France Telecom recently announced their intentions to pull the plug on what has been the communications hub of French homes since the early ‘80s. Minitel terminals, which resemble antiquated Apple computers, will become the latest old-world victim of technology’s forward rush.
But this text-based, modem-dialing machine hasn’t gone without a fight. In the ‘90s, while Americans stocked up on personal computers and moved online, France stayed the technological course with the Minitel’s simple text interface, and not without reason.
I just returned to Kansas after a week in Connecticut. I went for a bellydance teacher training and was hosted by a friend who grew up here, but has since put roots down on the East Coast. My friend Pajes and her family made sure that I got a good sample of the wonderful food from the area…and there was lots of it. They are blessed with proximity to New York City, so their standards are very high and there was incredible diversity of choices, from Moroccan to regional Italian and the some of the best pizza I have ever eaten.
I don’t normally go to really expensive restaurants, for no other reason than I am usually too broke to do so. If a meal costs as much as a pair of cute heels, I will almost always choose the shoes. Most of the food I’m drawn to is inexpensive, spicy, and can be eaten standing up. I love great food at any cost, though, so once in a great while, we go crazy and splurge on something really special.
Recently I had occasion to dust off and update my resume. As it usually does, the whole thing once more gave me a bad case of “the squirms.” As I sat there pumping up my accomplishments in an attempt to make myself sound like a cross between Dr. Jonas Salk and Donald Trump, I couldn’t help thinking about certain people who brag themselves into a state of sainthood practically 24/7.
Italian food is almost universally accepted as America’s Favorite Ethnic Food. It’s so mainstream nowadays that we forget that as few as 50 years ago it was considered a very foreign cuisine. We are so saturated with pizza in Wichita (Italian cuisine’s gateway drug) that we have acquired a taste for tomato sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella. We love spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna. We want our pasta drenched in sauce and cheese. This Americanized Italian food is delicious, don’t get me wrong. I grew up on Ragu sauce with Kraft Parmesan cheese and ground beef meatballs.
Cassettes may have largely gone the way of parachute pants but their spirit lives on.
It was my brother’s birthday the other day and I had no idea what he would want, until I remembered how much we both like music. So I made him a mix tape.
OK, so I didn’t really use a cassette - I just messaged him a list of YouTube links on Facebook, mostly indie rock things that he might not have heard before - but the concept is the same: it was an ordered list of songs chosen by a person tailored for another person.
As you wound your way through the Kansas State Fair this year, perhaps you stumbled upon this surreal scene: standing in front of a refrigerated case, a group of wide-eyed Mennonite girls stare at 700 pounds of salted butter that has been reformed into a wild scene of two monkeys riding the backs of bucking sheep. Butter sculptures like this one, best known their pastoral or quirky representations, have surprisingly privileged origins.