still life, small crowd with taco dip.

Nice evening of friends and bad food and drink. Currently sipping some Bushmills on the rocks (decided against tequila and grapefruit soda): this was once my drink of choice, or one of them at least. I'd go to The Parting Glass in Saratoga Springs and start off with an Irish whiskey or two (possibly doubles), followed with a Guinness or two. Some darts, if I was with friends. Maybe some food.

I had a pretty impressive tolerance when I was drinking at least a beer every weekend--I still sober up quickly. My most memorable night was a somewhat dreary December night at the end of finals: two whiskeys, two Long Island Iced Teas, and a Guinness, over the course of maybe four hours, probably less, and I was much sobered about an hour after I finished. I don't do that any more...I've aged quite a bit in the past few years, and all this relatively healthy living in California has made me much less interested in alcohol than ever--more than that, I find it less pleasurable, although rest assured I have acquired other vices which I consider to be far more enriching and wholesome.

No, I don't really care what you think about them.

I was unable to start my Chicken Tikka Masala last night because neither Safeway, Albertson's, nor Piedmont Grocery carry mace or fenugreek. But today I decided to head down to the Old Oakland Farmer's Market, and Ratto's International Grocers is right nearby, and they had plenty of both. And yesterday I bought a nice mortar and pestle, white marble with some pretty black streaks. Good to go.

Indian cooking is, to a Westerner who barely cooks in Western traditions, devilishly complicated. I tried Patak's Tikka Masala Cooking Sauce the other day (it's lovely), and out of the can it is really unpleasantly lemony. However, if you add a nominal amount of water and simmer it for 25 minutes, you can barely taste the lemon. It merges with a bunch of other flavors, and I am convinced that if one were to leave out the lemon, the end result would be terribly wrong. It's a mark of how addicted I am to Tikka Masala that I'm even trying this. I have dreams of making a giant vat of it and freezing chunks so I can have it any time I want.

So it's marinating overnight right now, a bunch of spices with garlic and ginger (I don't even like ginger, but I won't be able to taste it in the final product--see above) and oil and lemon juice and yogurt. Smells very garlicky, but it will turn out just peachy. Tomorrow is the adventure with making the tomato-based gravy and stuff.

I like the recruiter from Google: she called because she had said she would, even though she didn't have any news. I didn't think the phone interview went well, but apparently the guy who interviewed me is their toughest interviewer and thinks I'm smart and have very good technical skills. I've decided Google is a little strange, although I still want to work there.

I think I have to regard Farmer's Markets as one of the single greatest benefits of living in California. Really fresh food and the ability to support independent growers, and there's a lot of good deals: at the Old Oakland market on Fridays, you can buy a flat of twenty-five (25) jumbo eggs for $2.50, and apples and peaches are usually $1/pound. At the Friday market you can also have fun trying to figure out what the Chinese vendors are selling--strange vegetables, and if it even has a name in English, the seller probably doesn't know what it is.

Dude. I start work on Monday. How cool is that?