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BLOOMINGTON day .5

June 17, 2009

INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 005 INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 002 So I’m here and it’s awesome (knock on wood)… then again, the workload hasn’t gotten crazy yet. I am the youngest here by a considerable amount (the only one who hasn’t graduated high school yet). It’s not like I’m covering it up, but most people haven’t been able to tell, which is good. My parents were kind of enough to drive me all the way here (4 hours) and then drive themselves back in the dark (thank you, guys!). By the time we got to Bloomington (around 3:00 in the afternoon because Indian is on Eastern time), we were famished. My first impression of Bloomington was that it was green and deserted. The only people I saw on campus were joggers. Then again, Russian 1 starts a week earlier than the other languages on this program. I was immediately relieved when we checked out the downtown area, which is way cooler than Hyde Park. 4th street has a ton of ethnic places—Tibetan, Moroccan, Turkish, Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese, Italian, etc. By the time we actually got out to check the places out, most of them were already closed. We were even more limited because my dad really wanted a beer and most of them didn’t serve alcohol (plus IU doesn’t allow BYOB). We sat down at the Turkish place (Anatolia), found out they didn’t have a liquor license, left, didn’t find anything else, and went back to the Turkish place. My dad ordered a lemonade instead. INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 006 INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 008

I wanted to order a strange and exotic drink, and the menu had lots of options: cherry juice, beet juice (“tastes like pickles”), Turkish tea, and aryan, a yogurt drink with salt and mint. I ordered it because I’ve heard of it and always been curious about it—However, the waiter warned me about it, saying it “wasn’t really his thing”.

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Basically, what it is is diluted yogurt with dried mint. I think it would have been better with fresh mint, since combination of dried mint and salt made me think I was drinking watered down tzaziki. "Interesting….” was my comment.

“That’s a good way of describing it,” responded the waiter, who was a nondescript blond guy (also a vegetarian).

To start, we ordered a combination of four appetizers: hummus, dolma, Ezme (chopped roasted bell and banana peppers mixed w/ tomatoes, garlic, parsley and roasted walnuts) and an eggplant and red pepper dip. The plate was garnished with tomatoes and served with a challah-like bread. INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 010INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 009

The hummus was decent, but nothing special… I guess that’s what I get for ordering it at a Turkish restaurant. Everything else was great, but my taste buds were impaired, not having eaten for 7 hours and wanting to devour everything in sight. The entrees we ordered were served with soup, and we ordered one of each kind—white bean and lentil. The menu labeled everything has either “Vegetarian” or “Vegan” (or neither, if there was meat, obviously). The soup was “Vegetarian,” so at first I thought they had used egg to thicken it, like with Greek egg-lemon soup, but when I asked the waiter, he told me there was butter in the soup. Either way, there was something unusual about the lentil soup—it was almost sour. The bean soup was a little salty, and tomato based. I still ate most of both of them (For some reason, I don’t have a photo of the bean soup).  INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 011

I still tried to save room for the main course, which was difficult, but ended up being a good idea—check out those portion sizes! If I come back to this place, I’m definitely ordering Shrimp Turkolimano (Shrimp sautéed with tomato sauce, garlic and feta cheese), but yesterday I felt like some vegetarian food. I ordered artichoke hearts cooked with potatoes, tomatoes, green peas, and carrots. This was a bit like a Tunisian tagine (the peas), and it was served in a thick tomato sauce. It would have been better for winter weather, but it was delicious. It was served with salad and rice, and I would venture to say that the sides were the best part! The rice was soft and slippery, its elevated deliciousness obviously due to the presence of olive oil, and the salad had dill and mint in it.INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 015

My parents shared a mixed kabob (meat balls, chicken, lamb and beef kebab).INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 014

After we had stuffed ourselves to the point of nausea, we proceeded to burn off the calories at Target, where we bought a mini-fridge, bowls, silverware (baby utensils because I like to eat everything with tiny forks and spoons), glasses, a lamp/light bulbs, an extra pillow, sunscreen, an electric kettle, and a bunch of other goodies. It’s weird how every single target in America looks exactly the same… even so, we must have walked a few miles in that store, or at least enough that by the time we were done shopping, I was starving again (lunch had only been 2 hours or so earlier).

We wanted something “light yet refined,” and the place we ended up eating at we stumbled upon entirely by accident. What a lucky find, though! We were just passing by a place called The Runcible Spoon, and my mom freaked out because it was from The Owl and the Pussycat. We inspected the menu and it looked decent and insanely cheap—salmon for 8 dollars? Breakfast all day? Time to park the car.INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 042

It was pretty early in the evening and the restaurant was deserted. Some people were eating outside, but we ended up eating indoors. It looked like someone’s enchanted living room, and even though we were the only people in the restaurant, the whole atmosphere had a magical quality to it. There were framed collages on the walls that looked like they could have been made by Hannah Hoch, the female Dadaist (or to quote my mom, a “Mamaist”) and the decor made every possible allusion to The Owl and the Pussycat. Outlines of the two characters had even been scrawled on the bottom of the bathroom door!INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 020  INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 025 INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 024 INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 026 INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 040

Bathroom graffiti

First of all, my parents got to satisfy their beer cravings with a local beer brewed  in Bloomington: 

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I debated ordering breakfast for dinner, but decided not to. My mom just ordered a salad with rosemary chicken, but she was surprised by how juicy and flavorful the chicken was.INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 033

My dad ordered grilled salmon, which came with rice and beans, smashed potatoes (more like a potato cake, really), and sauteed vegetables. The salmon had been recommended by the waitress, and it definitely wasn’t overcooked. It was also encrusted (I hate that word but I’m using it anyway) with herbs.INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 032

I ordered the Black Bean Burger, which had cumin and some other spices. It was served on a floppy white bun that I ignored and I ordered the vegetables instead of smashed potatoes. I just wish their portions had been bigger (but my parents though I was crazy): the vegetables were zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, and carrots, and they were only lightly cooked—the broccoli was still crunchy. I also had a nice pickle on the side.INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 034

The problem was, after this I was still starving! I didn’t just want to order dessert because I wanted something that would actually satisfy me mentally and physically. I ordered a yogurt and fruit bowl. It had grapes, pineapple, pears, bananas, and apples. I didn’t eat the bananas because I associate them too much with breakfast. Definitely more fruit than yogurt, but this was exactly what I needed.INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 038  

My parents ordered coffee and CARROT CAKE, my favorite kind of cake EVER, and the kind we seldom order. It was a giant piece… the frosting was actually worth eating, which says a lot. The cake itself was really light, and tasted pretty strongly of coconut.INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 035

And coffee. Black coffee is essential.INTENSIVE RUSSIAN 037

My parents drove off. They left me on my own. It’s time to fend for myself. I still have to blog everything that happened today, but it’s time for sleep. I’ll write all that later.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Froma Zeitlin permalink
    June 17, 2009 9:30 pm

    I think your numbering of days is mixed up. this one is marked 5 but it’s really 1. How come you only arrived at 3 pm when you left Chicago so early in the day. But then, maybe you didn’t. I liked the Runciman Spoon a lot. does your mom have a thing for the ‘Owl and the Pussycat’? have you heard from Josh in Toledo???

  2. Froma Zeitlin permalink
    August 20, 2009 5:49 pm

    boy, you certainly did catch up. How do you remember EVERYTHING you eat? photos delicious (no pun intended). and best of all, the long anecdotal rundown of characters at the Soma was worth publishing. hurrah for you.

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