I finished the Hamilton book last night. I’ll have more to say about it soon, but for right now I’d just like to highlight this amazing quote allegedly said by Aaron Burr upon reading Tristam Shandy years after the duel: “Had I read Sterne more and Voltaire less, I should have known the world was wide enough for Hamilton and me.” Seems like the kind of thing that would interest certain of my readers.
July 31, 2007
July 25, 2007
I don’t want to pick on Tim Burke specifically because I see this mistake a lot, but I would like to point out that Alberto Gonzales’s last name, in contrast to most other common Hispanic surnames, does not end in z. I don’t know the reason for this, but I suspect it has something to do with the other z in there.
July 22, 2007
I just got back from a Dylan concert at Journal Pavilion. It was great overall, but $8 for a pint of Budweiser was a bit steep. The view from the lawn, where we were sitting, is really spectacular; you can see the South Valley and the wide green stripe of the Bosque in the foreground, then the volcanoes of the West Mesa and the emptiness beyond the rapidly expanding city, and off in the distance is Mount Taylor, the beginning of the Navajo country. The music was good too.
July 21, 2007
We’re having a garage sale tomorrow, so my mom and my sister and I spent the past couple of hours marking prices on things while drinking margaritas and listening to the Rolling Stones. It was nice.
July 20, 2007
I had a phone interview today for a job. The company is doing phone interviews as a preliminary measure to narrow down the list of people who will be invited for in-person interviews, but the phone interviews are pretty detailed and in-depth. Should I send a thank-you note? I know they’re obligatory for in-person interviews, but I’m not sure what the standard practice is for phone interviews. I’d appreciate any advice on this.
July 17, 2007
I haven’t seen that “Obama girl” video and I don’t really have strong opinions about these issues anyway, so I don’t know which side I’d take in this argument, but it’s pretty interesting nonetheless.
Today is my sister’s twenty-first birthday. She has to be at work at 6:15 AM, so we all got up early to wish her a happy birthday before she left. I wouldn’t want to do this every day, but it’s nice to be up at this time. It’s all peaceful and stuff.
July 15, 2007
I haven’t read the article on Polish interest in Judaica that started this discussion, but I’m not so sure the Poles’ philosemitism is “substantially deeper than what’s implied in the United States’ appropriation of Native American place names.” This is kind of a contentious issue, but I think you could make a very good case that up until the War of 1812 or so Indians were “a substantial and integral element of the cultural, political, and economic life of the country even if they were never fully integrated or accepted.” It’s certainly not clear to me that Polish Jews were significantly more important to the cultural or political life of pre-WWII Poland, though the argument for greater economic importance is probably pretty strong. And, of course, historical cultural, political and economic importance isn’t really that relevant to the issue of justifying interest in a historically oppressed and currently marginal group.
Relatedly, the Dana Goldstein post Matt links to strikes me as yet another example of the unfortunate tendency of even smart, well-informed people in this country to take a drastically oversimplified view of the very complicated history of interactions between whites and Indians in what is now the US.
July 14, 2007
Busy day today; I had to sand most of the trim on my parents’ house in preparation for painting it tomorrow, which involved buying a sander since the one we had rented didn’t work, then we went out to eat (I had a stuffed sopaipilla, which I noticed was spelled “sopapilla” on the menu), then I had to drive my sister to a party in the ghetto. I don’t really have anything to say, but I figured I should try to get a post up while it’s still Bastille Day just to mark the date.
July 13, 2007
In comments to the last post pdf23ds links to an informative Wikipedia article about sopaipillas. It explains, among other things, the rather odd spelling of the term; it’s pronounced as if it were spelled “sopapilla” (and commonly spelled that way in Texas according to pdf). It turns out the spelling is due to it being a diminutive of sopaipa, itself a diminutive of the Mozarabic word suppa “bread soaked in oil.” It’s interesting to see that Mozarabic, a Romance language, had adopted the distinctive Arabic diminutive pattern, and it’s also interesting to see how semantic change over time apparently led to two instances of the diminutive form supplanting the original. The pronunciation has now changed so that the i is superfluous, but the spelling retains it as a vestige of Arabic grammar.
As for the item itself, as the article says it’s a staple of New Mexican cuisine but unknown elsewhere in the Hispanic world (although the same word is apparently used for a different thing in South America). If you go into a Mexican restaurant anywhere in New Mexico, there will be a bottle of honey on the table. An entree generally comes with a sopaipilla, and at the end of the meal everyone’s sopaipillas are brought to the table in a basket. Standard procedure is to bite off one corner and pour in some honey, then eat the thing carefully, trying not to spill too much of the honey. It can get rather messy. Stuffed sopaipillas are also common entrees available at many (though not all) restaurants. The filling is basically the same as what you’d get in a burrito. This is what we ordered at the restaurant we went to the other day.
Sopaipillas tend to vary in quality a lot from restaurant to restaurant. There’s a place near my house that has excellent ones, light and crispy, but at many other places they’re heavy and dull, more a perfunctory part of the mealtime ritual than an item given particular attention. I’m not surprised that pdf hasn’t had any good ones in Texas.
New Mexican cuisine is distinctive in many ways, and quite different from Tex-Mex and California Mexican fare (and, for that matter, from the various regional cuisines of Mexico itself). The sopaipilla is just one of the most noticeable examples of a culinary feature unique to New Mexico. You really have to come here to get a good one, but it’s totally worth it.