My gosh, they do feed us well here

At the commencement welcome, one of the conference chairs of SALA made a joke about how we’re going to talk well and eat well. I’m not sure I’m talking all that well (still tired and a little out of it!), but my gosh, they do feed us well here.

Breakfast & lunch for two days are included in your registration, along with a very hearty closing reception that they said could easily be your dinner that night; coffee and tea service is also laid out throughout, which has been very handy for me, as I duck out of my room, grab some hot coffee, and duck back in to work a little more.

But just look at what they’ve served us so far! (I forgot to take photos of the avocado tartine and the fig tartine at breakfast, but they were very pretty.) One slight tweak I’d suggest for the hotel — I love that they used chicken thighs instead of breast, in terms of flavor, but personally, I wouldn’t have served it on the bone for a buffet like this. Too difficult to eat while sitting on low couches, managing drinks, etc. Nothing that requires knives!

I think my favorite, flavor-wise, was the combination of the curried salmon w/ the roasted sweet potatoes. Mmmm… I liked it so much I decided to skip dessert and go back for seconds of that instead. The roasted potatoes were also perfectly done, and delish.


How dedicated am I?

So here is the question — how dedicated am I? I slept poorly last night, and I attended 4 straight hours of readings this evening, from 7 – 11 (two different readings). All of which is fine, but I have a 5 a.m. call scheduled (with various international futurist folks; it’s not a great time for them either, but it’s the best we could manage).

I am having a hard time making myself set the alarm, even though I can, in theory, wake up, take the call from my bed, and go right back to sleep afterwards; I have nothing I *have* to be at in the morning. All my commitments are for afternoon & evening tomorrow.

Going to go get actually ready for bed, and see if my position clarifies after teeth-brushing. Surely that will solve everything?


A massive pile of logistical stuff

Okay. So I had a massive pile of logistical stuff to deal with, like contacting Elliott Bay and Hugo House and Book Larder and Capitol Cider here in Seattle, to see if I can stop by tomorrow and show them Feast and talk about ordering books / events, should I come back to Seattle soon.
(Hm. I’m not sure WHEN I should come back to Seattle. SF / Clarion folks, if you were visiting Seattle between March and October, when would you try to come? Are there cons I should peg the potential visit to? A great Clarion party or event?)
Much of this was very urgent, so I had to skip the after-lunch panel sessions at SALA, which makes me grumpy. But I have just one more thing to do, and then I’ll be clear enough that I can go to a panel — I’m planning on this one, which looks fascinating, if also troubling…
Teaching South Asia in Precarious Times
Chair: Masood Raja, University of North Texas
Rahul K. Gairola, Murdoch University, “Teaching Amidst Terrorism: Hermeneutical Tensions in the Expository Writing Classroom During the ‘New War’”
Masood Raja, University of North Texas, “Teaching Precarity in the era of Neoliberal Globalization”
Asma Sayed, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, “Teaching South Asia in an Interdisciplinary Social Justice Context”
Upasana Dutta, University of Chicago, “The Ethics of Reading Crises: Working on Kashmir after the Abrogation of Article 370”

Funny travel / eating moment

Funny travel / eating moment. So yesterday, I was VERY tired, and I really just wanted some spicy Asian comfort food for dinner. Luckily, there was a Vietnamese restaurant with good reviews (Long Provincial) half a block away from my hotel. So I staggered in there, made it to a table, and ordered a dish I knew I liked, Cá Kho Tộ, which is caramelized and braised catfish.

The waiter asked if I wanted rice with that, which I mean, what kind of question is that? Does anyone actually eat this intensely flavored dish — sweet and salty and spicy — without rice? Maybe white people do? Surely Vietnamese people don’t? I don’t really know, but I was startled.

Anyway, I said yes, and he went away and came back eventually (service was a little slow; I think they were understaffed). I’d offer photos of the food at the restaurant, but they seated me in an area that was so moody and dark that I could barely see my food, much less photograph it.

Luckily, the book I had brought to read was on my Kindle; otherwise, I would’ve asked to be moved to the brightly-lit section. (Re-reading Civil Campaign, because when I’m that tired, all I want is comfort reading, and Miles being an ass and everyone he knows calling him on it is about as comforting as it gets. I love Miles, I identify intensely with Miles, but Miles is also often a very cogent warning as to how I might go horribly astray…anyway. Back to our story.)

So he brings me this beautiful big clay pot full of fish and intense sauce, and this teeny tiny bowl of rice. Hm. I started eating, but usually I don’t eat very much at any given meal (I eat many many small meals), so I only finished about a third of the fish and all of the rice.

You really needed the rice! I honestly don’t know that I could’ve borne to eat the fish & sauce otherwise, because the flavors would’ve been unpleasantly intense. But balancing each bite of delicate fish and savory sauce with an appropriate amount of rice, it was just perfect.

(Not the best Cá Kho Tộ I’ve had, and $22 was rather a lot for catfish, but eh, it’s downtown Seattle, and as I said, half a block from my hotel. I’m not complaining about the price (well done gouging the tourists, Asian peeps, say I!), and the dish itself was fine. I’d eat there again! And besides, it makes three meals for me, so it all works out. Only because of the rice, though, so onwards…)

Here’s the funniest bit, at least to me. When I’d finished, I asked him for a container to pack it up, but also, if I could have some more rice. And I swear, he almost laughed when he said yes. I can’t be sure. But when he brought back the container for the fish, he also brought back rice — TWICE AS MUCH as he’d originally served me. And he didn’t charge me for it either.

So, I dunno, because I’m not an expert in Vietnamese food, and I honestly don’t know how this dish is typically eaten in Vietnam. But I wonder if the first serving of rice was geared for white tourists, and the takeaway much larger portion was because he’d realized that I knew how to eat the dish properly…? Hmm…

Regardless, I ate half of my leftovers for first breakfast, and they were delicious.