1) Open your fridge, notice the first six things your eye falls upon, and cook something tasty using at least three of them. You may exclude beverages and all the leftover jams and jellies from your gaze, and include other ingredients.
I assume you'd like to know what I made :)
The timing of this question was particularly good, since our fridge is nearly empty in preparation for the gluttinous festivities later this week.
First six things I saw: milk, maple syrup, butter, eggs, cheese, mysterious brown stuff (I was later informed this is leftover frosting). And since I get to exclude beverages, there's also some chicken.
What I'd make (although I settled for bagel and stinky illegal cheese, in real life) from these is my favorite food standby these days: scrambled eggs. With milk, butter, cheese and eggs, and maybe some of that chicken, I'd be in good shape. Some of my freshly dried basil and a dash of chili and I'd be all set for a tasty meal!
2) What is a typical Thanksgiving like at Casa Rosa?
Hmm. My typical Thanksgiving is varied, but it always contains: Goodness. And poultry. Those are the only things that I've had every year.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I had a good baseline conception of it from my childhood, when we always had a great dinner with really fabulous folks, often a similar bunch, but sometimes shifting into new sets. We always had great food and, in general, a really warm, pleasant, happy evening that made it super easy to be thankful for all of life's blessings in the forms of friends, family, food and companionship. Not to mention some really funny stories.
Since going to college, my Thanksgivings have been eclectic. My first Thanksgiving away from home, I spent with my cousin Joanna. We had dinner with a couple of her friends and the next day she got her wisdom teeth pulled. It was really fun, although maybe you had to be there. It was vastly different from the up-'til-then traditional form, which, I think, was good, because it was weird not to be home for it, and I think it would have felt fake to have a close-but-not-quite sort of celebration. The next year, I went to my friend Honora's family's celebration, which WAS a lot like our family's dinner, but bigger and more formal. Also a blast. The next year, I went to my former roommate's mom's house, for a small, warm celebration. And the year after that, to my friend, Catherine's family's place. Small and nice.
My first year in Boston, I went to Cathy's house in CT where we had a very small dinner with 3 Americans and one baffled Brit. It was great. The year after that, is it possible I did the same thing? I don't remember. The next year, Aileen and I went to Chinatown for lunch and then made chicken soup. The next year, I was with ghislaine and crew, and I may have done that the following year, too? They begin to blur. I went back home for Thanksgiving two years ago for the first time since leaving for college, and last year, of course, I was in Guatemala, where a bunch of American students got together for a big feast. No pies, but a delicious turkey.
So, long answer to a short question, but Thanksgiving remains a favorite holiday for me, even with its questionable historical underpinnings. What's not to like about a day of delicious food, good company, and the opportunity to reflect on all the goodness that life has to offer?
3) You're an atheist who majored in religion. That must be an interesting trip. Had you concluded you were atheist before declaring? Did that grant you an experience of the material that your theist classmates couldn't participate in? Likewise, did that cut you off from an experience or understanding of the subject that your theist classmates had?
Actually, and perhaps weirdly, at Williams, most of the religion majors are atheists or at least pretty serious agnostics. In my class, we were 12 religion majors, only one of whom was a theist, and he was one of the most interesting folks, as you might imagine.
The religion major was something of a crash course in anthropology, sociology, philosophy and psychology, focused primarily around the phenomena of religion. It was a heavy dose of critical thought, and it tends to draw folks who are already inclined to think critically about religion, which, like it or not, tends to be people who aren't believers. It takes a serious faith to do that course of study and maintain one's faith, and not a lot of people even attempted it, much less managed to pull it off.
I've been an atheist pretty much since I got over the idea of god as some bearded cloud-guy. I had a friend try to win me over to the joys of Christianity in high school, but it didn't work. I've dabbled with wifty crystal gazing, but it didn't catch, either. In the end, I'm just a bloody skeptic. What the religion major did for my belief, though, was to wobble it. So I'm an agnostic atheist: I don't think there's a god, but what I'm pretty sure about is that it's impossible to know. The divine is utterly unknowable: If we can experience it, it's not the divine. If it's the divine, we can't experience it.
And I did the religion major because I always did want to figure people out. I'm still working on that one.
4) Why Guatamala? How fluent in Spanish were you before you arrived?
I like to think that I picked Guatemala after a long and thorough investigation of the various Latin American countries where I could have done language immersion and volunteer work, but, really, I'd always had Guatemala in my head as a place that I wanted to go, so I think all the research I did was just to back up my original idea. I wanted to go there because of worry dolls and beautiful fabric and rich culture and Spanish immersion and volcanoes and mountains and...
You get the idea.
My Spanish was very rusty high school Spanish. I had a firm grasp on the present tense and was able to make myself understood to hotel clerks, cab drivers, and food vendors, though not without effort. My background was, however, additionally helpful in the learning process, as a lot of the grammar points I was "learning" in the first couple of weeks were actually review (review of stuff I'd all but forgotten, yes, but review, to some degree, nonetheless.) so I moved very quickly.
5) What's in your reading pile these days?
I'm reading To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, borrowed from blivious after I mentioned how much I'd enjoyed Passages while I was in France. Kalpa Imperial by Angélica Gorodischer is my first Spanish sci fi (not transated from English), but I'm disappointed that it's actually short stories rather than a novel. I have a couple of books by Isabel Allende that miss_chance loaned me several months ago that I still haven't started. dbang has sold me on Native Tongue but I need to find a copy of it. I think there's a new Laurie R King mystery out that I haven't read yet, and I'm due to reread some of her others. And, finally, miss_chance reminded me about Elemental Passions by Luce Irigaray, from which I get my email .sig and I think I'd like to reread it by the end of the year, too.