Bad fish in Miami

It was a grueling day of customer trainings onsite here in Miami today, not to mention all the email follow-ups and multiple customer calls I had to take in the afternoon. By the end of the day, I felt exhausted. I had spoken way too much, especially given my throat and mucus issues, and I just wanted to lie down and rest. But what I did have to look forward to before lying down to sleep tonight was dinner at Dragonfly, a Japanese restaurant in Doral, a small suburb of Miami, that a few of my colleagues have raved to me about. They insisted it was some of the best sushi in the Miami area, that I had to come try it at some point when in town for customer visits. So a colleague and I took one of our customers to this restaurant tonight, and I was really excited to have some good fish… until I wasn’t.

The salmon and tuna were mediocre and not particularly melt-in-your-mouth. The cooked unagi was nearly tough, definitely not soft and lush the way it usually should be. And the snow crab roll I ordered tasted like it was crab from out of a can; it was certainly not fresh at all, and it was almost embarrassing. What exactly is all the fuss about this place? The fish did not live up to any of the hype that I’d heard about it. The only redeeming qualities of this meal were the cooked seabass and the charred octopus bowl. Now, I feel like I need to get more sushi to make up for this total disappointment. I was expecting more after such a long and tiring work day.

Lonely and flying

It’s always funny being on planes and seeing how people act. I am still working on getting over all the mucus build up as a result of my severe cold from the last week, as well as the cough that keeps lingering and occasionally keeps me short of breath (and at times, as I’ve been told today, sounding like I am about to cry). As I’ve been coughing here and there, the person next to me on the plane offered me some cough drops. I declined and told her that it was very thoughtful, but I actually had my own. Then, as the flight attendant is asking what I’d like to drink, I asked for hot water and lemon. The woman sitting next to me smiles and points at my mug. “That’s what my mother always, always drinks, no matter what,” she said. “At the end of a meal, while relaxing on the couch, a couple hours before bed… she always had hot water with lemon. Said it was good for your digestion and relaxation. Mother always knew best.”

She was a really warm, kind person, and seemingly very contemplative on this flight. She occasionally continued to make comments about what I was doing, whether it was my being on my computer or the food I was eating to even the coat I was wearing (which she asked if I had it custom made, which I obviously did not). She wasn’t necessarily being intrusive, but she seemed to want some conversation. And given my throat condition and the work I had to get done on this flight, I just couldn’t give it to her.

When I thought about it, she seemed a bit depressed, like she needed some love and attention, and maybe she just wasn’t getting it in her life somehow.

Costco family trip

Chris won’t let me go to Costco on my own anymore. After two trips accompanying me to Costco last year, he still won’t admit he loves exploring the aisles and seeing what new goods are for sale there, but I know he loves it even if it won’t admit it out loud. On average since I’ve gotten my dad’s Costco card, I’ve gone about once every three months, and so we were due for a visit this time around. He insisted that I couldn’t go by myself, that he needed to be there to help me… whatever that means.

He did his thing, scrutinizing potential carry-on luggage rollers carefully, walking up and down the candy aisles in search of his much beloved Maltesers, which I happened to find the very first Costco trip I ever took on my own when he didn’t accompany me on Veteran’s Day in 2017. My husband is so cute when he really likes something but won’t admit it out loud. But I could just tell he was enjoying himself.

Then, when I was in line to pay for our relatively small number of purchases, he got into the ready-made food line to get me my nostalgic chicken bake. When I arrived at the table to meet him, he had also gotten a slice of the infamous Costco pizza. “I wanted to see what it tasted like,” he said. His Costco curiosity was peaking. “Tastes like Dominos,” he eventually said between bites.

You know your love is really getting real for Costco when you want to eat the food there and stay there in order to eat it.

Instant Pot biryani

Last summer, when I finally got my much coveted Instant Pot, I was a bit too ambitious and thought that I could handle doing something more complex in the IP than just boiled eggs or steaming rice, so I decided to make vegetable biryani as my first Instant Pot experience. Needless to say, it was probably the worst choice I could have made, as I used the pot for sautéing, ended up overheating the pot with the dreaded and then not understood “burn” signal, and then created an inedible brown mush out of all my spices and three cups of basmati rice. Chris freaked out and thought it was an Instant Pot issue and suggested we even return the darn thing.

So today, I was a bit apprehensive again of using the Instant Pot for biryani. But if so many other Indian cooks have mastered endless biryanis in their Instant Pots, even my same model, then why couldn’t I? This time, instead of browning my spices and chicken in the pot, I did this step separately on the stove. I caramelized my onions over the stove, as well. After browning my marinated chicken, I then dumped it into the pot with some of the onions, the rice, the water, and cooked it to pressure. And it all turned out perfectly this time. I probably should have gotten extra long grain basmati rice and caramelized the onions for much longer, but taste-wise and appearance-wise, this is what I was hoping for. I guess second time’s the charm. At this rate, biryani could easily go into a regular rotation, especially if we aren’t always marinating and using meat!

Good Friday

Tonight, we went to see the show Good Friday at the new location of the Flea Theater. We used to go to the Flea all the time, as they are one of the many independent theaters in New York City that are known for pushing the envelope with more controversial themes and imagery. The show’s general story is that it depicts a school shooting here in America, but one that is actually perpetrated by a woman. It touches upon issues around sexual assault, gun violence, school shootings, and society’s general sexist attitudes against women.

Oftentimes, when we read or hear about school shootings in the news, we tend to hear the same pathetic story all the time: the shooting has been perpetrated by men, always white, who were isolated, depressed, a bit “different” from their classmates. It was a “lone wolf.” It was a hermetic man. He didn’t have many friends. Whatever you want to call it, that’s how the mass shooter is characterized. I’m not saying that there needs to be justification for a mass shooting because nothing can justify killing multiple human beings with a spray of bullets. But there’s never really a known motive for the mass killing other than the potential depression or psychotic state of the man perpetrating it. In this show, there was: a woman who was repeatedly raped by a whole team of male rugby players at her school and wanted to get revenge.

I don’t really know if this is something I should be admitting publicly on a blog, but when I realized her motive was for revenge for getting gang raped, I kind of thought… well, in that case, maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe men really do need to reap what they sow and take responsibility for their hateful anti-woman actions. Maybe they really do need to have the fear of death instilled in them to prevent them from perpetrating such disgusting acts that we all are aware happen every single day.

Valentine’s Day observations

Yesterday morning, after chatting with Teledoc, I had to go to Duane Reade to pick up a few prescription medications I was prescribed. And as I walked in, I had completely forgotten today was Valentine’s Day until I noticed a hoard of people gathered around the Valentine’s Day Papyrus card display, all frantically trying to choose the best card to give their partners. Then, as I entered the doors, all three of the people who exited and walked past me were carrying Duane Reade bags, where I could see that all they purchased was a Valentine’s Day card, bright red or pink and gold.

The heart-shaped Valentine’s Day candy box stand was nearly depleted. Even the cards were almost all gone, even the plain Jane looking ones. This is the mad rush for everyone to fulfill the stupid Hallmark need to have a commercialized day to prove they appreciate their significant other when they probably don’t do enough of that the rest of the year. But hey, all power to the companies who reinforce this desire. If I want to give my baby a card, I will make it. Take that. No more money for them.

 

 

Four days homebound

There’s really nothing worse than staying at home and being sick. The rest of the world goes on and gets everything done that they need and want to get done. Here I am, letting life pass by and getting pretty much nothing done other than cleaning my sinks and toilet because of all my spitting and vomiting, drinking a ton of liquid, which results in my constant toilet breaks, and trying to get into a comfortable position. This is not fun. Then, I am rescheduling all my customer calls, and then getting more and more delayed with the prep work for onsite meetings that I need to travel to next week. Not being productive is really one of my worst nightmares and makes me feel terrible. I hate feeling like I am not getting anything done.

I was on the phone with Teledoc this morning to see if they could give me any useful advice. I’m nearing my wits end with my cough and terrible sleep. They ended up prescribing me a prescription-grade cough suppressant, plus an anti-inflammatory steroid to help with my breathing and to help lessen my cough. We’ll see if any of this ends up helping me. It’s hard to tell if anything I am doing is helping, or if it’s just the passage of time that is healing. The greatest thing about using Teledoc is that I don’t have to leave where I am, and I don’t have to deal with some moronic overpaid doctor who doesn’t give me any useful information at all like what happened last month.

 

 

“You know you’re getting old when…”

Once I hit 30, I knew my body was going to start changing, if it didn’t already start changing in my late twenties. At around 26, I could feel my metabolism slowing down, as I could not eat as much without gaining weight, which meant that I had to exercise twice as hard to keep the physique I wanted. That was also when I had to train myself to start eating less, especially at lunch time. Then in my 30s, I started noticing the skin on my face and neck changing, indicating my maturity and that I wasn’t my twenties’ self anymore. I don’t necessarily have wrinkles, per se, but there’s definitely a matureness to my face and neck that I certainly did not have when I was in my twenties.

So a few of my friends and I started statements with, “you know you’re getting old when…” The latest for me? Well, that happened today. In the midst of one of my coughing fits, I stopped coughing and felt a sneeze coming on. When the sneeze came, I blew so hard that somehow, I managed to pull a muscle in my lower back, resulting in back pain pretty much every time I move. And it only got worse every single time I would cough, as the pain would be re-ignited. So, you know you’re getting old when you can sneeze so hard that it can pull a muscle in your body.

This actually happened to one of my friends. Her muscle was so distorted that she had to go to a massage therapist to get the knot out. I hope I just need tiger balm, stretching, and rest for mine, though.

Food safety

I grew up in a household where it was normal to have a massive stockpot full of soup, whether it was a pork bone and lotus root or Chinese herbal tonic, sitting on the stove for an entire week without ever entering a fridge. The idea behind it, as my grandma and mom would say, was that if you always left the soup hot or warm, and then shut it off at the end of the night, you couldn’t feasibly put the pot in the fridge because it would be far too hot, so it would probably cool to room temperature by morning, when you’d end up reheating the soup again. In addition, every time you were to reheat the soup, you’d end up killing any germs or impurities anyway, so it was always safe to eat. In addition, we’d oftentimes have Chinese baked goods, with and without meat, dumplings like har gow or siu mai, sitting on the kitchen counter all day long, and they’d always be considered good to eat. No one ever questioned whether it was “safe” or would make you sick.

So imagine how I felt when I started hearing all the food safety regulations being rattled off by people in food groups I participate in on Facebook or at dinner tables around the country where people would flip out if you told them that you ate sushi that was on the counter for over an hour, or that I traveled across the country in a plane with several cha siu bao and other Chinese dim sum delights, and ended up eating the food when I got back here. Germ infestation central! Food poisoning galore! What are you doing to yourself, just asking yourself to get sick from that spoiled food?! I’ve never gotten sick from anything I have eaten that was seemingly not stored the “right” way, and it bothers me that so many people are judgmental about how different people store their foods and what they consider “normal.” To me, it is borderline racist and flat out ignorant. What is “room temperature” in your house may be 68 degrees, but the room temperature in my apartment in New York in the winter time is something like 45 degrees, and it’s something similar in my parents’ frigid house. So storing food in cool temperature environments like that isn’t really unsafe as far as we know. And how do we know? None of us has ever gotten sick from these foods, and perhaps it’s because we’ve exposed ourselves and made ourselves vulnerable that we don’t have weak stomachs like so many of these germaphobe anal freaks I keep reading about. I can’t deal with extremists of any kind.

Sick again?

Sometimes, when bad things happen to me, I wonder if it’s all payback for bad things I’ve done either in a previous life, or in this life in the past. I especially have thought this when I’ve gotten really sick, most notably in 2015 when I very randomly got diagnosed with pertussis or whooping cough, then again in 2017 when I got really sick while in Australia/New Zealand and eventually had silent reflux. Now, somehow, I am sick again for the second time in two months, and I wonder… what did I do to deserve this?

I was miserable on the flight back from San Francisco last night, constantly asking the flight attendants to bring me more hot water. Then, when I woke up this morning, I realized this cold had really blown up, as my nose was fully stuffed, my cough had gotten worse, and my phlegm production had probably quadrupled. I was just sick around this same time last month, and now I’m sick again? How is this even possible? And I started thinking about all the sick people who came to kickoff who were hugging me and giving me high-fives… this is not good at all. It’s like my immune system has weakened, and now I am picking up all these disgusting ills of the world and dumping them into my body.