Friday, June 20, 2014

Food Post! Binh Minh Vietnamese Restaurant Greensboro NC

Before I get distracted: This restaurant is at 5211 Market Street in Greensboro, NC
And an apology: I was so excited by the food, I ate it before I could photograph it. I will remedy this...and exercise more self discipline in the future...probably.

Now...back to my rambling:

I know that a lot of people eat fast food just because they know it. You know that it’s not going to be great but you’ll be full and you know what to expect. If you stop somewhere else, it could be awful or they could only serve things you hate…the horror!!

I know it well. I get food anxiety because I love to eat and I hate to waste an eating experience by having something gross or even just blah. However, I decided to stop eating fast food about a year ago (partly because I have an allergy to soy which my body has decided it wants to communicate to me by making my hand so itchy that the only thing I want to do is leave everything behind so that I can devote myself full time to scratching) and I have had so many more amazing experiences than not. What I mean is that if I stopped on the road – the only time I really eat out – at a fast food restaurant the mediocre experience level was 100% but the fear was 0. My fear of a new place was pretty high (plus salt and fat are weaknesses of mine and fast food has those in spades) but my positive experiences have been about 95% and the other 5% were just ‘meh’.
I think Americans are generally willing to sacrifice the possibility of something amazing to the fear of the bad. It keeps us from doing a lot of really cool stuff. The most profound regrets I have are almost always when I gave way to that fear not when I decided to hope for the best. Anyway, that’s the set up. Scene:

I love Vietnamese food…okay, I love food in general…but it is harder to be soy free with Asian food in general. It’s really, really hard to be soy free and eat outside of your own house these days, you’d be surprised at what has soy in it (Tums for example…) I also really, really don’t want to be that person who can’t eat something and makes a big deal out of it. If you have a peanut allergy that will kill you, I get it – that’s pretty intense and you can never ben too sure. Soy makes my hands incredibly itchy, that’s my burden to bear and not something I feel like explaining all the time, so I usually don’t ask about food’s contents. Is this a brilliant strategy? No. But, oh well.

Anyway, let me interrupt my digression by telling you about this restaurant. Greensboro has really high quality Vietnamese food, it’s not what you would necessarily think, but if you are passing by Greensboro and you are a traveller who doesn’t know what to try that isn’t fast food, you should give Vietnamese a try. Even if it isn’t Binh Minh.

Binh Minh doesn’t make any concessions to super finicky people – if you want French Fries, you aren’t going to get them. If you have an eater in your party who is fussy (like my daughter) they may have to just settle for the cut melon and orange desert…or complain (like my daughter) and then eat macaroni at home. My son is an excellent eater and he immediately found the salmon, he has a radar for it. My husband is not as adventurous in his food forays but he is also not a scaredy cat, so he ordered lemongrass chicken. A friend who came with us ordered the Pho, which I immediately envied when it arrived.

I got a Vietnamese crepe that was epic. I saw that you could order one or two and I, fool that I am, assumed that they were about the size of a spring roll or so. Nope, it’s a full oval plate omelet sized creation. It was stuffed with shrimp, tiny corn, onions, and sugar snap peas. It was topped with lettuce and cilantro and came with a clear sauce. I ate way more of this dinner than I needed and as I was nearing full, the second crepe appeared. I shared that one with the table…and then ate some more of it. It was delicious, the crepe was so light and fluffy with just a touch of crispness.

Before I knew it, my 9 year old had eaten an entire plate of salmon and was attempting to consume the rice by squishing individual grains onto the end of his chopsticks and get them to his mouth. I revealed the secret fork collection and things seemed to go much more smoothly. There was a clear broth with scallions that came out with the food and I could have made a meal out of that. It had such a delicate flavor, not just the heavy salt that a lot of broths like this have. When my son was done eating (and my daughter done trying not to have us ask her again if she was sure there wasn’t anything she wanted) the kids peeled off to stare at gold fish and watch a bit of the world cup.

It was the kind of dinner where even before we finished eating we were trying to find reasons that we needed to come back and planning what we would order. I can already taste the Pho…

For my daughter, the highlight was the paper umbrellas in the fruit, I’m hopeful that some of the fruit might have accidentally been absorbed through her skin to augment her only macaroni diet.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Men At Work, 3D Printing, Squirrels (Hint: Not a Recipe Post)

Currently, there is a squirrel hanging upside down from a baffle eating suet out of a squirrel proof feeder. Thank goodness they're so cute or I guess I'd be upset. What this has made me realize though is that if I ever get to design my own house, I don't want any window muntins, just sheet glass and screens that can be lowered only when desired. Sometimes there is cool stuff going on outside my window and if I go outside, it will stop, but if I take the picture from inside, I've got window panes and screens. This is probably the only thing standing between me and universal recognition.

In the meantime though I have gotten a cool gig writing articles for and have been learning some really interesting stuff about 3D technology. I'm still just a baby in the field (interesting visual for you) but am really enjoying the research and writing. I'm still working on liposuction stuff as well (writing not performing) and now all of the side bar advertisements on every page I visit are for cosmetic surgeons. Data mine much? I'm interested to see if it starts to combine these interests and offer me ways of 3D printing with fat. ew. sorry.

The day before yesterday I drove to my son's school to drop off a letter for the principal, and it took nearly 1/2 hour for the normally 5 minute drive. This is because I live in one of those suburban developments that has only one entrance and one exit and the city is repaving the road that goes between those two points. There's no way to get around it because every street is a cul-de-sac or only 2 blocks long and they all connect with this main road. I didn't really mind because my summer schedule is pretty relaxed but it gave me time to think as I was watching them do this work. There's so rarely anything of visual interest going on in my neighborhood. All the houses look the same, there's not much wildlife (not counting the squirrels hanging from my feeders and the chinchillas living in my house) and people aren't outside very much, so this would be a perfect opportunity to take pictures without going very far. 

So, I suited up in my new double camera holster. I really only need one camera with me most of the time, but it doesn't balance right with just one, so I wear the other too. Then I walked up and down the approximately 1/2 mile stretch of road where work was going on that day and photographed the men and machines. I got a chance to talk to everybody, even if only to ask them if I could take their picture. It was a very pleasant experience and kept me out of trouble. I did get one photobomb where two guys walking buy lifted up their shirts while I was taking a picture. Unfortunately, I missed them and I'm devastated because I'm sure it would have been the sexiest thing I had ever seen two unemployed guys do. Oh well, I guess that's the decisive moment that Bresson was talking about.

I have to admit that I sweat like an Olympic athlete. Actually, maybe more. I'm pretty sure that's my body's natural defense system because if I were living in the wild and something attacked me, it would be immediately repulsed and run away, damp, back to its hiding place to whimper. As I was working on this essay, People at Work, I realized that the next time I should do People at Work in Air Conditioned Places instead because it was just sad - I was sweating more than the workers.

It was good practice going around and talking to strangers too. I always want to go take pictures of people I don't know, but I'm generally too shy to ask or just take them from such a distance that people don't know. I keep reading that it is important to talk to the people you are going to photograph and then decided I will just have to either avoid taking pictures of people or that I will only be able to do it after several shots of Tequila. The problem with the latter approach being that the photos become somewhat less focused as time goes on. However, after 'screwing my courage to the sticking place' (or something of that nature) it really wasn't that hard - it was almost fun. Who knows...maybe I'll be able to do this again. 

I think I'll start by chatting up the squirrel.