Dear gourd, I’m not bitter at you any more

Dear gourd, I'm not bitter at you any more

Bitter gourd is something of a stranger to me. Sure I know, it’s a squash-like vegetable shaped like an eggplant but is green with a warty outside. Its flesh is really bitter and I’ve never liked it. As a child, I balked at it. As an adult, I wouldn’t go near it.

Dear gourd, I'm not bitter at you any moreImage credit

One day, Hip2bDad came home at lunch time with a packet of noodles for me. Surprise! Here’s your Bitter Gourd Noodle Soup, enjoy! I winced at those words. But I gotta say this, any time I don’t have to venture into a coffee shop myself, it’s a bonus. I’m not gonna complain.

I sat down to my bowl of Bitter Gourd Noodle Soup, eye-ing it suspiciously, certain that I would hate every bitter mouthful. But look at the abundance of good stuff swimming in it and hidden underneath –Β  tomatoes, fish cake slices, homemade fish balls, seaweed, goji berries underneath.

Dear gourd, I'm not bitter at you any more

Oh man! Wow!

With each spoonful of noodle, soup and my mamdatory fiery bird’s eye chilli, I was like “hey, this isn’t so bad”. The bitterness is there but it’s not overpowering. It’s a strange but flavorful combination just like dipping french fries into ice cream. When I got to the bottom of the bowl, I was wishing there was more. Seriously, that was the most delicious noodle soup ever – oink oink!

It seems bitter gourd is one of those super foods that can magically prevent or fix a host of health issues too. I think the general Asian belief is that if something’s bitter, it must be good for you πŸ˜“.

I’m not sure if bitter gourd is sold at grocery stores in the States but if it isn’t, I’m sure it’ll find its way there soon enough. Meantime, it might be worthwhile giving your tastebuds some practice with kale πŸ˜‰ (that story coming up soon).

Clairity/

Profound wisdom of a 10-year-old

Profound wisdom of a 10-year-old

A small news headline in The Korea Times caught my eye recently. “Boy, 10, offers lesson in life”, it said. A third grade boy in South Korea had been given a homework handout showing a malnourished boy dressed in tattered clothing eating breadcrumbs off the floor.

His assignment was to “Think about how happy you are while observing this photograph (of the poor boy) for five minutes”.

Profound wisdom of a 10-year-old
Image credit: The Korea Times

Tears pierced my eyes when I read the boy’s answer. And this is the verbatim quote: “I think it’s not right to feel happy comparing myself to others’ pains. We need to solve their pains together, so that we all can live happily.”

How profound!

All it takes is this simple insight from a mere 10-year-old to put everyone in their place. Indeed what message are we sending our children by suggesting that we rejoice in the misery of others, when we should be instilling empathy, kindness and compassion in them.

Maybe it’s time to start thinking about what values we’re teaching our kids.

Clairity/

Slowly but surely

There’s a mall which features live music to draw the weekend crowds. Years ago, when this concept first started, the band playing their korg nanokontrol barely had an audience. Lately, I’ve noticed the mall even provides benches around the makeshift platform for the benefit of the retired folks who come in flocks to listen. It’s not the kind of music everyone appreciates so I always quicken my step and go about my errands. Peace out!

The sweet, the sour and the crispy

The sweet, the sour and the crispy

We jumped for joy the day it rained movie tickets. I mean, what are the chances of scoring not one but two free movies? Hoobaheck, if it weren’t for free movies, we wouldn’t even be going to the movies.

Thrilled, we made our way early to Finding Dory. As in almost 3 hours early so that we could have dinner at 5pm. Ridiculous, I know, but it probably had to do with the sheer excitement of watching a movie with the brood again. Just like old times and definitely a far cry from that epic fail of a movie date.

Dinner was one of the best we’ve had in recent days, according to the picky eater opinion vote. While our last experience with this restaurant was bittersweet, it was quite the opposite this time.

Just when we’d lost hope of ever paying less for a bigger portion with no drop in food quality, surprise, surprise! for the first time in our history of eating out, this restaurant gets *drumrolls please* added back into PEARL (our Picky Eater’s Approved Restaurant ListΒ©).

The sweet, the sour and the crispy

Customer service aside, the fried chicken was everything we’d hoped for. Even I, notoriously known for refusing to eat with my hands, ended up licking my fingers unashamedly in public lol. That was how good this crispy double-fried chicken was (or should I say, is, since we can’t seem to stop going back for more?).

After dinner, we skipped off merrily to the cinema only to be greeted with more mouthwatering news. Free popcorn and soda each! Woah, as if Finding Dory wasn’t sweet enough on its own… with bite-sized lessons about friendships and family for savvy parents to initiate teaching points with their little kids πŸ‘.

Now You See Me 2, on the other hand, left a bit of a sour aftertaste 😐. We’d planned to watch the 1pm but decided on the 10:15 instead even though we were a half hour late. Turned out we didn’t miss anything. I know everything else starts late in these here parts but movies too? C’mon!

As for the movie itself, we didn’t know what to expect. That’s what happens when you close your eyes and just pick one off the sad list. All it was, to me, was a bunch of magicians running around. And the dialog, well, it was kinda stilted, like they were reading off a script.

The redeeming factor was, of course, the air-conditioning inside the cinema. It was delicious given that the air-conditioning in the rest of the mall is non-existent these days. But yeah, all in all, it’s happy days!

Clairity/

Tale of two pizzas 2

Tale of two pizzas

There’s pizza. And then, there’s pizza.

And each has a different tale to tell.

But first, just by looking at this picture, which pizza makes you want to sink your teeth into right now?

Tale of two pizzass

The frightfully pale and pasty one on the left that tastes bleh, or the one on the right that’s alive with toppings?

You choose.

To me, the one on the right is what a pizza should look like. Just looking at the symphony of colors and ingredients instantly transports me to our go-to pizza joint in California. One bite and I swear I can hear the pepperoni, olives, onions, mushrooms, peppers bursting unanimously into chorus. Now that, to me, is a real pizza!! ’nuff said!

Clairity/

The gift hunter

I have a new temp job – as gift hunter for my kids. Lucky me! In recent weeks leading up to graduation season, I’ve been entrusted with the task of looking for gifts for their friends while my kids are busy with finals. But with the searing hot weather, I’d be crazy to go out shopping. No thanks. I’m staying right here at home and browsing through Cozy Winters to give me ideas.

 

Flowers and fake apologies

Flowers and fake apologies

So there I am at LA Airport with lots of time on my hands. The place is huge, ever busy, ever crowded. Trying to find a seat to park yourself and your baggage is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Traveling in entire villages seems to be the thing these days, which means there are no seats left for the rest of us. Hel-llo, does your backpack need to have its own seat?!!

After walking up and down 5 or 6 times, I finally spot a partially hidden seat between a man and a woman. Unsure if the man understands English, I ask the woman instead if the seat beside her is taken. It isn’t, whew! At last, I finally get to park myself somewhere.

And do nothing.

I confess I’m one of those rare dinosaur types who isn’t perpetually glued to technology. or peace-signing for the hundredth selfie. So there really isn’t much to do at all except maybe text my kids. And people-watch. Or attempt small talk with the nearest person to kill time. On a good day, a random person might even initiate small talk with me.

I look over at the lady on my right. She seems friendly enough but she’s glued to Facebook on her laptop (duh!). But then, I notice her gazing occasionally at the people streaming by. Suddenly she turns to me and points, “See the guy with the flowers?”

I’m like, where but he’s vanished into the crowd. It’s such a busy place and people are just going wooosh every millisecond! After a while, everything becomes a blur.

Flowers and fake apologies (Image credit: dvo.com)

“I hate people who try to suck up to you with flowers and a fake apology,” she continues. I don’t know what it was about the guy that gave her that idea but “Yup, I have to agree,” I reply, wondering who, in her life, she’s talking about.

Honestly, I don’t know which is worse, a fake apology or no apology at all. Apologies are as rare as blue diamonds with some people. So yeah, if ever there’s one uttered, fake or otherwise, I’ll take it, thanks!

“If they’re not really sorry, sucking up with a bunch of flowers ain’t gonna cut it,” she goes on. “I know what you mean,” is my simple reply. λ„€, μ‚¬κ³Όμ—μš” lol! I totally get where she’s coming from. I’m certain now that someone in her life’s been a jerk. Turns out it’s her ex. I gather that’s exactly why he’s her ex.

The man beside me leaves. Instantly a whole village swoops in to grab his seat – grandparents, parents, grown siblings and their offspring. One of the women quickly settles into that one seat with her son on her lap while the village spreads out around her, all talking loudly. The hyperactive boy wriggles around and kicks my leg.

His mother sees it but says nothing. No apology. Not even a fake one? This would be the perfect time to teach the next generation some manners. But no, she was just going to let it go and now that boy is going to think it’s okay to kick someone and not apologize.

My new friend gazes momentarily at them and shakes her head. They’re getting louder by the minute. We continue talking and laughing but have to raise our voices to hear each other above the din.

I give her a small bag of red velvet cookies from my bag. She chomps on them while I nibble on my jam sandwich from home as we exchange notes about hobbies and interests. And there we were – two tired travelers in one crazy huge airport bonding over cookies and fake apologies within that short space of time.

Clairity/
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