Tag Archives: eating

Cruisin for a bruisin

Yes, that is a Grease reference. My second favorite line is the bit about the hickey from Kenickie being like a Hallmark card. Teehee.

I have now been at work for a few days post my epic cruise vacation with Momma Sassy. And let me tell you, is it depressing or what. Originally I had thought I’d return to the office rejuvenated, refreshed, relaxed, and ready to re-work. And I was wrong. All I have been thinking about these past days is the cruise, the awesome times I had, the multiple naps per day, and the room service. I still haven’t gone grocery shopping because I can’t stop thinking about the food. And more than ever I’m wanting to leave work the minute I arrive and go sit by the pool. My neighborhood pool isn’t nearly as nice as the ship’s pool obviously, but it’s a pool nonetheless and I want to sip a frothy drink next to it. Or in it. Maybe this is coming off as complaining. Which is fine, because that’s basically what it is. Ha.

Moving on. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been on a cruise. Hands in the air people. I can see you through your webcam. The internet is a scary place. And so is a cruise ship when it comes to scary people. A cruise ship is better than Myrtle Beach on spring break for people watching. There are all kinds of people, ranging from first-time cruisers buried in their deck 2 stateroom with just a port hole to look out of, to the super swanky rich people throwing cash about at the Craps table in the casino. Big families with lots of small children, old retired couples who have been on 50 plus cruises just in the last 15 years. Newlyweds. Mother-daughter duos. The clientele runs the gamut, and provides ample entertainment outside of the theater for all aboard.

My first cruise-clientele-related observation involved the number of old people on our ship. Since this cruise took place at the end of May, I had assumed and been told to expect lots of college students. Graduations had just happened up and down the east coast, and fresh coeds were sure to populate the tiny staterooms and fill the dining room with raucous laughter. Wrong. Graduations may have just occurred, but the only people celebrating that on this cruise were the grandparents. And great-grandparents. And possibly even great-great-grandparents. I’m telling you, these people are old. There was a daily and nightly parade of Hoverounds and walkers, with wheels and without. Instead of complaining about strollers rolling away and hitting me, it was walkers. And automatic wheelchairs with occupants who have poor to terrible eyesight, much less depth perception. Have you ever seen one of these things pull a U-y? Probably not, since they pretty much all require a 9 point turn. I don’t want to bash Hoveround. Maybe it’s like we say at the office: Problem exists between keyboard and chair. In automatic wheelchair turns, it might be simply: Problem exists…in chair. Or something. Anyhoo, this provided us with a total of at least 10 cumulative hours of entertainment over the 9 days.

And I don’t want to hate on the elderly who have trouble getting around and need assistance. The chair is an awesome idea and I saw it work well for many elderly folks who otherwise couldn’t get from dinner to the show in under 45 minutes, traveling down a flight of stairs and a short hallway. But some of these jokers in automatic wheelchairs really don’t need them, and it really sticks in my craw. To me, those kinds of conveniences and services should be provided to those who really need it – like the old folks with bad knees and hips, arthritic joints, etc. If you are not elderly and disabled, you are just a lazy fatass. And if you walked rather than rolled yourself around, I bet you wouldn’t be so large. I’m not sorry.

You know what else is funny? The showers. And you know what got old after the 200th time? The jokes about the showers. People love making these cracks on how small the staterooms are and how tiny the bathroom is. I’ll admit. It is pretty darn small. Last entry I compared the bathroom we had to a port-o-john plus a shower. That is a pretty accurate estimation. And yes, the shower was ridiculously small, but Momma and I are pretty small ladies, both measuring under 5’2 and weighing in at…um let’s just say we both weigh under 122. Accurate? Yes. Precise? No. Moving on. This means the shower, while a little tight (TWSS) was a decent fit (TWSS). But we’re not overweight. I would guestimate that roughly 90% of the cruisers on this ship were at least considered overweight, if not outright obese or morbidly obese. Mum and I puzzled over how some of these people even bathed at all during this trip, seeing as they were all SO LARGE.

Other things cruisers love: free stuff. Or close to free stuff. On the last day at sea, the shops on board had a crazy sale in which they sell things for $10, ranging from hats and scarves to necklaces, bracelets, watches, clutches, and other goodies. It is an awesome sale. Except I saw a couple old ladies being trampled by larger, more robust old ladies. And I was shoved out of the way so one woman could examine a necklace/earring combo in front of me. I mean it was straight up out of a movie where the women are like jungle cats pouncing on innocent antelope/necklaces. Never have I seen a woman horde handfuls of jewelry and clutch 7 clutches to her chest like it’s the food that will save her from starvation. Trife.

Unrelated: tomorrow is my 24th anniversary of being born. Get excited.

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Roses are red, violets are blue, your family is crazy and so are you!

Like my rhyme? I thought it was clever. This past weekend was the beloved and ever-popular Lebanese Food Festival, hosted by the beloved and and beautiful families of St. Anthony’s Maronite Catholic Church in Richmond’s West End. It is a fun-filled weekend of eating, dancing, laughing, enjoying at least one thunderstorm, eating, and if you’re a parishioner, it includes chopping chicken, parsley, garlic, and other very ethnic and strong-smelling ingredients for the “white people” to consume. All proceeds benefit the church and a foundation which supports and cares for orphans in Lebanon. It is a noble cause, and a fab time.

Anywhoooos. This weekend had me thinking about My Big Fat Greek Wedding and how everyone thinks that movie is a joke. However, I’m here to convince you that the movie is completely fact-based and a truthful conveyance of practices, and is actually based on every and any ethnic family in the whole world. Let’s discuss.  [PS can we please check out the cast list of this movie? It is like an alliance of Greek and Italian mob members!]

1) Eat something! This is a classic line from MBFGW, said multiple times and in multiple contexts, but the most notable of these is when Toula tells her mother she’s in love with Ian: “But Ma, I love him!” To which her mother logically replies, “Oh Toula! Eat something!” And walks away. Eating is a common concept which heals all evils across many ethnicities. Anyone who has any kind of strong heritage will tell you it’s not a Greek thing, it’s a Polish thing! Or it’s an Ethiopian thing! Or even it’s an American thing! But I still maintain that no one does eating like the Mediterranean cultures (I am loyal to my main heritage, the Italians, and honestly think we are the best eaters but Lebanon and Greece come in close second). So while at the Lebanese Food Festival, I probably encountered some form of this “eat something!” mantra at least 4 times per each hour I was there. The most memorable, other than the times in which I was commanded to eat more, happened when I was sitting at a picnic table with another family. 3 elementary aged girls, their mother or aunt, and a grandfather. Not even sure it was their grandfather but in this place, it doesn’t matter. Every grandfather is a grandfather to every child. So he’s standing there, the girls are giggling and talking with each other and the mother, and on the table is a plate of un-eaten cheese pies. No one is paying these cheese pies any attention and suddenly Jiddoo (Arabic for “grandfather”) points to the pies and demands that the girls eat them: “Who’s are these? Eat them!” Which he then repeats in Arabic, lest anyone not understand his demand to consume. He subsequently walks away shaking his head. The little girls eye the pies on the plate and each take one and start nibbling with looks of boredom on their faces. It’s normal, the demand to eat, and with such good food, who wants to say no!?

2) Marriage and babies. Toula says in the beginning of the movie, “There are three things that every Greek woman must do in life: marry Greek boys, make Greek babies, and feed everyone.” At St. A’s, there is no “Lebanese School” and they don’t necessarily come right out and teach lessons like “If Nick has one goat, and Maria has nine, how soon will they marry?” But God help you if you are single! Singleness is almost a disease, and if you are single for too long, there’s something wrong with you, but it’s ok because Lawwwwd do they have a match for you! And you will make beautiful children, so why not! Yenta is a Jewish name, but an easily translatable occupation. Right? Of course right! In my family, Yenta’s name is Momma Sassy and all of Twin’s aunts.

Example: While at the festival I was, as usual, hanging out with/clinging to Twin and Mimi (Mimi is Twin’s actual sister and my non-sister, since I clearly am an only child by birth, but blessed with these ladies as my pseudo sisters. Love you girls) as we eat, walk around, watch the dancing, listen to the ethnic music, and carry massive bowls of parsley to and from the food booth. At any given moment, if there was an aunt around (similar concept to the grandfathers: she doesn’t have to be your aunt, but you still call her “Aunt” and she knows you like she is your aunt), she would grill one or all three of us about our love lives. “Twin! Are you seeing anyone? Have you met Anthony?” “Mimi! I know you’re dating that boy, but how serious is it? I have a friend who has a nephew who is perfect for you! Oh you’re related to him, that’s right…” “Miss Sassy! Haven’t seen you in forever, how’s your boyfriend!? Oh! You don’t have a boyfriend! Well…” *devious scheming look that only moms and aunts have* “Come with me, you need to meet Anthony!” Oy. A few things of note here: remember how everyone is named “Nick” in MBFGW? Everyone here is named Anthony. Also, everyone in the church is related. And if you’re not related, you marry into that family which makes you related. Which means that, luckily for Twin and Mimi, they are not available to most the young men in the church as there is some kind of familial tie which binds them and prevents another tie from being tied. I, on the other hand, being an adopted Daughter of Lebanon and not an actual blood relative, am available to pretty much every un-married young (or old) man in the entire congregation. I keep a low profile so as not to be noticed or set up. It rarely works, but I like to pick my own, thanks.

3) 40 first cousins. As I mentioned above, practically everyone at this church is related. There are something like 5 or 6 main families, and they are the oldest Lebanese families in the area and have been attending St. A’s forever since whichever Jiddoo immigrated from Lebanon. Every or most families make trips to Lebanon to visit family, and thoughts of shipping daughters back to the motherland to find a husband is not a joke. The families set up sons and daughters to marry each other and the family cedar tree grows. Twin and Mimi have something like 4 times the amount of first cousins I have, and the circle of 2nd cousins grows exponentially and in general is too difficult to keep track of. And if you find a “white person” to marry, they better integrate themselves into the culture because otherwise awkwardness ensues. Picture Rodney and Harriet Miller drunk from ouzo and saying no-thank-you to “Greek meat, very good!”

4) Family be all up in your business, 24/7. Lots of times this is not an ethnic thing. If you have a big family or even a small family, if you’re close, they likely know too much about you for your comfort. But again, it seems the Mediterranean cultures do this best. They are always together all the time, eating all the time, gossiping, and sharing in each other’s joys, sorrows, accomplishments, and failures, whether they like it or not. Sort of ties into point #2 about marriage and setting up every available daughter with every available son. Toula explains to Ian the complexities and annoyances of her family by saying, “…Everybody is in each other’s lives and business, all the time! Like, you never just have a minute alone! Just to think! ‘Cause we’re always together, just eating, eating, eating!” And this is so true, but it is also true that while at times we all sometimes just want to be away from all the ethnicity and maybe have a small family with 2 first cousins instead of 27, deep down you know you’d never trade them in. At the end, Toula admits she would never do such a thing: “My family is big and loud but they’re my family. We fight and we laugh and yes, we roast lamb on a spit in the front yard. And where ever I go, what ever I do they will always be there.” I have never seen any lamb roasting on a spit in anyone’s front yard, and at the festival I’m fairly sure they marinate the meat in something delicious and roast it in an oven instead of on a spit, but the rest of the line is accurate. All aunts are freaking crazy. If their kids are too young to date, they will live vicariously through whichever niece or nephew is closest and attempt to set them up with any decent looking halfway respectable boy or gal they know. And you can’t hate, because you will do the same when you’re an aunt with 3 kids in 10 to 20 years (we don’t want to rush these things – 30 is not an expiration date ladies).

Love your family. They are crazy in the head sometimes most all the time, but you are not alone. Every other person on the planet has some kind of crazy relative or family situation. And you are just as crazy as they are and don’t realize it. So don’t be a hypocrite. Plus, sometimes those aunts know some really cute boys, so maybe you should keep an open mind…