Taste Bud Travel

Just because you can’t travel to some exotic destination doesn’t mean that you can’t get a taste of that location–literally.  While my body is not physically experiencing being out of the country this summer, I am making sure that my taste buds are well traveled.  Trying the cuisine of other countries is something that I can do in the comfort of my own home, without breaking my bank account, and without having to worry about travel arrangements.

Past vacations in Mexico and a mission trip to Guatemala left me hungering to return to these places.  While my responsible adult schedule does not permit me to fly away there currently, that inability will not stop me from bringing the taste of these locations to me.

The other night I could close my eyes, take a sip and indulge in the fantasy of being in a Spanish-speaking country.  No alcoholic beverages were needed to bring this dream to mind.  I simply needed some initiative, a recipe, a few inexpensive ingredients and a common kitchen tool–my handy dandy blender.

My culinary itinerary called for me to imbibe a favorite beverage of Mexico and Guatemala called Horchata.  But to drink it, I first had to make it.  A favorite food magazine provided me a recipe that appeared to be quick and easy. Fortunately for me, the version of Horchata made in Mexico and Guatemala is rice-based.  In Africa, the drink is made with chufa–tiger nuts.  Not having any such nut trees in my yard or large cats willing to part with essential body parts, I was content to work with rice.

The first step of the recipe involved mixing up a cup of rice with some water in the blender.  Who doesn’t like pushing buttons, hearing a whirring noise, and watching stuff swirl around in the container before you?  I felt like a bit of a mad scientist making some strange creation.  I mean–uncooked rice in a blender??

The mixed up contents were then transferred to a bowl where more water was added.  Then the stuff had to sit for a few hours.  At the designated time, the white, watery mixture was strained to remove the rice remains.  A second bowl was required in which to whisk sugar and cinnamon together.  Just a whiff of cinnamon takes the imagination to an exotic location in one’s mind.  Splish, splash.  Add the rice water, a bit of milk, and vanilla extract.  Mmm!

Time to chill–literally and figuratively.  The beverage needs to be cool, so I had to cool my heels while that was happening.  Truth be told, I wasn’t very chill and did not wait the suggested amount of time.  I simply couldn’t wait to reach my taste bud’s travel destination.  I packed some ice cubes in a fun stemmed glass and VOILA!  Let the vacation in my mouth begin!

This experience was such fun travel for my taste buds that I am already eager to plan another such trip.  Where to next?

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:  To what destination would you like to travel?  If you can’t physically go there, what food or beverage from that location could you experience at home?






Is Tweeting For The Birds?


The top news story on any given day may be about President Trump’s penchant for tweeting. He expresses himself often and emphatically. He may not sing like a bird, but he tweets as frequently as one.  Is the ability to tweet a thought whenever one feels the urge a good idea?  Or is the use of Twitter for the birds?

A huge problem with the use of Twitter, whether by President Trump or anyone else, is that tweets have the tendency to be knee jerk reactions.  The tweeter has a thought and dashes off a quick message; with the touch of a finger the message is off to be read by who knows how many people.  In President Trump’s case, his over 33 million followers  can view his tweeted thoughts.  Unfortunately, dashing off a quick message is not always the best course of action.  Who hasn’t opened his mouth and blurted something out which was regretted a short time later?

When messages are sent a more old fashioned way, there are steps which prolong the process and give the writer the opportunity to rethink what he thinks he should say.  Let’s take a letter for example. Putting words down on paper takes a great deal of time and effort.  Then an envelope must be procured and an address and a stamp located to place on said envelope.  Finally the letter must be taken to a postal facility.  Given these required actions, the writer has ample time to reconsider what has been said and perhaps even retract the message by tearing up the letter.

Time for reflection is available in a presidential message delivered in a speech.  The text is reviewed and revised (censored?) umpteen times by umpteen people before being voiced by the president.  A tweet, in contrast, takes only seconds to send which reduces the chance of second thoughts about the message’s contents and the possibility of revision or deletion.

Benefits do, however, exist for using Twitter.  A tweet sends a message which is of necessity short due to character limitations–a maximum of 140.  The writer has to get to the point immediately.  There is no blathering on such as may be found in a letter, e-mail, or possibly even a blog post.  No time is wasted in beating around the bush to make one’s position known.  A tweet’s brevity is a plus, especially in light of our electronically crazed population’s short attention span.

Tweets are not only brief, but, as noted above, they are likely to be unfiltered and thus a more accurate reading of what the tweeter actually thinks.  Something is to be said about knowing a person’s true position or feelings; you may not like it, but at least you are not trying to figure out if the person is being honest.  In the case of President Trump, you are reasonably sure that the message is his own because you would not get a message resembling what you are reading if the PR people and his handlers looked it over and tweaked the tweet before it was tweeted.

For me, Twitter is a for the birds.  I am an attorney and a writer, so reducing my thoughts on any topic to 140 characters or less is an excruciating task.  I agonize over using just the right word or phrase.  By the time I put any thought I had in tweet form, the ship would have sailed on the need to send the message.  I plan to stick to voicing my thoughts and opinions in blog posts of several hundred words.






When In The Course Of Human Events…


The U.S. celebrated 241 years as a nation this Fourth of July. And how many revelers, sober or not, would have been able to correctly state our nation’s age? On Independence Day, most Americans were more likely to be focused on celebrating their freedom from a day’s work than commemorating the inception of their country. The course of human events uppermost in their minds was not what had happened in their country’s history, but what was scheduled in the course of their human events that day, i.e., their social agenda.

Certainly everyone’s July 4th was at least superficially patriotic.  Cue the red, white and blue outfits from the closet.  Party decorations bear stars, flags and perhaps even the image of Uncle Sam.  Public fireworks displays proceed accompanied by rousing music such as “Stars and Stripes Forever.”  And exactly how does that evoke the true meaning of what is supposed to be celebrated. on Independence Day?

On July 4, 1776, Uncle Sam was nowhere to be found.  Benjamin Franklin was unlikely to have been wearing red, white and blue.  No U.S. flags bearing stars and stripes had yet been produced.  So what was so special about this day?  A political act.  The Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence whose famous first line begins, “When in the course of human events….”  This Declaration gave a thumb nosing, heave ho to Great Britain. We think we can run things just fine on our side of the pond by ourselves, King George, the Declaration basically informed him.  Of course, it took the King a bit of time to get this news since there was no CNN (Continental News Network) in operation back then.

Talk about upending the status quo….those uppity colonists were giving a royal monarch his walking papers.  How could mere commoners be trusted to govern themselves?  The world had gone mad–or so the British likely thought.  Surely this radical political thinking would crash and burn.  Or not.

It’s the not that we should be celebrating.  Things in the U.S. are still crazy just like they were in 1776.  But, hey–the U.S. is still plugging along. And the more things change (such as the century, who can vote, how we communicate) many things remain the same.  Congressional actions reverberate around the country and even the world. Foreign relations are still prickly.  We may be on better terms with Great Britain, but we aren’t getting along so well with North Korea, Russia (those meddlers!), etc.

And let’s be honest.  Methods of celebrations have not changed much either.–parades, fireworks and drinking.  The Father of Our Country, good old George Washington, was obviously aware of the significance of July 4, 1776.  He felt that the best way to recognize this auspicious occasion in 1778 was to issue double rations of rum to his troops.  Cheers!

Yes, the Fourth of July has become a huge midsummer holiday for Americans.  Certainly it is a wonderful thing to be able to celebrate our great country and the freedoms it provides us with family gatherings, barbecues and fireworks bursting in the air.  But would it hurt to take just a little bit of time on the holiday to reflect on the brashness of the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 and the beginning of the American Dream?

I am not suggesting we spend hours reading American history texts on the holiday, but learning about our country’s beginnings could be quite enjoyable. Wouldn’t a rousing round of Declaration Of Independence trivia be fun to combine history and celebration?  Try it; you’ll like it!

Declaration Of Independence Trivia:

1.  What two future presidents were signatories to the Declaration Of Independence?

2.  Who served as president of the Continental Congress?

3.  How many men signed the Declaration of Independence?

4.  What three unalienable rights are identified in the Declaration’s Preamble?

5.  True or False.  John Adams and Samuel Adams both signed the Declaration of                      Independence.