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Some time ago on one of the various ex-pat blogs I read, I heard about a fantastic little creation of a British-Amsterdammer chef, Jason Hartley. With no restaurant of his own, he hosts a “popup” brunch at various locations around the city. The schedule is irregular, but for some reason I thought to check the lovefood homepage and, as luck would have it, 14 November was the day! And it perfectly coincided with my November trip home!

This round of brunch was in cozy Jordaan restaurant, Vlaming.  We were a little lazy and didn’t make it right at 11am, so we got slated for the second seating around 12.30p. Tragedy, the breakfast burritos were all gone by the time we settled into our seats! But no bother, Wout and I opted for a traditional English breakfast, complete with thick cut bacon, home-made organic sausage (OMG, so good!), an egg, soda bread, potatoes, black pudding (I was a little shy with this item), and beans inside a baked tomato. What a show! And, no surprise, the food totally won– I couldn’t quite finish.

Staying true to my roots, I topped breakfast off with a self-made bloody mary– they serve you up the liquor and you mix it the way you like at their bloody mary bar. Delish! But regaling the tale to a couple of Dutch friends at dinner last night, I learned that the British/American penchant for a boozy brunch is not shared by the Dutch. “A bloody mary for breakfast?! Shocking!” And yet, on further discussion, it was decided amongst the Dutch that beer for breakfast would have been totally normal. Let’s hear it for exploring cultural differences!

Wout and I have made a pact– we will be back for the next round! And this time, it’s breakfast burritos or bust! Nom nom nom…

Promo photo  source: http://www.lovefood.nl/

Just a quick link over from my goodreads.com account.

I may have mentioned before, the house where I’m staying has a fantastic library with many English-language books. I’m sort of overwhelmed because there are so many books here that are on my “to-read” list and many more I’ve added since arriving. I’ve started applying a rule for choosing: pick books that they have in both English and Norwegian. If’ they’ve got two copies, it must be good, right?

I recently finished reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I liked On Beauty better, maybe because of the academic setting and the central theme of long-term family relationships. But even still, reading White Teeth now, as I establish my life as an immigrant in a country caught up in anti-immigrant sentiment (although, show me a country doesn’t continually struggle with such things), some aspects of the book were particularly poignant.

Two quotes summed things up perfectly:

“But he knew other things. He knew that he, Millat, was a Paki no matter where he came from; that he smelt of curry; had no sexual identity; took other people’s jobs; or had no job and bummed off the state; or gave all the jobs to his relatives; that he could be a dentist or a shop-owner or a curry-shifter, but not a footballer or a film-maker; that he should go back to his own country; or stay here and earn his bloody keep; that he worshipped elephants and wore turbans; that no one who looked like Millat, or spoke like Millat, or felt like Millat, was ever on the news unless they had recently been murdered. In short, he knew he had no face in this country, no voice in the country, until the week before last when suddenly people like Millat were on every channel and every radio and every newspaper and they were angry, and Millat recognized the anger, thought it recognized him, and grabbed it with both hands.” (pp. 233-34)

and

“‘There are no words. The one I send home comes out a pukka Englishman, white suited, silly wig lawyer. The one I keep here is fully paid-up green bow-tie-wearing fundamentalist terrorist. I sometimes wonder why I bother,’ said Samad bitterly, betraying the English inflections of twenty years in the country, ‘I really do. These days, it feels to me like you make a devil’s pact when you walk into this country. You hand over your passport at the check-in, you get stamped, you want to make a little money, get yourself started… but you mean to go back ! Who would want to stay? Cold, wet, miserable; terrible food, dreadful newspapers– who would want to stay? In a place where you are never welcomed, only tolerated. Just tolerated. Like you are an animal finally house-trained. Who would want to stay? But you have made a devil’s pact… it drags you in and suddenly you are unsuitable to return, your children are unrecognizable, you belong nowhere… And then you begin to give up the very idea of belonging. Suddenly this thing, this beloning, it seems like some long, dirty lie… and I begin to believe that birthplaces are accidents, that everything is an accident. But if you believe that, where do you go? What do you do? What does anything matter?” (pp.407-08)

An impactful (collection of) story(ies) about the social clashes between generations, classes, men and women/husbands and wives, science and religion, first and second generation immigrants, foreign-born and native-born, and the legacy of empire… with a little sexuality thrown in for good measure. No wonder Smith made such a big splash. This book was quite a remarkable undertaking and was, for the most part, successful, I think.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A quick glimpse of my home in Oslo: the Living Room.

Oslo House
Couch and Audrey Hepburn

Oslo House

Oslo House
Allllll social science texts.

Oslo House
A touch of Wisconsin farmland.

Oslo House
Huge fiction selection too… and my favorite: the woodstove.

First fire, cozy Sunday
Woodstove in action a couple weeks ago.

Travel: Vienna

The beauty of the international academic lifestyle is not in the distance from friends and family. It is not in the intellectual stimulation and the chance to hobnob with the best and the brightest in one’s field (although this is surely not a downside). The beauty is in the chance to travel. Last year brought me Detroit, Marrakech, Houston and Atlanta (one of these is not like the other…). More recently? A European Association for Population Studies meeting in Vienna, Austria. As a demographer, I couldn’t help but notice that the average age of the out-and-about population was 65… but wow, what a beautiful city! Perhaps the most fascinating thing about it was that this place used to be the center of an empire! And now, they are left with so many magnificent buildings… and so few national and municipal offices to place in them. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been surprised to find that the Ministry of Silly Hats had some fabulous office behind one of the high-ceilinged, elegant façades!

At any rate… the meeting was fantastic, and professionally enriching and promising. The company proved to be the perfect combination of engaging and “rocking out.” And I was able to stick around for some nice touring after the meetings.

I offer you a (semi-) grand tour of the place and my people:

Stephansdom, the religious center of the city.
Stephansdom

Hundertwassehaus, a mid-century example of imaginatively artistic public housing. Take note, Scandinavia!
Hundertwassehaus

“Pizza, Pasta, Schnitzel”– Only in Vienna!
"Pizza, Pasta, Schnitzel"-- Only in Vienna

I could never have believed that good food and drink could have been so inexpensive in Europe! From the 3€ half liters of wheat beer to the 6€ schnitzel to the 1.80€ wines… a frugal-man/woman’s paradise!
The happiest man in Wien

While impressive, in some cases the scenery paled in comparison to the glow of young love (Arieke and Maarten, engaged to be married in 2011!).
Hofburg, A&M

And of course my feminist cockles were warmed by the frequent reminders of the one, the only: Maria Theresa! The only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg.
Maria Theresa

But lest you (post-) modernists despair, Vienna does well to cater to the modern art aficionado as well. We saw a fantastic exhibit by the controversial Otto Muehl. What a risk to exhibit his work! I would have loved to be there at the opening to hear the apology letter read.
Museum Moderner Kunst & Kunsthalle

And in the spirit of radical artists, we also strolled by the Vienna Secession Building. Wiener Secession

On a sidenote, kick me for not taking photos of the Soviet monument (the Heldendenkmal der Roten Armee) on the Schwarzenbergplatz. Idiot idiot idiot. Well thank the internet for being such a good archive of photos. It certainly got my history nerve to itching.

Well, getting back to the grandeur of the empire

…and back to the typically touristic photo genre. Upper Belvedere, W & J

And no trip to Vienna would be complete without a visit to the Opera House.
Wiener Staatsoper

But I must admit… I missed it! I know, scandal!
Staatsoper Tour

Unfortunately, my flight home clashed with the State Opera House tour.
Staatsoper Tour, Backstage

So I ran off to the airport, while my friends toured the famous building. Back- and fore-stage! Staatsoper Tour

Staatsoper Tour
But I have sworn, hand-to-god, that I will make it back! Not just for a tour, but for an opera! A real life opera! And there are certainly some winners in the upcoming season… Indeed there are some chances yet.

Cheers, from Vienna!

(Ps- Please enjoy a few more photos on Flickr.)

(Wow, this is getting out of control! I’ve been here since August, almost exactly a month! So here’s the final installment and some catch up…)

… And then I got on several planes and with a quick stop over in Atlanta for a work meeting I arrived in…

Welcome to Oslo!

OSLO!

I’ll be here through the winter to work on a chapter of my dissertation. It’s so fantastic to do all of this globe trotting for work! Of course there are a few minuses to go with the plusses (both of which I’ll detail as things go along), but all-in-all I’m super happy and excited to be here!

One thing you might have guessed, a fall/winter in Oslo means being away from Wooter for an extended period… AGAIN. Well, we’ve arranged for monthly visits and since Wout cannot help his awesomeness, he’s already booked one last minute weekend. So far, that all adds up to us seeing each other 4 out of 6 of my first weekends here. (The math may seem fuzzy there, but I’ll sort it out in the next post, promise.)

But back to the timeline… I arrived in Oslo on a Wednesday and Wouter arrived Thursday evening and we spent that first weekend exploring the city. I’d visited Oslo once before, but it was only a quick, 1-day stopover before launching into Norway in a Nutshell. There were loads of things left unexplored and Wouter and I definitely put a dent in the list. So enough yapping… on to some photos! (Click to see larger images/info; see the whole set on Flickr.)

Wouter & the Olsofjord Oslo Rådhus (City Hall), hideously awesome. Public Art: (S)LAUGHTER

Vigeland Sculpture Park Vigeland Sculpture Park Vigeland Sculpture Park Even the statues are impressed! Vigeland Sculpture Park Look, she's got a bum knee too! Inside the Oslo Opera House Inside the Oslo Opera House Oslo Opera House Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera House

Welcome to Oslo!

Then we drove to Connecticut for a relaxing vacation…

Sunrise Set3, Old Saybrook, CT

…Followed by a brief visit to New York

Grand Central Station, Breakfast!

And then…

About 4 weeks ago Wouter and I packed up my car, sold or donated everything that wouldn’t fit, and started driving east from Wisconsin…

The Big Move! (Leaving Madison) Goodbye Home!