Wednesday, July 09, 2008

It's "official"

Today I attended a presentation on the new electronic official personnel file. It's an OPM thing that government agencies are switching to so that we'll all be in the same system. Change is scary, and people are suddenly feeling nervous and protective about their personnel files that they've never valued enough to ask to see before now.

My favorite part is the watermark that will appear on anything we print from this system. It will read:
This is an "official" government document generated from the EHRI eOPF system.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Foods I craved in France

When I was a student, I was fortunate enough to live in France for a couple years. It was a great education in many respects. Small surprise that it was where I began appreciating food more deeply. Not just kweezeen, but food and people's enjoyment of it.

I got to try all sorts of great stuff, harvest wine grapes, etc. but I could not deny that there were some foods from home that I missed and really could not find in France. Okay, you could probably find them in Paris, but I always consider that a place which is the epitome of France but not like the rest of it at all.

The short list of things a person could crave, even in the gastronomic cornucopia of France:

  • Crackers, by which I mean plain old saltines, oyster crackers, Ritz crackers, and animal crackers
  • Pecans - these were really hard to find; the common nuts were hazelnuts and walnuts
  • Mexican food - France just doesn't have the critical mass of the right group of immigrants to ensure this
  • Buffalo wings - the French caution about spicy things (oh, how they warned me about spicy ketchup, which was really mild by my standards) will probably keep this off the food scene for decades yet
  • Hershey's chocolate - yes, I know Swiss and French and Belgian chocolate are lovely and silky, but sometimes I just craved a plain, waxy Hershey's bar
  • M&Ms - Smarties are just not the same, although the color choices are better
  • Peanut butter - You could find cans --cans-- of Dakatine, which featured a homely red-headed boy about to enjoy the product. But it was old-fashioned or natural peanut butter, which is a hard sell even to me. No wonder it never caught on. They never had Skippy or Jif or Peter Pan. On white bread. With grape jelly or marshmallow fluff. Or bananas. Or homemade peanut butter cookies.
  • Popcorn - This was before microwave popcorn, so there wasn't even as much of it here in the US at that time. But when they did eat popcorn in France, they sprinkled sugar on it. Eww!
  • Corn chips - At home in those days, we could choose between Doritos and Fritos. In France they had neither, as corn was just not a foodstuff for humans. Except for polenta, but that was Swiss.
  • Diet Coke - In those days, diet soft drinks had not come to France yet. I did find Coke Light in Germany, though.
Lest I sound like a complete Philistine, I did not spend much time pining for these things. But the second time I went to live there, I sent ahead a box of treats for myself, which included Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and Barnum's Animal Crackers. And on one shorter trip, I carefully packed and brought all the makings for a taco dinner for my friends. They may still be drinking glasses of cold water.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Foods I can pass up with no grief

I always feel a little funny about this, but here are some foods that send other people into raptures but don't do a thing for me. I don't out and out dislike them, and I won't refuse to eat them, but I don't think I'd care if I never had them again.
  • coffee cake
  • Danish pastries
  • lasagna
  • cheesecake
  • sangria
  • lemon bars
  • meatloaf
  • bread pudding
  • macaroni and cheese
  • martinis
  • tamales
  • falafel
  • boston creme pie
What's on your list?