Wednesday, May 30, 2012

High School definition of a socialist: "someone who, like, likes to talk, right?"...and other terrifying things

School's out here in Tucson; last Wednesday was my last day with students in the classroom. But before I 'sign off academically' for the summer, I need to relate one more classroom anecdote, with a student quotable.

Earlier this month, France had its presidential election; incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy was voted out and socialist François Hollande was voted in--France's first socialist president since François Mitterand left office back in the mid-1990's. Endeavoring to widen my students' horizons, I tried to incorporate a bit of French politics into their language classes a few weeks ago... Curious, one of the questions I thought I'd ask, after the students learned who François Hollande was, was: "So, when you hear 'socialist,' what does that mean to you?" 

(Surely, with all of the political ads in this country right now, and bumper stickers proclaiming Obama's socialism, the kids had heard the word, right? Surely, somewhere in middle school and/or high school, they've studied this...right?)

In two different classes, more than one student came up with this definition of 'socialist:' "someone who likes to talk, right?" Ahem. Well, maybe...but SOCIALISM is NOT the same thing as SOCIALIZING!!!!! ARGH!!!

There is a certain logic, I suppose. But also ignorance--and some of these kids are only one or two years away from being of voting age!

So, if socialists like to socialize, I guess capitalists like to use BIG LETTERS only and communists just want to live together...and anarchists just want to build a giant boat


Speaking of things French...did you know that the sixth-largest French-speaking city in the world is LONDON? Yes, London, ENGLAND, site of this summer's upcoming Olympics. Between three- and four-HUNDRED THOUSAND émigrés français call that city on the Thames home. Bon voyage and mind the gap...


On to French children's books. 
A good friend came across this article in today's Guardian.
"Terrifying French Children's Books"

(Where is Mommy?)

(It's no big deal.)

And there are some more photos of these children's books' covers here

Instead of the cute 'little piggies going to market,' 
les enfants should confront this existential truth:
   "Toes don't have names."

But if you think those livres en français are scary, you must check out this German offering from the 19th century: Struwwelpeter. (More info here.)
You better stop sucking your thumb, little boy!
(Wow. 19th century children's fare. Wholesome.
Mommy, read me another story before bedtime, just one more, please!)

Vocabulary lesson for today:
French: cauchemar
Spanish: pesadilla
German: Albtraum
Korean: Ahng-mohng

Sunday, May 27, 2012

deep-fried avocados at the Ritz-Carlton

No matter how posh, there's always a place for something deep-fried to go with cocktails, eh?

Tucked into its own private canyon on the far northwestern edge of Tucson, the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain resort is the epitome of understated desert chic... Each February, world champion golfers come to the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains to compete in the Accenture Match PlayChampionship, the spa has recently been ranked one of the best in the world, and it's been open for two and a half years now...So, curious, and since we live less than an hour's drive away, S. and I thought we'd spend an afternoon here...

...and on the patio of "Ignite" (the lobby lounge/café), we noshed on "Avocado FRIES!" With a three-chili aioli and an "Arizona Greyhound," (grapefruit and vodka), cactus wrens and cardinals darting about the blooming saguaros, the fried avocado wedges were an unexpected accompaniment to relaxing in the shade...

(--here's a view looking from the patio area toward the pool, casitas, and mountains beyond:)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

You saw it here first: Sonoran hot-dog kim-bap--Tucson Mexi-Korean fusion food

As 'promised' a couple of postings ago
below is the recipe for the latest in Mexican-Korean fusion food
You saw it here FIRST.

Our friends invited us for dinner tonight, and as their Franco-Congolese daughter is a fellow Korean-and Mexican-food fan, I decided to finally turn my idea into reality and make these Mexican-Korean seaweed-and-rice rolls to bring with us...As the father is on a vegetarian diet, I modified my idea--thus the vegetarian hot-dogs and 'bacon' in this ingredient-photo:
So, you need:
steamed sticky (short-grain) white rice
napa kimchi
Mexican refried beans--frijoles!,
(I got ours, take-out, from the 'Nico's' down the road)
hot-dogs cut into quarter-strips
(these 'smart bacon' strips
weren't the best, I gotta say...)
sheets of 'nori' seaweed
(also called 'kim' in Korean,
and 'laver' (?) in English)
green salsa

As I said, I'm not a big fan of this veggie-'bacon,'
but for tonight, it worked...
for savor and crunch, nothing can replace the swine source, though...

Spread the rice on the bottom third of a sheet of seaweed,
and spoon some of the salsa on to it:

Then, spread a layer of the frijoles,
topping it with some of the bacon and then the hot-dog strips: 

Chop the kimchi into narrow-strips (julienne, I suppose)
berfore placing on top of the meat:

And then, after carefully rolling it tightly,
(moistening the end of the seaweed with a little bit of water,
so that it will stick better),
cut carefully into inch-long segments:
(Make sure your knife is sharp, or it will just squash the roll instead of slicing through it.)

Drizzle a bit of red or green salsa on the top of each roll, and voilà!

So, for a fusion-food term,
which do you like better,
or "comida de Seoul," perhaps?

For more about the origin and phenomenon of "Mexican hot dogs" or "Sonoran Hot Dogs" in Tucson,
check out this New York Times article from a few years ago:

And for a 'traditional' kimbap recipe,
check out this:

(And, again, please don't forget to go to from May 22 through June 11 to vote for the photo,"changing of the guard in Seoul," in the "Dream Trip" contest! JUST FOR VOTING--limit of once per day--YOU will be entered into a drawing for a private safari for two in Kenya! It's a win(maybe)-win(maybe)-situation, no?)

Friday, May 18, 2012

slow food in a fast country...and starting next week, VOTE (please!)

To continue with the Korean food theme from the last posting...
...if you go to during the upcoming week, 
you'll get to the source of the staple of Korean food--rice paddies:

...and clicking on the link, here's the text of the highlight:
Here's more from that day...

(And please don't forget to go to from May 22 through June 11 to vote for the photo,"changing of the guard in Seoul," in the "Dream Trip" contest! JUST FOR VOTING--limit of once per day--YOU will be entered into a drawing for a private safari for two in Kenya! It's a win(maybe)-win(maybe)-situation, no?)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Korean food: it's the 'new Thai'...

For generations, Chinese and Japanese were the only Asian cuisines that many Americans knew about. Then Thai came along. 

(I still remember the first time I ever had the now-ubiquitous combination of Thai iced tea and a plate of pad thai; I was visiting Los Angeles, and a family-friend took us to a Thai Koreatown. The alchemy of noodle, peanut, and egg, sweet and spicy and savory all at the same time--truly a taste-bud-awakening for a teenager living in Georgia!)

Well, now, Korean is being proclaimed as "the new Thai."
It's becoming mainstream. 
I mean, when you go to Costco and see this, you know it's no longer 'exotic:'

And then, in the current issue of Cooking Light (June 2012), you'll find this recipe:

The KOGI-truck people in L.A. have really begun a trend, eh?

 And...the other day, my wife came home from Trader Joe's with this:

A few months ago, I mentioned how even in Tucson now, kimchi-quesadillas can be found!

When I was growing up, hardly anyone outside of California, New York and Chicago knew what Korean food was. I loved what my mom would make at home (when not making pot roast or spaghetti for my French-Canadian-raised-with-an-Italian-stepmom father), but when I would try to explain to friends at school what Korean food was, I would just get strange looks. Blank. Puzzled. 

Truth be told, much of Korean food can be scary to the unitiated--smells, colors and textures unfamiliar to middle-America palates...But as people have traveled more and cable-tv-food shows have multiplied, tastes have become much more adventurous--Seoul-food is no longer the mystery it once was.

Below, a few links from various press sources:
> The New York Daily News, just a couple of days ago, ran this article:

> Another link--from Malaysia: 

> THIS column from Canada...

> ...and from Epicurious Predicts Top 10 Food Trends for 2012

One idea in the works here in Tucson--Mexican-hot-dog-kim-bap.  Viva (con)fusion food!
Kim-bap is the Korean version of what most people know as 'California rolls.'

A young friend of ours (daughter of a French father and a Congolese mother) has taken a liking to Korean food and culture...and also likes a regional specialty: Sonoran hot dogs. So, our idea is to take a sheet of seaweed, line it with 'sushi-rice,' then spread a layer of pureed Mexican beans, and then put a strip of hot dog, sprinkle some bacon-bits, and then add some shredded kimchi-'slaw' along with roasted jalapeño, then roll it all up. ('Mexicorean' or 'Korexican'--which do you prefer?) We haven't done it yet. But we will. Oh we will.


One last thing, since I'm talking about things Korean.
Last summer, I took this photo while in Seoul--the re-enacting of the medieval changing-of-the-guard at Gyeong-bok-gung Palace:

Well, it turns out that this photo is now a finalist in the Condé Nast $25,000 Dream Vacation contest!
(I just found out this morning.) Out of the thousands of photos submitted, this will be one of twenty-five finalists that will be featured from May 22 to June 11 on their website...Unapologetically, I'm asking you to go to the Condé Nast website during those dates and 'vote.' Merci, gracias, & ko-map-seum-ni-da!
(Now I have to write up an essay to go along with the photo for the final judging...)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

this week's feature: from L.A....and saguaros in bloom

This week, on the homepage:   
...and below is the highlight:

(always a thrill to be published)

This morning, after I finished my Sabino Canyon run,
I grabbed my iPhone out of the car
and went back to take a few photos--
this year, a few weeks earlier than usual,
the saguaros are already blooming:

The cacti can be decades old before they start blooming,
and each hand-sized bloom stays 'fresh' for only a day;
bats and doves love to pollinate them...
The blooms are often hard to photograph since they're usually on the arm-tops,
but occasionally, you get a low-reaching limb:


Saguaros aren't the only cacti blooming;
cholla flowers are coming out too...

Summer's almost here...just three weeks left in the classroom...and the thermometer is climbing...