Episode Three- The Red Bra Odyssey
Lately I’ve really been craving some Romanian food, which doesn’t happen very often. I am overwhelmed by the desire to make my own zacusca and many other traditional gems. The mother land is caaalling and I must respond ! That train of thought got me to this episode because this one is mostly about the wonder of food and markets and seasonal love! It’s also about bras and silliness, so if you’re my kind of person this should excite you too! Boy, I am loose on the exclamation points today!
Listen, if The Red Bra Odyssey would only be about bras it would still make a decent story. But it’s about what the red bra represents; what I learned from the bra about myself. How I choose, why I choose what I choose and what does it all mean?! It’s all about growth and self-love. It’s about perception and how tricky it can be. It’s about the Universe and its mischievous comedic timing. Or maybe this is all a devious ploy to get you hooked. Who knows? You will, at the very end. In order to end something we must first begin. Here it goes, chronologically:
Bucharest, the second week. Yes, I am perfectly aware I talked about that week here, I still have most of my memory marbles, don’t worry. What I did not share is the classic girl-bra love story. It was love at first sight really, all it took was a glance and then a red, fiery spark lit up in my heart. There it was, this ruby red, lacey, balconette beauty in all her shapeliness. I tried to stay away but I couldn’t. Like a mermaid song it called out to me and bewitched I followed. I looked, I touched, I checked the price. “No, I’m not supposed to! I don’t have money to spend on bras that I like but don’t need! I have other bras! Yes, think of all the other bras waiting for you at home. You can’t do this to them, it’s the ultimate betrayal. Imagine the looks on their cups when they see you bringing home an intruder, a fierce, hot “other” that they won’t be able to compete with! It will destroy them and nothing will ever be the same again!”
So, I listened… to one of the craziest voices in my head so far, and I walked away knowing all the while that I will be haunted by her. Because ladies, bras like that are not easy to forget.
A couple of meals, Uber rides and sleepless nights later, fate pulled a sneaky on me and I ended up in another H&M facing the red menace once again. This time, I caved. I grabbed one and rushed to try it on. The line was so long I thought I had gained a “multiply” ability… My friend looked at me with that disapproving look that states the obvious. You know, that “you must be shitting me” look. How desperate are you? I looked at the bra, I looked at the line. Then I turned to my friend. Then back to the bra. Then a spiteful long gaze to the bloody long line. God dammit! Now I almost understand communism! I rolled my eyes, discarded the bra, got over the heartache and walked out of there. Sometimes, that’s all you can do.
The same day I got back to Bacau my aunt landed from Italy. Since that moment, it appears that what we mostly did was shop and eat then die of heat, resurrect, eat some more aaaand repeat.
I’ll start by sharing with you some of my personal favorites from back home. One of them is this lil’ piece of chocolatey ass right here:
Two regular biscuits dressed in chocolate united by marshmallow gooeyness. If that’s not the definition of love, I don’t know what is! I used to get boxes of this stuff when I was a kid! My drunk uncle used to send them from Turkey, one of the few really good things he ever did! Hey, I can’t speak for the other members of my family, but it was definitely easier for me to forgive and forget. You know, on account of being covered in biscuit-marshmallow treats. So, I’m a mallow whore! Well, I guess it’s never too late to learn something new about yourself.
Next on the list is something I know you’re gonna severely judge me for but I choose to put it out there anyway because I’m stayin’ true to sins, bitches!
Yup, you guessed it right. It’s the the infamous “Pizza de la Inter” which is basically the pizza from a place called Intermeridian. We abbreviate because it’s cool and we’re lazy. I’ve talked about this creature before. It’s probably the worst pizza out there if I were to be objective, but I’m not. I’m a nostalgique being that modifies reality in order to re-live moments that were happy in the past (when young, foolish and carefree).
This is the cheapest and the oldest pizza in town and a lot of us used to go there hence the memories. It has a bready soft dough, the most ordinary ketchup sauce(no real tomatoes were harmed in the process), the cheapest salami on the market and a basic bitch type of cheese. I know, it sounds heavenly and I’m the best sales girl for the job! Nevertheless, every time I’m home I crave, eat and enjoy it. It’s one of the world’s greatest mysteries.
Something else I like to stuff my face with is KFC. Because the KFC in Dublin sucks ass. Not only do they completely lack the precious garlic sauce but the chicken is simply bad and not at all trustworthy.
Now let’s get back to the turks! And by that I mean the Turkish Company that makes the best chocolate filled biscuits out there, the marshmallow treat of my childhood aaand a puff pastry concoction resembling mille-feuille filled with chocolate love! I am of course talking about Ulker. Is it weird that I go to Romania to binge on Turkish treats? Might be but it’s a sweet sweet deal! Look at this baby:
And it really tastes better that it looks, the turks know where it’s at!
One of the greatest loves of my life is salata de vinete aka aubergine spread. It all begins with a lovely black and soft-to-the-touch aubergine. You roast that black baby on a hot grill, open fire or if you have to, in the oven. You twist and turn it until its skin is all burned and nasty lookin’. Don’t you worry, the nastier the outside the sweeter the inside. After they’ve been peeled and spruced you’re gonna let them weep some aubergine tears for their fallen compadres. Then, when they’re all cried out start mincing. You mince and you mince and you mince until creamy and spreadable. Move to a bowl and bring Captain Sunflower Oil into action. Gulp by gulp you’re gonna incorporate and stir and work that in there with sturdy love. You’re done when it’s light in colour, shiny and full of herself. Season with salt and pepper. Chop onion, rub with salt and squeeze. Add it to your bowl of voluptuousness and mix well. You may add mayo. Eat on crusty bread with fresh, summer tomatoes. This is a midsummer’s night dream. Suck it, Shakespeare!
Now, what you see in the back there are merely cheese balls though they do look like an army of well organized golden puffs. See what you wanna see. I’m talking gooey cheese interior with a crispy outside. Need I say more? No, I needn’t.Last but that least, I give you The Almighty Papanas:
This is basically a giant cheese donut topped with a small cheese donut. Donutception! Cheese on the inside, sour cream and jam of choice on the outside. It’s fluffy, it’s moist, it’s smothered in sweet and sour love that’s hastily dripping everywhere. Borderline cheeky, is what it is!
Time for some of Grandma’s Treats. First, Compot De Visine aka sour cherry compote.
This, my darlings, is the nectar of the gods. Homemade and cold to save your ass in those hot summer days that I’ve been complaining about. This was a tradition ever since I can remember and good traditions stick with you for a reason.
Second, my grandma’s scrambled eggs with loads of onion and dill. I have never had better eggs. Ever. I am of course subjective. Food experiences always are, read A Cook’s Tour and listen to Anthony Bourdain, the man speaks the truth.
When I got back to Dublin, I craved this and I tried to recreate it. It was good, but not as good. It was too “thought out”. The beauty of these eggs is that my grandma doesn’t know that she knows what she’s doing. You know what I mean? It’s a bit of a head scratcher but bear with me. She’s not exceedingly careful to avoid overcooking it or undercooking it or stirring too much or not enough. She does this organically, the only way she knows how and it comes out perfect every time. Me, I over think (as I do in life) and I ruin the spirit of these scrambled eggs. It’s too deliberate, so it just won’t be the same. It can’t be, because I am trying to replicate something that she does organically. I just have to learn to live with it.
Next, we have the humble summer ciorba. The summer version of a ciorba replaces the meat with green stuff. It’s light, nourishing and this one has a hard boiled egg in it! Countryside style, babeh!
After quite a few afternoons spent eating in our bras and undies while sweating away, we decided to search for refuge in one of those man built places that worship the devil called the mall. Oh, boy! Air conditioning AND Kentucky Fried Chicken? What more can a girl with really low expectations ask for?!
After a long day of mostly shopping for other people - because in truth I had no “need” to shop, just a burning desire. My desire was a red-coloured, lacey boob-holder. So, finally, at the end of it all, we headed on over to H&M. After browsing for quite a while, I decided it was high time to try that bad boy. As every good girl that’s about to do something slightly wicked, I had to have my mom with me. I get in, try on a pair of jeans and a top in the idea that I’m saving the best for last. As I finally start putting on the bra an alarm goes off and an agitated voice starts announcing that there is an emergency situation and that the store is closing. I’m thinking “Ok… weird but you know, lemme put this on properly for a second, then take it off, put clothes on and THEN get out”. The voice (as if knowing what my view on the situation was) got back on the horse, more annoyed and with an even more obvious sense of urgency in her nasally voice. I was standing there in my undies, boobs hanging about, desperately trying to either get that bra on or off. You might be thinking “how hard is it to get a bra on? Or off for that matter?”. Hey, no boobs, no opinion! And for those of you with boobs and opinions that still have no sympathy for the naked damsel in distress, I’ll say this: This was no ordinary bra. It had a thicker band, so 5 instead of 3 hooks and eyes to match! Let’s not forget the addition of the stupid security lump! Who designed those bitchy, poke-you-in-the-ribs things anyway? “Oh, I know! Let’s make them in the shape of the world’s smallest boob! That’s cold and perky!” It even has a nipple! Perverts! So there I was, in my undies, with my 3 boobs, some hanging, some poking me viciosly, trapped in a bra!
Cause that’s just exactly what I needed, an extra hump to deal with while a panicked woman screams at me to get out on the soundtrack of an on and off alarm!
My mum kept pulling the curtain open to ask if I needed help, essentially letting the world see my boobs, ass, soft but charming stomach and of course, the last smidgen of my self respect. All in all, a very proud moment for me. Don’t you worry there honey-child, I’ve had worse.
After I’ve managed to put clothes on, we finally did what the bloody voice kept telling us to do: we got out. Ok, where’s the fire? What’s causing this frenzy?
Apparently, while we were obliviously shopping, the skies turned black and the Gods got angry so they sent us that crazy water from the sky that we call rain. They did a very good job, they sent a lot of it in a very short time. Good job, guys! Now the villagers can panic and run around like headless chickens. Everybody got their mops and their buckets out because the mall was kinda’ flooding. We, the villagers that were not employed by the mall, were banned from the mall and condemned to spend eternity outside the mall, desperately hailing for cabs in the pouring rain or waiting for loved ones with vehicles on wheels to come pick us up. We were fortunate enough to be in the second category. My sister and her boyfriend were bravely surfing the waters, by car, to come get us. The time spent under the tarp mall thingie was like being in a bucket of sardines. Too many stranger sardines all huddled up together against their will, stinky, bothered and confused. Some sardines had to smoke, of course. So, all of us ended up smoking. You know, cause we just insisted on breathing and that was the only air available. It felt like being at the circus and at the pound at the same time. You would see cars pulling over and families wagging their tails, happy that they’ve been chosen and they get to prance out of there and have a home again. The rest of us would be sad but hopeful that the next car that pulls over will be our car and we’ll be free at last!
Then the circus came to the mall with classic numbers that we all know and love. The first one was a comedic bit also known as ”How to troll your child in the rain”. This car started to pull over and a mother and her daughter ventured into the rain, eager to get inside the car. Got there, the car moved a little further. They moved forward too. But then, out of the blue, the car moved back again. And then forward again and then back a again. This guy was going for the full-blown-anal parking while his wife and daughter were getting soaking wet. The kid was so frustrated she started crying and I could see murder in the mom’s eyes. I don’t blame her. I would’ve drowned the bastard. See? Classic comedy.
By the time our ride got there the rain had stopped, so we were far less ridiculous than all the other villagers. Typical small town smugness. Worry not, we joined the masses in suffering once we got the boat on the road. Yeah, I know what I said. It was something like this:
It’s a miracle no water got in the car. I wonder if that’s how Noah felt when his ark made it out alright. It wasn’t all that easy. After an hour of going around in circles, we had to stop somewhere cause you know, good luck is bound to run out. The only place we found was a spot that was… how do I say this? Uhm, not devoid of water. The ladies got out in the middle of the street, where no puddles reign, so we managed to stay dry. The driver, unfortunately had to get down and dirty. After contemplating our options, we decided to leave the car there, go eat someplace until the situation calms the fuck down and we can safely return home. Of course leaving the car there was risky. Trees might fall on it (cause, yeah, that happened to some cars), the water could claim it or, at the very least, glue sniffers might steal the license plate for their crazy license plate collection. Let’s just say a plethora of things could go wrong - and let’s say it in that fancy way, cause I’ve always wanted to used that word.
We promised tribute to the Gods of rain and left. We found shelter in an Italian-Chinese restaurant. No, no you didn’t read it wrong though that doesn’t make it right, now does it? - but hey, it was close to the car, it was nice looking and we had low expectations. We ordered from both the Italian menu and the Chinese one and to our surprise, they were actually decent! Well smack my ass and call me Melman! (phrase used to express disbelief, you may replace the name to suit your needs)
After two hours we left the Italian-Chinese hybrid restaurant and we sheepishly headed towards the car. The town was in disarray, stray dogs were roaming the streets (even more than usual), the water uprooted some things, brought along some junk that no one asked for, killed some mice/rats and just left them there, etc. Fortunately, the car was safe and sound and so were we.
-To Be Continued-