Thursday, August 9, 2012

More cooking... and more creatures

For those of you who don’t know me well, I really love oatmeal.  All kinds of oatmeal.  But, oddly enough, only quick oats are readily available here.  I did find regular, old-fashioned oatmeal at a place in Dehradun; the canister was labeled “jumbo” oats.  I always look forward to my bowl of oatmeal in the morning because I can prepare it—or could prepare it, when I had more kitcheny amenities at my fingertips—a whole heckofalotta delicious ways.  I especially love to eat steel cut oats that have been cooked in the crockpot overnight.

So, naturally, I brought a mini-crockpot and four packages of steel cut oats with me to India for that specific purpose.  Last night, I decided that I would break open the first bag and treat myself.
“But what kind shall I make first?” I asked aloud, overwhelmed by my options, looking to the heavens for advice and guidance. 
APPLE CINNAMON!!!” the voice of God boomed back from above.  Unfortunately, I think He went off-duty after that command… maybe to make himself a bowl?  
Allow me to illustrate.

This is what a bowl of apple cinnamon crockpot oatmeal is supposed to look like (and always has looked like when I’ve made it in the past):                                                     

The ingenious person who posted the original recipe says, “It gets crusty around the edges. That's my favorite part. Great flavor right there. The finished dish tastes kind of like a combination of apple pie and oatmeal. Those brown bits mixed in are so yummy.”
I usually agree.  Except here in India, the crusty edges tasted a little different.  I’m not sure why.

Any ideas?

Perhaps because I couldn't differentiate the crusty edges from the charred entirety?  I don't know if you can tell, but that crockpot is totally totaled.
I think this highly-unfortunate food fail had less to do with the quality of my cooking skills and more to do with the quantity of electricity with which I was working.  Or maybe voltage.  Current?  I feel like at least one of those scary, undefinable words is the culprit.  Maybe I should read more words and numbers and stuff before I plug things into places.  Talk about a fire hazard.  If I die in India, I need a cool story to offset the tragedy.  Monkey attack?  Fine.  Falling off a cliff in a van filled with 50 other passengers?  I can accept it.  Cooking oatmeal?  No.  I might as well die of embarrassment.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t today’s only encounter with food of questionable edibility.
After school, I was a mosquito to a lantern, instinctively lured to the comforting glow of the Lyons Lounge coffeemaker.  But, when this metaphorical bug put her mug underneath the spout and eagerly pressed the espresso button…  a literal bug came shooting out. 
At first I thought it was a whole coffee bean.  And that maybe finding a whole coffee bean was a rare sign of good luck, akin to finding a four-leaf clover.  Or maybe this was the silver lining to my spoiled bowl of oatmeal.  Could I follow Jack’s lead and plant my own Beanstalk? 
Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, I found that the “coffee bean” had six legs and antennae.
It was not luck or magic, it was just India. 
So I did what any self-respecting caf-fiend would do, when faced with the disappointing alternatives of instant coffee or instant despondency.  I dumped out the bug, filled up my cup, and added some milk for good measure. 
Mmmm.  Coffee never tasted so good. 
I guess I now understand why various food items are labeled “hygienic.”  Apparently, everything has the potential to be contaminated.  Heck, everything probably is contaminated.  But it’s okay.  I’m a proud advocate of the 5(or 15)-second rule and can easily munch my way through a stray hair or two.  I figure what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.  Plus, I already almost killed myself with the most harmless food of all:  oatmeal.
What I kill first also makes me stronger.  Brace yourself for some shockingly impressive anecdotal evidence.
Yesterday, when I came home from school, I was greeted at the door by something tall, dark, and handso—er—hairy.  After a fleeting moment of flattery (this is the third of such gentleman callers I’ve recieved since I’ve moved in!), I went into full-on “fight or flight” mode.  However, instead of instinctively fleeing the scene, this time I bravely secured a can of bug spray (thank you, Preeti!) and reclaimed my rightful territory.  I ultimately won the battle, despite the defense strategies employed by the enemy camp. 
I feel like I’m turning into a full-fledged Julia of the Jungle.
But what’s that?  You need further evidence of my impressive survival skills?  Ask and you shall receive.

I killed this mother yesterday with my bare hands.  India is totally heightening my senses. 

Are you wondering who the person is behind the dead fly?

A rather ironic title, dontcha think?  I definitely touched that fly.

Kelly, one of the student teachers, witnessed my catlike reflexes in action; she can back up my story if you think it’s simply too amazing to be true.  She also taught me that some people can see sound in color.  It’s called synesthesia:  check it out.  Is your mind blown?  I know I’m still trying to put back the pieces of mine.
The other student teacher, Claire, taught me that 420 (“four-twenty”) has negative connotations in India that have less to with weed and more to do with wheedling… cheating people and such.  (Because of the way dates are written here, April 20th would be 20/4, anyway).  Kelly and Claire are fine, upstanding members of the Woodstock community.  I’ll miss them when they leave in a few months!

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