Friday, August 27, 2010

Respect on the road

As you know, we moved to the countryside recently and I have noticed that when it comes to respect on the road, the people here are so much more civilized than in the city. Whether you are walking by the side of the road, or cycling or even driving, whenever you pass somebody by on the narrow little country roads, people wave at you. My brother went for a walk with his girlfriend and Marie while on their holidays and they were really surprised when somebody driving a big huge tractor slowed down and waved at them. Somebody they didn't know and will probably never see again. People here are much more courteous and have a lot more respect for each other when driving on those small country roads than they do on big huge motorways. We often joke that, in the city, you are more likely to see somebody doing a quite rude gesture (which involves lifting a specific finger) than somebody waving at you to say hello.
 Mr Foodie, for one, is a lot less stressed out when he comes home from work than he was before. You see, he had to travel on what used to be considered the biggest car park in Ireland, ie the M50, the motorway that circles Dublin. Disrespect is rife there, people not indicating, tailgating, horn honking, you name it, it happens especially in rush hour traffic. Most days, I would be on the other end of the phone when he was driving back (he always uses a Bluetooth though) and I was getting stressed just from hearing him give out to other drivers on the road. He was getting annoyed at blatantly disrespectful drivers who were hogging the fast lane when they should be in the slow The country air has done him the world of good though and he has now turned into one of those courteous, pleasant drivers.

AXA Car Insurance has launched a campaign called AXA Respect On The Road to try and restore respect and courtesy on the British roads. Having experienced what a difference a bit of courtesy and respect make, I went to their Facebook fanpage and gave them a big like, to show my support. If you feel, like me, that we could all do with a bit more respect on our roads, why don’t you do the same?
 They have created a YouTube Channel, on which they show the CabCam, normal people talking to a cab driver about their experience on British roads, lack of courtesy, road rage etc. 

 They have also created a YouTube video, called Road Rage Kids. Everybody has witnessed road rage at least once but this video has a particular twist. It is enacted by 5 year olds replicating behaviours they have witnessed from their parents. Despite being funny, it is also a big eye opener as most of us will probably recognize themselves in it. I know Mr Foodie did. He also commented that you tend to forget who’s in the back and that he is glad now that he isn’t as bad as he used to be.

 So for now on, I respect the road . What about you?
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fussy eaters.

I'm sure you are all expecting a post about children being fussy eaters. I'm sorry to disappoint you. This one isn't. I'm very glad to say that, despite a difficult year between the ages of 2 and 3, Marie is not a fussy eater at all. We have managed to convince her that you need to taste new food 7 times before you get to like it. So, even if she doesn't particularly like something, she still eats it (eventually she loses count of how many times she's eaten it anyway). As for Noelie, well, this one eats everything and anything in sight, her new shoes seem to be a firm favourite on her list of food.

No, I'm talking about adults. I find adults that are fussy eaters quite infuriating challenging. See, I come from a different country with a different diet (all hail the Mediterranean diet!). My mum and dad both love good food and, growing up, I have often times been the guinea pig for their culinary experiments (think Heston Blumenthal gone wrong). Some have turned out to be lovely dishes, others not so (tip: do not decide to make spaghetti in the same water you have just used to make foie gras thinking it will give it a lovely taste. Think about the salt/water ratio used in the foie gras recipe first. 100 gr of salt for 1 litre of water makes for very very very salty, as close to inedible as you can get, spaghetti). I was made to taste, eat just about anything and everything. And no, I'm not exaggerating, I swear. Did your mum ever come home from the butcher's with ostrich meat, kangaroo meat and crocodile meat, just so see what it tastes like? Didn't think so. Well mine did! And I don't remember it that much, so it mustn't have tasted that horrible. My grandfather was a butcher, so (weaker stomachs look away now), I have eaten every part of any (normal) animal you can think off. Yes, even those parts. And, please, don't laugh, it's not funny. I was lured into it. I didn't know what it was until the next day so that I couldn't even throw it up.

Since moving to Ireland, I have come across a lot of adult fussy eaters. I'm not talking about people that are allergic to certain things or vegetarians and the likes. I actually consider cooking for them a different type of challenge, a pleasurable one. It gets me thinking outside of the box and I like having to be creative for them. I am talking about reluctance to try new things, or even plain stubbornness or defiance even.

Thankfully, Mr Foodie is willing to try new things and will taste anything I put in front of him, no matter what it looks like (and I have to say that sometimes my dishes don't look like they are worthy of gracing the dog's bowl!). Whenever we have people over, I try and curb my enthusiasm and cook tasty, yet quite unoriginal food. And I have noticed that the older the people, the harder it gets as they are unwilling to step away from their usual diets. They are not adventurous at all, although I don't think that it would be considered very adventurous to eat a tomato once. I have even heard from somebody that vegetables make them physically sick. I tried to reason with them that it was all in their heads but to no avail of course. What good is it to try and convince somebody who, for the best part of the past 50 odd years has refused to eat vegetables? Somebody also once told me that they hated garlic, could not stand the taste of it, could not eat it etc. This happened about 2 weeks after they had dinner at ours during the course of which I served a chicken stuffed with about 10 cloves of garlic and some roast potatoes with garlic on them too. And they had second helpings! So how much of it is in their head? A lot I would say.

But what happens when somebody like that has to change their diet for, say, medical reasons. How do you educate somebody in what is a healthy diet when a) they are not aware (or pretend not to be) that their diet is not healthy, b) are unwilling to change their lifelong dietary habits no matter what the consequences are, c) refuse point blank to try and eat something different? Unfortunately, this is the situation we are faced with at the moment with one of Mr Foodie's relatives. They have to change their diet after being diagnosed with diabetes and a high level of cholesterol a few months back. We all (and that includes a nurse!) explained what could happen if the changes were not made and, sadly, what we had predicted happened, a heart attack. Thankfully, the person is now on the mend but we still feel that not enough dietary changes are happening. It is extremely frustrating to know what can be done to minimize the risks of other heart attacks happening and be met with a wall of denial ('the meds will do it'), defiance ('no, I will not listen to the doctor and eat vegetables'), and a lifetime of bad habits and miseducation. I went as far as considering buying the Jessica Seinfeld book where she sneaks vegetables in everything so that children will eat more of them. But then again, where can you sneak pureed vegetables in the following: mashed potatoes, meat and peas? We're at a loss as to what to do and short of somehow force feeding them vegetables and good stuff, there is only so much we can do. It is quite terrifying since we know what the consequences will be, all we are unsure of is the time frame.

Has anybody ever have to face such a situation? How did you deal with it? Did you manage to convince them to change? How?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How do you do it?

Seriously, how do you it? How do you manage to blog so often?

I'd said that my blogging would be back to normal and yet I haven't posted in what? More than a week?

We have visitors, if that's any excuse (here I am making excuses again). We have had a pretty busy week. They got here on Monday evening, so of course I spent Monday on my hands and knees scrubbing the place down (well not literally on my hands and knees, the place wasn't that dirty but still scrubbing). On Tuesday, Noelie was due back at the hospital for a check up on her kidneys. That was fun! (Not). We had to be in the hospital for 8h30. Since we moved, we are about an hour away. Unfortunately, I realized after I got up that I had no car seat in my car. We have been playing switcharoo with our cars lately. Although our cars are in perfect working order, we use our FIL's one as it will not be used for a bit and also because it is a bigger, more comfortable car than ours. But we you have 3 cars and 2 car seats, well, it's bound to happen, the spare car seat was in the spare car. The one parked in the drive of Mr Foodie's parents, 20 minutes away from here. Absolutely useless there, I'll admit. So, I placed a frantic call to Mr Foodie whose boss was kind enough to let him come home to hand over the car seat. Of course, there had to be a crash on the way up to the hospital which meant that we got there about 30 minutes late. Noelie got checked out and by 10h30, she received the radioactive injection that would allow the nurses to take pictures of her kidneys. Not too bad only for the fact that Noelie was moving too much and they had to prick both arms to manage to inject the thing. Then, you get to wait 2 hours until it reaches the kidneys, so we went for a walk around the hospital and a bite to eat.
After the 2 hours were up, we went back. Noelie doesn't like nurses. I don't know what it is. She just doesn't like them. And she tried to get rid of them with a technique that had me in stitches. If a nurse was looking at her, she would scream, something between a grunt and a proper scream, a big AAAAAHHHH. If the nurse was paying too much attention like talking to her or, god forbid, touching her, then it was the scream and the tears. But as soon as the nurse turned her back, that was it. All smiles.
So after the 2 hours wait, we went back and they strapped her onto a bench with 4 or 5 Velcro straps so that she couldn't move (more tears of course) and those 2 big huge plaques took pictures of her kidneys (10 minutes for each picture). They started sideways first, and then the front which meant that the top plaque was only inches away from her face. It was quite scary. We eventually got home about 2pm. Them we went to do a bit a shopping as our fridge was devoid of any type of food, not great when you have people over that expect to be fed!

Wednesday, we went to Newgrange. Despite a couple of showers, we manage to spend the day quite dry, which has amazed our visitors as they expected rain, rain, rain and more rain, after all, they are from the South of France and Ireland is well known for its rain.

Thursday, I went to collect my pittance in the Post Office. They had finally understood my problem and I collected 5 weeks of payments that I had been missing. So, rich as I was, we went to pick Marie's uniforms for her new school as well as her books.

Yesterday, I dropped our visitors to Dublin so that they could take the tourist's bus. There is only so much touristy things you can do really. Anytime somebody comes, we have to show them around, which means that we visited Newgrange twice in 2 months, we showed people around Dublin twice in 2 months. It is getting a bit repetitive now. However, they really enjoyed it and the weather so far has been quite good.

Today, we are off to Kilmainham Gaol, and the Leprechaun Museum (mind you, they do not know what Leprechauns are). Mr Foodie's parents are minding the girls for the night so that we can go out for dinner and a couple of drinks.

They are leaving Monday and hopefully, things will finally get back to normal. Well, as normal as they can get in the Foodie Household! We have learned that our Wimax will not be in until at least the end of September, so we are looking at alternatives other than borrowing somebody's dongle for a few days at a time.

So, back to my question, how do you do it? How do you manage to blog that often? Some people seem to manage it, even when visitors are around. What is your secret recipe? Please, let me in on it, because obviously, I am not that well organized that I can slot blogging into my schedule!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Foodie Mummy: the return (again!)

Tentatively knocks on the screen. Hello? Is anybody there? Anybody at all? Remember me? No? Well, I don't blame you. It's been quite a while (sheepishly hangs head in shame). It feels like an eternity. Such a long time that I don't really know where to start. I thought that I'd be able to use my mum and dad's computer while I was away but we have been so busy that it never happened. Sounds like a lame excuse but it is true though. I have dozens more if you'd like to hear them: the fact that it takes me twice as much time to type a post with an AZERTY keyboard than it does with a QWERTY one, that I was too engrossed in reading the Twilight saga (well 2 of them anyway) that I just couldn't put it down, that the glare on the laptop screen from the sun was too strong to see anything on it, that the temperature of the pool was just right. Anyway, I hope that you will forgive my long silence.

We are just back from 2 busy yet wonderful weeks of holidays. As soon as we arrived, we were whisked away to a restaurant to celebrate Mr Foodie's birthday along with my brother's, his girlfriend's and her little girl's too. I had never met my brother's girlfriend before and I am really glad to say that we got on really great. My mum thinks that we are very much alike (albeit not physically but mentally). My brother seems to be really happy and so am I. I was starting to despair a bit as he had never introduced us to any of his girlfriends before, and he is well into his twenties now.

The next day, we all went to meet my best friend from school. We had lost contact for more than ten years but the wonders of Facebook and the Internet worked their magic and we got back in contact. We went to a water park for a picnic and an afternoon of swimming with our families. The last time I saw her I was leaving for Ireland, we were both still teenagers (well late teens anyway), both carefree, with our whole future ahead of us. We now both have families. If anybody had told us nearly 15 years ago that we would meet again with partners and families in tow, we probably would have laughed at the idea! But despite such a long time, we started talking as if we'd only seen each other the week before. We promised not to leave it another 15 years before we meet again.

We spent Wednesday afternoon in Albi, a beautiful town that recently acquired the title of UNESCO's World Heritage Cultural Site. Click on the link to view some pictures!

On the Thursday, we went into Toulouse and, for the first time, I blew my cover as an anonymous blogger. Organizing a meeting with somebody you have never met, have no idea what they look like, and yet believe you 'know' to a certain extend is quite an experience. And one that I don't regret at all. I hope that Toulouse Confessor had as good a time as we did. I hope we can meet again sometime!

On the Friday, we left the girls in my mum and dad's capable hands and drove the 6 hours to Marseille. We stayed in a very nice B&B in the middle of town called Le Mas en Ville. The 4 days away did us the world of good. We went to visit the Chateau d'If (Mr Foodie being a big big fan of the count of Monte Christo). We took a boat trip to visit the Calanques at sunset. We went up the hill to visit Notre Dame de la Garde and generally spent our time walking around the streets of Marseille and eating wonderful food (not that my mum's food is not wonderful, it's just that the whole eating out experience adds to it) . The weather was all you could expect of the South of France in August, blistering hot.

How clear is that water?

View of Marseille from the Island of If

The calanques at sunset
We came back on the Monday, refreshed from our little time away. The rest of the week was spent visiting family which generally involves more food and celebrating my parents' 34th (or is it 36th? oops) wedding anniversary the highlight of which was Mr Foodie's somersault into the swimming pool, fully clothed, at 1.30 am, after my mum dared him to go for a swim (and we had only drank 2 bottles of wine between the 6 of us!).

My dad had set himself two missions: teach Marie how to swim without armbands and teach Noelie how to walk unaided. His success rate was 50%. Marie now knows how to swim. Noelie still refuses to walk without at least somebody's little finger in her hand. I am extremely proud of my two girls. Marie has made an awful lot of progress in French. As for Noelie, well, she's being Noelie. She is a very loving, stubborn little clown, just like her father. Everybody was amazed at how much she eats and the fact that she now refuses to eat any type of baby food and insists on eating the same thing we do.

We came back on Monday evening, despite our wishes for the Icelandic volcano to come back to life and strand us for a few more days (although my dad pointed out that sleeping on the floor of the airport wasn't all that great, really !) and leaving behind us the sunshine. We nearly had to smuggle Noelie back into Ireland, as Aer Lingus messed up and didn't include her on the return booking nearly leading to another appearance of SuperFoodie. But it was all sorted out fairly quickly.

We are now waiting on my brother and his girlfriend to arrive on Monday. They will be staying for a week and then, it will nearly be time to head back to school (sigh). Where has this summer gone?

Anyway, my Google Reader is bursting at the seams and I have a lot of catching up to do on everybody's blogs. I hope I haven't missed too much! Despite still using our trusted little dongle, this time, I am back for good. I have missed blogging, reading your posts and your lovely comments. So on that note, talk to you all real soon!

Foodie Mummy

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