Meat Heaven

19 07 2008

There is steak. And then, there is churrasco. The Brazilian way to cook and serve meat. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about: The concept is having a choice of meats on skewers, from which the waiters carve pieces of your choice directly onto your plate. In a rotating principle, different waiters with different sorts of meat come by and offer you a slice of whatever they happen to be carrying around. There is little cardboard discs on the table that are green on one side and red on the other. Needless to say, green means go and red means ‚leave me alone, I wanna eat first‘. It’s all you can eat, so there’s a little bit of tactics to the game: If you waste your energy on chicken and sausage, you’ll have less room for all the high-end beef.

I have been acquainted with this specialty ever since my family and me lived in Singapore, which is where I first went to a churrascaria. But it wasn’t nearly as big and as expensive and as pompous as Fogo de Chao in Philadelphia. One of my fellow interns, Henning, discovered this location not long ago and, since he’ll be leaving next week, he took some of us to „meat heaven“ to celebrate the approaching end of his internship with us. So we got there, had a little „appetizer“ at the bar and were then guided to our table. We ordered wine (42 $/bottle) and headed for the humongous salad bar, which had everything to offer that a true vegetarian could dream of. Not so vegatarian-ish was the start of our feast on all sorts of meat (top and bottom sirloin, lamb chops, leg of lamb, rump steak, garlic filet, filet mignon, rib eye, you name it). Everything was cooked to perfection, there were hardly any sides on any of the plates and I always had the rare parts of the meat cut down for me. Now, the only problem is that you really have to push yourself to say NO when you’ve reached the point where you just can’t stack any more meat into your stomach. I exceeded this point by maybe one or two slices of meat and I started feeling like a big giant balloon. This feeling basically lasted until today at around lunch time. The good thing was that everytime I burped, I was surrounded by the smell of garlic steak.

The evening was truly worthy of the occasion. We all had a great time, ate loads of meat, and dined in a unique atmosphere (the interior was awesome) in center city Philly. This is not a place where you would go every week. It’s really pricy, but it’s well worth it. Too bad none of you folks at home ever came visit me. You missed out on some great food here!!


For all you scholars out there

13 07 2008

I have updated the „@University“ page. I have uploaded one handout for a presentation that I held together with Jon in the winter semester 07/08, in the proseminar „Transatlantic Radicalism“.

It can be found here.

Uncanny America….

13 07 2008

Whenever I drive out to Hilltown to go flying, I have to go through an area that is home to a large Mennonite community. Now, I don’t know what their agenda is, what part of the bible they interpret literally and how they brainwash their kids. All I know is that it’s a bit uncomfortable to be there.

Great. Really props up the landscape. Then again, it’s not as gruesome as the bleeding, miserable looking Jesus figures that we have in Franconia (for some reason, one of the townships out there is called Franconia, too). Maybe I’ve uncovered a Jesus-conspiracy here….

Thank you for reading this totally irrelevant and pointless entry!

Independence Day and New England…

8 07 2008

…are mutually intertwined, as the American history scholars among you may know. The Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, the Declaration of Independence was first read to the public in Boston and some American folks threw some bags o‘ tea off of some ship in the Boston harbor – known as the Boston Tea Party. No taxation without representation, and so forth. I’m sure most of my German readers are well familiar with these events, needless to say my American colleagues probably also know what I’m talking about. To make a long story short and to somehow weave my own personal history into this randomly thrown together display of historical expertise, we were in Boston over the Independence Day weekend.

We were promised some great fireworks and a lot of traffic on the way up as well as on the way back home. Apparently, we should not have been the only ones that had the great idea of spending the most important American holiday there. We got to Boston faster than we had expected and checked in with our hotel. The most challenging part of this endeavour was to somehow manage to convince the concierge that we were not 12 but 8 people divided up into two rooms with 2 king size double beds each. Done the math? Right, 8 people, four double-beds – fits. But it’s cheaper to accomodate all 12 of us in these two rooms. So, we were running around all over the hotel lobby, back and forth from the elevators to the cars, from the reception to the elevators and from the restrooms to the reception to confuse the guy that checked us in. Not successful, as it turned out, because the other hotel guy asked how many people we were. I replied that we were 8, and he nodded and said „Right. Need any extra blankets?“. Confusion tactics was never my strength.

The next day. 4th of July. We headed into town and took the „Freedom Trail“, that leads all the way around Boston, passing the most interesting sights.

First thing that struck me was that Boston appeared much less American than any other American city I had ever seen. In fact, Boston could well be anywhere in Europe (especially in Britain somewhere). Maybe that’s why they call it New England…hmm..

One place to recommend to anyone coming to Boston is the area around Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. Especially in South Market, there’s an unbelievable amount of food stalls and stands, where they serve food from nearly everywhere in the world. Walking through there is like entering some kind of Elysian field of food. After having staggered along Freedom Trail for long enough we went back to the hotel to take a quick shower and then headed down to the harbor side, where the Independence Day festivities were taking place. The Boston Pops were already playing when we got there and later that night, Rascal Flatts laid down a great lipsynch-playback performance. When the wailing had finally stopped, the fireworks commenced and let me tell you – I have never seen fireworks more impressive than that. Half and hour of pure impressiveness. Towards the end, one could hardly see the fireworks through tha massive haze that was hanging over the harbor. Take the biggest new year’s fireworks and imagine it four times longer, bigger, higher and brighter, then you might get an impression of what took place that night in Boston.

Next day, we visited my prospective university in Cambridge, MA. We took a guided tour around the campus that was led by two students who did a really great job at making the whole thing very entertaining.

To the right, you can see a proof that now, I, too, am a Harvard student. Well, at least I was there and was able to suck in some of the genuine atmosphere of the great, dignified learning facility that it is.

Leaving Boston that day, we stopped by at M.I.T., to get yet another glimpse of yet another university that none of us would ever be able to afford to attend – let alone have the intellect to even pass the admission tests. But, I bought a „HAHVAHD“-T-Shirt. (Bostonians have their own accent, which incorporates not pronouncing any ‚R’s)

Our next stop was Orleans on Cape Cod, where we moved into a hostel that was mainly a few wooden huts with bunk beds. From there, we headed out to check off another topic on the to-do-list: Eat lobster.

Early the next morning we moved out to drive to Provincetown to do some whale watching. Ever since I was a young boy, I have always dreamed of seeing whales. Though I’d given up on wanting to be a marine biologist, I still hoped that someday I might encounter whales in their natural environment. I couldn’t have imagined, though, that it would be that breathtaking. The first whales we saw on the way out to the feeding grounds of the humpbacks were Minke whales. Though they are not much bigger than dolphins, I was pretty excited. The highlight, as I’ve indicated, was the humpback whales that we saw out at sea. There was a layer of fog hanging over the water and suddenly two of them appeared out of nowhere and circled the boat, checking out what was going on. As it turned out, it was a mother with her calf, in search for food. This was one of the most impressive experiences I have ever made. Seriously. Can’t really put it into words.

Coming back to Provincetown only to remember (and see) that it’s home to a large gay and lesbian community was like the starkest contrast between pure nature and, well, ungraceful mankind that one could imagine. I don’t ever want to go there again. Yuck.

On our way home we stopped by at Yale University in New Haven, CT, just to see what it was like.

What a trip.

Please feel free to leave absolutely ridiculous comments!

The Infamous Cape May Party Weekend

1 07 2008

First of all – I want to apologize to MIKE and MEREDITH (!!!) for writing in German until now and by doing so keeping them from reading all the crap I have posted here. Now maybe some friends back home in Germany (home to the vice-European soccer champions) might not be able to understand all of my blabbering here, but I can switch languages every once in a while…

This weekend some of my fellow interns synchronically celebrated their birthday. And, instead of throwing just another party with truckloads of beer, barbecue and even more beer, they threw a party with truckloads of beer, barbecue and even more beer in Cape May, New Jersey. So there we were, 27 people in a house that is designed to hold 10 persons. After arriving Friday, the first thing me and the guys I travelled with did was get a beer and then move into our room. For some reason I had to sleep on the floor both nights we spent there, but, thanks to the fluffy carpet floor, I didn’t have too much of a backache in the mornings. Already having discovered a diner/family restaurant called „Uncle Bill’s Pancake House“ while trying to find the house Friday night, we decided to have a nice pancake breakfast on Saturday morning. What a place: Unlimited coffee refills, classic American pancakes with whipped butter and maple syrup, friendly waitresses (not too common in Germany) and a great atmosphere. Kinda reminded me of the opening sequence of Pulp Fiction („..everybody be cool this is a robbery!!“)

After getting stuffed with pancakes we started to make our way around Cape May. Even though cruising around the place in a very uncoordinated manner, we soon found a beach, where we first made contact with the ocean – or the bay, for that matter. Later we cruised to the boardwalk and had another swim and walk along the promenade. In case anyone saw a white G6 (with a Nebraska license plate) with 5 sort of dumb looking people with no shirts on, listening to absolutely gay music, rolling around in the streets of Cape May that weekend: that was us. After getting back from the beach, we made our way to ACME to buy some meat to throw on the grill. Hell, meat aisles in US supermarkets sure are one great thing. We bought approximately 6 pounds of steak, along with some shells as an entrée. Steak and seafood, as they say. On we went back to the party house (conveniently located, not far from a very quiet yet beautiful beach), cooked the shells, ate the shells, threw our half cow on the grill, ate the half cow. Washed it down with some Bud and headed down to the beach to watch the sunset (quite cliché, huh?). The whole thing had a somewhat sixties-hippie vibe to it (except having devoured a helpless cow beforehand – live and let live…). But we saw dolphins and even helped some stone age relic type of crabs back into the sea, because they were constantly being washed to the shore – on their backs…I wonder how these things ever even got to survive the precambrium with that survival strategy…Anyway. Saturday night party was awesome, lots of fun with lots of people I enjoy hanging out with anyway.

Sunday saw another pancake breakfast after the mandatory clean-up of the house. We produced about as much trash as would a family with three kids in one week. Needless to say, most of the items thrown away were beer cans and bottles.

After another stop-over at the beach we all gathered at a local beach bar to watch the European championships‘ final. I will not go into detail, but *coughboooooooringcough*….

Nutshellwise, it was a very chilled out weekend and I am looking forward to writing to you soon about my experiences in Boston, which is where we are going to go next weekend. (Independence Day, y’all!)

Peace, I’m out (a nod to Jon at this point)