Tag Archives: abroad

Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now

So yesterday marked my last day in Europe. I’ll miss being there, but I really couldn’t wait to see everyone at home and turn my phone off airplane mode (in that order, I promise).

My friends and I basically spent the whole day reflecting on what an incredible, life-changing experience this has been and how lucky we are to have gotten it. I could go on and on about all the things I’ve learned about myself since coming to Ireland, but that’s not what this blog is about. Instead, I want to impress all of you with all of the things I will willingly eat entire plates of now that I’m such a big girl. And if you don’t believe me you can ask my suite mates–they’ve seen me eat this stuff with their own eyes!

So last weekend a couple of us went to Spain where we stayed with a family one of my friends knew. That means I automatically had to eat whatever they gave us because they were being so nice letting us use their apartment and I couldn’t be rude or high-maintenance. Believe me, this realization was very daunting to me.

Our first day there we had the biggest plate of seafood paella I’ve ever seen. I had tried paella when I was in London (because obviously), but it didn’t have seafood in it, so this was very scary for me. I ate most of what was in it, and I can’t even confidently tell you what that was. I did start picking around the squishy stuff after awhile, but my friends can attest to the fact that I ate a full serving of seafood paella. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me.

Look at all that seafood

Look at all that seafood

During lunch we also had chipirones which are basically Spanish shrimp. They are slimy and squishy and a weird purplish-grey color. And I ate TWO! They didn’t have a very strong taste, so it was just the awful texture that I had to get over. To be honest, I think I only ate the second one so that I could write on my blog that I ate two.

So slimy. So squishy.

So slimy. So squishy.

For dessert we had ice cream with fresh strawberries and cinnamon. First thing, this ice cream wasn’t quite vanilla. I can’t remember what made it special but it was this very white, sweet ice cream. Second thing, do y’all remember my post about strawberries? I basically forced that little sliver down my throat. Well, I’m happy to report that I am a bona fide berry-eater now! Third thing, I ate my first bite of this dessert without the cinnamon because I was being ignorant. Once I put the cinnamon in everything changed. It was so delicious. I strongly suggest all of you put cinnamon in your vanilla ice cream. I know I just said whatever I ate wasn’t vanilla, but I’m sure the same principles apply. So yeah, do that.

The rest of the weekend consisted of mostly tapas. I tried lots of them when we were in Madrid (if you don’t know about that, you have been neglecting my blog and I’m mad at you). So this trip just confirmed that I will, in fact, eat these tapas and be very happy to do so. With everything from Spanish tortillas (which are my favorite, by the way) to more jamón Ibérico, I ate lots of tapas for the second or third time that four months ago, I wouldn’t have touched. Good job, me.

Side note: drink sangria de cava

Side note: drink sangria de cava

Conclusion: Besides all of the valuable life lessons and incredible experiences I’ve had in Europe, I’ve also gained a much more balanced and normal repertoire of foods that I will happily eat. At the beginning of the semester I titled my post about eating a strawberry “I’m Such a Big Girl” sarcastically. Today, I titled this post pretty sarcastically again, but also with a little bit of seriousness. I’m probably as big as a twelve-year-old now based on the foods that I’ll eat. And when you compare that to the three-year-old I was in January, I’ve really made a miraculous improvement.

Now that I’m home I will continue to keep this blog going due to popular demand (just kidding), but I’m making no promises that I will continue to improve at such a rapid rate. I spent the semester eating lots of new foods in quick succession. That’s very new for me. I have an excessively long summer break. There’s no need to overdo it too soon.

A Tea Party in London

I spent the last weekend in London with my cousin and told her I wanted to try tea while I was there. She then excitedly insisted that we go to a proper afternoon tea the next day. As it turns out, this was a good call.

Our tea showed up in separate tea pots which I thought was very fancy but also a little intimidating because that’s A LOT of tea to drink if it turns out you don’t like tea. Well it all worked out because I took my first sip, so nicely photographed below by my cousin, and found that I quite liked it. Who woulda thunk it? Hot water and grass? It’s very strange, but I won’t question it.

When in doubt, pinkies out

When in doubt, pinkies out

However, afternoon tea is so much more than just tea. It also comes with a three-tiered platter of little snacks and finger sandwiches. So let me break ’em down for you.

First, there were the sandwiches. One had ham and some kind of mustard. One had something very yellow, but I forget what my cousin decided it was (needless to say, I did not try that one). The other was the classic cucumber sandwich: cucumbers and a mayo-garlic powdery spread. I could’ve lived without the mayo bit, but I had to try a bite because it’s just so English. And also because of The Importance of Being Earnest. Consensus: I don’t know what Algy sees in them.

Moving one tier up, we had the scones. THE SCONES! They were delicious. And tiny. So very very tiny. I’m determined to learn how to make them when I get home so that I can make them big and wonderful. I never understood the appeal to scones before because they just seemed so dry to me. But then I tried them with clotted cream (nasty name, yummy taste) and strawberry  jam, and everything changed. So bottom line, I liked the scones.

Which brings us to the top tier: the pastries. Given my sweet tooth, you’d think this would have been my favorite part. But if you think that, I suggest you re-read the last paragraph. The pastries were OK, but in my opinion, if you’re going to have something so sweet, there better be a lot of chocolate in it. I just don’t see the point otherwise. I mean don’t get me wrong– I ate the pastries. All of them. But I’m just saying, if the restaurant was looking for any constructive criticism: more chocolate, less fruit.

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea is so pretty

At the end of the day I learned that I like tea (so much so that I ordered another cup the next day while I was waiting to board my flight back to Dublin), I love scones with clotted cream and jam, and I constantly want chocolate (OK, that I guess I confirmed more than learned). And I just really liked the whole experience of afternoon tea– I felt very fancy and sophisticated (especially when I took pictures of myself drinking tea– I think that really adds to the look I was going for). It was like a tea party for grown-ups. I like that. Thanks, cousin, for making me try tea the right way instead of out of a Lipton packet. Good looking out.

Afternoon Tea Pic 1

I’m clearly not posh enough for this

My Experience with Coffee in Gilmore Girls GIFs

I started a new internship last week. It’s really good, I like it a lot, the people are all really nice. Blah blah blah. That’s not what this post is about.

On my first day my boss offered me some coffee and to be polite, I accepted. I don’t drink coffee. I’ve had a sip here and there and hated it immensely. Also, my mom is the only person I ever get coffee for and she drinks it with “cream, no sugar”, so that’s what I asked for when my boss asked. It was total instinct, I didn’t even think about it. Had I thought about it I would have said “Sugar, no coffee”. Dumb.

Well since last week I’ve been thinking a lot about my interesting relationship with coffee, and it turns out that my favorite show, as usual, knows exactly how to handle the situation. Gilmore Girls, preach.

My turbulent relationship with coffee actually started last year when someone at Starbucks accidentally put some coffee in my doubly chocolate chip frappuccino (yes, that’s my drink at Starbucks), and I suffered through it only because there were still giant chunks of chocolate in the drink. I spent the rest of the day acting like this:

Gilmore Girls Gif 1

And my friends were all like:

Gilmore Girls Gif 2

And all I could do was be like:

Gilmore Girls Gif 3

So I avoided coffee for the next year or so. That brings us to last week.

My boss offers me a cup and I’m like:

Gilmore Girls Gif 4

Do I Dare?

I dared. And then I spent the next week and a half thinking endlessly about how I downed an entire mug of unsweetened coffee. Even when it got cold! I lost myself. I really did.

Throughout the week I would catch whiffs of other people’s coffee and suddenly get the urge to drink some of my own. I didn’t even enjoy the coffee that much–I drank it because I didn’t know how to say no–and yet the smell triggered some animalistic need within me to have more.

Gilmore Girls Gif 5

I resisted for as long as I could out of fear of myself. Everyone I know is so addicted to caffeine that they can’t start their day until they’ve had a cup of coffee. I don’t need that kind of dependence in my life. Gilmore Girls Gif 6

Gilmore Girls 7

Gilmore Girls Gif 9

Also, there’s only room in my heart for one hot beverage, and that spot belongs to hot chocolate.

But then today happened. I needed to know. I just needed to know if these feelings were real. So I went to a cafe on my lunch break and ordered a mocha (because it has chocolate in it, obviously). Yes, that’s right. I PAID for coffee.

Gilmore Girls Gif 10

And then I felt all light headed and woozy for the rest of the day. I swear, coffee really is a drug.

Gilmore Girls Gif 11I know that’s not the normal reaction to coffee. But clearly we just don’t mix. So now I know. Coffee: not for me. I tried it. I gave it the ole’ Gilmore Girl try, but I just don’t have the taste for it like Rory and Lorelai. Oy with the poodles already, ya know?

At least there are still a few things Gilmore Girls and I still agree on.

Gilmore GIrls Gif 15

Gilmore Girls Gif 12

Gilmore Girls Gif 14Gilmore Girls Gif 13Gilmore Girls Gif 16And now just for some perfection I stumbled upon in the form of one simple picture:

Gilmore Girls Perfect

Believe it, babe.

Believe it, babe.

Thank you, Gilmore Girls, for always knowing just how I’m feeling.

The Picky Eater Goes to Portugal

After eating my way through Madrid, I made my way to Lisbon, Portugal. Surprisingly, most of the restaurants we found were either “American” restaurants (they had hamburgers) or Italian restaurants. The only real Portuguese food we could find was seafood, and I ain’t going down that road just yet.

So most of our meals were ordinary, nothing special. I had chicken fingers and french fries one night and was very happy about it. Another night I had pizza and was equally pleased. We also ate at McDonald’s one night. That one was bad, I admit. I probably liked Lisbon’s food most out of everyone because we ate such boring stuff.

But then there was dessert. While in Sintra, Portugal, we went to a bakery called Fabrica Das Verdadeiras Queijadas Da Sapa (they should really work on that name) where we had three traditional Portuguese pastries. And then life was never the same again.

Our three desserts: Pasteis de Nata (bottom-right), custard (bottom left), sugar cake (top)

Our three desserts: Pasteis de Nata (bottom right), custard (bottom left), sugar cake (top)

First there was the plain custard. It was just a few bites of sweet custard in a little muffin-tin shape. It was wonderful. Also, it was fun to poke with a fork because it was really bouncy. So that was nice.

Next was the Pastéis de Nata. This is the pastry that everyone says you have to try if you’re going to Portugal. Everyone was right. It’s that same custard from above but baked into a pastry shell. So more butter and sugar and flaky goodness, basically.

Last we had a small pound cake-type pastry with cinnamon sugar (but mostly sugar) on top. It was so simple and yet so wonderful. I’ve never enjoyed three chocolate-less desserts so much in my life. I didn’t even know I had it in me. Apparently all it takes is a shovel full of sugar. Good to know.

The Picky Eater Goes to Madrid

I recently got back from spring break where I went to Madrid, Lisbon, and Copenhagen (yes, I do know that my life is awesome). I wanted to try at least one new thing in each place since I know I’ve kind of been slacking on this whole trying new foods thing for the last couple of weeks. Luckily, we ate gooood in Spain.

Our three days or so in Madrid consisted of a lot of tapas-eating and sangria-drinking. The tapas ranged from tostadas with cheese on them to more elaborate dishes like tortillas.

Queso Manchego was probably the most popular tapa in all of the restaurants where we ate. It was literally just a piece of toasted bread with some Manchego cheese on top and a drizzle of oil. It was good, but that is one simple signature dish. How did the Spaniards get away with that while the Italians have to slow roast garlic before putting it into a pot of tomato sauce to simmer all day while they roll out handmade pasta dough? The extra 45 seconds it would have taken to melt the cheese onto the bread would have made this dish a lot better, but whatever Spaniards, you do you.

Queso Manchego and the tapas with ham and shrimp

Queso Manchego and the tapas with ham and shrimp

Next was the variety of jamón (Spanish for “ham”) tapas that we ate. These mainly consisted of a crostini with some sort of cheese and a slice of jam on top. They were quite delicious. I was skeptical because that’s how I am with things that aren’t chicken or french fries, but this ham was way better than the stuff you get at the deli counter in the grocery store. Me gusta jamón. There was even one where the cheese was melted over the ham. It was perfect. It was like the chef had read my mind after eating the unmelted Queso Manchego and then made this tapa specifically for me. That was so nice of him. I love that guy.

Melted cheese, hallelujah!

Melted cheese, Hallelujah!

On the same plate were some other crostinis, these ones with different toppings. I tried one with this thick shrimp spread over it because my friend said it was crab…people, man. It all worked out for the best, though, because the shrimp spread was actually pretty good. Another weird thing about my eating habits: I’ve eaten shrimp with garlic sauce at Chinese restaurants since I was a little kid, but I never eat shrimp in any other dish. I don’t know why, but I think it might have something to do with the fact that the Chinese restaurants cover it in sauce so I can’t see how shrimpy it looks. Yes, my condition is that serious. Well, anyway, thanks to my friend’s error, I tried shrimp in a different setting and found out that I don’t spontaneously combust upon consumption! Yay learning!

We had another tapa, but I can’t remember what it was called. It started with a piece of bread (are you seeing a trend here?) and had a tomato-based spread over it. It was kind of like pizza but without the cheese. It was decent. I ate it. But cheese, you know?

The Spanish tortilla and the tapa with tomato spread

The Spanish tortilla and the tapa with tomato spread | Props to my, girl, Kayla, for taking these photos

Lastly, we have the tortillas. In Spain, tortilla doesn’t refer to the wrap that we use for tacos and stuff. In this case, it was some combination of potatoes and eggs baked in a shallow, circular pan to make a kind of potato-ey pie. That was an awful explanation–the truth is I don’t really know what it was. The best way I can describe it is like a potato omelette. But it was good. And gooey. Which makes it seem gross. It kind of looked gross. But you knew I was going to like it at the mention of potato.

Overall, Spain gave me a chance to try a lot of new foods because we ate tapas for every meal–a lot of different small dishes. I’d say out of everywhere we went this break, I probably ate the best in Madrid. The bread, the cheese, the ham: yum. Oh God, and the churros! I almost forgot the churros! España, te quiero mucho.

Viva el Taco!

If you’re going to live in Ireland for almost four months, you’re going to eat a taco. Obviously. Like all Irish people do. All the time. So it should come as no surprise that I tried my first taco today.

I got a crunchy shell filled with chicken, salsa, and cheese. I didn’t get sour cream because that stuff is nasty and no blog or peer pressure can get me to try that. I also didn’t get guacamole, but that was mainly because the lady just walked past it and I didn’t really care enough to flag her down. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Beth, you’ve had all these foods that were in your taco before! IT’S DIFFERENT!

It came with 3 tacos, and I ate them all. :O

It came with 3 tacos, and I ate them all. :O

Here’s why:

  1. I have this weird thing about mixing foods. Basically, I don’t do it. So just because I may like both chicken and salsa, doesn’t mean I want to eat them together.
  2. I don’t like cold cheese. In fact, if I knew the cheese wasn’t going to be melted I probably wouldn’t have been brave enough to try it (you all just realized how serious my condition is).
  3. The salsa was super chunky and consisted of big pieces of tomatoes and onions. I don’t really do that…

The verdict? I liked it! I ate the whole thing! I added some hot sauce for MORE flavor! WOW!

I’m going to be honest, I’m still not a fan of cold cheese, but I suffered through it to get to the yummy chicken and salsa (together). I also learned something very weird about myself: I only have a problem with big chunks of tomatoes and onions when I can see them. Most of the time I couldn’t because the taco shell and the cheese were covering them. But every once in awhile there’d be a piece of tomato on the edge of the shell and I would flick it off as though I could never eat that which is absurd because I had obviously already eaten a lot of that. I’m weird. H8 ON ME H8AS.

#TacoSelfies

#TacoSelfies

I’m happy to report that I have officially added a new food to my diet that I can now rely on when at a Mexican restaurant with friends and in that awkward position of trying to figure out if the chef will make me chicken fingers and French fries. Yayy!!

I’m Such a Big Girl

It’s time for another exciting adventure of The Picky Eater Chronicles! What did I try this time? Was it salmon? Was it caviar? Was it escargot? No!

It was a strawberry!

One thing that shocked my suite mates most about my eating habits was that I’ve never eaten a berry. I like strawberry yogurt, but I pick around the little strawberry pieces because I don’t like the texture. So while in Brussels, Belgium this weekend, my friend gave me a sliver of strawberry with a tiny bit of melted chocolate on it (but I couldn’t even taste the chocolate, so I don’t think that counts).

Me being super cute right before I try my first berry. Momentous occasion.

Me being super cute right before I try my first berry. Momentous occasion.

Verdict: It really wasn’t that bad. I made a face after I ate it and didn’t have any more, but the more I thought about it the more open I was to it. It was much better than the pieces in my yogurt, anyways.

When I got back from Belgium my other suite mate gave me a blueberry. Those things are so weird looking. Again, it wasn’t so bad. And again, I stopped eating after one. But I think I’d try either berry again. They didn’t make me vomit so that’s a plus on their side.

So now my suite mates can shut up about me never having eaten a berry because I’ve had TWO! I’m such a big girl.