Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Comfort and Joy

I’ve been catching up with my bible study homework, and one of the questions had to do with ‘when has God’s comfort and compassion brought joy in your life?’ and I had an answer!

It was today!

Our son had been away on a trip; he came home early. We all got to go to church together. We all got to go to breakfast together, and Baby Q was as good as gold in the restaurant. We always figure with four adults, we can trade off if he gets bored or restless, but he is getting better and better at sitting and eating with the rest of us. He is also getting very adventurous in his eating habits; last night eating hot and sour soup, Thai curry, Thai fish, along with some mandarin oranges and lichis.

Today, it was breakfast food. AdventureMan ordered the Vegetable plattter (he got to choose the vegetables) and when it came, three of the four selections were NOT meat-free (he didn’t care).

Baby Q got to eat collard greens, red beans and rice and some of Mom’s omelette:

And a few bites of Dad’s short stack:

It is hilarious; Baby Q is feeding himself. He is very fussy; he doesn’t like anything that sticks to his hand, and after one bite, he knows what he likes and what he doesn’t. His Mom says the kids in his class at Baby School are starting to eat with a spoon, so Baby Q will be starting that, too.

We are off to the park to take some photos of Q and his parents. 🙂 My life is full of comfort and joy. 🙂 Thanks be to God; Alhamdallah!

March 6, 2011 Posted by | Community, Cultural, Eating Out, Family Issues, Generational, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Spiritual | 2 Comments

Lord of Death by Eliot Pattison

I didn’t know that much about the Chinese obliteration of Tibetan culture in Tibet. I didn’t know about the systematic destruction of the monasteries, or at least not in detail. I didn’t know about the brutal re-education techniques for the Bhuddist monks. I didn’t know how strong and resistant the peoples of Tibet are to the Chinese incursion.

I’ve learned most of what I know reading Eliot Pattison’s series featuring Shan Tao Yun, a Chinese detective. Or he used to be. In the first book, The Skull Mantra, we meet Inspecter Shan Tao Yun in one of those re-education camps, where he has been tortured and mistreated almost to his physical limits, and the Bhuddist monks teach him new ways of thinking, and those ways help him to see things differently – and to survive.

The Tibetans hate the Chinese, but they make an exception for Inspector Shan Tao Yun, who earns the respect of both Tibetans and Chinese for his unwavering integrity, and his ability to solve the most intricate puzzles. As he does, we learn more about different aspects of life today in Tibet.

The Lord of Death introduces us to the evolving mountain climbing industry developing in Tibet, just across the border with Nepal. Western climbers will see themselves in a very new light reading this book, which involves the murder of the visiting Chinese Minister of Tourism, an American female climber, and former members of a clandestine CIA trained group of Tibetans during WWII.

In every volume, I learn something fascinating. In this book, I learned more about the early struggles of the Chinese Cultural revolution, the corruption of Chinese ideals, and more about Tibetan ways of thinking. I cannot wait for the next book to come out. You can visit his website here: Eliot

March 6, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Customer Service, Detective/Mystery, Experiment, Family Issues, Geography / Maps, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Social Issues, Tibet | 4 Comments

Michelin Red “R”s in Pensacola

There is an entire category of restaurants we call Michelin Red R’s, which is for good local food at reasonable prices. I don’t even know if the category still exists, but these are the restaurants where the locals eat.

We’ve eaten high and we’ve eaten low. What we found was that while we have loved many excellent French restaurants, often in the most expensive restaurants, the food is too rich for us. We spent a wedding anniversary at a two star French restaurant, one year when we lived in Germany, and had the tasting menu, which was delicious. At least the first three courses or so were delicious; it’s about all we can remember. Even though portions were tiny, they were rich, and fatty, and we were up all night digesting the rich food. It’s hard to go into these restaurants and only order a soup and salad, or anything simple, so now, when in France, we only go rarely, with friends, and select carefully.

Our all time favorite dining has been in the Red R’s. Once, in Concarneau, we were directed to a local Red R where we were the only non-French people in the restaurant. There may have been other items on the menu (I am sure there were because we had our son with us and he would not have eaten mussels) but we had the Moules – we didn’t see anyone eating anything else. They were so simply prepared – steamed in white wine with garlic and parsley, maybe just a little butter. And they were divine. A little bread, salad, moules, and something truly ordinary, like chocolate mousse or dessert – it was heaven. We sat at long tables, full of French families, the windows dripping from the steam of all the mussels – not elegant dining, but fully memorable, simple and delicious.

We have found some Red R’s in Pensacola, and we give them a try, but in Pensacola, much of the traditional local food is deep fried, so we have to eat with caution. Our favorite Pensacola Red R restaurant is nearby, the Marina Oyster Barn, where we can get our seafood grilled. It is always full of local people, not tourists, and I love their oyster stew. We also love their grilled tuna, their crab cakes, and their grouper sandwiches. Actually, there is little we do not love there. 🙂

The grilled tuna:

We stopped at CJ’s a week or so ago (on Garden, near Pace), and the place was packed; we had to wait for a table.

CJ’s club sandwich with onion rings:

CJ’s Reuben sandwich with onion rings:

We can understand why the place is packed; they have fabulous local food. My Reuben was really good. We probably won’t go back; everything is accompanied by french fries and we couldn’t resist trying the onion rings, which you will notice are fried, and there are a lot of them. We can’t afford to eat like that. Our wallets can handle it; our hearts cannot, LOL.

Part of what we want to do it to make ourselves try new places. We find a few we like and we get into a rut, going back to them. AdventureMan had always wanted to try this place, Porcetta’s, also on Garden:

I had thought it was a take-out place, but I was wrong, there was seating inside for maybe forty people. You order at the counter; here is the menu:

AdventureMan had soup and a ham and cheese grilled sandwich – delicious! There was so much food that after eating the soup, he could only eat half a sandwich, and took the additional half home for dinner.

I wanted to get the Porcetta, not knowing what it was, and the smallest I could get was the Big Mama. It was good:

We often go to Sonny’s BBQ, a Florida chain, where the real Sonny actually visits all the restaurants himself, to make sure they follow his standards. We really like Sonny’s smoked turkey, and tell ourselves that it makes barbecue healthy. If you know differently, please, please – don’t tell us.

I mention Sonny’s because it is a Red R – always packed. Sonny’s is a very large restaurant, so when we arrived a week or so ago and it was packed and about 50 people were waiting to get in (there was a bus with maybe some sport team and maybe a band from Louisiana) we decided to head across the street to the new Chow Tyme. Normally we avoid Chinese buffets, but this place is new and we wanted to see what it was like.

Chow Tyme, off 9th near Creighton, is not what you would usually think of as ‘local’ cuisine, but these days local can be more diverse, and Chow Time is . . . . diverse. Just open, they did a really smart thing, they bought billboards all over town to advertise their opening. It paid off.

It’s hard for me to imagine how they can make money, even with all the customers. They offer so much food. Everyone was chowing down on the steamed crab, which was coming out hot and served with melted butter. There must be room for 300 – 400 patrons in the restaurant; it is huge. At the same time, there is fresh grilled food coming off the open grills, and it isn’t bad. There is also fresh sushi. There is also pizza. Macaroni and cheese. Ice Creams and puddings for dessert. It is a bad mix, but the customers are happy, so who am I to criticize? Chow Tyme is packing in the locals, and the price is reasonable.

March 6, 2011 Posted by | Cultural, Eating Out, Florida, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola | 1 Comment