Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Seattle Earthquakes

This is for AbdulAziz. I had just posted my Pacific Northwest Bouillabaisse when I read his comment on the Seattle Houseboat Culture, and his experience with a Seattle earthquake.

In 1996, we bought a house in a Seattle suburb. We had been living in Florida, and I never liked it. In the Tampa Bay area, it was always too hot, too humid, I never felt like I had my normal energy. I was so delighted to get back to the Pacific Northwest.

“No more sinkholes!” I told my husband. “No more hurricanes! You’re going to love Seattle.”

We had just moved in. I was in our bedroom reading, my husband and son and a visiting friend were playing a board game in the living room and all of a sudden the game seemed to be getting a little rowdy. They must be wrestling or something, because the house was shaking. But the shaking got more and more violent, the entire house was shaking back and forth on its foundation. I could hear my husband in the dining room telling them to stop, and then realizing that the chandelier was swaying so violently because it was an earthquake.

That winter, the day after Christmas was a huge snowstorm, all the electricity went out for several days and we were totally snowed in, cold, freezing cold, no heat.

My husband has never let me forget it. I have photos of him, out in his big coat and fur hat, shovelling the acres of snow off the drive so we could get over to my parents and . . . shovel more snow.

“No hurricanes!” he taunts me. “No sinkholes! But earthquakes and snowstorms! Welcome to the Pacific Northwest!”

January 3, 2007 Posted by | Christmas, Family Issues, Marriage, Relationships, Seattle | 3 Comments

Pacific Northwest Bouillabaisse

For two days now, it has been rainy, oh! sheets of rain coming down. If you have an umbrella, it doesn’t help. You are soaked before you can even get your umbrella up, and the wind keeps blowing in gusts from different directions so the umbrella goes inside out.

The perfect day for Pacific Northwest Bouillabaisse, a recipe from a cookbook my aunt gave me, published in 1946 – no longer even in print. But the recipe is a winner – easy, satisfying, and with a salad and French Bread, a complete stormy day meal, warming and satisfying from the inside out.

A bouillabaisse is flexible, and relies on slow simmering and some reduction to obtain its deep, rich, complex flavor. Fishermen use what they catch – the more, the merrier, in a bouillabaisse. For extra credit, serve with a rouille, a red, peppery mayonnaise. (Yes, blenders make any mayonnaise do-able.)

Pacific Northwest Bouillabaisse
From Mary Cullen’s Northwest Cook Book, 1946 (with alterations)

This is one of the all-star recipes if you like seafood and if your friends do, too.

1 1/2 lbs. cod, halibut or red snapper, or good solid white meat fish like grouper, cut into bite sized chunks
1 large hard shell crab, cook, take meat out (or two or three small Kuwaiti crab)
2 lbs. small clams in the shell, or if you are stuck, you can use canned clams
1/2 lb. mussels, if available
10 – 12 medium large shrimp
1/3 cup olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 cups fish stock (I use the water from cooking the crab, and cook the fish heads etc. until you have a good, tasty stock)
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
1 green and 1 red sweet pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon saffron
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons minced parsley

Prepare fish, removing bones and cutting into bite sized pieces. Several kinds of fish can be used, if preferred. Clean meat out of crab legs and crab body, put aside.

In large pan, sautee onion, peppers and garlic in olive oil, add bay leaf and cut up fish and fish stock, cook very slowly, without boiling, for about 20 minutes or until fish is tender.

Add crab, clams, shrimp, mussels, seasonings, and lemon juice. Let cook 3 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. It is tradition that on cold winter’s days, the bread can be dunked in the broth!

This is a photo from Wikipedia, showing genuine French Bouillabaisse. The Pacific Northwest version doesn’t have a tomato-y broth, but more clear broth.

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January 3, 2007 Posted by | Cooking, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Generational, Recipes, Weather | 1 Comment

Seattle’s Houseboat Sub-Culture

In Seattle, there is an entire sub-culture that lives on houseboats, mostly urban professionals. Unlike many parts of the world, the houseboats in Seattle are truly designed as houses, and have to meet city standards. They can only dock in designated areas, and they are solely for living, they don’t have any means of propulsion. They are not truly boats, but houses floating on the water.

I lived in one for two weeks, many years ago. I never got used to it. I worried about sinking all the time.

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Seattle is quirky. Houseboats, caffeine-addiction, super-technology, fitness addicts, airplanes (home of Boeing) and one of the most literate cities in the United States. Washington state has the highest minimum wage in the nation – $7.93 per hour.

January 3, 2007 Posted by | Cross Cultural, Living Conditions, Lumix, Photos, Seattle, Social Issues | 9 Comments