Week 7: Pringles and Pound Cake
(01/24/06)

Food is a very important part of my life. It is not the most important thing, of course, but it is important enough that changes in the availability of certain items can have a rather negative effect on my mood. There are two comfort foods to which I was quite accustomed back in Round Rock that I can still get here, but they just don't taste the same: mashed potatoes and buffalo wings. I don't include Bud Light, because I have found that the locally brewed Tiger Beer is a more than adequate substitute.

A huge pile of mashed potatoes, as many of you know, is my all-time favorite food, and I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur of this special spud dish. Greg's grandmother in Elgin is the hands-down winner of my own little ongoing best-mashed-potatoes-in-the-world contest. It might be the enormous mass of butter she mixes into the bowl, as the rich yellow color suggests, or it might just be the special grandma touch. Who knows?

Buffalo wings also have been a gastronomical delight for me, for the last 12 years - since Greg and I started dating. Before the boys arrived, we used to go downtown to BW3 (now called Daddy's) every Friday night so I could bask in the glow of hot wings and trivia (it incites social life jealousy, does it not?). Over the years I have had to downgrade my order from hot to mild wings to accommodate my aging stomach, but I have continued to enjoy them, albeit less often, since we had children. In fact, the only food I wanted after giving birth was BW3 wings, which my father-in-law, Jim, thoughtfully hunted down and gathered for me, complete with late-night delivery to my hospital room. I am sorely missing those wings right now. And Ruth El Bennett's home-made mashed potatoes. [sigh]

Not to beat a dead chicken, but to give you an idea of the epicurean desert I am experiencing here in the black spitting cobra's home city, you should know that the best wings I have had since our arrival were from Pizza Hut, and they didn't even have any blue cheese for dipping. Philistines! They actually were not that bad, but my perspective may be a bit off, and I have yet to find out whether or not they came with any digestive ill effects on the side, since I ate them for dinner this evening. I have had one meal here with mashed potatoes that didn't taste like they came from a box, but they didn't come close to the Elgin variety. I am at a loss.

Clearly, one must have comfort foods. It just is not right to be without at least one item, the taste of which will lighten even the dreariest mood. And hence, my selections, and really, my confession: Pringles and pound cake. Specifically, the original flavor variety of the so, so tasty curved chip, and the often imitated, but never duplicated, Sara Lee All Butter All Purpose Pound Cake. I've been going through about two packages of each per week. On average. Some weeks it might be a bit more. They are not the healthiest of choices, to be sure, but they are definitely comforting. Fortunately, life here without a car requires enough walking to keep my arteries clear, for the time being at least. We'll see whether or not my clothes still fit six months from now...

Apart from my food obsessions, not much happened this past week, other than what has become routine: work for Greg, and school for the boys. Greg's work took him to Korea for a few days, and he gets home tomorrow afternoon. The boys still are enjoying school, even more than life at home sometimes: Saturday morning, Alec ran in to our bedroom lamenting the late, late hour of 7:00a and our failure to get up and dressed; when I told him it was Saturday, he said "Oh, man! I want to go to school." That has never happened before. They have a class in Mandarin two days a week, that they insist is actually Spanish class, and they have library day on Wednesdays, when they get to check out their own books from the pre-K selection (I think they're drunk with power on that one). They love it. I even let them eat the cafeteria lunch (yesterday), which was a big step for me. So far, it has been a very positive scholastic experience.

At the end of this week we'll ring in the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dog, which promises to be quite spectacular. The boys and I will go on a field trip to Chinatown on Thursday to see some of the festivities, and I think we will try to go back as a family over the weekend. It is a very big deal here.

As always, we are missing all of you. I am just now getting to where I wish you could be here more than I wish I could be there. A work in progress, to be sure. And, more work to be done on that front tomorrow, since it is rather late tonight. As I head off to bed, I'll leave you this week with a little haiku that reflects my mood:

A young chicken's wing
In a flight interrupted
Make mine mild sauce, please.

Take care,
Shannon et al.

(no pictures this week... my apologies)