Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pan con tomate recipe

Tomatoes make everything better. I have no idea how Catalans came up with the idea of their pan con tomate, but that's something I can't say no to ever, in any restaurant in Barcelona. My dad and I have a running joke that we are always hoping that nobody offers us bread with tomatoes, because the only possible answer to the question "¿Quiere pan con tomate?" is "Sí-sí".

I've been making pan con tomate for breakfast several days in a row now, and I can't get enough of it, so here is my very simple recipe that always turns out delicious.

You will need:

- white bread with nice thick crust,

- one fresh tomato,

- a garlic clove (optional, but so flavourful),

- olive oil,

- sea salt.

Cut the bread in pieces, with as much crust as you can. Stick the bread in a toaster for two minutes or in a hot oven for a 3-4 minutes. Cut open a garlic clove, rub it over the soft side of each piece of bread. Cut the tomato in half, rub the juicy side of it over the soft side of each piece of bread. Drip as much or as little olive oil over the tomato side of each piece. Add sea salt. Enjoy.

It makes every sandwich better as well. Yeah, I stole that idea from Catalans too!

Friday, May 11, 2012

My favourite kind of nerdy talk

I am well aware that chat logs are boring. I am well aware that posting chat logs is a sure-fire way to not get new readers. I am well aware that I am going to post this one anyway and have fun re-reading it from time to time.

Here are some bits and pieces of my Skype conversation with Isaac who will be soon travelling to New Zealand (the lucky bastard).

Isaac: Olya and I were looking at passport covers last night. NZ's is pretty hot, I've gotta admit.

Katya: New Zealand. AHOIUFHNC S FHOIJFCM. That's how it looks to me. Maori is amazing.

Isaac: Welcome to my world with Russian, circa 2005. lol

Katya: I can imagine. Also, I really love these fern leaves on the edge of the cover.

Isaac: Exactly. That's what does it for me. And it's black.

Katya: Black and silver.

Isaac: Exactly.

Katya: I have a photo handy. lol

Isaac: As do I.

I bet yours doesn't belong to anyone you know. :P

Isaac: Well, no. But now it belongs to Wikipedia, which is almost as good. I think the only black passport I've seen is a US diplomatic passport. Oh. And the Swedish diplomatic passport...that shit is HOT.

Katya: That I'd need to google. ...Not bad *Obama face*

Isaac: innit

Katya: I have to say, my temporary Canadian passport was very pretty too. Not hot, but pretty. Like a countryside maiden.

Isaac: All white and pure and virginal, &c.

Katya: Yup. Have I shown you the pictures?

Isaac: No, you haven't, and I'm saddened by it.

Katya: Never came up in conversation, I suppose.

<The temporary passport Canadian consulates across the globe issue to those unlucky Canadians who lost theirs. This replacement passport costs a small fortune.>


Katya: :D I don't know who decides on the colours. Most of them are ugly, in my opinion, in most countries.
Huh, Canadian diplomatic passport seems to be the colour of the Russian internal one. One word: ew.

Isaac: Kinda turns you off from becoming an ambassador, doesn't it?

Katya: Yup, but the colour is not the reason. I wouldn't want to represent Canada, if they charge 160€ for replacement passports. etc etc etc

Isaac: Hey, maybe you'd be in a position to change that.
Katya: Maybe. If it was up to me, I'd give the replacement passports for FREE and let the citizens return home, where they can decide to get a new passport right away for a normal fee or wait however long they want to wait.

Isaac: A single-use emergency travel document.

Katya: Exactly.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Eyes down, soldier

Back in Canada I am indeed. (Also, Yoda.) This clearly isn't Europe anymore, for many obvious reasons, and one of them bugs me the most: men don't look at women here. Stealing glances and immediately averting one's eyes happens, but ogling and gazing, admiringly or lasciviously or otherwise, doesn't.
I'll be the first to admit that I like when men look at me. I don't find it offensive or obscene, and as long as they don't do anything intrusive or aggressive, I for the most part enjoy the attention I get. And in Spain I get a lot of it. I like it not only because it strokes my ego, but also because, to me, people who are not afraid to openly admire a beautiful woman (me in that case) clearly allow themselves to enjoy little things more and are having more day-to-day fun, and I'm happy for them.
On the other hand, I'm not happy for human contact-deprived Canadians, who are poisoned by steady pressure to be PC and are constantly scared of sexual harassment. I actually don't know if these are the main reasons why men here don't look at women, but it's in the culture for sure. (The sociologist in me has just died a little.)
Point is, I never thought that I would physically feel the absence of others looking. Right after I landed at YYZ, I could tell something was off, but only understood what it was when we stopped by a store to get some groceries. The feeling of being looked over and gazed at was gone so completely that I felt it, and I didn't like it. Again, not because of my vanity, but because, well... Why wouldn't men look? Why do they look in Barcelona, but not in Toronto?
That's sort of a rhetorical question, unfortunately.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What's up, Whatsapp?

I find it curious that WhatsApp hasn't seemed to find much traction in North America. In Barcelona people are all over it, no matter what they do or whom they text. In Toronto, and I know this for a fact, some people know about it, but they are too few and far in between. I have a WhatsApp contact list of 30 or so people, 5 of them Russian, 5 of them Canadian, and the rest is all Barcelona friends. My phone book, from which WhatsApp plucks users who installed the app, has some 275 contacts in it, and most of them are Toronto people.

And the app was developed in California... Possibly Americans use it more often than Canadians; it would make sense considering the horrendous charges even for incoming texts in the U.S. Even so... Too bad Canada doesn't want to jump on board with Europe. I have unlimited global texting, but I still like WhatsApp better.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Airport codes

I am fascinated with airport codes, as the title of my blog would attest. They are such a handy way of identifying cities without having to type the full names up, and feeling like a boss at the same time. Who would write "Toronto" when you can just stomp on Y and Y and Z in the title of a document or a pictures folder? Not to mention that flight searches work out much faster this way. YYZ-BCN, boom! Instead of "Toronto" - "Please choose and airport" - Pearson... Ugh... Or take Moscow: DME is much shorter than Domodedovo, and SVO is easier to spell than Sheremetyevo, especially for foreigners. I will probably rant about Russian airports in a separate post, so here are a few memorable ones located elsewhere:

BCN - That's, of course, El Prat in Barcelona. I think by far the one with the most obvious connection between the city name and the code.

YYZ - My second favourite and my home base, Toronto Pearson Airport. Toronto has another cool airport right in the city centre (on the island right off downtown, to be precise), but I have never flown out of there. Billie Bishop City Airport is dominated by Porter and, consequently, is quite expensive.

MSY - That's the coolest place in the U.S. I've been to so far, New Orleans, Louisiana. The airport is newly renovated and hip, and very strangely quiet all the time.

EWR - Newark, New Jersey. Flown in and out of there a lot of times, mainly Europe-bound. The airport is decent, but its United Red Carpet lounge could use some serious work, like... Oh, I don't know, offering food, maybe?

JFK - Such a dull place.

LGW - London Gatwick. Such a long walk from the gate to passport control, up the stairs, down the stairs, moving walkway, left, right, welcome to London, now you have to take a train to the train station. Marvellous.

CDG  - Paris Charles de Gaulle. Since we are on the subject of marvellous... CDG is the airport I hate with a passion. I don't hate practically anything or anyone at all, but the airport in Paris I do. I literally go red in the face and white in the knuckles when I think about it. Its horrific domestic terminal is always crowded thanks to the idiot who designed it, there are no calm corners to be found because everything is laid out in the open, even if half-submerged to the lower level, and, well, I have yet to arrive or depart on time from there. CDG also happens to be located in the most optimal point between YYZ and BCN for me, so I can't avoid it. And it's especially pleasant to hate when I arrive to El Prat.