Blackened tofu-onion burgers.
That is what I’m eating now as I type this blog. For some reason, I thought that because I bought a vegetarian recipe book, I could cook.
I knew something was wrong once I started looking down the list of ingredients for “Tony and Elaine La Russa’s Tofu-Onion Burgers” and realized I was missing a couple of things. Yeah, I had tofu, the “medium onion,” flour, and what not. But what were these foreign-sounding food objects that had seemed to have jumped on the page out of nowhere—Garlic powder?? Wheat germ?? I could have sworn I had gotten everything!
But…I had a flashback of myself in Safeway last week, racing through the store grabbing objects on a mad spree. I had taken a late Wisconsin GUTS bus to Safeway that day. When I had asked the kindly bus driver while getting off when the last bus came to Safeway, he told me it was the next bus. Which meant it would arrive in 20 minutes. Needless to say, I barely even looked at the to-buy list I had written and went racing through the store like a madwoman, throwing things into my cart from memory. To be honest, I almost knocked over an elderly woman and her grandson while running down the produce aisle towards the checkout area. I did end up making it to the bus on time (sorry, dear little old lady!), but not with everything I needed, apparently.
So for tonight’s recipe, I had to improvise. Instead of wheat germ, I got the brilliant idea of substituting a few extra teaspoons of flour. Now before you turn your nose up at my inferior kitchen stock of cereal grains—hear me out! Wheat germ is made from flour! (Er, I think.) So flour trumps wheat germ!! And onion powder (one of my three seasonings, the others being pepper and salt) replaced garlic powder. I reasoned that because I was making tofu-onion burgers, garlic really didn’t have a role to play in the first place. Frying proved to be another adventure, with the 10 minute cooking time promised by the book somehow extending into 30. And even though the patties were supposed to be pan-fried until “very brown,” I couldn’t get the insides to cook without burning the outsides…
Sigh. So… as I’ve been crunching through my (admittedly delicious though a bit dry since I forgot to buy both ketchup and buns) blackened burgers which serve as my main nourishment tonight, I’ve been thinking of Poitiers.
I didn’t think I’d be writing a blog entry so soon because Poitiers still seems so unreal to me. Actually that’s a lie—it seems both real, and unreal at the same time, if that makes sense. This Friday, for a brief moment, I felt as if I were going. That was when I went to the STA office at George Washington University with Grace, a friend who’s going to the Sciences-Po Menton campus. We both needed to get our International Student ID Cards, so we had decided to go together and took a metro bus to the GW campus. There, we flipped through travel brochures and gushed about what we wanted to do in France, what we were looking forward to while living a completely different country for a whole year, and just chatted about where we wanted to travel in Europe during our breaks. For a moment, I felt like, yes, I am going abroad! When the cards were finally made, I asked the STA advisor—Dan*—for a price quote on tickets to Paris. He typed a bit on his keyboard, then he looked at me.
“$1016.” I think he felt my surprise, because he quickly added, “The ticket itself is only $600, but gas is another $350 or so, and taxes around $70.” What I really wanted to tell Dan was that I would personally pump some gas into the airplane, offer my services to mine a few oil fields in Alaska, or donate a few bushels of corn (they make oil from that now, right?) to the pilot, whatever to knock that unwarranted $350 off the price tag. But instead I smiled sweetly and thanked him for the quote. That was when Poitiers started to feel unreal again. I realized—I don’t have a ticket. How can I tell people I’m studying abroad when I have no means of transport to my site yet?
And even though I know I’ll be back at STA sometime later this week buying my ticket, I still don’t feel as if I’m going to Poitiers. I’m over two months away from being in France, my study-abroad site has yet to put up an official academic calendar for the 2008-2009 school year, and I have not heard a single word back from the dorm that I’ve applied to for residency. To top it off, I don’t even feel like the school year here at Georgetown has ended! If summer has indeed begun, I wouldn’t know, because I’m still here in D.C., taking summer classes and working.
You would think that once I received the acceptance letter (in PDF-form, but an acceptance letter nonetheless!) in my inbox, I would feel some sense of security and be able to tell myself with confidence “Yes, I will be living in Poitiers for a year.” But at this point in my life, pre-departure, all I feel is uncertainty, flutters of excitement, and then uncertainty again! Was it all just a lovely dream, the prospect that I would study abroad in France for a year? Am I really just coming back to Georgetown to start my junior year? When will I know that I’m actually going?
*Name changed to protect privacy
Also, I got the recipe from “The Compassionate Cook,” A PETA and Ingrid Newkirk vegetarian cookbook. Try the recipe at your own risk! ☺