Dating Sober

Although alcohol has never been a problem to me, I quit drinking altogether about six weeks ago, mainly for 3 reasons: health, money and dating. In Australia (too) it seems like the word ‘first date’ is synonymous to ‘going out for drinks’. By eliminating the possibility of meeting someone over a frosty, or in my case a glass or two of wine, you can pretty easily cut out the people who are meeting you just in the hopes of getting in your pants as soon as possible. Also, I like doing stuff, and new experiences is a way better way to spend time with someone anyways.

Since quitting, I certainly haven’t stop meeting people and become a hermit. I compiled a list of non-alcoholic dates with a friend, and have done a solid job going through the different possibilities.

Ice skating. There is a proper ice skating hall in melbourne, just under the giant ferris wheel. Rent skates for 26 dollars, and either make a fool of yourself or show off your skills.

Studying American English. Audio classes for proper American pronunciation are a fun way of spending time or driving around.

Brunch. Yumm. Even better if you take two dishes to share. And of course coffee.

meditation. Grounding 20 minutes or however long you want to keep it up.

Night drive to the beach. Take in the stunning views of the city after a nice drive. Night time driving is the best! Unless the driver is too tired and forgets that it’s a left-sided traffic.

Drive-in movies and food truck festival. Your average movie experience upgraded!

Chilling out listening to music. Good if the music listened is not only Drake, interesting if it’s French rap. At best you’ll get some new tunes to your Spotify (like Kavinsky, The Weeknd – Odd Look <3)

I don't know how long I'll continue this experiment of mine, perhaps few more weeks. I do believe wine in moderation is good for you, and I don't think I can endure the upcoming picnic season without it.

(No pictures due to not taking any on any of the dates and because I still have the crappy computer that now manages only the basic. Apologies.)

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Midsummer festivities: How to Open a Watermelon

As I have posted before, Midsummer or Summer Soltice is one of Finland’s biggest celebrations. Last year in New York I missed all the traditions: summer cottage, new potatoes, dunk people and whatnot, so this year was my opportunity to take it all back!

Guess what? I decided to stay in the city. Apparently I was not the only one, since there was (still is) a rather big city festival in Pyynikki. No summer cottage (though we do live next to a forest and have a nice view of the lake, which to me is the point of the whole thing), and no new potatoes with fish, but a lot of drunk people at the festival. It all evens out, right? The sun was shining, I even managed to  burn my back on the beach(!), and it was almost full moon, though still light outside at midnight. I “forgot” to collect 7 different flowers to dream of my future husband or the love of my life, nor did I do any other magic tricks and hocus pocus that is traditional to this feast ofthe inevitable: the days are getting shorter, and the winter is coming.

Midsummer midnight swim. Not me, though.
Midsummer midnight swim. Not me, though

With this long intro to the whole deal, I will now reveal to you how to deal with the uncomfortable situation of making a watermelon edible without a knife. A fast youtube search suggested banging your head to the fruit, which I was not that keen on trying (wonder why…) As smashing it to the ground would not have been cost-efficient, I wanted to find an alternative solution.

Battle of strenght
Battle of strength

At this point, you already have the solution. It is suggested to start off with the equipment.

The most beautiful melon
The most beautiful melon

To open a melon without a knife, you need a friend -or someone random- who just happens to carry around some nail scissors or a sewing kit. Just poke holes and cut around the whole damn thing, then start pulling with a friend. Or use karate moves on the cut line, which ever you fancy. The result is much greater than the boring triangles you get with cutting with a knife!

Getting at it
Getting at it

And as a bonus, after scooping the flesh out with your plastic forks and spoons (reserve few extra cause if you’re like me, you’re gonna break at least 4), there’s juice left for making punch drinking.

Sweet juice
Sweet juice

An idea: the left over bowls can be used as helmets, or hats.

So…that was yesterday, there still is today of everything-being-closed-and-drunk-people-wandering, we’ll see if I’ll get the courage to get out of the house and to the city! So far, I have just been devouring on chocolate sauce I made because I didn’t have enough patience to make actual chocolate. Recipe would be coming up in another post, but it’s ridiculously simple and I have no pictures of it besides my chocolatey mouth, so here goes: basically just mix melted coconut oil with cocoa powder and (raw chocolate) honey, then add some lechitin and toco (/other “superfood stuff” or just skip the powders, they’ll add creaminess and vitamins and stuff but who needs those, anyways) and bee pollen to the mix. No need to freeze, scoop it up (with sliced apple, for example) and smile!

The winter is coming, but who cares – it’s summer now!

Spicy Korean life

Korea is known for its’ spicy food, specially kimchi. I think in most of the restaurants you get a free side of kimchi with your meal, which usually is not that expensive to begin with.

Side dishes to hotpot

The meal is a social event, where it is not uncommon to share, grill food together or to eat from the same small plates. Usually food is eaten with metallic chopsticks and a spoon. Scissors are used to cut meat and other food into pieces before serving.

Korean bar food: various fried stuff such as fish paste cakes, washed down with soju and magkeolli

 

Koreans eat a lot of meat. And by a lot, I mean a lot. However, it is possible to find non-meaty foods as well. There are numerous Korean barbecue restaurants, since meat is cheap and apparently rather good quality, too. And when Koreans go drinking, unlike in Finland, they order food as well. Healthy? Could be, if the food wasn’t all (deep)fried.

The bar food is similar, if not the same to the food that can be bought on the streets.

Tokbokki, fish paste and meat skewers and savoury pancake

There are food vendors and stalls in almost every street, and oddly enough most of them seem to sell the same stuff: rice cake stew tokbokki, skewers with fish paste&rice cakes and/or meat, savory pancakes, fried dumplings and the “sushi” rolls.  Generous amount of oil is used for everything, and most are probably rather spicy, too.

“street cooked” dinner, washed down with magkeolli (white fermented rice alcohol)

The “restaurant” stalls are also located in the various markets of Seoul, and in some streets and parks.

Market food
Market food

When a sweet craving hits, not to worry! On the streets, you can easily find the solution.

Fried “fish”cakes with sweet chocolate or bean filling

No pictures of the most famous sweet treat: hotteok pancake.

I wanted to end this post with the Korean equivalent of the Japanese “ittadakimasu” which can be translated to “bon appétit”. Unfortunately I have no clue how Koreans begin their meals.

 

Another tea ceremony

There are so many ways to drink tea.

Tea set, some of the tea selection and mikan fruit

More chilled atmosphere than the previous time, this tea sampling was followed by a delicious Vietnamese-Korean dinner (pictures of which I accidentally deleted). No rules, no cup turning, and no bowing included. Just friends, chilling and talking.

Master at work

If you buy tea that’s worth 200yen for 52grams and import water recommended for tea, I guess you are a tea master?

Special water for special drinks

Drinking tea does not have to be in perfectly harmonized environment, it can also be harmonized with the atmosphere.

Drinking from small cups allows room for more tea varieties

We sampled some 7 different teas, including Chinese green tea, Japanese sencha, Chinese black unflavored, and white tea (my favorite).

Delicious Vietnamese ice coffee was also sipped and sniffed (ahh, the aroma!)

May Day

Vappu, aka Labour day, aka the biggest excuse to get drunk and stupid, was here once again.

Annual vappu market has game stalls

Vappu is the annual celebration in the end of April. For many kids it means the traditional vappu market, balloons, and a sugar high from munkki (donuts) and sima (mead, a beverage made from yeast).

Vappu treats, including 110 munkki
The most popular place on Tampere on Vappu – the bank of the Tammerkoski rapids

The streets are now clean again, there are no cheerful people anywhere to be seen – things have gone back to normal. But for the past few days everyone was happy, light-headed and outdoors enjoying the nice weather.

People enjoying the nice weather

Students drink and celebrate graduation, adults put on their graduation caps and drink sparkling wine on picnics. Rather than anything else, this holiday is associated with heavy drinking. Easy money for those collecting empty cans and bottles!

Vappu balloons

Next holiday – Midsummer!