Monday, February 22, 2010

All About The Rodeo

A low, mournful moan slices through the hubbub of the city and the air carries a musky, sweet smell; the unmistakable aroma of fresh poo. This can only mean one thing: the rodeo is coming to town.

For the uninitiated, the Houston Rodeo is an annual celebration of cows, broncos, sheep and all things that potter about on four legs. More particularly, it is about food. Every year, gourmands from all across the land visit this culinary mecca. Here, one can sample traditional fare such as deep-fried turkey legs, deep-fried Mars bars and – my personal favourite – deep-fried cheesecake. What’s more, you can completely immerse yourself in this feast for the senses by bringing your own food for frying. Peanuts, cakes, bananas – all are cordially invited to the fray! The more discriminating palette will no doubt savour the complex notes of the deep-fried Twinkie as it playfully passes through the mouth, and only the most sensitive of taste buds can truly appreciate the sophistication of half a cow crammed between two slices of bread and smothered in what can best be described as 'sauce.' One can only wonder who can resist such marvels.

This is Texas at its best. Only here can you see ‘barbecue’ spelled fifteen different ways (I’ve counted) and a two-year-old chewing enthusiastically on a piece of meat that’s twice his height. Most people who have been to the rodeo can’t tell you what event they saw or even who won, but they can tell you exactly which chilli they tried and how many sausages make the perfect hotdog. After all, these are the things one needs to know.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Pygmalion Effect

As a Brit, I’ve got used to Americans fawning over my accent. I expect it, even. In the early days, whenever I was asked to repeat words or was complimented on the mellifluous tones that can only be achieved with a true British accent, I would do my best tomato impression and turn a beautiful shade of maroon. Now, though, I’m almost offended if nobody says anything.

But all that changed a few days ago. I went to a coffee shop and asked for a mocha. You Brits will know that we pronounce this particular drink mock-ka (no doubt its proper pronunciation); Americans say ‘mo-ka.’ This is obviously a very difficult thing to get one’s head around because you won’t believe the trouble I always have when ordering it. Surely it is obvious what I want. Anyway, on this day, I ordered my drink and awaited the inevitable. Sure enough, it came. The lady’s left eyebrow raised and her eyes narrowed. ‘What do you want? ‘Cos we don’t have no mock-kas here. I can give you a mo-ka [pause for effect], but I don’t know no mock-kas.’ Well, I was scandalised. Normally, I would have charmed her with my best British tones, but I defy anyone to do their best charming when faced with the most forceful of ‘What you talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?’ looks. I made myself as small as possible and meekly accepted my coffee. Except that it wasn’t what I had ordered. Not even close. I began to lift my eyes beseechingly to hers and thought about asking her to give me what I had actually ordered, but all that came out was a kind of gurgling sound.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Anyone For Tennis?

This week, we took a drastic step: we decided to join a tennis league. Well we had to do something to fill in the gap between the Super Bowl and March Madness (which, until yesterday I thought was some sort of seasonal disease).

There was once a time when I prowled around the court like a tiger in the jungle, pouncing on stray balls and vanquishing opponents with relish – my backhand is still spoken of in hushed tones and accompanied by a general quaking of the boots. Unfortunately, these days I tend to swing a more lethargic racquet and am more likely to resemble a koala on its lunch break than any tiger frisking about in the jungle.

Nevertheless, we decided to give it a go, being under the impression that all we had to do was show up every now and again and hit a few balls. Imagine our surprise (and horror), then, when we rolled up at the courts, to find out that we actually had to try out for the team. The thing is, back home, a whole tennis team is a bit of a novelty - and rarely is everybody expected to be good. Usually there’s one decent player who does all the hard work while the rest of the team forage about in the club house – that’s where all the real action takes place. Anyway, despite our less than scintillating performance, we are now official members of our league. Our first match is coming up soon, and although we’ve been asked to provide a can of balls, there has been worryingly little talk of cake, tea or those Rice Krispies bars that I’m so fond of. I may have to channel my inner Andy Murray and actually hit a ball or two.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

And So It Begins...

Well, I finally made the leap and entered the exciting world of blogging! But now that I’ve arrived, I’m a little at a loss what to write about. I wanted to create a forum for my thoughts and to hear what other opinions there are out there. I moved to America from England almost three years ago and I’ve found that everything is a constant source of mystery to me. I know I haven’t exactly moved halfway around the globe, but believe me; I’ve entered a different world. This is a place where 'pants' means something else entirely, where people consume food with strange names like ‘grits,’ deep-fry everything in sight, and drive on the opposite side of the road. Instead of venting as usual to my ever-patient husband, I thought I may as well be productive with my musings by putting them in cyberspace and seeing what happens. So this is a space for sharing reflections, philosophies and laughs about Life, the Universe and Everything; a place for discussing a little of this and, perhaps, a sprinkling of that.