Archive for June, 2008

V for Vituperation

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

After many false starts – and even more false finishes – I finally managed to reinstall my Gallery and upload all my photos back onto it. It took an almost superhuman effort and tried every last bit of my patience, but now I can heave a heavy sigh of relief that all 4000+ images have been restored.

Of course, the Gallery itself looks like crap, but I’m almost afraid to mess with it any more after the last couple of attempts at customization led to the repeated premature demise of the whole freaking thing.

The only thing I haven’t figured out is how to get my videos uploaded again. And I still wish death upon the phishers that initially caused the massive cascade failure of the site.

But for now, I am declaring this one a victory.

Go to the Gallery here.

Caipirinha Recipe

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

CaipirinhaThe first time I ever had a caipirinha (which translates to something like “little bumpkin”) was on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.

I was traveling from the remote town of Tres Coraςoes in the state of Minas Gerais to attend a wedding in Santiago de Chile, and decided to stop over in Rio to see what all the fuss was about.

And were there beautiful white sand beaches? Yes. Was there a party atmosphere tempered by a laid back mellowness? Yes. Was there natural splendor juxtaposed with manmade beauty? Yes. And were there scores of hot, topless Brazilian women strolling the beaches while wearing nothing but thong bikinis? Hell, yes!

But for all its beauty and charm, Rio has the reputation of being one of the most violent and deadly cities in the world.

When I went to Copacabana, crossing from my hotel over the distinctive black and cream mosaic sidewalks known as pedra portuguesa and narrowly avoiding the friendly young pimp that was omnipresent outside my hotel, I staked out a place on the beach near a volleyball net and sought out refreshment. Nearby, there was a kiosk run by an old woman who was peddling caipirinhas.

As she prepared my first caipirinha, muddling the sugar and lime and measuring out the cachaςa, she chatted with me (as much as my tortured Portuguese would allow), waxing poetic on all the beauty that Rio and Brazil have to offer, but peppering her dialogue with very stern warnings that I was not to venture out alone at night. She illustrated the danger by showing me her battle wounds: the tiny scar on her earlobe, where an earring was torn from its place by someone riding by on a bike… the jagged cleft on her side where she was knifed for a purse containing a mere pittance… a hack mark on her arm, for no apparent reason.

It was sad, and a little frightening.

But after three caipirinhas and some topless thong-wearing girls’ beach volleyball, none of it seemed much to matter.

And here is how to make your own caipirinhas:

Ingredients

  • 2 Teaspoons Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Lime (cut into wedges)
  • 2½ Ounces Cachaςa

Mix Instructions

Muddle the sugar into the lime wedges in the bottom of a sturdy old-fashioned glass.

Fill the glass with ice. (Cubes or crushed.)

Pour cachaςa over the ice and mix well. (I like to withhold some of the lime from the muddler and squeeze the juice on top.)

Bottoms up!

Variations

Instead of Cachaςa, use:

  • Vodka. It’s a Caipiroska.
  • Rum. It’s a Caipirissima.
  • Sake. It’s a Caipisake.

Other popular variations include replacing the lime with tangerine, maracujá (passion fruit), star fruit, or any combination of lime and/or other tropical fruits.

Also, try the Spanish version, which uses brown sugar in place of granulated sugar.

And don’t forget the topless thong-wearing beach volleyballers. Sure, it’s not 100% necessary, but it can’t hurt!

Saúde!

Spanferkel Success!

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

The annual Spanferkel over at the Johnny K/Laura S residence was another success, despite all early indications to the contrary.

The day began ominously enough. The sky was blackened by thick, dark clouds that looked for a while as though they might hold back their fury and let things slide for once, but as I drove to Chicago to pick up Kortney at the airport the malevolent bastards spat upon me with a scattered spritz that quickly built into a full-fledged downpour. The entire ride to the airport was spent in an underwater wonderland, the windshield wipers keeping time to the music on my iPod while I dodged in and out of traffic that was moving somewhat less aptly than I.

But I was motivated; not only was I on my way to get Kortney (once again – I swear, at the base of our relationship is an air traffic control tower), I was also a bit askeered of being too far removed from a dump station (Flushing: it’s not just a town in New York) at any given point in the journey, what with a recent bout of intestinal difficulties that, as of that morning, had shown no signs of remitting.

But all was well. I met Kortney in the usual place and we drove through the tail end of the storm as it passed over us on its southeastern journey toward… well, wherever the hell it was going. And once we emerged from the storm, the weather remained gorgeous for the remainder of the day.

When Kortney and I arrived at the spanferkel things were already in full swing. There were scores (if not hundreds) of people gathered between five backyards. The tables were piled high with food, the beer flowed freely, and everyone ate and drank and was merry. The pig, as usual, was delicious – moist and tender and flavorful; maybe even moreso than usual, because Johnny K and Marie injected it the night before with a couple of different marinades. I brought along some cachaςa, limes and sugar to whip up caipirinhas as a way to remember my days in Brazil (and because caipirinhas are delicious!) but the aforementioned intestinal difficulties – or askeeredness thereof – prevented me from having much more than a sip. They must have been good, though, since 3/4 of the bottle disappeared by the end of the night.

And the good times ended, as all good times should, sitting around a fire, talking and enjoying everyone’s company as one by one, the fires around us died down and the neighbors went quiet.

But next year, I am going to eat and drink everything, intestinal percolations be damned! After all, that’s what Depends are for.

Right?