I Don’t Eat Meat Except When I Do

I Don’t Eat Meat Except When I Do

“Life is too short for self-hatred and celery sticks.’ Marilyn Wann

I’m not a meat eater. I can live without bacon. I don’t have a plant-based diet. I’m not a vegan or a pescetarian. I don’t have a superior I’m going to be healthier than you while saving the planet attitude. Meat is just never my food of choice unless it comes in a casing or is ground.  It is my occasional secret guilty pleasure. I’ve switched to chicken sausage and  turkey burgers in public but the truth is that it is just not the same.

I’m not even an ethical carnivore. Can one still be spiritual and eat the occasional ground meat? Even if it is not grass-fed, free range and organic? I pride myself on being an honest person. Is it dishonest to be a secret fast food eater?

Once in a while I need a real burger. I want an In N Out Burger or a Pink’s real hot dog every time I drive by. I rarely go in. Comfort food  is comforting – as long as you don’t overdo it. I’m not buying the 24 pack of hot dogs or burgers at Cosco. There is a difference between getting McDonald’s for dinner or scarfing down a bag of cookies or pint of ice cream so fast you didn’t enjoy it.

Quarter Pounder with cheese is my go to when necessary comfort food. You can’t beat McDonald’s prices and it’s only 600 calories if you were counting calories at a fast food restaurant. I feel like McDonalds is getting better at making their burgers look good and hiding the grey meat in the middle so you can’t see it. I notice when McDonalds says Deluxe it means they  add lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, because apparently nothing adds class like mayo.

It brings up a cherished memory of how much my son and his friends enjoyed going to McDonald’s. Waiting in line at the drive through, I think about all the Happy Meal toys we collected and all the Chicken McNuggets they consumed. I was not allowed to eat sugar or junk food as a kid which is why I crave it. I made sure it was a part of my children’s childhood.

Stored in my brain is the memory of when McDonald’s came to Brooklyn. I went with my boyfriend and all our friends for the first time. We  cut classes to have lunch there and ordered everything so we could try it. I believe everything was Filet of Fish, Cheeseburger, Hamburger and Fries. If there was chicken it was not McNuggets and no one ordered it. We thought it tasted good and was definitely cost-effective. There were no fancy burger options then. I take the first bite and I see them all dressed in their cool seventies fashion once again.  

And of course there was the movie Pulp Fiction. “What do they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris? They got the metric system. They don’t know WTF a quarter pounder is. They call it Royale with Cheese”’

I  call it the taste of memory.

Fly Safe,

JAZ

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Things I Have Learned In Russia

Things I have Learned In Russia

“They’re professionals at this in Russia, so no matter how many Jell-O shots or Jager shooters you might have downed at college mixers, no matter how good a drinker you might think you are, don’t forget that the Russians – any Russian – can drink you under the table.” Anthony Bourdain

Russia is the biggest consumer of heroin in the world. It started in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and started a 10 year war. This kickstarted the Afghan opium trade to fund the Afghanis in the war. Though it was sold all over the world, the Russians became the main consumers.

Russians never shake hands over a door way, they believe it leads to arguments.

For fans of The Master and the Margarita  (I am) there are walking tours and maps of Bulgakov’s Moscow.

Chelsea is the most famous Russian football club in the world. The club was founded in 1905 and later on in 2003 was bought by Russian businessman Roman Abromovich. I stayed in the hotel with them in Moscow. That was cool.

The Urals are the oldest mountains in the world.

The Russian State Library is the biggest in Europe and second in the World after Library of Congress in the USA. The Russian State Library is located in Moscow and was founded in 1862.

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Moscow actually has more billionaires living in the area than any other city in the world.

St. Petersburg was known as Petrograd from 1914 to 1924 and Leningrad from 1924 to 1991.

The Church Of The Savior Of The Spilled Blood was built by Alexander III in St. Petersburg on the same spot where his father Alexander II was murdered in 1883. As beautiful as the outside is, the inside is covered in breathtaking mosaics commemorating the story.

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The Metro of St. Petersburg is the world’s deepest subway (about 100 m deep).

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The Trans-Siberian Railway  (connecting Moscow and Vladivostok) is the longest railway in the world.

The largest McDonald’s in the world is in Moscow and in Beijing (700 seats per each).
(a McDonald’s)

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The first Starbucks in Russia
 was in Moscow on Arbat St and I was there. I had a hard time ordering food in Russia since no one spoke English and everything was written in Cyrillic (several years ago) . I would just point and eat whatever I got. But in Starbucks I said soy latte with sugar-free vanilla and it was correct.

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The most famous computer game –Tetris – was created by Russian programmer Alexei Pazhitnov in 1985,

Russia has some of the best art institutions in the world, like Bolshoi Theater and Pushkin Art Gallery in Moscow, and Mariinsky Theater and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. My favorite dance company Eifman Ballet  is there as well. (Maryinsky Theatre)

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The Hermitage is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world. It was founded by Catherine the Great in 1754. The Hermitage has over 2.7 million exhibits and displays.The Museum is made up of six different buildings, including the Winter Palace (formerly the residence of Russian royalty.

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In Russia there are 10 time zones because of the enormous extent of its territory, from west to east.

The Moscow Cat Theater is a traveling circus that showcases cats. Cat theatre is very popular in Russia – not so much in other places.

Kremlin means fortress in Russian and was the biggest medieval fortress in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.(I had really bad hair in Russia but how often do you take a photo with the Kremlin in the background?)

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The Great Bell Tower is located on the north-east corner of the Kremlin and is said to mark the geographic centre of Moscow. Completed in the 1600s, it is it was the tallest structure in the city until the Russian Revolution. The Tsar bell is the largest bell in the world. It was broken during casting, and never rung.

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The Kremlin was home to the Tsar’s and presidents including Lenin and Stalin. (St. Basil’ Church)

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It is surrounded by some of Moscow’s best known sites, such as; St Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum, the Red Square, Kazan Cathedral and the State History Museum

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Communism is referred to as the time of the Soviets. There are retro trendy Communist cafes and restaurants – a certain nostalgia for “the way we were”. I had lunch at Stalin’s bunker. It was weird.

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Russian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet instead of the Latin and is one of the 5 most spoken languages in the world. (I believe this says Welcome To Stalin’s Bunker. I did a lot of fake translating in Russia. There was not one sign in English when i was there.)

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Peterhof is a royal palace built by the Peter the Great in the year 1710. The palace features buildings and gardens and these structures are known as “Russian Versailles”.

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There are about 176 operating fountains (including 40 huge fountains) and 5 cascades in Peterhof, located in the suburbs of St.Petersburg

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After an 18-month tour of Europe, Peter found himself extremely impressed with western traditions and customs. As a result, he decided to issue an annual tax of one hundred rubles for those who refused to shave their beards.

The renovation of the Amber Room at Catherine’s Palace took 24 years to recreate the amazing Prussian artistry.

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Built during Stalin’s rule, the seven buildings of Moscow, now the Hotel Ukraina, the Hotel Leningradskaya, Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Apartments, the Kudrinskaya Square Building, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Red Gates Administrative Building, and the main building of the Moscow State University, have identical architectural style. These buildings are evenly spread around the city and are known as the Seven Sisters in English and Vysotki or Stalinskie Vysotki in Russian. The typical architectural style is called Stalinist Gothic. The original idea was that people would work and live in one place. The idea of locking people up in the buildings appealed to the Soviet architects and the Soviet government.

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You never drink alone in Russia. It is abnormal and antisocial.Never drink without eating a bite of something immediately. If you are drinking vodka (and why wouldn’t you be?) it should be salty – olives or herring perhaps.Never sip vodka and never add ice or tonic. A shot of vodka is the only way.

There is a vodka museum in St Petersburg. Vodka is a drink ‘close to the human soul”. It is an all-purpose irreplaceable drink used in both joy and sorrow throughout Russian history.

Russians produce some of the best caviar in the world. You eat it from a metal caviar spoon with vodka of course, But be careful when buying it. Buy from a reputable vendor where you might pay a bit more, If you don’t read Russian you don’t know the quality you are getting and there is also lot of illegally produced caviar in Russia. (cruelly and unsustainable). Fresh caviar is sold in bulk in the open markets and fun to try there. You can only bring a small jar to the US and nothing that is not prepackaged. (Grand Hotel Caviar Bar St Petersburg)

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The Moscow metro which was opened in the year 1935 is famous for its elegant architecture with art, murals, mosaics, and elaborate chandeliers. The Moscow metro has a total of 182 stations, which boast of one of the deepest subway systems and Europe’s longest escalator in Park Pobedy.

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Easter is the most important holiday in the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1884. The Russian Jeweler Peter Carl Faberge made an egg for the Tsar that became a gift for Tsarina Maria. They agreed that Faberge would make an egg for Maria every year. This continued on through their sons. They were inspired by historical works of art from his travels or the Hermitage. Fifty six Imperial eggs were made of which only 44 were found. Some were on display in the Kremlin Armory (now a museum) but a Russian billionaire bought the collection and opened a Faberge museum in St Petersburg.

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Lenin has never looked better. Russia is obsessed with keeping his body intact and has used new experimental embalming techniques. The focus is to preserve the body’s physical form but not necessarily its biological matter. There is definitely some plastic involved. Queues are very long. (Lenin’s mausoleum)

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Many things in Russia are almost impossible to explain, There is a very good saying that you will hear over and over again as first response to your questions: “Rossiyu umom ne ponyat” which can be translated as “Russia cannot be understood with your mind” (a quotation from the poet Tyutchev).

Безопасно путешествовать (I think)

JAZ

Vomit Down And Other Things I Have Learned From Traveling

Vomit Down And Other Things I Have Learned From Traveling

“I had an inheritance from my father, It was the moon and the sun. And though I roam all over the world, The spending of it’s never done,” Ernest Hemingway

Friends and traveling companions will appear along the way when you are traveling alone. With the magic of fb and instagram you will always know what they are having for lunch. (Japan)

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Scan your credit cards and IDs and send them to yourself. They will be easy to replace when lost.

You will sometimes run into travelers who will give their country a bad name . If it is one that you have not been to before, know that there are always others who will restore your faith in that country. (Turkey)

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There are a lot of McDonald’s in the world. If you are in a McDonalds country they are probably not fighting a war. there is a correlation between peace and the golden arches. (Russia)

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Traveling helps you find out what you are capable of. Whether it is flying on a tiny plane, going in a squat toilet that looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in…..ever, eating fried bugs, picking coffee beans with the branches smacking every part of your body or eating in a restaurant alone. (Mexico “chapulinas”  fried crickets)

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I am shocked at the level of corruption in most developing countries. Even if it is technically a democracy, most nations are run by and for the benefit of those who control the institutions of power. Political killings, bribery, extortion and kickbacks are the norm in many countries.

Pack as light as you can. I am a work in progress.. (Finland)

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It is the twenty-first century and most people in the world are living in it. You can visit a tribe in the jungle or mountains to have an “authentic” experience. But cultures have always changed as new ideas, religions, technologies sprang up and different cultures mingled and traded with each other. Today is no different. (Panama Embera tribe)

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When on a boat in rough water, vomit down. (Tasmania, Australia)

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People of the world do not seem to hate Americans – even in countries where you think they might. They may hate our government and our politics but they are as curious about Americans as I am about them. (Myanmar)

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When they tell you not to drink the water in a country – don’t do it. This includes ice, and washing fruits and vegetables. (Thailand)

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The hype of a destination can sometimes set you up for disappointment. Go anyway but I find it is the surprise places that I didn’t know too much about that I remember – except Machu Picchu – that lives up to the hype. (Peru Machu Picchu)

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Remember to call your bank and credit card companies before you leave.

Usually the American media portrays things as much worse than they are. The media makes us scared of the world and we shouldn’t be. Be cautious if you are going somewhere that is in the news but chances are that by the time you get there it will be over and they will still be reporting it. Always check the BBC they are much calmer. This has happened to me in Budapest, Bangkok, Myanmar, Colombia, Cuba and Cancun. So far it has been fine when I got there. (Cuba)

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Traveling with friends and family make amazing memories, traveling on a tour is safe and you learn a lot, but traveling alone is more eye-opening and you have adventures. (Viet Nam)

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It’s ok to be a tourist sometimes. There are some tourist attractions that you should see.(China, Great Wall)

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You can find the internet almost anywhere. I have watched them laying internet cables high in the mountains of Argentina. I have used it in Myanmar before they were supposed to actually have it. I have seen remote villagers holding their cell phones in the air for a signal. (Tibet- photo Helen Mackinnon)

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Most people you meet in the world have a  desire to travel. There are finances, fears and excuses but everyone I meet tells me unasked about a place they hope to visit one day. I think the wish to explore and see new things is fundamental to the human experience. (Colombia)

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Fly safe,

JAZ