The surreal and Cubist world of Guam after Typhoon Mawar

Trees are white, as if shocked into paleness by the fierce winds of Typhoon Mawar, stripped naked and shamed by the assault of violent rain. Driving is confusing - the landscape looks familiar and strange at the same time. Some of the usual landmarks are gone. It is like my home, or my intended destination, is playing hide and seek. It is there still. But it is not how I used to find it. Inside, my house is clean, and comfortable. But I bump into things in the dark. I have to navigate hampers full of dirty laundry. Pots and bowls with water collected before the typhoon, and buckets of rain water. Familiar objects not used as intended and not in their usual place. All the plumbing and light fixtures work. But for now, they are all purely ornamental. Outdoors, a giant malevolent hand knocked down even the tallest and strongest. Flotsam and jetsam everywhere, but switched up. I have my neighbors’ and they have mine. I like things to be sorted and aligned. (I surreptitiously organize shelv

Heaven is in the long, slow swim

  When I first attended an aqua fitness class at the Hilton last September, I was the ugly duckling among the swans. While other ladies were keeping their heads and shoulders still above water, I was bobbing up and down, twisted like a pretzel, desperately trying to keep my balance. While they glided smoothly from one end of the pool to the other, I was a picture of kinetic energy, jerking around in place. The others were probably rolling their eyes thinking “What is wrong with that woman?! Why does she keep thrashing in place like that?!” In the next class I decided to stay near the stair steps and use the metal railing as reference point for my spot on the pool. Everything was fine until I needed to push the flotation dumbbells to my sides under water. I did not realize it then but I was groaning and grunting, gritting my teeth and grimacing. The others were probably rolling their eyes thinking “What is wrong with that noisy woman?!”   While I was focusing on pushing my dumbbel

Broken and Transformed: Embracing the Lesson of the Bowl of Kimchee

           “Eyew.” “Yuck.” These were my first reactions to kimchee. I had tried a tiny bit of it a long time ago and did not like it. Stayed away from the stuff.             And yet last month I ate at five Korean restaurants at the Harmon Industrial Park and had kimchee in four of them. I wanted to try something I thought was distasteful. I wanted to give it another chance. Maybe I was looking at it all wrong. Maybe my taste buds had changed, or developed.             I used to think of   Harmon Industrial Park as the wild west of Guam. It is actually more developed now and, to my surprise, home to several hidden culinary gems.             On Oct. 19 I went to Bu Ga. It was an excellent introduction to Korean food. For $10.99 I had a huge bibimbap with egg and meat (possibly bulgogi), seven plates of various appetizers called banchan. Banchan usually has three kinds of kimchee – cabbage, eggplant or cucumber,   plus sweetened potatoes, bean sprouts and, my fav

Lobster, risotto and joy

“What have you cooked recently?” the chef asked.             I almost said “oatmeal”, but somebody blurted Aglio e Olio. The answer made me realize I was not in Kansas anymore but in a roomful of gourmets. I had made Aglio e Olio before but that is a story for another day.  For today I was at the Hilton cooking demonstration. Executive chef John Beriker was going to demonstrate how to make risotto with seafood and truffle sauce, and lobster cappuccino with morel and celery leaves. Then we have them for dinner after the demonstration.             My impression about risotto is that cooking it is difficult to master. As I recall, whenever a contestant makes risotto in a cooking show, the judges often seem unsatisfied with the way it is cooked. In my imagination a judge first makes a comment dripping with sarcasm – how dare the contestant cook risotto. Then, in a fit, the judge screams “Imbecile! You call yourself a professional chef and you prepare risotto like this? Mo