Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Knock-off candy bars in Syria

I was thinking tonight about some of the knock-off candy bars we used to eat in Syria. They were myriad, and mostly awful. Some were even knock-offs of knock-offs.

There was Coco-Binti, which was like Bounty (that's Mounds to you USers, but Bounty is legions tastier). It cost 5 lira, which at the time was 10 US cents. (For comparison, a Bounty probably cost more like 35 lira.) What's more, it was manufactured by the government and was, I believe, on the list of price-controlled items like bread and milk. So you never had to worry about the price of your Coco-Binti skyrocketing. And it tasted OK. I mean, it would do in a pinch, when you really needed coconut and chocolate together, with overtones of wax.

(Now that I think about it, I think Coco-Binti was actually a knock-off of Hum Hum, which was the knock-off of Bounty. Hum Hum was probably 10 lira but I recall liking Coco-Binti better.)

Then there was Metro. I had assumed Metro was of the same ilk as Coco-Binti, but I found out later that Metro is from a legit Turkish brand called Ulker. Metro was kind of like Mars, but waxier (there is a definite wax theme with these knock-off bars). In some ways, I like it better than Mars - Mars is overwhelmingly saccharine, you know? (Do they even have Mars in the US? I can't remember now. Mars in the Middle East is like Milky Way in the US, and Milky Way is like Three Musketeers. There is no actual Three Musketeers here. So does that mean that Mars and Milky Way are the same in the US?) Metro took the sweetness down a notch but still filled the caramel/nougat/chocolate need. It cost around 10 lira, while a Mars, if they were even available, would have been more like 35 lira.

JEXY. Ah, Jexy. Jexy was fake Snickers, and man, you had to be desperate to actually eat one. When you eat a Snickers, it's usually as a meal replacement (right?), and so you can't skimp. You could actually taste the wax in a Jexy. Just now, I asked Jeremy if he remembered Jexy, and he said, "oh yeah, I loved those." I said, "no, you didn't. You're thinking of Metro." And he said, "oh yeah, I am thinking of Metro. I loved those. Jexy were gross."

We also used to eat Oreo-ish things called Dance. They were only really Oreo-like in that they were a chocolate biscuit sandwich with cream in the middle, but less chocolatey. They were consistently good and we ate them throughout our time in Syria. (When we were on vacation there in 2010, we ate Dance again and they really weren't half bad.) There were also more realistic fake Oreos called Romba, and another brand called Boreos (maybe Borios). Yes.

There was Ruby, which was kind of like Kit Kat, but not actual fake Kit Kat. Actual fake Kit Kat was called Katakit.

Anyway. There were so many more knock-off candy bars but I can't remember their names. Every once in a while, I see a Metro in the stores here and I remember the days of Coco-Bintis and Jexy and Dance.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Downton Abbey 5.4 (SPOILERS)

Don't tell Dr. Clarkson, but THAT is how you propose to Isobel Crawley - none of that getting sloshed at the village fair and making vague insinuations from Season 3 or whichever. I think she tried to stop him back then with a "are you sure you won't regret what you're about to say?" too. Lord Merton is made of stronger stuff, it seems.

Let it be pointed out that Lord Grantham did not even put down his newspaper at first when Edith came in and said that there might be news of Michael. DID NOT EVEN PUT DOWN HIS NEWSPAPER. In addition to the show forgetting about Michael Gregson, the family has forgotten about him, too!

Oh my gosh, Anna and Bates are so doomed. The music, the angst, the hiding stuff and sneaking around for Lady Mary. If the business with Mr. Green doesn't finish them, then the hidden condom surely will. Fate has it out for these two and they are oblivious to the train wreck that must be coming their way.

I TOLD you Lord Gillingham was a skeezeball!!! UGH, the slime was practically dripping off of him when he told Mary this was just something they had to "get through" together. I mean, I understand what he was trying to say, but getting all possessive and rage-y is not the tack to try in this situation in my opinion. The stage is set for Charles Blake or, preferably, Evelyn Napier. Somehow.

I promise I try to find different ways of saying this every single week, but Sarah Bunting is THE WORST. But THE BEST? - Lord Grantham's outburst at the table, because he was saying the words that I already scream in my head whenever Miss Bunting comes on screen. And Branson's face! Priceless!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Other ways of being bilingual

When you live overseas, there are more things you need to become bilingual in besides actual languages. In my everyday life here, I am constantly switching back and forth between my native "language" and second "language" of the following areas.

Shoe and clothing sizes. Yes, there's small, medium, and large, but there's also UK, US, and Euro. They are all different. Over time, I've become fluent in my own sizes, but it is almost beyond me to keep up with the kids' sizes, especially in shoes. Some clothing stores (like H&M) list all the sizes on the inner tag. I treat this as my dictionary.

Currency. We've lived here long enough that I consider myself truly bilingual in both dollars and dirhams. For most things, I don't have to convert at all. In fact, at the grocery store in the US, every once in a while I have to convert the dollars to dirhams because that's what I'm used to seeing at the weekly shopping trip.

Temperature. Jeremy and the kids and I routinely discuss temperature in Celsius. But I get a little foggy around the colder temperatures because we never have those there.

Distance. I learned kilometers at an early age, thanks to running track and cross-country in high school (we were on the 1500m, 3000m, and 5000m system there). So it's been easy to pick up kilometers/meters/etc. here. (The metric system is better, y'all. Just sayin'.)

Islamic calendar. It is really helpful to be able to know when Ramadan will be next year, or which week you're going to get off for Eid al-Adha. If you speak Islamic calendar, you can do this in your head (shift everything earlier about 10 days a year).

Time zones. The US-based credit card customer service center is only open M-F, 8a-5p, EST. Quick, what are your available windows of time for reaching them from the UAE? Don't forget to carry the one/account for the Friday/Saturday weekend in the UAE vs. the Saturday/Sunday weekend in the US. I have to hack this stuff out practically with pen and paper every time. Except for half the year when Oregon is 12h behind us. That makes it niiiice and easy.

I know I said these aren't actual languages, but sometimes they are. You also have to be bilingual in every English accent there is. And some of them are pretty tough to wade through. Sometimes you smile and nod...and then smile and nod some more.

Friday, January 23, 2015

January 23rd, outsourced

How to tell if you are in a Henry James novel ("You’ve done something in a piazza that renders you unfit for polite company").

The Packers are obsessed with Settlers of Catan.

This food diagrams thing is going around fb. I clicked on it, and the first few were great. The next few I was like "there is no way I will look at all 24." But then I couldn't stop. They were just too interesting. And pretty.

This. guy. He got in a car wreck and was crushed between two semis...and he lived. THE PICTURES. [HT Suzanne]

Those of you who read Escape from Camp 14 might be interested in knowing that doubts have been raised about part of the story's authenticity. [HT Jennifer]

Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes. Gimmicky headline, but I love the idea of giving all moms a box of goodies to help them get started with their little one. [HT Sharon]

Have a closer look at a super-high resolution image of Andromeda, why don't you! [HT Kathy]

A vacuum salesman made the birthday of an autistic boy super special. So precious. [HT Jen]

You have plenty of time to love them later. This is my new favorite essay on parenting. [HT Amanda]

Self-destructing book gives you 24 hours to finish reading. I wish more publishers would do stunts like this, because I could get so many books for free. [HT Ashi]

I am not done reading this yet (Oregon was founded as a utopia for racists), but is it possible that everything I learned about my state in elementary school was wrong?? [HT Liz]

Speaking of things that I KNEW were true until this morning: your family's name was not changed at Ellis Island. !?!??!?!

Epic football/soccer stretcher fail compilation. Just 'cuz.

I've read Goodnight Moon to one or another of my kids every night for what probably adds up to years. So I shared so many of this woman's issues with the bedroom in that book. [HT Lindsay]

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I recommend...

...that you watch Broadchurch. Now. It's on Netflix (at last!). Jessie will be blessed in heaven for recommending it a few months back. I have never been so moved by a crime drama. I don't even think "crime drama" describes what this show is. It's therapeutic, somehow. Plus, it overcame a barrier that I thought was insurmountable. Early on, I said to Jeremy, "if [such and such happens], then I hate this show." Well, such and such happened and I still LOVED the show. Wow.

...that you make and eat zucchini gratin. Maybe it's not zucchini season where you live, but I think it's eternally zucchini season here. Our weekly CSA box is always brimming with it (actually marrow, but it's mostly the same thing). Zucchini gratin is perfect.


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