- Thailand in December
- Looking back on what I didn't like about the trip, I'd have to say...the most off-putting thing had to be the way they had so much Christmas stuff everywhere. No religious iconography, though. Just Santa, elves, giant trees, snowflake stickers, and horrible, horrible Christmas music.
And they kept it all up until after Christmas! Like, somehow Christmas was actually the entire month of December over there, all the way to New Year's, so they played Christmas music non-stop in every tourist trap and mall there. Let me tell you, there's really nothing more ironic than sweating in unseasonably warm winter weather at 95 degrees F...to the tune of 'Let It Snow'. Or 'Baby It's Cold Outside'. Or 'Little Drummer Boy'. Do they play that because of the Westerners? I don't know, but as a Westerner myself I just wanted to set the speakers on fire the entire time. Hate it.
Of course, everything in those places is tailored to Westerners. Western food, Western manners, Western comforts...Western prices. Yuck. I would have preferred to spend every day of the trip wandering through local markets instead. Hot and sweaty? Yeah. Cramped? Full of foods I can't name or recognize? Of course! Then again, I've never been one to enjoy being surrounded by marketing or shallow interpretations of cultural practices in an attempt to get me to buy things. Gimme the real stuff. Show me the Buddhist temple dishing out free lunch to the needy. Is that a basket full of fried beetles? Tell me about the long history behind this monument and show me the people performing rituals before it. Let me look that world in the eye and appreciate it. But please...no more of this scrubbed down approximation of Western culture in a place that has long developed outside of such things.
- 01/15/2020 @ 1:23am MST (America/Denver)
- Saffron...worth it?
- Upon realizing it was real, I let my friend know and have since shipped it off. She'll send me photos when she cooks with it. I've never been so excited about a spice in my life and I'm pretty sure she feels the same. In her area, saffron costs about $15 a gram, and perhaps not even a whole gram if we choose not to trust the label on the bottle. It can be even more expensive depending on region. My dad only paid about $6.70 per gram, roughly (it's normally $9).
Depending on what kind of cuisine you cook, saffron may not be worth it for you. My family doesn't do Indian food (my sister loves it, though), but my friend does and she also feeds an army of her own friends on a regular basis. For her, it was worth asking me to look, because it led to my dad striking gold (or rather saffron, since that's worth more than gold is). For us, we never use saffron and thus the spice was more a curiosity for us than anything else. It was a lot of fun verifying the saffron, too. The yellow it produced was lovely and pure. How strange it was to be holding a handful of virtual diamonds of the spice world, too.
I personally can't be certain that there were actually 3 grams in the bottle I sent, but it seemed like plenty to me since a little goes a long way. I didn't even toss the strand I used to test the water. I taped it to a card that I put in the package. No saffron left behind! I look forward to the food photos from my friend.
- 01/15/2020 @ 1:10am MST (America/Denver)
- The internet has it all
- My dad knew even less about saffron than I did, but he also made a valiant effort to find it. So valiant, in fact, that he...simply went online and found some for 200 baht per gram (on sale) and ordered 3 grams without my knowledge. I grumbled, of course, because I feared it was fake.
Fake saffron, who would've thought! But I learned in my research that this is actually pretty common. You get either outright fake saffron or 'low quality' saffron from Iran (or thereabouts) marketed as premium saffron. In any case, my dad couldn't cancel the order so we were forced to wait for his return to see if he had found real saffron.
There are numerous ways to test if it's real, but all require hands-on experimentation. When my dad put the glass bottle in my hands, I was very suspicious. Was it dyed? I found the ends of the threads were a lighter yellow with the middle a deep crimson. How did it smell? My mom reported that it matched the description: honey and hay. Did it crumble when I touched it? No, the threads were sturdy and dry. How did it taste? I put a tiny bit in my mouth and at first it tasted like nothing, but then I chewed a bit and a bitter taste coated my tongue. Finally...what color would it stain water? We let it sit in a tiny bowl and watched pure yellow leech into the liquid.
Unbelievable. It was real.
- 01/15/2020 @ 12:57am MST (America/Denver)
This site is a personal art site and therefore does not necessarily present itself as a polished portfolio full of eulogies to my professional accomplishments. It has been around since 2003, which makes it pretty old now that I think about it. The name means dragon-dragon in Japanese, because I love dragons and I wasn't too great at names back then (case in point: my leopard gecko was named Gecko). I've taken to using the name Surros Gallery since it's much easier to remember, but this URL continues to be my home on the internet. It still functions as a repository for many of my creative ventures, from art to photography to silly site pages, so take a look around and enjoy!
Things about me that don't involve dragons: I enjoy writing, video games, and creating things in general.
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