I am gonna talk about food....HOLY SON OF JEREL! The food is amazeballs here!

Most of you know I am a foodie in every sense of the word. My mom's husband Peter only recently discovered this because when I visited Texas before making this trek, I went with my sister to the store and in good foodie fashion, picked up the ingredients for a Vegetable Pad Thai and Lemongrass Chicken Lettuce Wraps that rivaled anything a Thai restaurant could come up with...and when he asked how I knew all this it occurred to me it all came from my head based on one previous experience cooking it.

I love to cook even more than I love to eat and while I think the spices of this place are going to give me a run for my money, some of the food I have already encountered is so simple, delicious and reminiscent of cooking I am familiar with that I feel it won't be long before I am mastering simple dishes and working my way towards more complex recipes that involve exotic combinations of spices, herbs, fishes and meats I am not as comfortable with just yet in my culinary experience.

For instance I enjoyed a lamb dish last night. I thought I had relegated lamb to the past for good following a Nanny Diaries-style stint as one myself during graduate school in London for a young, posh, wealthy Cypriot/Lebanese family...but that lamb called last night and crapballs it was good!

I immediately recognized cumin and coriander, two staples in my own kitchen and though I wasn't surprised I was pleased by the use of a bit of cinnamon and what I thought at first was nutmeg and realized a few bites in, was cardamon.

My surprise was not the ingredients to make this dish, but the fact that it was like eating Carne Guisada. (Side note: In my head, I can hear several of my friends, Jason Johnson, Ness Zolan and Patrick Woods each teasing me by mispronouncing the name, rolling their 'r's wrong, saying it really loudly...jerks. You would say it wrong but you ate the hell out any food I cooked!:)))

The dish, like Carne Guisada, was made with thick cut, cubed pieces of fall off the bone tender lamb, the spices and chunk pieces of squash, tomato, zucchini, and onion, likely simmered in water that became a gravy with the fat from the lamb, the spices and probably no more than a tablespoon full of flour of some kind...just like Carne Guisada!

While the spices were slightly different and I am only guessing at the actual cooking method, the result was so similar and add to it the fact that I ate it with a spiced wild rice and flat bread (aka Spanish rice and tortillas), I might as well have been back in my grandmother's kitchen.

I don't know the name of this dish...yet. I was too thrilled with the meal to bother because following a terribly and uncharacteristically rainy day, I was a bit bummed and only thinking of where I could get my hands on some American comfort food. Instead I got a bit of home without traversing a local Mckey D's...and the rich Sago Pudding (a large tapioca with pistachio ground in) topped off the first of many culture treasures of the Arab world I have yet to uncover. Jeezoflip it was a good dinner!Funny how my knowledge of Latin food and TEXAS barbeque and smoking meats seems exotic to people here so...

Thought for the day: look at the food you eat every day and think about how dishes from country to country, culture to culture are so similar even though they have different names. Breads for instance..naan is tortilla is pita is focaccia, is lavash is matzo is chapati is laobing (these are the ones I am most familiar with but the list is likely endless...) If we can find commonality in these things, what else can we find commonality in...besides the fact most of us work in the arts and have no money for it:)))

What's next?