Saturday, September 16, 2006

Cooking Chinese food

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Last couple of days, there has been an overload of chinese food. Its been a while actually that i had chinese food. And so when i got back late one night, and didnt feel like throwing the pre-cooked-packaged food into the microwave, i decided order delivery. After a few moments of indecisions between pizza and chinese, i decided on my favourite nearby chinese food restaurant.

Talking about indecisions, what is it about food and making decisions ? I could keep that up for about an hour, deciding between cuisines. I could spend quite a bit of time salivating about chinese, while i really feel like bread, or may be something deep fried. If i am able to quickly narrow down a cuisine, then it becomes an issue of what to order of the menu.

There is one good thing about chinese food, it can be dished out faster than you say kung pao chicken. The chinese invented the concept of fast food. It seems like a formula, all worked out, even down right to the number of peanuts in the kung pao.

But for me, things are not that simple. I rarely, order stuff from a menu, without adding or taking stuff out from the dish i ordered. Like ordering, kung pao without the celery, but add carrots and green pepers or onions or something. I even tried once to order kung pao, made with shredded chicken instead of diced chicken. After a few moments of confusion and bewilderment for the person taking the order, i had to say, 'you know what, i will have the curry chicken instead'. But for all this, all she did was add two strokes to the character she had already drawn on the order form.

This process actually creates a bigger spectacle at a Burger King or McDonalds. The person taking the order, usually a student at the local college, after listening to my 'chicken sandwich add tomatoes and onions', would confirm it back,
'so you dont want the mayo and the lettuce'
'no, i want the mayo and lettuce'
'how about the tomatoes and onions'
'yes that too'
now, the person is even more clueless, because they cant find all the buttons to press on the machine to punch in the order. But they know that i have to pay a price for this indiscretion.

'sir, that will cost you extra'
At this point it could get very confusing, because now the issue is how much to charge for this. And so i could be charged a meagre 25 cents, to upto a dollar for a slice of tomato and few strands of onions.

Well, back to the chinese, i dont want to digress and dilute their moment of glory. So i started the mid-week with Mongolian chicken (not on the menu) and Schezwan chicken from the delivery. Followed by Kung Pao on thursday afternoon, and spicy orange chicken for dinner the same night. Friday offered a break. Only to land up in another not-so-nearby chinese place tonight for a dose of curry chicken.

Why so much chicken? Well thats the only meat i eat in the US. I could easily give it up, but then i am not a great fan of veggies either, specially the chinese kind. For some reason, brocolli, snow peas, bamboo shoots, celery and water chestnuts are not my kind of food. But why the hell, so much of chinese. I have no answer, except that i was a guest sometimes and a host sometimes.

But, no complains, except that i wish i had my own chinese restaurant. I could then have kung pao chicken, made with sliced chicken (big flat pieces), with spicy kung pao sauce, peanuts with a choice of onions and green peppers, or spinach and carrots. If only i could teach the chinese to cook chinese food.

Friday, September 08, 2006

When the Levees Broke

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts
Happened to come across this when i was channel surfing this afternoon. As soon as i saw it, i was glued to it, and was recounting the days last year. NO,LA was special to me, having spend almost a year there in '92. And watching and enduring the images from Katrina last year as they were happening, was painful. This documentary, helped to relive some of those moments.

I used the words helped, because having been far away from NOLA, and except for a few reminders from PC and few news stories recently, i had managed to bury those images deep inside somewhere. This documentary, drew a tear or two, not because nothing has changed, but i couldnt simply fathom again, how a few blokes could allow this to happen at all.

Adding this ... i just managed to get this clip.. on the White House site. Nice place to keep it. Here is the now infamous quote "and, Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" by our president Mr. Bush.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Eating in America

Its all about the size. After a long time i am eating a burger. Once a regular part of my food group and diet, the burgers from the omnipresent McDs, BK and Wendys were all given up almost 2-3 years ago, in an effort to focus on more important things in life. And it hasnt been easy, but neither has it been impossible to live.

So, as i sat to eat my dinner tonite with family at a Ruby Tuesday restaurant, and after thanking all the gods for the food on my plate, i start devouring it. It was all gone in about less than 5, maybe 10 minutes flat. Mind you unlike the advertisements and pictures from the fast-food chains, the picture above does justice to what is actually served on your plate. Throw in a quick visit to the salad bar before the food came to the table. And in all for less than 15$ or so, i ate more food in that one meal than i ate that whole day. I cant completely blame that on my food provider. I have developed this bad habit of gorging one meal and starving during all others. Its not new, its been on for several years.

But as i was eating, i for a brief moment compared the portions on my plate, with what i would have gotten if i had ordered the same in India. Mind you, India is not far behind, and is fast catching up in providing choices to the consumer, actually providing more choices than are necessary. But then again the key difference was, the portion. This was a huge serving, and is normally the case in most american restaurants. It actually seems to be feature here in north-america, as opposed to eating in Europe (been to UK and Germany) or India.

Generous portions. They dont serve you pittance. They believe in filling your stomach to the fullest at each meal. No one goes hungry in America, atleast not the ones who can afford it. The good thing about the restaurant and people here in America is that left overs are not completely wasted. The restaurant is quick to ask ' Do you want it boxed?', and the patron is not shy about doing it either. This is in direct contrast to eating habits (again this is changing) in India, were left overs from the plates in the restaurant are most times destined to the trash. And that is a sad fact. Specially with the numbers on the wrong side bigger in India than in most other places in the world.

I am thankful, that i part of the crowd that can afford this largesse. I am also thankful to have lived in this country, which helped me quickly overcome any resistance to boxing food from the table. Now, if i could only consume a little less myself, i could do my part in helping this planet.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The 'relative time vector' theory

its official now. A full 2/3rd of the year 2006 has just been burnt
through and about 1/3 left to go. Times flies, heard that so many
times, and it doesnt make sense all the time. But if you pick a day,
any day, and reminisce for a moment, suddenly you wonder where all the
time went.

I have spent quite a few times, like most others too, usually waiting
for time to move. I mean literally, try to the move second needle from
one stop to the next. And looking away from the clock or watch doesnt
seem to help. Even if you look away for almost full two minutes, the
time has been only generous enough to accommodate  a full 5 second

If you think about it, you would realize that time does move at
different speeds at different times. wtf !! Well it does, and there is
even enough proof for all this. This is defined and explained by the
concept of the 'relative time vector'.

'The speed of time is based on the vector in which it is measured,
while relating to others', well that the best way to define it. But,
unlike the 'theory of relativity', defined by Einstein, it is tough to
explain this in simple terms. The key word here is the vector, which
implies that the measurement of time is completely isolated to it, but
does relate to others.

This is clearly observable in the event of your 'waiting' game.
Typically in these instances time moves at a much slower speed than it
would do normally. In some instances the motion of time could slow down
to near stop. But time never stops (It does though in about once every trillions and trillions of years).
Each of these slow motions of time when added up can cause significant
delays in the progress of life of the individual. This could be
referred to as the 'laggard' phase.

At the same time, even possibly the same instance, which is where the
relativity part comes in, someone else, a different vector could be
experiencing a completely different speed in movement of time. Usually
in most humans, this can be observed during a race, at work or on the
road. The time in these instances are running at much speeds than what
is considered normal. Since these are measurements or movements are
unique to each vector, it is tough to distinguish these measurements
from an external unit or a different vector. This phase is the 'rapid'

However, if this were to be true, then this could cause a lot of
confusion, because my watch wouldnt sync with yours. I am slow person
and you are go-getter, and the twain shall never meet. But in real life
these different points do meet and the time magically all falls
together into one set pace. There is a sense of balance in the world,
and time economics too.

Each slow motion or time spent in the 'laggard' phase is countered by
an exact equivalent of fast or 'rapid' time movement. Meaning if you
were to measure the amount of seconds it took while in the 'laggard'
phase they would equal the time spend in the 'rapid' phase. Since the
mechanics of time are very dynamic, it is impossible to define a period
when these will always stay equal. But it is this concept of
'equivalent-phase' that maintains the equilibrium  in time between the
different vectors.

There is more to this, but i have to run now....... but here are some reference materials.

Time moves at different speeds

Space time - General Relativity, Quantum Gravity and Existence of Time

Time is Relative

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking