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city sights

a priory in rockridge

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city sights, food & drink

dutch babies, aka german pancakes

The German pancake, also known as the Dutch Baby and a host of other names, is one of the most strange looking foods I’ve encountered so far. It’s soft, airy, light and slightly sweet— in other words, perfect in texture and flavor (at least in my opinion). But with its upwards-sloped sides and uneven wave-like texture, the german pancake looks slightly bizarre at first sight. If it’s not love at first sight, it sure is love at first taste. This recipe I adapted from a generic one. It uses less eggs, more sugar, and keeps the condiments simple. It’s quick and quite easy to make. It’s also less of a hassle than standing at the stove making individual pancakes because the german pancake just takes a hand-free 20 minutes in the oven. Since it’s still summer in San Diego (as it always seems to be), I diced some soft, juicy yellow peaches and nearly over-ripe bananas to serve next to the german pancakes.

German Pancake Recipe

Ingredients

4 eggs

1 cup soy milk

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)

peaches and bananas, or other fruit, diced/sliced!

Directions

1. Preheat 400 F. Place one 15″x9″ baking dish or two 9″ cake pans in the oven with two tablespoons of butter. 2. Mix the eggs, milk, sugar, salt. I’ve done it by hand and with a blender, both work perfectly well. Add the flour, mix until fully incorporated. 3. Open the oven and carefully make sure that the butter is melted and covering the entire base of the pan(s). Pour in the batter and be careful of the hot butter! 4. Bake 20 minutes. 5. Remove from the oven, sprinkle powdered sugar and almonds on top. 6. Slice and serve with fresh fruit!

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Yesterday, I went to the Del Mar Fair with my family. This was the first fair I’ve ever been to, and it was also the most American thing I’ve ever done my entire life. We watched pig-races, a turkey ‘stampede’ and ate fried, greasy fair-food. It was also extremely crowded, noisy, and hot. We looked quite silly with our black umbrella (we didn’t have a sunbrella on hand) trying to avoid the heat of the Californian sun.

city sights

a fair-y tale

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city sights, food & drink

eau de Paris

{ walking down towards the Eiffel tower }

Paris, the city of aromas.

It has a special blend, an eau de parfum, with an underlying base-note of stale urine, the sharp tangy odor of bodily excretions sprayed unconcientiously at every street corner. Top notes of cigarette smoke hit your senses every few minutes— and that only if you’re lucky. I think this is the one city where you can get lung cancer just by second-hand smoking. To round off layers of notes of the perfume of Paris is, of course, musk— also known by its technical term: “B.O.”

It’s lovely to sit outside a café and enjoy the sun like the rest of the Parisians, all of them who apparently do not need to go to work, because they’re out smoking and drinking from morning to night. If you are averse to getting lung cancer from second-hand smoking and if the smells of who-knows-how-long-ago spilt urine disturb your gustatory experiences, avoid sitting outside at all costs.

I am not complaining about my trip to Paris. It is a beautiful city. I just think that the olfactory factor has been ignored in most travel brochures and people’s accounts of this City of Lights.

{Recommended: Perfume: A Story of A Murderer, Patrick Süskind}

{ The Winged Victory of Samothrace, Louvre }

{ Basilique du Sacre-Cœur, Montmartre }

Who knew that the smell of piss would mix unpleasantly with the flavours of roasted duck?
Not to say that Paris is not beautiful. It is. There are thousands of photos, movies, songs, and poems that laud its unparalleled vibrancy. But, to one whose sense of smell is much more acute than one’s vision, Paris smells.

{ Looking up at La Madeline, a huge church opposite La Concorde }

{ at The Louvre }

{ Sainte Chapelle’s beautiful thirteenth-century stained-glass windows }

{ outside Notre-Dame Cathedral }

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city sights, food & drink

phò in paris

Yes, we went to Paris to eat Vietnamese food.

We were tired of non-Asian food and there was a Vietnamese restaurant at a corner near our hotel. I guess it makes sense if you think about it but I always get surprised when I see Asian people who speak only French and no English (and sometimes also not whatever Asian language of their ethnicity). They’re Asian-French, analogous to Asian-American.

In any case, their Pho was pretty good— more of the Basil flavour in their broth, and the lack of oyster sauce and sriracha sauce was nice because I could just appreciate the flavours of the soup itself. Those nice red peppers gave a good kick, though, and all three of us got the spicy that we needed to survive in Europe.

Saveurs d’Asie

31 place Maubert
75005 Paris
Neighborhood: Notre Dame De Paris

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city sights, food & drink

the best falafel in paris

I saw the recommendation for L’as du Falafel on David Lebovitz’ website (http://www.davidlebovitz.com/), which is actually where I got all of my paris recommendations. There was plenty of falafels that were nice and crispy and flavourful. The only problem is that it’s way too big. It’s as big as my face! Okay, not really but almost.

There are three falafel shops all claiming to be the best on Rue des Rosiers but the one that’s supposed to be famous and legit is L’As du Falafel. Their service is very efficient— you stand in line and give the order to one guy and pay for your food. Then, you give your ticket to one of the guys in the kitchen area where they’ll whip up a falafel for you SUPER QUICK.

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the sun setting rapidly. coronado beach

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I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
  45
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them, or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment—what is this, then?
I do not ask any more delight—I swim in it, as in a sea.
There is something in staying close to men and women, and looking on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well;   50
All things please the soul—but these please the soul well.

— Excerpt from ‘I sing the body electric’, Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman

The excerpt above is just to say that I miss my friends who, although in the same time zone as me right now, are 10 hours away by car. 😦
Back again to the land of rain and clouds! Take courage my soul, against the freezing cold weather and lack of sunlight. My time in California has really spoiled me for England. The weather was extremely good in December and early January (it’s been a nice and sunny 80F). Maybe I should be worried that it feels like summer when it’s the middle of winter, but my cold-blooded body doesn’t mind at all. When you need other sources of heat to regulate your body temperature, you don’t complain too much about strange climate changes if it’s giving you the sunlight you need to survive.Unfortunately, I am never as productive as I plan to be during vacations. Right before my break begins, I always create rather elaborate daily schedules, goals, and a ‘to-do’ list. If I am very lucky and diligent, half of them will get done. But I think I thrive better when I’m stressed out with too much on my plate because that’s when I’m really productive. I think.
The break wasn’t a complete waste of time, however. I spent time with my family, baked, cooked, and ate all of the food I have been craving since England (Alas! Where shall I get spicy food now?!), read for dissertation, read for pleasure, and realized a newfound love for poetry (hence the excerpt from Walt Whitman)
I also got to go to the beach! We went to Coronado Island (technically a peninsula) and saw the sun set.

on the bridge from downtown san diego to coronado island

beautiful beaches right in front of Hotel Del Coronado

sister accidentally dropped her sunglasses!

city sights

goodbye again California

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city sights, musings

week two


Hello friends&family from the other side of the ocean! I decided to make a more organized update, so they’re divided by category and I guess you can more easily pick and choose what you’re interested in reading.

Food… 

Mexican food. A classmate and I went to a wannabe Chipotle. Not very good at all! But whether it’s good mexican food or bad mexican food and whether it’s on the westcoast of California or the middle of nowhere on an island across the atlantic…. mexican food reliably gives me stomach problems.

An almost exact copy of Chipotle but without the delicious aspect. 😦

This was posted on the door of the Mission, which should have cued me in about the state of Mexican cuisine in England.

Prêt à Manger — a nice café with a lot of good sandwiches made fresh daily! One of my favorites is the Egg salade sandwich with arugula (under £2!) and another is a prosciutto & veges in a baguette. 🙂

Pubs. Ah, the quintessential British thing-to-do. You know those scenes in LOTR when the hobbits (+ the Fellowship) drink, drink, dance on the table, drink, and have drinking contests? It’s a lot like that but with less laughter, and no dancing. A typical pub has low ceilings, dim lights, wooden furniture, and strange objects hanging on walls (e.g. the inside of a piano, a scythe, and part of a saw), and smells like alcohol.

Notable pub: The Eagle & Child, where JRR Tolkein & C.S. Lewis used to hang.

I really miss the food culture of the Bay Area, my mom’s korean food, redbeanredbeanredbeanredbean!!!!, and some decent Mexican food. C’mon, hombres… how can you even ask “What is a burrito*?”?!?!?!

*For those unfortunate enough to have never experienced this food item, let me just assure you it’s the best thing your tongue will ever experience all wrapped in a soft tortilla. 

Church… 

St. Ebbes

So the first Sunday I woke up too late to get to the morning service at St Ebbes (still suffering from jet lag) and I went to St. Aldates’ instead. It was pretty charismatic and a slight shock to my system. I left feeling worried that all the churches might be like this here.

Yet, still determined, I went to the 4:30p service at St Ebbes the same day and found it quite nice. From what I could infer of the sermon, their doctrine seems sound. The pastor preaches expositionally, if not as indepth as what I am used to with PJ and other pastors.

So this week I attended their ROOTS, a mid-week bible study for 20’s and 30’s, and on Sunday nigh I’ll meet up with one of the girls who is a member of the church before service.

Exploring… 

I’ve got plans to go to London and do some shopping and sightseeing (yay, scholarship money!) but for now, I’ve just been trying to see as much of Oxford as possible before getting bogged down with schoolwork.

Tuesday, I visited the Ashmolean Museum

The front façade of the Ashmolean Museum. It's a large collection of all sorts of art, craft, and randomness.

cast of a Roman bust

A depiction of 4 generations of a family. I wish they still made family trees like this!

More casts of Roman statue things.

Cool things about Oxford… 

We have the best libraries in the world.

the Radcliffe Camera, or as the Oxonians call it, the Rad Cam.

We have cows. (Christ Church Meadows) 

We have Bambi. A whole field of them! (Magdalene Deer Park)

We have shrunken heads! I thought Berkeley’s book bound by human skin was awesome… but this takes it to a whole new level! (Pitts Rivers Museum)

We have tortoises... and each Trinity Term, there is a Tortoise Race. Last year, my college’s tortoise won!

Terms are only 8 weeks long. Don’t know if this is cool yet … or suicidal.

Oops! 

So, British English is not too much different from American English, but it’s fun to point out the differences!

The much-hated cobbled stones.

For example, pants & pants. I did not know this before I came here, but I’m glad I learned it now! So apparently, US ‘pants’ = ‘trousers’ in Britain. (Also, sweater = jumper, which I find quite odd.) British ‘pants’ = ‘underwear’!

A classmate told me a story of her American friend, who, after being drenched in the rain, entered a quiet café and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, I need to change my pants, they’re soaking wet!!!” Hilarity ensues.

Also, trash = rubbish here. But to me, that sounds so mean! Rubbish seems to hold a more negative connotation compared to (what I perceive as) the neutral “trash.” Man, that’s a load of rubbish! Here, let me take out your rubbish! 

Front yard of the church that's right next to my dorm. At least 50 pigeons gather here to eat, sleep, and ... eat.

Another, more personal one, is … incontinence. And this is probably not because it’s British English, but because I’m so dumb… This might be TMI so maybe don’t read if you’re sensitive!!!! 

So the first thing I did when I came here was go to the drugstore and buy some essentials that I couldn’t bring over from the US: shampoo, conditioner, bodywash, … and sanitary napkins. But, being the idiot that I am, I went and bought a whole bunch of the wrong thing… I bought incontinence pads. So you have to be easy on me here— I just came from a 10 hr sleepless flight and a 3 hour bus ride to a strange place where I didn’t know anyone and no one knew me. So I just thought, “heck! it’s England, I guess they call it something different here!” Nope. This is not the case. What a waste of money!

Chicken update!

Photos courtesy of my youngest sister, since I am not home to document their progress. Soon they will be yummy chicken pot pies! Aren’t they freaky-lookin now?

HMMMMM? did someone knock?

Can you spot the creeper? Hide yo kidz. (as my youngest sister pointed out..)

I think this is one of the skinny ones...

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city sights

a hop o’er the pond

I have arrived at Oxford! (All in one piece, too!)

The city is a lot smaller than I imagined, and also a lot more complicated. Although I didn’t get lost on my way from Heathrow to Oxford (mainly because there was a direct bus connection), I’ve been getting lost nearly every day so far… This is mainly because the city is not in grids (like all US cities) but it’s completely random in its layout.

preparing to go to england...

This makes sense, since the city grew organically as many years past— unlike cities of newer countries (e.g. USA) or of completely renovates (e.g. Paris after Haussemann). But it really doesn’t help that some streets randomly change names even though you’re still on the same road going the same direction. Google Map directions are useless at this point. And so are my blistered feet. [Note to self & all other women: do not wear heels. ANYTHING with heels — even 1 inch. You WILL trip on the cobblestones.]

alas, froyo seems to be an unknown concept here.

not this, however...

Oxford, and I think England (although I’ve only seen a bit of it from my bus ride), is extremely pastoral. You can ride a car on the freeway, and see a farm + cows + sheep + crows + horses every 10 seconds. I feel like I’m at a 시골! I love cows, and am hoping to be able to see them up close. 🙂

Adjusting is… strange. I am not as self-conscious and shy as I was when I first came to college, but at the same time I still am the same person. Maybe I just got better at hiding it? English people are very friendly and nice, even strangers! Unlike my experience in Korea, everyone is very willing to help me when I ask for directions or for recommendations of stores/places. Oxford is a very diverse place, even though it seems like there are only white people here (unlike Berkeley!). But just passing by people on the streets, I hear all sorts of languages every day. German and French are the main ones, but there are languages that I can’t even take a guess about! And today I hear an angry Italian man shouting and ranting in Italian of course, as he passed by the street below my window. It was extremely impressive.

ignoring me, as usual. although i think he seemed to sense that i was leaving (again!) when i pet him for the last time (for 9 months, at least)

Here’s what my day has been so far:

8a— wake up & prepare for the day
9— @ pret à manger, a café right next door
9:45— walk to class
10-11— class
11-12p— explore the city & try to get my head around where everything is
12-1:45p— lunch, homework/study, walk to class again
2-3p— class
3:10p-whenever— try to be more adventurous & explore the city/sight-see, but most often gets lost.
6p— dinner. Then,
homework / chilling / trying to get over jet lag until I succumb to the inevitable.

cute (kind of), stupid (definitely). i shall miss you. but mommy promised to kill one when i came home again...to celebrate! (i love it when someone wants to kill for me)

I think I need to start making friends, but I’ve been trying to settle in and get some much-needed things done first: bank account, cell phone, getting the rest of my scholarship funds.

random remarks about the flight:
10 hrs is much too long to stay seated in one position.But I remind myself that if I lived in the 16th century, this journey may as well be 3-4 months (longer?) and much more dangerous & smelly.

It sucks to have to be squeezed between two men in economy class, especially when one of them is a dark, tall and handsome French man who definitely did not fit in his chair and was encroaching upon my personal space, BIG TIME. I don’t care how good-lookin’ you are— you should have paid more and sat where you would fit! I.E. –> Most uncomfortable ride ever.

I leave you with a few photos:

it's real! it's happening?

self-proclaimed best coffee in oxford. not sure (it's a small city) but it's definitely the best cappuccino i've had so far!

a room with a view. across from me lies jesus college

obligatory red-telephone-booth-and-black-ironwrought-lamp-photo

cemetery next to st. mary magdalene church. they really did bury people right next to their churches!

he was staring at me.

window front of italian restaurant

oxford castle. built in 1071 for william the conqueror.

around where i started getting desperately lost

possible route that i took today; from home -> class -> the edge of the city -> home

row boats? punting boats? not sure. would have liked to try punting, though i think it's a summer activity

this makes me want to go inside & send letters.

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