our toothbrushes. But that's when I realized what I did forget to pack was even worse, the ADD meds. Now you're asking, are you kidding me? No. I wish I was. Welcome to international travel Loerzel style.

We scrambled to find a hotel at o'ridiculously early in the morning. One would hope that the kids would sleep in, but they didn't. Thank god, because we payed a shit-load for those rooms and we were not going to miss recouping some of our money by gorging at the inclusive breakfast bar. We'll go broke if we stay in hotels all week. So we frantically started apartment hunting. On-line. By phone. And when we didn't find anything by the extened check out time we just took to walking around the city to find another hotel for the night. After we put the kids to bed in the basement apartment of a non-smoking hotel (that strangely had the pungent odor of cigarette smoke coming in through the vents), the phone rang. It was Tom.

Let me recap. We travelled on the puke plane with jerky British guy, got scammed by Tammy (who the kids refered to for the rest of the trip as Scammy Tammy), forgot the ADD meds, lost a whole day trying to get an apartment, spent a lot of our budget on two nights of hotel rooms and now we're probably going to get lung cancer from the last one too. So, things haven't been going so well.

Tom had an apartment available for a reasonable price in zone 2. Zone 2 I said! We were more than a little skeptical. We wouldn't give him anything more than a promise to meet him at the apartment in the morning to check it out. After all, this could be Con-y Tommy. But, he wasn't. And we took it. And he told us about Guy Fawkes Day the celebration of Guy Fawkes traitorous attempt on the life of King James back in 1605. Of course I didn't know that then. All I knew was it was at the local park that evening and they light a huge bon fire,shoot fireworks and blow things up. Cool. I think we'll call him Tom the bomb now.

And what's the perfect accompaniment to arson? Mulled wine. And let me tell you at this point we desperately needed some wine, whether it was hot, cold, spiced or drunk out of a paper bag.

Let me back track. I forgot to tell you I met Muriel, an on-line bloggy friend who lives in London, that day at Tate Britain for coffee. We had never met in person before and she was perfectly lovely. And then she showed us Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. I wish we had more time to chat. I also neglected to tell you about the produce-gasm I had at the grocery store where they had clean, bagged lettuce and berries! The kids laughed at me as I cried in pure joy in the middle of the aisle at the Tesco. And yes, they were embarrassed.

The next day we hit the Imperial War Museum, Kensington Park and Foyles, a huge bookstore where I subsequently had a book-gasm. Don't worry, the kids did too, so they weren't embarrassed at all.

The next day we took the train to Bath to see the Roman baths. Remember how I forgot those ADD meds? Let's just say that added a whole other level of challenge to the tour of the baths and to the week. And that next time we do a tour like this I'll just start with and they'll be quiz when we're done. Should you fail this quiz, you will write me a paper. A very long, very detailed paper.

Now normally I do not check my e-mail on vacation. But I did. One was from the school, which is why I don't usually check e-mail while away. But, the other one was from my big brother, Jim. He's an airline pilot. Guess where he is going to be for just one night? Dat-da-da.....London! Today! We e-mail him our cell number because his cell phone doesn't work internationally, so he can call us once he reaches the hotel.

So we head out for the day and see Buckingham Palace.

No phone call from my brother.

Our friends Claire and Keith and their kids are back in London and we meet for lunch at the Natural History Museum.

No phone call.

We go ice skating.

Still no phone call...

We head back to the apartment and there's an e-mail from my brother. The flight was delayed two hours, he slept for a couple of hours after he arrived and then he tried to call us, but it wouldn't go through. Are you kidding me? We haven't seen each other in like 3 years and now we're actually in the same city, but have missed each other? This sucks!

I don't think I like London.

Can this trip be saved? Stay tuned for the next installment of London Calling...

TRAVEL TIP: If you need an apartment in London we would highly recommend contacting Tom (the bomb) Nicholson with Fixed Rent. You can reach him at tom@fixedrent.co.uk or on his cell at 07791 954719

Friday, November 11, 2011

London Calling Part 1

We pushed through the crowd and got on first. Pressured to make up for the lost time of the delayed arrival of the plane. Everyone had their instructions, grab a row and spread out. We must save four extra seats for our friends. They were near the back of the line. Finally we saw them and flagged them down, we arranged and rearranged the seating of all six kids until they were content, we buckled in and were ready for take off. London, here we come.

There is of course a story on how we decided to go to London. There is always a funny back story. You can find it here here . So after I bought the tickets and was telling my friend Claire about my awesome steal of a deal to England, guess what? Right, my steal of a deal was not a steal of a deal. But, the other thing is, coincidentally she also bought tickets for the exact same time on the same flights. Awe-some! So, we got together to make plans, which never actually got made because we just started chatting about other stuff and totally got distracted from the planning. Whatever. We'll figure it all out when we get there after all we've got a whole week to fill.

We crammed into our vinyl seats with our knees jammed into our chests. Cause we're flying Ryan Air, the deep airline discounter, which fits more seats into a smaller space than your average airline. And yes, that's totally possible. Trust me. Cause this is way crappier than your average airline. They cut a lot of those pesky corners like that pocket in the seat back that has magazines, a safety card and a barf bag. Really, that stuff isn't important right? But of course, it really is. Because by the time you know, like really know, you need to barf you're probably beyond time enough to hit the flight attendant call button to get them all the way from the back of the plane where they're talking about how short the other flight attendants skirt is and how she may or may not have stayed in the pilots hotel room last night. No, by then it's way too late and way too messy. And that's exactly what happened to at least 10 barfers, I mean passengers, on the plane. That does not include the pukers who miraculously made it to the airplane lavatory which is miraculously free. Note to Ryan Air: We can endure your chaotic open seating policy, your lack of leg room, your charging for everything in the cabin besides the air and the toilet (thank you for that by the way), but for the love of god can you charge and extra Euro with the price of a ticket and include a bag to hurl in at every seat?

This British guy behind us is incensed and he gets up and starts taking pictures of the vomit. But the thing is, he's loud, argumentative and obnoxious and his British accent isn't making him sound like any less of the jerk that he is. The flight attendants intervene and ask for his boarding pass, which he won't provide. Now you might way hey, isn't Ryan Air the only airline to have bikini clad calendar girls as flight attendants who pose on tropical beaches which Ryan Air doesn't fly to? Do they really take their job seriously? Yes. Yes, they do. When we land jerky British guy is escorted off the plane by the boobies, I mean bobbies.

The whole barf incident makes me want to rush to the bathroom and brush my teeth. I can't wait to get the the amazing apartment we rented for the week and scour my mouth with some industrial strength hygiene products, but I can't remember putting the toothbrushes into the luggage. And now it's midnight and the last thing I want to do is try to find a store that's open that sells toothbrushes and toothpaste. We file off the plane, go through customs and head to pick up our luggage at the carousel. We say goodbye to our friends who are headed up north for a few days to visit other friends. Then we step out into London or rather, the cow pasture way east of London that is Stansted Airport.

One of the following are true.

Did we forget the toothbrushes....

or was the apartment we rented a scam?

What's your vote?

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Taste in my Mouth

I love Caesar salad. So do my kids. Of course they don't sell Caesar dressing here. And that's totally okay. Necessity breeds invention. So I have toiled and tweaked to come up with a Caesar dressing recipe that I like. Oh, I started with a real recipe. And as things progressed I ditched the measurements, I substituted for things I didn't have and finally came up with something I liked. The thing is, not everyone else likes it cause it's kinda spicy. But my family? They like it and that's all that matters.

And I know if you read my post The Ex Factor you're like, but you broke it off with lettuce, remember? Well, we're back on. Let's not get stuck on semantics people. So, back to Caesar dressing. I found the original recipe on line at cooks.com or epicurious.com or was it recipes.com. I confess, I'm a total recipe whore, so I totally don't remember who I got it from. My printer wasn't working at the time, so I copied the original recipe down on a note card and put it in my recipe box.

Here's the original:

6 cloves garlic
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 cup olive oil
lemon juice
anchovies (optional)

So the first time I made it, I did not include the optional anchovies. And, the first time I made this recipe was the day I fasted, as you'll remember from my post Quick I Gotta Fast. So, I couldn't taste the dressing until I brought it to a friends house for dinner that evening. And let me tell you my friends, I have learned that the anchovies are NOT optional. Include them or your dressing will be boring and bland. I always have plenty of garlic on hand, so that's no problem. I am fresh out of Dijon though, so I substituted regular mustard and added some horseradish to give it that Dijon-y zing. And if you've ever had my shrimp cocktail sauce you know I LOVE horseradish. I do confess, I was a bit heavy handed. And as for the vinegar, I save my plain white vinegar to clean my veggies. So, I substituted a shallot vinegar.

The other night we was invited to a friend's house and I brought a Caesar and a Waldorf salad. You know how I made the Caesar dressing. The Waldorf dressing was made with plain yogurt, mixed with some honey and red curry powder. Unconventional I know, but I also LOVE curry.) Both salads were well received. Well, except for one person. My friend Jenny. My friend Jenny who detests anything spicy. Which is fine, I respect her love of bland boring food. I mean I don't get it, but I respect it and I do love Jenny despite this. So upon eating my spicy Caesar salad she utters, "You coulda warned a girl." Now, everyone knows I like spicy food. I eat spicy food. I make spicy food. I serve spicy food. But granted, we were at a pot luck and she didn't know I made the salad. Cause if she did, she could have simply avoided eating it. But I do love that my friend Jenny is so opposite of me. That's why we're friends. I'm yin, she's yang. We both accept and appreciate that. And that leaves even more spicy food for me. So it's all win-win like that.

So yesterday I scored some beautiful romaine lettuce and made a spicy quiche and a spicy black bean soup and a spicy Caesar salad. It's one of my favorite dinners. And my family's too. And that's about all that matters. But after I brushed my teeth, I could still taste the garlic from that dressing. Cause we all know, you can brush your teeth and swish as much mouthwash as much as you want, but it takes at least 3 days to get rid of garlic breath. And you know what? I like the taste in my mouth. It reminds me of the dinner I love so much and the people in my life I share it with who love it too (or don't). Whatever. I guess it comes down to this. If you don't like my spicy food or my garlic breath, you'll probably want to avoid eating it or talking to me...


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