Let The Water Boil

I cook a lot now. This is a big deal because I don’t like to cook and, also, I’m bad at it. 

I’ve always thought of myself as more culturally sensitive than the average American. Not because I’m snooty, though I can be, but because I took multiple intercultural communication classes while in graduate school. However, knowing what to expect when moving into a new culture is different from experiencing it. One thing that is a challenge in my case is dealing with food. 

To say the German version of food is terrible would be culturally insensitive. Instead, I’ll say that the Germans commonly put tuna fish on their pizza and gravy on their pasta. 

I have found some excellent Thai, Indian, and Italian restaurants. There is a great burger joint on Friesenplatz. There is also a terrible Mexican restaurant with good nachos and decent tequila near a small theater that plays movies in English. None of that food, however, is German or food I’m accustomed to eating everyday. So, now I cook.

I’ve gotten really good at making primal mashed potatoes, and a few meat dishes– all while burning my hands much less often. I’ve found that I like cooking at home because I get to use spices more commonly used in the States and in Mexico, so my food tastes more like home. 

Cooking pasta is still a problem. I tried making spaghetti with parmesan, olive oil, garlic, and lemon zest. It looked pretty, but the pasta tasted rubbery. 

My inability to boil pasta is really astonishing. I had a conversation on the topic with a friend once–

“Well, are you letting the water boil?”

“Of course I let the water boil. What’s wrong with you?”

The thing is, I hadn’t let the water boil before putting the pasta in. I guess I figured it wouldn’t make a difference. I’m still not sure that it does. This time I did let the water boil first, and it still came out off. 

I don’t know if I’m bad at cooking because I don’t like to practice, or if I don’t like to practice because I’m bad at cooking. I mean, I do have a scar on my hand from that time I burned myself while I was toasting a Pop-Tart, but I’m not sure what that says about me exactly. 

I’ll keep trying on the pasta, maybe. Even if I keep getting it wrong, I think I’m well liked enough for people to pretend my chewy, sometimes crunchy, pasta is edible, hopefully.  

Mireya In Europe

 I live in Europe now. Germany to be exact. 

 The flight from the U.S. to Germany was exhausting, but when is something like that anything else? 

 It was through Luftansa, and as soon as we took-off I thought it would be a great flight, as far as international ones go. I had an aisle seat, there were three empty seats between me and the only other person in my row. There were personal televisions in front of every seat with more movies and TV shows than I could watch in 10 hours. 

Then it happened. An echoing hacking cough coming from my row mate, a man in his 50s. I looked to see if he was ok, and as I did, I watched him spit into an empty bottle of soda. I tried my best to ignore him by cranking up the volume on Blue Jasmine, but his cold demanded to be heard– for all 10 hours.  Snort, Cough, Spit, and occasional nose picking– for all 10 hours.

Sleep was difficult to come by even though I took some melatonin, so that resulted in a bizarre viewing of a movie called The Counselor. I’m certain it would have been a ridiculous movie even if I hadn’t been sleep deprived and loopy. Have you seen it? It’s really terrible, but you should watch it anyway. 

When I arrived at Frankfurt I had a two hour layover. Then a one hour flight to Dusseldorf. That flight was hilarious in the most terrifying way. I have never been in a more turbulent flight in my life. I’m told it was just particularly windy that day. People on the half-full flight were laughing– that nervous loud laughter that bubbles over when all you really want to do is panic. I was just silent and using all my energy to hold down puke. I wouldn’t have tried so hard, but there were no motion sickness bags on the flight. 

That night I went out for some karaoke with a few people. As I told them the story of that turbulent one-hour flight they looked confused, and asked why I wouldn’t just take the train into Cologne. The short answer was– well, I didn’t know that was an option. 

So, there you go. For your next long flight to Germany invest in some noise canceling headphones and if you have a long layover followed by a short flight, figure out if there is another faster but equally easy way to get to your final destination. You live, you learn, you get a blog post out of it.