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Archive for November, 2011

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There are so many things to be thankful for this year, I hardly know where to start. I’m grateful for my health (despite a few hiccups of late, I’m perfectly fine), I’m grateful for Mountaineering Man and our lovely place in Raheny that we now call home and I’m incredibly thankful that – in a country where the unemployment rate is 14% – I’m gainfully employed.

I’m appreciative of my friends here, from my long-time mates in Collon to my relatively new circle of buddies in Dublin. I feel lucky to have my fellow food blogging friends, who I can always rely on for a weekend brunch in or a trek out to try some fabulous restaurant. I can’t ask for better friends than my life-long besties back home in San Francisco and LA. – though there’s an ocean between us we’re still as close as ever. And of course I’m thankful for my amazing family, who I got to see last month and who showed MM a wonderful time in Los Angeles during our visit. There’s MM’s family as well, who have always been so kind and warm to me and with whom I look forward to spending the holidays with this year.

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Beaumont

When it comes to healthcare in Ireland, the news isn’t good. The headlines in the papers and the television news reports are ripe with exclamations of how badly the system has broken down in recent years. Stories of patients waiting for beds, tests and appointments are featured daily in the Irish media.

As someone who has no private health insurance here, my own experience has been quite good. For 50 quid I can see my general practitioner and she’s available with one or two days’ notice. My prescriptions cost about 10 euro on average. Of course I have never needed emergency hospital care – which according to the news reports is a whole different story all together – until recently.

Last week I went to my GP complaining of chest pain, rather a tightness in the middle chest area, for the previous few days. She surmised it was likely esophageal spasms caused by an upsurge of stomach acids. While I was there she took my blood pressure, which was surprisingly high; I’ve always had perfect readings and my last check was only a few months ago, also perfect. She prescribed meds for the spasms and told me to come back in a few days. When I returned with the same symptoms and high blood pressure, she sent me to the emergency room at Beaumont – a public hospital in Dublin.

And that’s where I got my first dose of the reality that is public healthcare in Ireland.

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Gals Tarte

About 15 months ago, I got an invitation for a night out in Dublin. It was from Aoife of the ICanHasCook blog, and she wanted to have me up in the city for a “night of culture and fun.” At the time I was living in Drogheda and I was busy discovering all things small town (well, small for me considering a few months before, I’d moved from Los Angeles) and was frequently writing on this blog about how much I missed the culinary and cultural offerings of a city.

Gals Yuzu I took the train up and had my first proper night out in Dublin. We hit about a half-dozen places with Aoife “Veg” and Catherine “The Runcible Spoon” and I ended up crashing in ICanHasCook & Nialler9’s guest room at 4 am. Looking back on that night now, it’s hard to believe how confused and overwhelmed I felt in Dublin – I had no idea where I was and no idea how to get to Point A from Point B in anything but a taxi. Though back then it was all a blur, I now know we went to Bernard Shaw for a pre-dinner drink, Rotana for dinner, the Workman’s for another drink, the No Name bar for more libations, a warehouse to see a graffiti-off between a English and Irish artists and a loft somewhere to see Alarmist and then to PantiBar for a nightcap.

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LA Mushrooms

I don’t think it’s commonly used here in Ireland but in California we describe uber-healthy, slightly hippie food/people/things as “crunchy,” which is short for “crunchy granola.” For example, you might go to a “crunchy” shop to get organic spelt flour, maple oat syrup and some flax seed crackers. Or my sister might describe her vegan friend who only wears vegetarian shoes and hemp clothing as “super crunchy.”

LA Surfers But you don’t have to be stuck in the ‘60s, buy only organic and drive a low-emission vehicle to appreciate wholesome food, and when we were back in my hometown of Los Angeles on holidays recently I was reminded of the sheer variety of crunchy food available at shops and restaurants there. It also made me realise how much I miss being able to find a great beetroot and cashew cheese sandwich on sprouted grain toast or a green antioxidant smoothie without having to look very far. As Californians are generally active and health-conscious, there’s a wealth of interesting nourishing fare available at a number of places.

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