Monday, March 3, 2008

Hello to the Future!

Why the Future, you ask? Or you might, if you bothered to read the title... Well, I figure that since within a couple weeks I will have spoken in person with pretty much everyone who reads this (all three of you) semi-regularly, the most likely audience now is made up of friends who are reading this next year or even later. So, please post in the comments section, what is life like in 2009? Have we been hit by a big meteor yet? Is reality television still a blight on society?

Anyone but Mom probably wants to skip this next paragraph (fair warning!):

Back near the beginning of the trip, Mom posted a comment asking if I was eating right, was I losing or gaining weight, blah blah blah... thanks, Mom, for being the stereotypical mother! Anyway, for the entire duration of my trip, I didn't step near a scale of any sort. (Error! I was in proximity to automotive scales at the ferry ports, but that seems unrelated.) As far as eating healthy stuff, who can say? I did consume a great (very, very great) deal of Subway sandwiches, canned ravioli, cottage/shepherds pie (the difference is that shepherds pie is made from lamb, and cottage pie is made from beef. At least in Europe. I always thought they were synonamous back here in Canada, but I am not running over to Safeway to find out before posting this!), and various other things that are cheap at supermarkets and easy to make in a hostel kitchen. Before leaving home, to weigh my bag, I stood on a scale with and without it. Combined weight: 190 lbs. (~25lbs of bag, 165 of me). Upon returning, the combined weight was still 190 lbs, though now it was 40 lbs of bag due to various things I picked up on the trip. This struck me as odd since I don't know where that weight left from, but eh, what can you do.

Ok, it is now safe for the average reader to read again.

One of my favorite things to find while travelling is a cool or funny sign, especially if it is unintentional. This one is my absolute favorite, for reasons that are not immediately apparent.

The reason I found it hilarious: it is in Bern, Switzerland. The spoken language in that area is German, and in the rest of the country French, Italian, and Romansch are also official languages. So it seems pretty clear who the sign is targetting :)


Stonemasons also having a little too much fun? Retro gaming on the walls, gotta love it.

In Belgium, they take their comics seriously. It is part of their national heritage, even more so than seal clubbing is for us Canucks. Here are a couple shots of the entryway to their National Museum of Comic Strips in Brussels. (Musee Nationale de Bande Desinees? with funny accents?).


Some of the most recognized images in comics the world over, those are. Tintin in particular is nearly the epitome of the 20th century. His first adventure, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, was (if I remember my facts straight) started around 1921 as a black and white serial strip in a magazine, and his final adventure was in the late 1970s (the author died before finishing any more). During his time he went from big game hunting in Africa, to submarines, to rocketing to the moon. Wearing plus-fours nearly the entire time (except for one book). Yet he was always current with the times, and even now the older books still seem relevant. Kind of like James Bond, if he was flat-shaded with a thick black outline!

A couple of the few souvenirs I brought back are a Tintin book and an Asterix book in the original French. Of course, I bought them in Switzerland last November, before I realized that they were both originally Belgian anyway... oops! Oh well. At least I can read both of them, mostly. With the help of vague memories of French, the original English versions of the books, and a small French-English dictionary, anyway :)

On the final night of my first stay in Edinburgh (2008.01.11), about a dozen of us decided to have ourselves a multicultural supper. So we all went out to the supermarket for supplies, and everyone made a dish from their home country, then we sat down and ate. Surprisingly it all worked out rather well together. However, it does raise the question: What is a Canadian dish? The two Americans in the group had already laid claim to making burgers, so that was out. I wasn't about to buy steak for 12 people. The Dutch girls were making pancakes. What's left? Well, I figured, how about an omelette? There's just one catch: I had never made an omelette before in my life. However, for the record, my concoction turned out rather well. There was one other Canadian in the bunch (Hi, Andrew!) so we split the chopping and cooking duties to avoid having to come up with *two* Canadian dishes.

I call it "Scrambled Omelette"

1/4 lb butter
lots of mushrooms
2 red peppers
1 green pepper
1-2 tomatoes
1 lb cheese
18 large eggs

chop the mushrooms and sautee in butter in a large pan (really large. See photo!). Once they are brown, add in the chopped red and green peppers. Keep sauteeing. Keep adding butter, too! While this is going on, have your co-hort keep chopping things.

Beat all the eggs with a fork or whatever is handy. Pour into the big pan with all the sauteed bits. (Tip: You might want to drain out some excess butter first. I didn't, but I kinda regretted it even though everything still tasted great...)

Stir, flip, whatever, until the eggs are solidifying, then add in all the grated cheese and keep stirring and flipping. Soon it should be a big greasy mess from all the melted cheese, butter you forgot to drain, and eggs! Wheee!

Add in the chopped tomatoes, give it a final stir, then put it all in a pot for serving, with a lid to keep it hot :)

Ok... now, Talena, feel free to tell me everything I did wrong :p but keep in mind, it did taste great (and I am not the only one who thought so!) so I may just laugh at your comments! As a matter of fact... HAHAHAHHAAAA! There. Just getting it out of the way pre-emptively.

Here we are, enjoying our meal. If I recall correctly, here is what everyone made:

Dutch: Pancakes
Brazilian: Some really sweet chocolate candy dessert thing
American: Burgers
Mexican: Quesadillas
Canadian: Scrambled Omelettes!
Danish: They did their own thing, but sat with us to visit anyway
Somebody else: Some kinda of spaghetti casserole thing
Everyone: The cheapest, vinegariest wine at the supermarket.






How many people can you fit in an old style British Telecom booth, anyway? Apparently the local record for this particular booth is something like 11-13, but we only managed 9.



.... and that's all I've got to say about that.