Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bon Appetit

This phrase literally translates to "good appetite" or more commonly thought to mean, "Enjoy your meal." Until recently, I had only heard Julia Child's warbley voice say this, but now I hear it almost everyday at the French school where I work. My colleagues walk into the lunch room and say "bon appetit" like they would say good morning at the coffee pot.

Well, I have definitely had a "good appetite" lately because I have been getting to eat at some fantastic NY restaurants. I have had my sweet dad, commonly referred to as Papa Thames, in town this past weekend and a couple friends' parents in town the week before. So, suffice it to say, I have had some incredible meals!

Last weekend, I got to visit "Terrace in the Sky" and eat a classic french brunch with my friend Kelsey and her dad. Any brunch that has courses is just a ridiculous treat! The restaurant is on top of a building that has a beautiful view of Morningside Park and the NY skyline.

The night before Claire's parents treated me to the "The Modern," a restaurant inside the Museum of Modern Art and I feel like I ate ART! We had an EIGHT course meal with wine pairings. I came home and wrote down every course I had so I wouldn't forget them. What can I say, I think I was on a food high! Coolest dish: raw Kobe beef and foie gras squares arranged into a checkerboard and topped with passion fruit seeds. Amazing!

This weekend, my Dad and I went to Babbo, Mario Batali's restaurant in Greenwich Village that serves innovative and delicious italian food. You're not going to find spaghetti and meatballs here, but rather beef cheek ravioli with black truffles. (yummy) You have to get a reservation a month to the day in advance and I am sure glad we did! Such a wonderful memory for my dad and I. Highlight for me was the Pumpkin "Lune" ravioli sprinkled with fresh shaved amaretti cookies.

I love this city, but the eating in it never ceases to amaze me. Whether its dining at one of these fine restaurants or having a greasy burger at JG Melon, it's bon appetit every time!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What's all the hype?

In the book, Tuesdays with Morrie, a dying man says, "The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn't work, don't buy it."

Recently my church, Apostles, has been diving into the subject of hyperreality. What is hyperreality? Officially, it's a term that refers to the inability of humans to distinguish what is actually "real" in a culture where a multitude of media can radically shape and filter our reality. Dumbing it down, it means that we are surrounded by a media drenched world (advertisements, magazines, news, music, internet) that causes us to feel discontent by our ordinary lives.

We strive to look like the girl on the cover of every magazine. Our home should look like Trading Spaces was just there. (I miss that show!) We buy the newest pair of designer jeans because then we'll look better and be accepted. We have to eat at this new restaurant because our friend ate there and it was "life changing." We need to meet the man or woman of our dreams, because then, everything will come together for us.

Face it, these things run through your brain constantly. I think them everyday when I am walking through this crazy city. So what do we do when we have these thoughts? We consume. We consume things, clothes, experiences, people, and with every transaction, we become fulfilled, right? If only I could ____, then everything would be perfect.

Think about facebook...how many unflattering pictures do you have up? How many posts do you have about cleaning your bathroom or discovering that your jeans are too tight? We are an image addicted culture, and this is breading so much unhappiness in our lives.

We are essentially sitting ducks. I did some research and we are exposed to about 3,000 advertisements a day. (I think I see probably even more than that in New York City.) How do you avoid them? How do you avoid thinking that your ordinary life isn't dull when "everyone" around you has such an exciting life?

My answer: try to reassess reality because the reality presented to us is FALSE. Don't think you need to have the perfect outfit, relationship, home, job, vacation plans, or body. You're going to be a mess, forever. I believe that God is the only thing that can fulfill me. He needs to be my reality, He loves me, and He is true. Recently, I have realized the more I look inward, spend my time and money on myself, and focus on me, the more unhappy I become. Maybe we all need to take a huge step back, assess our version of reality, and decide if the culture works for us. What is true in your life? What are you investing in? What makes you happy or unhappy within yourself?

We can't avoid the world, but we can strive for contentment in the our own world. Big G loves you so much and His version of reality is true and real. I hope you'll take some time this week to reflect, find a new version of reality, and with it, happiness.

Love to you,
Pastor Katie

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pomegranate Paradise

I know you've seen them in the store. Inside, they hold the promise of antioxidant heaven and sweet and sour juice. "What a strange fruit," you think. You may have even liked to try one, but how does one deal with that fruit? You pick it up, hmmm. Then you'll probably come to the conclusion that this odd fruit is not worth your time. In other words, you're intimidated. It's ok, I was too, until last weekend.

The grocery stores in NY do such a wonderful job of showcasing what is in season. I had noticed the giant barrel of poms in "Garden of Eden" the week before, and I decided on a particularly dreary Saturday, it was time to face my fears. I picked it up, got home, took out my tools, and set to work.

I have always heard that you should cut into them and slap them on the back with a spoon to get the seeds out. Tried that...nothing happened. Also, the skin is much more fragile than you may assume so I felt this was too violent of a method. Then I just started to dig in with my fingers and easily pop the succulent seeds out. It turned out to be much easier, not to mention kind of relaxing. The seeds sit in these honeycomb like bunches within the fruit, and after about 15 minutes, I had completed the whole pom. All the seeds happily popped into their bowl, awaiting a beautiful fruit salad for brunch the next day.

In conclusion, I urge you to go out and get yourself a pomegranate. Wash the rind, cut it into smallish sections, and pop out the seeds, happily munching them along the way. Then serve them in a salad, on top of yogurt, or float them in a butternut squash soup. They are delicious, and when you finish, you will feel accomplished, happy, and of course, antioxidantized.