The Right Way To Eat Indian Food

IMG_2392I freely concede that I am very much a creature of habit.  Some might contend that this is because I am borderline obsessive-compulsive.  I think, instead, that through my years of life experience I have learned that there are just right ways to do some things.  Once you figured out the right way, why in the world would you want to take a different approach?

Consider the proper approach to consumption of Indian food.  When I make a trip to Indian Oven for lunch, I invariably order lamb korma, medium plus on the spice scale.  Why not?  It’s delicious, has the right level of spice to give a flavorful kick to my day, and the portion size is perfect, with just enough food to satisfy my midday hunger without leaving me feeling bloated or leaden during the afternoon.

But there’s a right way to eat this perfect dish, too.  At Indian Oven, the dish of lamb korma is accompanied by a dish of freshly made Basmati rice.  Obviously, the rice is to be consumed in conjunction with the lamb korma — but how?  I suppose you could spoon out partial portions of each and gradually work your way through the servings, but that approach risks misalignment of rice and topping, potentially leaving the diner with either naked rice or leftover korma.  That would be like working through a plate of nachos at a bar and arriving at the end to find that, once again, there is an imbalance of chips and toppings, leaving you in a frustrating chip-less state even though there are still beans, salsa, shredded beef, and rapidly congealing cheese to be consumed.

In the Indian food context, the best way to avoid this unseemly predicament is to promptly combine the rice dish and the lamb korma on your plate, and then carefully mix the two together, so that each grain of rice is well coated with the korma sauce.  You also want to eyeball the meat and egg and potentially divide a few of the larger chunks, with the ultimate goal of enjoying a piece of meat and egg along with the rice on every forkful of curry-laden goodness.  So what if this almost scientific mixing and apportionment process takes a while as your fellow lunch companions gobble down their food?  Life is a journey, not a sprint.

So, what a casual observer (like, say, the Jersey Girl) might mistakenly perceive as almost a form of superstitious ritual is instead a carefully considered, time-tested way of maximizing enjoyment of a favorite dish.  There’s nothing weird about it.  An obsessive compulsive would do something outlandish, like count the grains of rice before mixing them with the korma.

You know, that’s actually not a bad idea.

Exercising The Bike Muscles

IMG_2413I’ve really been a slouch when it comes to riding my bike.  It’s been at least two years, and probably more, since I’ve straddled the Schwinn Caliente and pedaled off.  My bike has been needing new tires and some basic maintenance, and the bumpy brick roadways of German Village aren’t exactly conducive to a thin-wheeled bike, anyway.

This past week, though, Kish got our bikes fixed, and this morning I got up early and decided to take a ride. By staying on Third and Whittier I could stick to smooth asphalt roadways, and that worked out well because my destination was the Scioto Trail bike path on the Whittier peninsula.  It’s a nice, shaded ride along the river, winding past the Audubon Center and under the I-71 bridges, that emerges from the woods at the southern point of downtown Columbus.  If you’ve got the energy and desire you can then head north, past the Scioto Mile park, and join the Olentangy bike path that rolls past Upper Arlington and the campus area.

It was a beautiful morning and I rode for a few miles, turning around when I read the Main Street bridge.  I quickly realized, however, that my years of non-biking had taken their toll.  I can walk forever without a problem, but cycling uses different muscles, and on the way back my thighs were screaming as I labored up the very gentle incline that takes you over the railroad tracks on Whittier.  I desperately fought the urge to hop off and walk my bike up the hill — which would be a horrible embarrassment and egregious confession of failure — downshifted repeatedly to the lowest gear, and kept going at a snail’s pace until I finally made it to the top and could blessedly start coasting again.  Fortunately, I wasn’t passed by any elderly joggers or children on tricycles.

When I acknowledge that biking uses different muscles, I can’t ignore the hindquarters, either.  My keister hasn’t had to deal with a bicycle seat in a while, and it clearly needs some toughening up.



Random Everyday Weirdness

IMG_1265Recently I was walking past one of those planters you see on the sidewalks in urban areas.  You know what I mean — the large concrete boxes where generic plants can be found that might look good for a week or so, but then wither after not being regularly watered, with the planters often ending up as repositories for cigarette butts.  They’re supposed to make the surroundings look better, but normally you pass them by without a second glance.

This planter, though, featured a naked doll figure that had been carefully buried thigh-deep in the dirt.  The doll seemed to be making an intentional, kind of stick-it gesture to the world.  As I walked by, I wondered:  is the doll in fact supposed to be conveying some kind of message?  What’s the back story here?

Such random, everyday weirdness helps to make the world a richer place.

Dog Signage


The umbrella girl fountain is a favorite spot in Schiller Park for many German Villagers.  Water drips from the umbrella into the basin, making a pleasant splashing sound, and the fountain is ringed by benches and large shade trees that make the area cool even on hot summer days.

But there’s apparently a problem:  kids and dogs want to get into the water to cool off even more.  That’s not good for the fountain.  So the solution was to add a sign — in English for the parents of the kids, and in dog language for our canine friends.

Kasey apparently is a good reader, because she’s never tried to climb into the fountain to share space with the umbrella girl.  Good dog, Kasey!


Vacation Whiskers

On our vacation I admittedly let myself go a bit in the grooming department.  Sure, I took care of the basics, with showering and shampooing, but I decided not to shave the not-already-bearded parts of my face and neck.

IMG_2352Somehow, shaving seemed incompatible with towering mountains and wild rivers and hiking and bears and deer every time you turn around.  It’s not just the northern mountains that bring out the non-shaving urge, though — I often don’t shave on beach vacations, either.  In fact, I grew my current beard in 1997 on a family vacation to Florida.  When you’re on a vacation where you hope to get away from it all, scraping your face every day with a sharp blade is one of the things you want to get away from.

But now we’re back to reality in Columbus, Ohio, where there are no mountains to be seen and the only whitewater is found in the jacuzzi at the nearest health club.  And when you’re returning to the real world, it’s time to clean up your act and brace yourself for the rigors of everyday life.  So this morning I lathered up with soap and scraped off those vacation hairs that had been happily growing on my cheeks and neck for the last week or so, and then I trimmed my beard, which was starting to look as overgrown as the old growth forest on the hiking trail to Avalanche Lake.  It was kind of sad, though, to see those vacation whiskers wash down the drain and mark an official end to our holiday at Glacier National Park.

So now I’m properly neat and trim once more.  I’m ready to head to the office.


The World’s Most Complicated Shower

Yesterday we moved over to the east side of Glacier National Park because I wanted to see the famous Many Glacier Hotel, a sprawling wooden lodge located on the shore of Swiftcurrent Lake and facing glaciers in the surrounding mountains.  It’s a decidedly, wonderfully rustic place.

And yet, attached to an old-fashioned claw-footed bathtub with a shower curtain you need to tug around, you will find the world’s most complicated shower.  This gizmo with five separately identified buttons and handles and knobs needed an explanatory sign that listed the eight steps needed to be followed sequentially to get it working and regulate the heat of the water.  

That’s expecting a lot from a traveler just roused from peaceful, mountain air sleep.  I couldn’t quite figure it out, so I took a shower that featured water that felt like it just melted off one of the many glaciers.