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Archive for March, 2011

manners There’ve been a lot of stories coming out recently about the behavior of the Japanese in light of the terrible tragedies they’ve endured over the last several days. Though they’ve been tested well beyond the limits of any reasonable human being, their impeccable manners and stoic strength still remains. Even the freezing cold weather and threat of radiation exposure and dwindling food and water supplies – any one of which would warrant a psychotic break – they are polite, courteous and selfless. This is simply their nature.

It’s made me think a lot about the nature of the Irish…who are they, really? For the first several months I lived here I took note of the superficial things like the funny accents and quirky slang and the national obsession with chocolate. But as I spend more time here I’m starting to get a feel for the sociological and psychological traits of Irish people. Of course I’m no expert; I simply know what I’ve observed.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, a lot has happened since I moved to Ireland one year ago. And through my adjustment to this country and its culture, there have been a number of people who’ve helped along the way. One of the most noteworthy is a lovely group of foodies who now have a name (Irish Foodies) and an official website: The Irish Foodblogger Association.

It was in May of last year that we gathered together for the first time, though back then we were all coming as individual food bloggers and not as a group. Bord Bia and Donal Skehan organized the first-ever meeting of food bloggers in Ireland, and though I had emailed with a few in the months leading up to the meet I had never actually come face-to-face with anyone but the Daily Spud (both being big sushi fans, we’d met up earlier for a Yamamori dinner). The first new face I would see was Kristin of dinnerdujour, who offered me a lift after she heard I lived nearby. Together we trekked up the M1 to Dublin to meet up with our foodie peers.

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Clare view

The other day I came across a notebook that I brought from Los Angeles but hadn’t looked at in ages. It was a journal of notes that started in 2008 and ended before I moved to Ireland, which was on March 4, 2010. The last few pages are my frantic “to do” lists for my move, which included such chores as burn 10 CDs a day every day to iTunes, go to packing supply store, and don’t forget your PASSPORT!!!

What’s more interesting was a list of goals I’d set for myself back in 2008. They ranged from things I wanted to accomplish that day, like transcribe Tahiti interviews (for a story I was writing for a food/travel magazine) to tasks I wanted to finish within a month like clean up patio and buy plants for it. But further down the list were some life goals:

· I want to write a novel

· I want to be in a committed relationship with a great guy

· I want to buy a condo/house in Pasadena

· I want to travel more or live abroad

· I want to earn $100,000 per year

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There is a man in Drogheda whose reputation became known to me the day after I moved to Ireland. I was sitting in the immigration office of the local garda station waiting for my Irish ID card and chatting with Dennis, the head officer there. As soon as he heard I was a food and travel journalist, he insisted I try La Pizzeria, an Italian restaurant that had been in Drogheda for over 20 years and was still going strong. But his recommendation came with a caveat: “Don’t be late and don’t do anything to make Jian Carlo mad.”

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Over the next few months I got more referrals to La Pizzeria from taxi drivers, shopkeepers and my new Irish friends. And every single one of them included their own version of Dennis’ warning. From what I could gather, this Jian Carlo guy was basically Drogheda’s version of Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi” character, who infamously dismissed fickle or slow-moving customers with a thunderous “NEXT!” before demanding they leave the premises. But customers always came back because they couldn’t live without his delectable soupy creations. To be honest, it didn’t exactly make me want to run over to La Pizzeria, despite the fact that basically everyone in town raved about the food there.

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