Mon 31 May 2010
They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and there are still many days that I’m smacked upside the head with this realization. It’s been nearly three months since I upped sticks and moved from the urban metropolis of Los Angeles to small-town Ireland, but every day still brings a fresh realization of how different life is compared to the way it used to be.
I’ve mentioned before that living here reminds me of just how entitled I, and a lot of Americans, can be. In America, the customer is king. In Ireland, the customer is…well, just like anyone else. I recently went to Brown Thomas, a high-end department store in Dublin, to return a bottle of makeup foundation I had purchased the week before. Though the sales clerk let me try the makeup before I purchased it, the color of the makeup he put in my bag was much darker (I believe he grabbed the wrong color). When I got home and poured a tiny amount into my hand, I realized this, so I boxed it back up and took it – along with the receipt – back to BT.
Breathtaking views of Clogherhead, Ireland
“This has been used,” said the clerk, accusingly, when I went to return the bottle. I explained to her that indeed I had poured a miniscule amount out of the bottle before realizing it was the wrong shade, and reasoned that I would have no way of knowing this until I had done so. “Sorry, it’s used so we cannot resell it so we can’t take it back.” She made me feel as if I was intentionally trying to rip her off. If this was America, the store would have gladly accepted the product, regardless of whether it could be resold. The mentality is that the store would rather lose the profit than a potential life-long customer who would most certainly come back and buy more merchandise in the future.
One of my favorite sushi chefs in Los Angeles
In the multicultural city of Los Angeles, I could get any type of food – from street tacos to fresh sushi – at almost any hour of any day within a 10-minute drive. Here in Drogheda, there isn’t a single restaurant that serves sushi, and the closest thing to Mexican is an Irish fast-food chain called Abrakebabra (if you believe that’s Mexican food, there’s a bridge in Dubai I’d love to sell you). Shops close at 6 p.m. here, except on the weekends when a small number stay open until 8-9 p.m. The post office and banks are closed on Saturdays. Last call at bars is usually around 12:30 a.m. We have one movie theater that rarely plays first-run movies. The list of “have nots” goes on and on.
Before you assume that I am complaining about these disadvantages, let me state that all of the above has been crucial in shedding that American sense of entitlement I once possessed. Since moving here, I’ve learned to adjust my schedule/attitude/etc. to suit the way things are in Ireland because Ireland is certainly not going to change for little ol’ me. I make sure to have my post ready on the weekdays if I want to mail something, I get myself to the shop before 6 p.m. when I need to make a purchase and I make the trip down to big-city Dublin for sushi when I crave it. I make my own tacos (see recipe below). Do I do it all with a smile? Of course not (I’m still pissed off about Brown Thomas!). But I have learned to be more flexible and to accept that there are more important things in life than getting into the bank on a Saturday.
Good friends and good times in Ireland
Here, no one honks their horn when I’m spaced out at a red light. Here, I can sit around the living room of a friend’s house with a gang of people and watch television and drink tea and be totally content. Here, I can look out the window and see the most beautiful view of church steeples and take a spin around the country and be among the lambs and cows and fresh air. Here, I can spend an evening with the girls and NOT talk about weight, body issues or celebrities. Here – at least for now – life is just more fulfilling than it was in Los Angeles.
Fresh Lobster Tacos
2 whole lobster tail, cooked and removed from the shell
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon minced cilantro (fresh coriander)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Sriracha, or sweet chile sauce
4 corn tortillas
Guacamole (recipe follows)
More Sriracha or chile sauce for topping
Cut the lobster tails into large chunks. Add the red onion, cilantro, mayonnaise and Sriracha (or chile sauce) and mix together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into four corn tortillas, and top with guacamole and more Sriracha or chile sauce. Serve.
1 ripe avocado
2 tablespoon minced white onion
1 teaspoon Tabasco
Mash avocado, leaving a few chunks in the mix. Add the onion and Tabasco and mix until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.