impressions

December 17, 2008

First impressions are very hard to shake.

For example, I  think of Venezuela as a very dark, rainy place of mostly weird, long strips of pavement.

Okay, I’ve only “been there” once on a stopover on the way to Chile, and we didn’t get off the plane, and it was midnight and raining. But there ya go. Sorry Hugo, sorry Venezuela, not coming back.

Once, in Spain, I was staying in a hotel (really bunch of condo type buildings by the beach) in Girona. In our particular room, the toilet didn’t work. Upon being informed of our plight, the manager told us that the place was full, and she offered us a bucket. I am NOT making this up.

I’ve been back to Spain a couple times, had a wonderful time, and yet, the first thing that pops into my head when I think of Spain is the poop bucket.

Israel has the worst ice cream I’ve ever eaten, leaving me with no desire to ever go to Israel again.

On the other hand, Italy has unbelievably good gelato, fantastic skiing, and much much more. I’m going back. The only downside to Italy is that the people there are CRAZY. But I’m okay with that. Ernesto Sabato said ““The first time I passed through the country (Switzerland) I had the impression it was swept down with a broom from one end to the other every morning by housewives who dumped all the dirt in Italy” Which, as far as I know, is actually what happens. But in a good way.

My first impression of Vietnamese food is that they eat rats and cats. I do not know where I got that impression, except to blame my parents for not properly teaching me about Vietnamese food.

My point? I have become addicted to Pho. I have reached the point where if I don’t have Pho at least once or more a week, I become irritable. (And irregular, but I don’t know if I can blame that on the Pho, or lack of Pho.)

Some people call Pho “Swamp Soup.” But, like Shrek, I LOVE my swamp. I am not going to eat the Pho with tripe, or tendon. Nor do I want heart, liver, or tongue. I am not actually Vietnamese, right?

But plain ole Pho? I am smitten.

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19 Responses to “impressions”

  1. andy Says:

    holy crap! another posting meant to let us know all the cool places you’ve been and make me feel like a loser for only having been overseas just the once.

    heh.

  2. Rob Says:

    Pho Kao

    3500 S and Redwood Road

    In your work hood.

    Greatness.

  3. dug Says:

    andy, i do not mean what you think i mean. but if the author is dead, and reader response is all we have, then i both mean it and am guiltless in meaning it.

    for what it’s worth, i have never been to vietnam. does that help?

    also, i am honored that coming here makes you feel like crap, and yet you return.

    i promise to mention buffalo, new york, and boise, idaho in my next post designed to call out places i’ve been. will that help?

  4. dug Says:

    rob, this is weird. i am having lunch there TODAY. it is, indeed, greatness. and it’s in west valley. going there or mentioning its location shouldn’t make anybody feel bad.

  5. andy Says:

    haha….i’m just giving you crap. i’m just starting to get what i can only assume is the annual onslaught of seasonal affective disorder. i live about 50 miles west of lake michigan which means the air goes across the lake, picks up moistur, and the sun goes away and hides october-april. so we get grumpy and moody for 5-6 months. =)

  6. steveA Says:

    Dug, if you get out into the actual country of Venezuela it can be quite beautiful. I believe Angel Falls is the highest or longest falling waterfall in the world and located in the jungles of Venezuela. They make a food called Arepas that are basically rounded english muffins (a little denser) and filled with whatever you like such as eggs, ham, beef or tripe or anything that should or shouldn’t be ingested. I am particularly fond of the egg,cheese and butter variety.

  7. steveA Says:

    I think I forgot to mention that it is not a particularly friendly place for Americans right now.

  8. rb Says:

    To explain the Ice cream in Israel — You mistakenly had it in a place with meat. To be Kosher your “Ice Creaam” was made w/o milk. This is why it did not taste right. There is decent ice cream you need to get it at a place w/o meat. Never get ice cream in Israel at a place like McDonalds or Burger King (or most restaurants which serve meat), which are Kosher and, therefore, make non-dairy “ice cream”.

  9. Chad Says:

    Ok, so while I wholeheartedly agree that if one were to choose destinations entirely based on available ice cream quality then Italy would of course be tops and israel might be somewhere below papua new guinea. However, as an erstwhile resident of Israel I have to ask where you ate said crappy desert? For the most part the only icecream you ever find is the standard packaged ice cream varieties found through out europe and the rest of the world (Unilever’s Magnum, dark chocolate magnum, white chocolate magnum, magnum cone, cornetto, solero, etc. and Nestle branded copies). There is one ice cream shop in the country that I like a lot, but its located at a rest stop (the one with the crocodiles) on rt 90 along the jordanian border in the disputed territories.

  10. dug Says:

    steve, don’t care, not going to venezuela. plus, isn’t that where the spider came from in “Arachnophobia”?

    rb, i got my israeli ice cream at a corner ice cream stand in jerusalem. it tasted like a falafel, but cold.

    chad, i actually believe that quality of ice cream is the premier method for choosing destinations, especially in europe. you know a place that had surprisingly good ice cream? (stop reading andy.) leningrad. of course, it was about 10 degrees below zero, but the food in leningrad was so terribly awful that not only would bad ice cream taste good, but eating ice cream on the street from a street vendor was a good idea in 10 below weather.

  11. mark Says:

    I like saying the word pho randomly and out of context.

    Can’t wait to hear what you have to say about Boise, ID.

  12. Chad Says:

    Hmmm, I have to say that while I understand exactly how bad that probably tasted, my first thought on reading your description was “Wow, falafel flavored ice cream, awesome.” Incidentally if you were anywhere near zion square/ben yehuda, the problem was not so much that the ice cream in israel is bad, as that the tourist oriented falafel stands there are just awful.

    …PHO!…

  13. Rob Says:

    I like how they have the different “levels” of Pho – depending on how authentic you want to be. I myself shy away from vietnamese authenticity (ie. I don’t like tendon in my pho either…)

  14. steveA Says:

    Never saw the movie, don’t know where the 8 legged creep came from. I’m sure the fictional movie killed the tourism from where ever it was. Never had Pho either. Not sure that is a good idea if they can slip in a tendon or two.

  15. UtRider Says:

    For the longest time we (i.e. the lunch crowd at work) would travel to Pho Hoa on 3300 S and Redwood for lunch. Not only was the soup good but the avocado smoothies were to die for. Seriously. If you haven’t had an avocado smoothie/milkshake you are missing out.

    Nowadays, we tend to stick closer to the office: South China House (I know the name casts doubt on the pho but really, it’s dang good) and East Sea (again, don’t let the name fool you). The pho at Indochine (by the U on 1300 E) and Cafe Trang isn’t bad either (though more $ than the others).

    The tendon at South China House is super gelatinous while the tendon at East Sea has a bit of meat on it (my preference). Tripe is tripe and doesn’t vary much, same with round steak.

    Part of the fun is trying new variations. For example, San Pan serves a very different version of pho, so much so that I would hesitate to even call it pho, yet it’s quite tasty and made for a good lunch.

  16. Rick S. Says:

    Dug and Rob- I’ve known you how long? This is the first time I’ve heard you speak of Poo soup. I want some Poo soup.

  17. fish Says:

    I like trying new stuff, Dug. Where is your favorite pho place? Is there a decent one near downtown?

  18. BotchedExperiment Says:

    I had it once at a Vietnamese person’s house in Alexandria Virginia. I may have been an ‘honored guest’ becuase I got the chicken claw in my bowl.

  19. brkeyes7 Says:

    3500 south near redwood road is pho alley. its everywhere, can be had for a song and makes dug cry like a baby. I think he forgot to mention that.


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