Sunlit Water

December 23, 2008

Contrarianism We Can Believe In

Filed under: Culture,Food,Land — by teofilo @ 4:08 pm

Out of the blue, Yglesias notes that, contrary to popular belief, hunter-gatherer societies are much better off than settled agricultural societies in just about every way.  This seems very odd from the perspective of a modern industrial society like ours, which grew out of a preindustrial agrarian society, but the evidence for it is actually overwhelming in both the archaeological and ethnographic records.  The implications of this are as disturbing as they are unavoidable, which may be why it doesn’t get much attention in public discourse.


June 17, 2008

To Go

Filed under: Food,Personal — by teofilo @ 10:32 pm

I’m not the sort of person who likes to take leftovers home from a restaurant. I don’t like carrying things or having to keep track of things, and I’m almost always hungry enough to eat the entire portion that I’m served. My girlfriend, on the other hand, takes leftovers home as a matter of course. She seems to have a smaller appetite than mine in general, and she’s definitely more thrifty about food. When she was in college she spent a year in France, and she says the employees at restaurants and cafés always had a hard time with her constant requests to take things home, although they would grudgingly let her.

I’ve been to Europe twice and I ate out a lot both times, but given my dislike of taking things home and tendency to clean my plate, exacerbated by the smaller portions, I never noticed that people didn’t take food home or that the option wasn’t offered.  This post by Chris Bertram, who is British, implies that this is a general European thing, apparently linked to the smaller portions, so I suppose it must have been the case in the countries I visited (Spain and Hungary).

It’s funny the little differences that you never notice because you’re not looking out for them, isn’t it?

January 18, 2008

Now What?

Filed under: Dating,Food,Personal — by teofilo @ 11:18 am

I’ve been trying to keep from cluttering up Unfogged with my dating issues, so I’m putting this over here instead. Most of you are probably familiar with the backstory here from my comments there, but I’ll start from the beginning anyway.

So there’s this place near my office where I go to lunch a lot. One of the waitresses there has, over the past few couple months, been getting increasingly friendly and flirtatious toward me when I come in, to the extent that lately she’s been coming over to my table and chatting for a couple minutes before even taking my order. She cute and I like talking to her, so I’ve been eating there every Friday because I know she works then.

I had been considering asking her out for a long time, as her flirtatiousness got more and more obvious, so last Friday I did. When she gave me my check she asked if she would see me next week, and I said yeah, but if she wanted to get together some other time and place I would be interested. She expressed some interest in getting a drink or something, so I asked if that weekend would work. She said she worked on Saturday and wasn’t sure what she had to do on Sunday, so I said I would just write my number and e-mail address on the check and she could get back to me whenever. She liked that idea, so I wrote down my contact information on my copy of the check and left it on the table when I left.

Now it’s a week later, and I haven’t heard from her. I really can’t figure out why. It could be that she doesn’t actually want to go out with me and was just humoring me, but that seems unlikely judging both by her previous behavior and by the fact that she presumably expects me to show up today; if she didn’t want to, she could have easily said no, and avoided the inevitable awkwardness. She could also want to, but have been busy or something and be figuring that not calling isn’t that big a deal since she’ll see me today anyway. Or maybe she lost the number or something. There’s really no way to tell at this point.

So given all that, should I go there for lunch today? It’s the only way to know for sure what’s going on, but the potential for awkwardness and/or disappointment is pretty high. I’m pretty conflicted and am really not sure what I should do, so I appreciate any advice anyone can give me on this.

Update: I went, and it went okay, I guess.  She was her usual chatty self, not quite as much so as last time, but well within her usual range.  She didn’t say anything about last time, so neither did I.  When she brought me the check she hesitated for a moment, as if thinking about saying something (or expecting me to say something), but it was only a moment, and then she walked away.  So I’m not really sure what the deal is, but we’re definitely still on good terms.

December 31, 2007

Checking In

Filed under: Food,Personal,Urban Living — by teofilo @ 4:25 pm

It seems those no-good fuckers at Starbucks, in league with the even-less-good fuckers at T-Mobile, have started to charge for their wireless, leading me to completely waste a couple bucks on their shitty coffee before I discovered a better coffee place further down the same block that has actual food in addition to free wireless.

In other news, UnfoggeDCon was delightful, I have no internet access at the place where I’m staying, and I’ll have to be heading back there soon, so I probably won’t be around online for another day or two.  Just so you know.

November 13, 2007

Yes, I Really Am That Shy

Filed under: Food,Personal — by teofilo @ 1:54 pm

So I went to lunch today at a place I often go to and ordered what I always order when I go there, but when they brought it out it turned out that they had made a mistake and given me something very similar (and basically identical-looking) but with ingredients that I can’t stand.  After taking a couple of bites and realizing this, I sat there for about ten minutes wondering if I should go up to the counter and tell them, or wait for a server to come nearby, or what.  I wasn’t very hungry, so there wasn’t much of a sense of urgency to it, but the longer I waited the more ridiculous it seemed that I would wait so long to say something.  Eventually I just decided not to bother, finished my drink and went home.

On the way home I saw a roadrunner, so it wasn’t all bad.

August 10, 2007


Filed under: Culture,Food,Language,Personal — by teofilo @ 11:04 pm

My sister, holding up the bag she’s putting the leftover challah in: You know why I need this?

Me: No, why?

My sister: Because I’m a challah bag girl.

July 14, 2007

Allons Enfants

Filed under: Food,Personal — by teofilo @ 11:21 pm

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

More About Sopaipillas

Filed under: Culture,Food,Language — by teofilo @ 1:31 am

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.

July 10, 2007


Filed under: Culture,Food,Personal — by teofilo @ 11:39 pm

For lunch today some of my coworkers took me to El Modelo’s.  It’s in a particularly hard-core part of Barelas, right by the railyard, and the lunchtime crowd there was heavily old-school Hispanic.  We ordered stuffed sopaipillas, which are their specialty, and they turned out to be excellent and amazingly filling (and cheap; less than $3 each!).  The people in our party who had been there before said that the service is usually extremely fast, but while we were there the sopaipilla machine apparently broke and it took them 40 minutes to get us our food, making us late getting back to the office.  It was totally worth it, though.  If you’re ever in Barelas, give it a try.

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