The Bar

January 27, 2008

So an ex-fulbrighter is an excellent person and takes me to a bar she’s heard of. It was really laid back- not like the bars in Fes, which are populated only by murderers and thugs. This one seemed a little more like a US bar, where you could go in, drink, and leave without having had to hit anyone over the head with a barstool.

So we sit for a while, and I eat a sausage sandwhich and drink a couple of Flag Especials, and then we move to the back room. After a while the young lady’s roommate shows up, and it turns out that she knows a couple of guys that are in the bar. So we go and sit with them, and introduce ourselves and chat for a little bit in Arabic. If I recall, one was a cement industry procurer and the other was a muscian. But after a while one of them turns to me and says “You’re not French, are you?”

I ask why he thinks that, and he says “The French never speak in any other language.”

So, there that is. I don’t know if that’s a stereotype or what, but the point is, it’s really surprising to see how much people appreciate it when I try and mangle out some arabic for them. I guess in the US everyone speaks English, well, Anglish anyway, so I never thought about it before.



January 27, 2008

So, Last week my friends from Rabat came and visited. A week later, their friends who were travelling in the Maghreb came and stayed at my place en route to the air port. They were very nice and I feel like a jerk because when they asked if they could used the shower, I laid out some towels but forgot to show them how to turn on the hot water. Thursday I went out with Nicole, an ex-fulbrighter that got a job here with the Soccer and all. It turns out she knows where an excellent bar is! I will mention more about that in a moment.

The best part is that I finally found a decent map of Casablanca. It’s huge, and using it I was able to plan out a route from my place to the meeting place by the consulate. It takes about 30 minutes and after maybe 10 it goes from industrial areas to real nice looking residential areas. Sweet. The consulate, by the way, was closed off due to a small rally of palestinians. So yeah, I took a detour and found a Domino’s.

This weekend Megan came down from Fes and we went looking for new places to hang out. Well, she came to shop and I came to eat. We had lunch in a CHINESE RESTAURANT and then, after the shopping, we ate at a Spanish Tapas restaurant. It was delicious, but not even remotely filling. I think the next time I will get the Tapas, and also bring a hamburger or something with me. We had steamed mussels, garlic shrimps, two salad plates, a spanish quiche thing, and a plate full of thin-cut ham. Bizzlam! Also, I demand an answer from any italians that may be reading: how should I feel about Sangria? I know I am not supposed to like Rose wines, or any wines that come in two gallon jugs, but wine plus apples? I demand moral guidance!

Anyway, I forgot what I was talking about.

Like Sunday Afternoon

January 25, 2008

Not a whole lot going on.

 The university is closed next week for a holiday, so Ive sotked up on papers to read. Also, I need to apply for a residency permit, wooo, and I might try and go to Rabat and meet with someone from an NGO that might let me build something for them once the project gets off the ground.

So… yeah. Not a whole lot going on.

The Hitler Channel

January 19, 2008

So, I went to the grocery store today. The keep the big items near the door; I usually walk past the refrigerators and the televisions to get to the beer and ramen I so desperately need. Today was like any other day, except that as I walked in, Adolf Hitler is giving a speech on an enormous gazillion-inch plasma screen.

That was the last thing on earth I expected to see in the grocery store.

I think I dropped the basket I was holding and blurted out “what the hell is going on here?!” No one seemed to notice, so I just went and bought a 6-pack of Castel Beer. I then went to the cleaning products aisle and got a 6-pack of drain cleanser, which tastes better.

When I got to the check out aisle, Hitler was still talking away. But watching him from the aisle, something seemed strangely familiar. I felt really bad when I realized that the TV was just tuned to the History Channel to display its fantastic colour quality and resolution. I felt even worse when I actually recognized the documentary that was playing. It was Destroy The Bismarck! which I saw a couple of months ago on YouTube.

So there that is. A history documentary was playing on a TV in a grocery store, and I recognized specifically which documentary it was.

Chemicals Buying!

January 19, 2008

So, thursday I went down to the University. I was given a space to work in, and some chemicals. They’re not specifically slag, and I’m not sure that they contain CaO therefore any cement I make would be geopolymeric in nature and not specifically CSH based like I do back home. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

The one guy took me to buy chemicals. I got a 50 pound bag of NaOH, and it came in a plastic garbage bag. Seriously. The same stuff that Tyler Durden uses to burn a hole in Jack’s hand in Fight Club gets sold in garbage bags here. Back home, it’s like buying Pepperidge Farm Bread. There’s like 37 levels of packaging between me and it.

But it doesn’t stop there! Safety is definitely on the back burner here. Gloves don’t exist. When I was shown how to use the XRD, the guy smoked like 12 cigarettes. I saw a bottle of Sulphuric Acid, which wouldn’t be weird, except that the bottle was a 1-litre glass coke bottle. There are a lot of vats of unlabelled goo everywhere you look. It’s sort of refreshing, actually.

So before buying chemicals, I went to lunch with the guy whose lab I’m using. He took me to a restaurant he really likes. We walk up to the cook and look in the bubbling pots, and he points to what he’s getting. I say I’ll have the same thing, which he tells me is “the leg of the cow.” Great, I thought. I like beefs. It wasn’t.

It was the knee of the cow.

Now, look at your knee. Do you see a lot of meat on it? No? That’s for good reason. The knee is 100% fat and gelatin. The cook brings over a plate, and it’s pretty much a big glob of yellow goo sitting on a bed of Garbanzo beans. And the joint bone.

It was delicious.

For a fleeting moment I wondered if the guy was trying to gross me out. He wasn’t: it’s delicious to him, and he thought I like delicious food. And that was super nice of him. But for anyone out there with malevolent intentions: you are going to have to get up pretty early in the morning to gross me out. You’re going to have to get up early one morning, then eat a giant pile of methanphetamines and stay up for five days and then try and gross me out. You’d better be the author of a couple of ginkwork cookbooks before you try and gross me out. This Indiana Jones business doesn’t phase me.

Though, the fact that the pile of spiced fat was delicious certainly helped. If it hadn’t been so tasty, maybe I would have been grossed out. But who knows? All I know is the score:

Aaron 1, Cuisine 0.

Buffalo Wings?

January 17, 2008

Shara and Dan came over to hang out on my place before filming today and then going back to Rabat. So we decided to go to the nicest Pizza Hut in the entire world. It turns out they have chicken wings! So I ordered ten.

First of all, the cut was really weird. Like, they were all drumsticks, but they all included the giant abductor muscle that makes the wings flap. Second, they were neon pink. Third, if those were chicken I’ve forgotten what chicken tastes like. I’m 99 percent sure they were little baby turkey wings.

But they came with genuine american BBQ sauce. And plus, half of eating wings is textural in nature, so all was well. WOO HOO!

Oh, PS, I guess all of the materials for my project arrived today. But WINGS! WOO!

Hot Diggity damn

January 15, 2008

Can the story of Kevin Callan possibly be true? If so, he joins Fireball Dixon and Capanaeus the Blasphemer on my list of heroes.