Archive for March, 2008

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not featured in Food and Wine Magazine

March 29, 2008

Awhile back Linda from Milwaukee wrote to ask if I had had the chance to sample any of Maine’s local cuisine. I think that was the question. It was something like that. Anyway, it got me thinking. Other than lobster, chowder, blueberries, maple syrup – you know, the standards – was there any other food that is special to Maine that tourists don’t already know about?

Every Thursday I’ve been going to a local potluck dinner, and I took my question to my new local friends and the resounding answer was Red Hot Dogs and Moxie. They implied that this is what the true tourists should eat if the trip they are taking is a tour of Maine’s, ah, lower-brow attractions. So excited were they by my intention to delve into the goodness of local cuisine that these same friends – dyed in the wool Mainers, all – went out the very next week and bought some red hot dogs, just for me.

I had originally asked, “when you say red hot dog…do you mean RED? like the color red? like the hot dog is actually red?” Yes, Einstein, it turns out that is exactly what they mean. As to whether the red hot dogs are actually any good, a debate popped up between the Red Hot Dog Haters and the “Red Hot Dogs Taste Like Regular Hot Dogs” contingent. They couldn’t seem to agree if red hot dogs taste any different than regular hot dogs. And before you start thinking that this alone may preclude consumption of the RHD, let me assure you that I do love me a good hot dog from time to time.

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Anyway. So the RHD gets grilled up and presented to me and I have to say, that was a darn good dog. The only noticeable difference was that it had a peculiar snapping consistency – it’s the casing that’s red and it’s crispier than usual. But overall, on the grand scheme of encased meat on a bun, thumbs up. My new friends were quite proud, with the exception of the contingent that still maintained that red hot dogs taste like butt.

What we didn’t have at this table of goodness, however, was Moxie. Moxie is a soft drink, and it was invented way back before Pepsi and Coke. Made here in Maine, it was originally some sort of medicinal tonic. The makers advertised it as a great cure-all for dementia and impotence, and if that doesn’t make you want to run right out and buy a case, well, more fool you. I looked it up online, and Moxie is the official soft drink of the state of Maine. (like, Maine, seriously?)

How have I not heard of this?

Anyway, no Moxie was provided on the night of the RHD, so I made it my mission to find some. I won’t bore you with the story of how I tried to find it in several local stores, but I will tell you about the local grocery store where I had to ask at the counter if maybe they sell Moxie? Even though I don’t see it? Like, maybe in the back, do you have any Moxie?

There was a man buying beer at the counter on the day I asked, and this wasn’t just any beer. This was one single malt liquor tall boy kind of beer, the 40 ounce variety, cheapest on the market, and he was buying just one. At 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. Which is kind of all I need to tell you about the way he smelled. When this man – a man who will clearly drink anything – heard me asking about Moxie he leaned over and warned, “you don’t want to drink that. That stuff is bad.”

WELL. I am not easily frightened. (Ok, maybe I am, but I am not easily deterred.)

I have found Moxie. I have bought one single bottle of it, and it is sitting on my kitchen counter looking at me. And here’s the thing – when I saw my Thursday night friends this week I mentioned that I had found Moxie and that I was going to drink it, and they laughed. And said they want to be there when I drink it. So I think I’m going to bring the Moxie to the next potluck dinner, and maybe I’ll even record the whole event in case I ever need to use it to prove that I, too, can be a Mainer. I have been eyeing the bottle of Moxie on the counter now for a couple of days, and I swear if that thing could talk it would be saying, I dare you.

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signs I may be trying to do too much

March 27, 2008

Ran a bubble bath.

Took a business call.

Read an email.

Forgot about said bubble bath.

Opened up a radio script.

Answered a different email.

Went into bathroom at the exact minute that it was about to overflow.

Turned off tap. Thought, Holy Shit.

Took its picture.

Took the bath. Struggled to keep my head above the bubbles. Kind of enjoyed that. But also kind of thinking that’s a good analogy for how I’m feeling these days. Yeah. Trying not to drown in a bath I poured myself.

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Los Desaparecidos

March 26, 2008

So the weather here is remarkably suck-free today. There is sunshine, and bird song, and a high of 45! While I suspect that this is merely a come-on, a big fake out until the next winter storm (’cause Mother Nature pretty much always gets the last word) I can’t help but feel kind of hopeful about the whole thing.

(Are we all impressed that I have become enough of a Mainer that my chief topic of conversation these days seems to center around the weather? All in 2 short months. This is what endless winter and blustering wind does to a person. Honestly.)

On another note…. (I know, I know, thank GOD, another note), if you are in Chicago, then go see this…my dear friend Barb Lhota wrote this play, and Babes with Blades is premiering it in April. I am bursting with pride. Oh, and go read this while you’re at it. The press articles have begun.

ALSO, guess what? Lisa’s in it too!

Los Desaparecidos. (The Vanished.) Promo picture below. How cool is that?

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a clarification on the weathah

March 25, 2008

My sister wanted to know if it has stopped snowing. And if it’s getting warmer. Doesn’t that picture of the seagulls in the last post make it all look rather spring-like?

It has stopped snowing. But it is very much not warmer. The sun is brilliant, almost blinding, over the last few days, but the wind is biting. We hover in the low to mid-30’s. Yesterday in the antique store the woman behind the counter asked me how long I’ve been here.

“February through the end of May,” I replied.

“Oh,” she said.

There was a long pause. She looked apologetic.

“Well, ahhhh…May is very nice.”

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driving north

March 24, 2008

Day off. Went to Bath. Checked out the antique shops.

Did not buy a beautiful brown glaze jug for $55. Showed restraint.

Did buy a $5 copy of this book.

Got lost.

Found a kick ass general store.

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Fed the seagulls.

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Went home.

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but let’s not all freak out unnecessarily

March 20, 2008

So….this is Maine. I mean, this is MAINE. Maine is supposed to be moose, and blueberries, and LL Bean and people who say “chowdah.”

It’s not really supposed to be drive-by shootings, but that is rather what seems to have occurred, just half a block down from where I am living. Last Wednesday. The funny thing is that I kind of didn’t even notice. I had to be told about it at dinner tonight by a new friend who said “you live there? did you hear the shots?”

The shots? Why, um, no. I didn’t. Apparently a very nice family was at home, just past 11pm, and someone ran by and shot bullets through their living room window. And they can’t imagine why anyone would do that and now they are moving. (Of course, I can’t help but feeling that someone in the house might just have a teeny, tiny sneaking suspicion why someone might want to shoot up their home, they might just not be telling the police about it. So I’m not particularly worried about getting caught in the crossfire myself.)

Since no one was hurt I’m allowing myself the opportunity to feel a little flippant about the whole thing – because I have to admit, my first thought was huge disappointment that I didn’t get to be a witness.  I’d be such a great witness.  I don’t want to witness anything really awful or traumatic, but a victim-less drive-by shooting would be PERFECT. I’d have near perfect recall for what the perp was wearing, and be able to tell the police which way he went, and it would be my savvy knack for detail that would wrap the case up nicely.

OHHH, and I’d get to testify. We shouldn’t forget that part.

There’s been a fad in the blogging world lately for listing the top 100 things you’d like to do before you die. I won’t bore anyone with my list, chiefly because I don’t have one, but if I did have a list then identifying a criminal on “America’s Most Wanted” would be right up there. When I lived in London I used to watch “Crimewatch UK” religiously. It came on once a month and I think it caught my imagination because in a little country like England the odds are pretty good that if you watch long enough you might actually be able to identify someone. As I came to the end of my years there my hopes started to dwindle and I got more and more disappointed that I’d never have a real reason to call the number on the bottom of the screen. My flatmate Robin was kind enough to volunteer that if it came right down to it I could call and turn him in if the crime wasn’t too terrible.  I miss him.

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I made another $2.00 today

March 17, 2008

I’ve been had. Conned. Bamboozled, even. All this time I thought Maine was giving away free money.  All “putting its money where its mouth is.” All, “this is how we give back.” Like a smaller eco-friendly cute-state version of the upcoming “boost the economy” checks. Check this out:

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I’ve never lived in a place that gives you money back for bottles. Heck, I’ve spent the last 11 years living in a city with one of the worst recycling programs in the nation. So I got all excited when I got to Maine and learned that for every bottle and can I turn in at the “bottle reclamation center,” I get 5 cents back. Do you have any idea how much diet coke I drink? That’s a college education, right there. Three weeks ago I turned in 20 bottles and I got a whole dollar back. A dollar! That I didn’t have before. Illinois wouldn’t have given me a dollar. I could almost afford to buy another bottle of diet coke with money like that. I was very proud of that dollar.

But wait just a minute. The joke IS ON ME. It turns out that free money ain’t so free. You see this????

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Do you see that little phrase on the receipt? That’s right. BOTTLE DEPOSIT. Turns out they charge you 5 cents extra when you buy the bottle in the first place. CHUMP CHANGE.

TRULY.