“……….My name is Cade Foster. These are my journals……..”
Haha :=) OK, no, I am not Cade Foster. I just like that line from the TV show “First Wave”, starring Sebastian Spence. Seemed like a good way to start MY journals, non?
I’m Steve, and these are indeed my journals (for the record, I hate the name “Steve”. I prefer to be called “Michael”).
I’ve always considered myself to be a rather good writer. More than good, actually. Which is why I’m not quite sure why I’m having trouble starting this journal (lol)
Well, today’s September 4th, 2016. The time is 7.17 p.m. — just under 5 hours shy of my 41st birthday. At least, according to Panama Local Time; in Australia, for instance, my birthday has probably already come and gone :=)
So, who am I, really?
When people ask me to describe myself in 3 words, I always say: “I haven’t got 3; but, I can give you 8: Software Engineer, Avid Traveler, & Lover of International Cuisine”
Yep, this is my profession; been doing this — in one way or another — since 1997.
Why do I say “in one way or another”? Because, back in the 1990’s, the term “software engineering” hardly existed. Certainly not in the way it is taken nowadays. Back then, we had programmers (which I was)……..computer scientists (yep, nailed that one, too!)……data/data-entry processors (er…….em…….you don’t mean Lotus, do you?), etc, etc. Software engineering grew out of a desire to integrate the world of computers, with that of: business, life-sciences, research, and just about every other facet on the globe. One minute, I was writing code on my giant IBM PC; the next minute, I had to run with the pack to keep up with the geometrically-progressing world of Information Technology. A programmer knows how to write code. Cool. A software engineer not only writes the code, but knows exactly where to put it…………how to manipulate it………to get results.
75% of everything I know today, I taught myself. And, this was back when we didn’t have Google to give us all the answers; all knowledge came from books — real books — and I slugged a lot of these around with me on most days.
I loved my job from the get-go. No, scratch that; I fell in love with computers from the get-go. I still fondly remember my first ever computer — a giant IBM PC, with the black-and-white monitor (lol). I was 14 at the time. That was the beginning of the rest of my life.
Yep, this is soooo me 🙂 My favorite hobby. Traveling. For me, nothing beats visiting and exploring a new world — new country, new culture.
I’ve been to a lot of places (a few times for work, but mostly just for fun and sight-seeing).
My travels take up a whole category of their own, and can be found here:
Cooking is my second-favorite hobby. International cuisine is my passion.
Whenever I travel, one of the things I love to do is explore the local cuisine; I love to try different dishes, and, if possible, learn how to cook them.
Besides, besides, being somewhat of a romantic at heart, I love to be creative in the kitchen. :=)) Oh, I do enjoy eating out once in a while; but, to me, a home-cooked meal is the absolute BEST )))))
I have never understood people who travel to the other side of the world, and indulge themselves in lunching and dining on burger and fries from the McDonald’s across the street……..or the KFC at the mall…………or a steak and fries at the restaurant 10 miles away! I have met many, many such people.
I mean, REALLY??!!! You get on a plane……….travel 10000 miles to, say, Indonesia, or Australia, or Brazil, or whatever. And, you have no desire whatsoever to sample the local cuisine. Your idea of “eating” is to frequent the McDonald’s; because it’s where you go to stuff your face back home ?! (LOL).
Hmmm………….each to their own, eh?
Whenever I travel, I not only prefer the local dishes, but I also prefer the local establishments; by “local establishments” I mean the small, out-of-the-way places, where the little, smiling old lady cooks up stuff from her own kitchen, and serves them to passersby on wooden stools and tables :=); the kind of place you can hardly find on Google Maps; the kind of place that’s on street corners; the kind of place where you are given spoons and forks only if you request them, otherwise it is presumed that the food is eaten with the hands (haha).
A couple of times, though, I did get in trouble because of such a place. In Cambodia, for instance. On my first night in Phnom Penh, I decided to go out for dinner. I came across a little by-the-side-of-the-road place, run by a man, his wife, and their two daughters. I sat down and ordered roasted chicken breasts, with rice, and some veggies. The food tasted superb!
The next morning, however, I woke up around 4.30 a.m., because I had to rush to the toilet. My stomach was doing oriental acrobatics, while grumbling all the time. And, so it began; for the rest of the day, I had to rush to the toilet every hour, or so. It got so bad, that the toilet bowl became clogged, and I had to call the maid for help in de-clogging it (hahahahahahahahaha)))))
Did I regret my decision to eat on the street the previous night?? NO WAY, JOSE! That same night, I was back on the streets again, dining my heart out (although, I was careful to avoid the veggies; and, I also made sure to purchase some stomach pills from the pharmacy first).
I don’t like eating in restaurants. I try to avoid them as much as possible. For one thing, they are not worth the money you throw away in them. I can afford to buy anything, in any restaurant, anywhere in the world. But, why would I? For one thing, I can cook most dishes already, anyway. So, why would I spend bucks on something I can cook even better at home……….and for FREE (haha)??
A perfect example of what I mean: on my last trip to Australia, I went out on a date with a Japanese girl I met there. We had been walking around all day, exploring Melbourne; by late evening, we were hungry, and decided to eat something. The first place we stumbled across was an Italian place. Typical of many such establishments the world over, it was all doned out: candle-lights, stiff waiters, smiling hostesses, terrace outside, blah, blah, blah. Normally, I would avoid such a place; but, as hungry as I was — (and, I could tell my date was, too) — we decided to give it a shot. So………..in we went. We chose the terrace, for the cool, evening air. Our menus were brought, and I ordered something that boasted “lamb, with steamed potatoes”, or some such. My date — (I forget her name) — ordered pasta.
After waiting, and starving, for 20 minutes, our orders were brought. Wanna guess what was on my plate? Firstly, the plate was HUGE; a giant saucer, which held a piece of meat that was hardly bigger than my daughte’s palm!!!!! To one side was a small helping of potatoes (no idea whether they were steamed or boiled or bashed). I stared at this in shock, before diving in. It took me 6 minutes flat to eat everything on that plate!!! 6 minutes, for a pile of crap that didn’t even whet my appetite, much less my hunger.
And, the worst part? Yeah, it cost 26 bucks!!!! That’s restaurant food.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have a problem with Italian food. Not at all. I simply have a problem with paying 26 dollars for something a cockroach would have devoured in seconds!
I could see my date was having the same problem. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I suggested to her we go somewhere, where they offer real food. We left that “palace”, and after much walking, found a local deli, where they served everything from rice, to beans, to wings, to veggies, etc., etc. We proceeded to stuff our faces with all and sundry (lol).
Fun times, eh?
Anyhow, below are just a few of my very latest exploits in the kitchen………….
I’ve never been to Jamaica (it’s still on my to-do list). But, 2 years ago (in 2014), I accidentally stumbled across a Jamaican restaurant in Helsinki (Finland), where I was living at the time. Naturally, I decided to try it out…………….
………and I was not disappointed! Some of the most delicious cooking I ever tasted! The lady who ran the place with her husband was a gracious hostess.
Jamaican Mama’s is the name of the place…………
Like most people, I’ve sampled Chinese cuisine for years. After all, they are everywhere. Granted, most of these so-called Chinese restaurants aren’t worth pennies; the food tastes like used dish-water. But, a few are actually quite good.
My first taste of genuine Asian cuisine was in Thailand, of course (the first Asian country I visited). From the very moment I sampled it, it became my favorite dish……….and stayed that way for years……….until I went to Seoul.
Korean cuisine became — and remained — my favorite cuisine.
Moving to Panama has denied me the pleasures of Korean dishes. The one and only Korean restaurant in Panama City closed down not long after I arrived here (I never visited it, though). As such, I am reduced to occasionally dreaming about Kimchi, and Jijimi, and Jjigae, when I go to sleep (LOL).
I drink, sure. I never liked going to bars; nor did I ever like getting blind drunk and wasted (something most people seem to find necessary).
For one thing, I hate beer! Can’t stand it. It simply tastes AWFUL. Tastes like donkey-piss, actually (and, before you ask: no, I never drank donkey-piss. Haha. I simply find beer to be a perfect match to what donkey-piss might taste like). The world we live in has chosen to measure a man’s “adulthood” by whether or not he can drink beer; if you refuse to drink beer, you are considered a “child” in the eyes of your mates — another reason why I find most people so repulsive.
The same goes for hard liquor: gin, whiskey, vodka, cognac, scotch, etc, etc. All of these taste like sh**t to me (please, excuse my French), and so I shun them. I prefer things which actually taste good. Sweet, or even semi-sweet, I can tolerate. Cocktails, for instance (ever since I moved to Panama, I’ve sampled many of their cocktails, margaritas, pinadas, etc.).
I love most wines, but I’ve found the wines from J.P. Chenet to be the most pleasurable.
However, my most favorite alcoholic beverage is Irish Cream. There are very many of these, but my cream of choice is Conway’s Irish Cream.
My favorite Irish Cream used to be Bailey’s (no surprise there, as they are probably the most well-known). Until, one fine Friday afternoon, in the autumn of 2008, I went shopping for some alcohol for dinner that night. I always bought Bailey’s at Finland’s popular, state-owned Alko Store. This time, however, they didn’t have Bailey’s in stock. I was a bit ruffled at that. Determined not to leave empty-handed, I decided to settle for another brand of Irish Cream, which had the label “Conway’s” on it.
And, that’s where it began for me. One taste of that, and I never again went back to Bailey’s (lol).