So I’ve been reading these great articles from the Sewanee Review, and I decided to send them one, too.
I’m delighted to see it published, here.
Let me know what you think.
My sister keeps asking to see what I’ve been cooking and eating, and while this may be of interest to no-one but her, it’s something to do 🙂
Firstly, on Monday I made a second attempt to find a plant nursery that had eluded me last week – and I’m so glad I persevered. Here was my haul: two types of chard, the same of lettuce, sage, basil, Italian parsley, chives and thyme. The same day Nepal confirmed its second official Covid-19 case, and at 6 am yesterday, Tuesday March 24, the country went into lockdown. Borders are closed and all flights, domestic and international, cancelled.
Yesterday I mostly munched on baguette with rillettes (both from Vino Bistro) and went for something easy: spaghetti aglio, olio pepperoncino. There are few things to rival this for speed, ease and satisfaction, and it’s rare that I don’t have what I need to make it: the name of the dish is its ingredients list, after all. I let the garlic get a little too dark, but still delicious.
Today I made a riff on this quiche recipe here. With so much time at home, it was easy to make in stages, and I took advantage of my new plants — the chard can take it, but I may have been a little premature with the chives and basil; I hope they survive my bit of pruning. It’s the second tart I’ve made from David Lebovitz’s website, and when all this is over I may have to get myself a copy of his recent cookbook, as both have been excellent. And this will last me for a while! (Or it should)
In other news, last week I picked up a white azalea plant to keep my pink anniversary one company; the latter was all decked out just a few weeks ago, and yes, I know it needs a new pot.
Finally, kittehs. Take care and stay safe, everyone!
Today is a glorious spring day – the first so far, really. The weather started warming up early this year; my azaleas started blooming in February, as you can see. Then we had an unexpected cold snap that saw some parts of the Kathmandu Valley get snow for the first time in 12 years. It was wild. And cold!
But then, today: sunny and windy, one of those days where scooter driving is a joy, and the air feels light and bright. Driving alongside the royal palace, the wind rustled the bamboo, blowing its dry leaves over us commuters and making me feel pretty darn cheerful.
Seems like spring is here.
On Sunday, I woke up a bit under the weather. I really didn’t want to go anywhere, but stronger than that feeling was the desire for my favorite greasy, spicy, Boudha-style Chinese restaurant. Rain threatened– it has for much of the past two weeks–as my hunger overcame my laziness and I headed out. To find to the Yak Restaurant, you have to enter the Boudhanatha Stupa area from the main entrance, and walk exactly half-way around it before going down an alley. You’ll find it on your left, after souvenirs, piles of chilly peppers and hunks of butter. It doesn’t look like much, but with its strange hybrid of mostly-Chinese-with-a-little-Tibetan-food, it’s one of my favorite places to eat. I always tell myself that with the plethora of good places to eat in Boudha, I should try something new. Then I find myself driving along the muddy, pot-holed roads for the sole purpose of eating exactly here.
In an attempt to avoid those said muddy holes, particularly bad now as we are in monsoon season, I decided to take a detour along some back toads that I know indirectly link my area to the Boudha area. I was unsuccessful and after driving in circles ended up back on the main road not that far at all from where I’d left it. So I went to Boudha the usual way, but with some sort of flooded pipe or drain making the road far worse than usual – and that’s saying a lot, believe me – I determined I’d find the shortcut on my way back. Famous last words.
On reaching Boudha I did what I always do, no matter how often I come: took a photo or two of the stupa. It’s one of my favorites places in Kathmandu and I never tire of photographing it, even when the skies are grey as they were on Sunday. I bought a few lovely cloth bags from a local shop here that I like (not that I don’t have enough bags) and carried on down the alley to the Yak Restaurant. I ordered pretty much the same thing I always do: spicy cooking buff, which is a bowl of spicy delicious broth, thin sliced buff, potatoes, greens, noodles, two kinds of mushroom and more in the bowl besides, eggplant in chilli sauce, a steamed Tibetan bun, and a beer. I don’t think the picture does it justice, but it’s delicious. Too much food, of course, but I take the leftovers home and eat spicy soup for a couple of days after each visit.
While I was waiting for my food, the rain started. From my seat by the entrance I enjoyed the downpour while staying dry and taking pictures through the open door.
When the rain let up, I set off on my scooter once again, determined not to take the main road, which I knew would be even worse after the downpour. I like to think I have a pretty good sense of direction, but boy did it let me down in this instance. Which is actually a good thing, or I’d never had the experience that I did.
After driving down several fascinating streets I’d never seen before, I began reading the place names on shops and realized that I was going in the complete wrong direction. But I was enjoying myself, and didn’t feel like turning around, so I kept on to see what I would see. Before long, I was in the vicinity of Gokarna, far beyond Boudha, while still somehow having bypassed the main road. I ended up driving up a beautiful green hill, past rice paddies and prayer flags, into an area called Jagadole, which I’d never heard of and could find almost no information about when I researched it after getting home. Passing a small crew engaged in a film shoot, mothers and children, and people out enjoying their weekend, I came to an amazing viewing point, looking out from the hill all across the Kathmandu Valley: I could see the stupa of course, but also as far as the airport in the distance. Fluttering prayer flags made a picturesque scene even more so, as they are wont to do, and I felt grateful for my mixed-up sense of direction that took me, on this Sunday, to a place I’d never been to before.
Delighted to have an article published at Unusual Efforts – it’s aptly titled (not by me, but a great title!) What’s an Italy fan in football-mad Nepal to do during the World Cup?
In an unusual bit of serendipity, the editor’s choice to put it up today coincides with the 15th anniversary of my mother’s death. While she was not a football fan as such, she was half Italian and it was my childhood spent in Italy with her that cultivated my love of all things Italian, which as you can see, continues to this day.
Yesterday a hundred and fifty or so people gathered in the newly opened Fairfield Marriott for the launch of ECS’s May Issue – a special one all about Thamel. It turned out to be a wonderfully fluid and animated event. Speakers included Fire And Ice’s Anna Maria Forgione, Karna Shakya from Kathmandu Guest House, and Akur Narsingh Rana, born in Thamel and now 89 years of age. They shared their memories and thoughts on what Thamel means to them–a little bit of living history.
So are these top-notch mo:mos? Not exactly. They’re decent though, and the the mix of the two sauces provided (regular tomato and extra chilli) is pretty tasty.
What does make them awesome and fun is that they come from this cute stand out in the parking lot of the Maharajgunj branch of the Bhat Bhateni Supermarket. In case it’s too small to read in the picture, the line on the bottom of the food stall reads, verbatim:
So Long As You have Mo:Mo In Your Mouth, You Have Solved All Questions For The Time Being.
I really can’t argue with that. In fact, it could practically be my motto.
Sometimes truth comes via the most unlikely avenues – case in point, the above, seen outside the Kathmandu Guest House, which has recently undergone some post-earthquake renovations. I admit I’m not big on change, being more inclined to love the old, ramshackle things and mourn for what is gone. But it’s true – change is the only constant. I only hope it’s all for the better, as this seems to be.
Yesterday morning the house rattled; a small surprise. I haven’t felt an aftershock in some time now. While it was a small tremor–only 4.3–it’s a little worrying that its epicentre was Kalimati, right in the heart of Kathmandu. According to the National Seismological Center, 376 aftershocks measuring above 4 on the Richter scale have been recorded since April 25th. And of course that doesn’t count the hundreds of little ones that come in under 4. I join everyone else in the country in hoping and praying that the worst is well behind us, not still to come. New data released last week, which you can read about in this BBC article here, isn’t exactly cheerful, but everywhere I go I see optimism, hard work, rebuilding. To quote the phrase I’ve seen being used everywhere from street art to billboard advertisements: We Will Rise Again.
… that’s what’s on the cover of the first issue of Friday! to come out since the earthquake on April 25th. It’s normally a weekly, but it’ll take a while to get back into a regular publishing groove, so this one is still on newsstands. It’s got some great photos of historical sites as well as memories and post-earthquake thoughts from a wide variety of sources, so if you’re in Kathmandu it’s well worth picking up a copy. In the interests of full disclosure 🙂 I should tell you there’s an article of mine in there as well, found online here, about restaurants reopening after the quake. I was asked to write it about ten days after the first one, but the second quake pushed the printing later, so it didn’t come out until after that. It touches on a subject close to my heart–the power of food to nurture, comfort and heal, even in the aftermath of terrible tragedy.