Tag Archives: Food fun

I can eat 5 year old soup too!

1 month later, I’m posting again… sorry for the delay, I promise to have several more posts in the next week or so for anyone who wants to catch up on my latest adventures!

In my last post, I had a photo of me eating raw bacon, both because it tastes good and because I like to test my stomach and make sure it’s still as strong as ever. Back when I was living in New Zealand I ate a whole bunch of expired food and put photos up here: http://photodiarist.com/2005/09/student-menu.html

Last month I was cleaning out one of the kitchen cupboards because it turned out that no one was using it, and all the stuff inside had been left long ago by past tenants. Among a dozen or so salt and pepper shakers, handful of ceramic Christmas decorations, shotglasses of various size and description, and huge box of toothpicks spilled all over the place in there, I found a package of soup mix. You know, the dry powder to which you just add boiling water!

Now, everything has an expiry date, and dry powder soup mix is no exception. Can you read the expiry date in this photo?

Yep, it says August 27, 2003 at 20:53. That means that, at the time of my first spoonful on March 3, 2008 at 21:56 the soup mix was 4 years, 6 months, 5 days, 1 hour, 3 minutes past its expiry date, according to TimeAndDate.com.

It was delicious, and there were no ill effects whatsoever. The moral of the story? If you don’t want your expired food, give it to me: the starving student who will actually eat it without complaining!

Adventures in Uppsala

I returned from Amsterdam on February 4th, and on the 5th my old high school friend Theresa arrived here in Uppsala. I had just moved the day before leaving for Amsterdam, to a place right in the city, and we have two living rooms and two extra mattresses, so we set up the quieter living room as her sleeping quarters and she spent a couple days with us. One day we had fika (coffee/snacks/chatting – very Swedish) twice and went to a student nation for their club night. It was actually Fettisdag, which literally means Fat Tuesday (as does Mardi Gras). One of my Swedish friends told us how, as a child, she always thought it was not fet + tisdag but fettis + dag, which would mean fatty day! We ate the traditional Swedish Fettisdag snack: semla! It’s this crazy bun with whipped cream and almost paste and it’s delicious!

A couple days later, my friend Sarina arrived in town for a visit. She stayed a bit over a week with us and we had quite a few adventures, but I’ll limit the descriptions somewhat. The photos in this post are all from her camera.

We made tandoori chicken, which I love and have never made myself (actually I didn’t make this myself, Sarina made it and I did some stirring and marinating and spice-addition, as well as lots of ‘supervision.’ We also made dal, and of course tonnes of rice.

I was happy, really!

Sarina brought with her some peanut butter (which, as a side-note, had anchovies and sardines in it… well, the oil from them anyways) from Canada so we could make the peanut butter cookies I’ve been making for years. I did all the ingredients stuff, then after a little bit of mixing I let (pressured?) Sarina into doing the rest of the mixing and most of the actual placing of cookies in the oven (I supervised from a chair hehe). They turned out pretty good, even though our oven is hotter at the back so the back row was always slightly burnt when the front row was almost perfect.

A few of you (who am I kidding, are there even a ‘few’ people reading this?) may recall my clinical trials of the effects of eating expired food items, including photos: http://photodiarist.com/2005/09/20/the-student-menu/

In keeping with my food adventures (which include drinking tap water all summer in Cameroon, for those of you who won’t even drink Vancouver’s tap water), I one night decided here in Uppsala that I should eat raw bacon. I mean, my whole life I’ve wanted to eat raw bacon, but I never have. It came up in conversation and so I took the initiative, grabbed an unopened package of bacon from my fridge and Greg, Emmanuel, and I each had a couple of strips. I then did so again during Sarina’s visit, because it tastes that good:

Also, Greg taught me how to make a really neat sandwich: take two pieces of bread and put a layer of cream cheese on each one. Fry up 4 pieces of bacon (if you like it crispy, you’ll need more bacon, because it gets smaller the longer you cook it of course) and put the bacon between the cream cheesed bread. Voilà! Cream cheese and bacon sandwhich, isn’t it amazing?!?

Leaving the topic of food, Sarina persuaded me that we HAD to go watch a Swedish Elite League hockey game so we got tickets to watch Djurgården IF play MODO (the team that Naslund, the Sedins, Forsberg, and others have played for). The 40 minute train from Uppsala to Stockholm is where I get my best naps, and this was no exception.

In Stockholm, we met up with Theresa (who stayed with me a week before) for food and convinced her to join us at the hockey game. Luckily there were still tickets left and we were actually all able to sit together because some seats were empty near us! We were in the very last row but it was a great view, since Hovet arena only seats 8000. Djurgården was the home team, so I cheered for them while Sarina cheered for MODO.

In the first intermission we walked around a bit and the girls met the Djurgården mascot, which seems to be some sort of mutant rabbit/mouse/American gladiator creature.

At the end of games in Sweden, the home team does something that (according to Sarina, the one who’s been to plenty of hockey games while I only watched them on TV) NHL teams only rarely do, and smaller teams sometimes do: they lined up at the end of the arena where the most vocal of their supporters were seating, and they gave a cheer / thank you to the crowd while banging their sticks in unison on the ice. I wish the NHL had a bit more of that kind of stuff, but I guess they don’t need it when GM Place is already selling out constantly and everyone wants to rush to the parking lot…

The next day in Uppsala we had quite the snowstorm, it was really hard to see for a while when we were walking, but it was great!

That night, we went out dancing with my classmates and flatmates and when we got home I found that my keys were no longer in my pocket. My flatmates had their keys so it was no problem to get inside, but my room was locked, so I had no way to get in! After some attempts to pick the lock with wires but no good tension wrench, I decided it was time to destroy things.

Doors in Sweden tend to open outward, so there was no way to kick the door in. So, I got the power drill from the storage room and used it as if it were a jigsaw, to cut into the door jamb around the strike plate. I then used a strong screwdriver to pry the strike plate off, allowing the door to open.

Sarina left a couple days later, and shortly thereafter I found my keys! They were on a shelf in our front hall, hidden by some gloves and a lei. I must have put them there while putting my gloves on before going out, so they were never in my pocket to begin with! I took the big strikeplate off the kitchen door jamb since there’s no door there anymore, and drilled new holes in my door jamb and stuck the new strike plate on and all is well again. So, no money lost!

Creature Photography

Over the course of the three months I spent in Cameroon, I managed to take a few photos of strange creatures. It was rainy season, so there were not as many opportunities to take wildlife photographs as one might expect. I was also living in a densely populated, garbage-strewn city, so there was not so much wildlife right by my house.

Geckos are of course everywhere in Cameroon, and the more the merrier – they keep the mosquitoes at bay and they make no noise and no mess!

Various types of lizard also live all over the place, like this one near the ceiling outside one of the school buildings on the new site:

I really liked these colourful lizards. The males were colourful like this, the females rather dull and smaller. This one is near the beach:

Centipede on the path at the new school site, with size perspective from someone’s hand:

We found this guy sitting on the root of a tree at the beach:

This is the inside of my bedroom door. This beast didn’t live to see this photo unfortunately:

We couldn’t identify this species, but she was very cute and cuddly:

These guys liked to chill outside my house, which they were not allowed to do:

Maybe an anthropologist knows what this is? I don’t, and I’m the one who made it with my food…

This skink decided to visit us on our table on another beach trip. It seems every beach trip (I only went 3 times the whole summer) resulted in neat little creatures showing up! Seems he was interested in reading my book, Globalization and its Discontents, by Joseph Stiglitz.

The colour combination of the plastic bag and tablecloth, combined with the effect of the maximum possible aperture of f/4.0 on my lens, created a neat effect in this one:

To get Mr Skink back off the table and into his natural environment (and also to take a nice photo) I carefully got him to climb into this empty glass for transport:

Motorcycle Jungle Adventure!

On August 5th we woke up in our beach side guesthouse and soon set off on our day’s mission: finding our way into the jungle.

We didn’t eat breakfast, as there wasn’t really any place open so early to buy food. We both rode on one motorcycle (me in the middle) to the office where the officials organize permits and WWF-certified guides to take people into the bush. We were told to arrive at 7 or 730am and they showed up a bit after 8 to talk to us. While we waited, we noticed the hundreds of dead bugs around on the veranda. I blew one large moth into the gutter, and it turns out it was still alive! In a lightning-fast blur of motion, a huge black ant had attacked the newly arrived moth in the gutter. The two of them battled for at least 10 minutes before the ant finally pulled the moth into some hole where I presume it finished the moth off.

After organizing our trip with the officials and working out how we would get by on the very small amount of money we had, we set off on two motorcycles for the bush. We drove for about an hour at breakneck speeds up and down huge hills, around and at times into potholes, and became airborne more than once. By the end of that ride I had probably doubled the muscle mass of my hands and arms from holding onto the motorbike frame! After finding a local villager to accompany us (required by law), we set out by foot. As we officially entered the reserve we saw this map, which appeared in the surfing magazine Sam had, and was actually our inspiration for making the trip!

Unfortunately, after about an hour of walking in the heat, the local villager started asking us how much we were going to give him at the end of the trip. Having already negotiated a price before setting off, we told him there was no bonus, we were flat broke and had not even enough to get home to Buea, which was in fact the truth. We argued for a while but he refused to change his mind and decided to head back to his village. Our official guide also headed back and told us to stay put there in the jungle. While we waited and worried about the crazy noises we kept hearing, I almost bumped into a massive spiderweb, so I took a photo of the beast that lived there:

Our guide returned after about an hour, alone and on his motorcycle, which he had amazingly been able to drive along the old disused path. We all climbed on and our plan changed: our “hike” through the jungle became a motorcycle adventure!

At one point, we ran into a little trouble as one of the spiked tree leeches happened to fall on Sam. I managed to get a photo with my point and shoot before our guide carefully pried the little creature off Sam’s chest with a small tree branch.

Eventually we hid the motorcycle in the jungle and began actually trekking. We passed a bunch of neat termite nests, like this one:

When it was time to sleep we set up camp by a small brooke of water. Sam really enjoyed drinking the barely moving water out of his leaf cup.

We managed to get the tent set up without too much hassle, and after eating a granola bar for supper (we really had no food) we went to bed not long after 6pm as dark descended and the mosquitoes came out.

We managed to keep most of the mosquitoes out of the tent, but in the middle of the very uncomfortable night I woke up with a strange itchy pain on my calf. I also noticed that our guide was awake and working at something. It turns out I had a red ant biting into my leg and he had a few dozen of them attacking him as they filed through a small hole in the tent in his corner. We spent half an hour killing as many as we could and eventually fell back asleep.

The next day we were up again looking for animals and such. We saw a number of monkeys throughout the days, and a gorilla that was hidden from view but identifiable by its slow climbing and escape, and a few tiny forest antelopes. We also saw tonnes of destruction left by a herd of elephants, and tonnes of elephant faeces and huge footprints in the mud.

Seeing as how we had no food, I kept asking our guide about every single berry type thing I saw, and always the answer was that we could not eat it. Finally on this second day of our little adventure, he found a kola nut tree and used his machete to open up a few for us to eat.

We had become quite thirsty as well as hungry, and eventually we came to an area where some woody vines grew. Our guide chopped sections off the bines and we could drink tonnes of water that poured right out of these vines like tap water. We filled my 1L Nalgene bottle no problem!

We eventually arrived back at our hidden motorcycle and removed all of our camouflage, managed to haul it back to the road, and our guide hooked up the electrical connections again (he had immobilized it manually just in case).

We had become very accustomed to this semi-offroad motorcycle riding by this point, so on our multi-hour trip back out of the jungle I took a few photos while moving, such as this self-portrait:

At one point we stopped suddenly as our guide spotted some chimpanzees eating wild mangoes. We scared off the chimps and feasted on the wild mangoes, yum!

The road, as I said, was disused and no longer fit for a motorcycle. In addition, the elephants had really caused a lot of destruction in some places, like this:

I decided to take a short video with my point and shoot camera to show what it was like on the motorcycle as we drove through the overgrown old path, with bushes and branches and razor leaves (literally razors, they drew a lot of blood and we were covered in slices on our arms and faces afterward). I couldn’t rotate the video, so you’ll have to turn your head or your monitor, sorry! At one point you hear me and Sam talking a bit – it’s hard to tell from the video but we were going into and back out of a ditch in the road, which involved weaving and wobbling and feeling like we were going to fall over and/or fly off our seat:

[tubepress video=”8nYO3vTbMrg”]

We eventually got out of the park, but on our way back along the real road to the little town of Campo, we spotted a big SUV at the side of the road. Our guide knew someone there so we stopped and Sam and I began talking with a foreigner who turned out to be visiting on work from South Africa and was happy to find someone who spoke English in this very Francophone region of Cameroon (I had to translate the entire time in the jungle between our Francophone guide and Anglophone Sam). We ended up staying there with him for several hours chatting about this, that and everything else, and he and his hired driver and assistant offered us a ride not just back to Campo but all the way back to Kribi! It was a luxury ride in a brand new SUV with airconditioning and good suspension, and the driver really knew how to get where he was going! We arrived in Kribi having saved a tonne of time and money, and we even got to share a beer at the guy’s hotel with a great view:

Not only that, but he later joined us for supper at our preferred low-class but delicious restaurant, and he ended up covering our meals and our drinks, so we saved enough to buy our breakfast the next morning! We hadn’t eaten properly in several days, so this huge meal and the knowledge of a proper breakfast in the morning really made our week!

The next morning we set off for Douala and Buea after Sam cashed some emergency foreign currency he was carrying, just enough for us to get home! We managed this time to make it back to Buea without any real hitches.

The public transport minibuses all have little warnings painted on the inside, and I thought these two were amusing:

Sorry for the long post, but that was our adventure in the south of Cameroon!