A birthday in the house today

January 25, 2009 |  Category:   life


It’s my birthday today and since we were tagged again, this time by Brenda, I thought it’d be an appropriate day to write 7 random things about myself since Jenna’s had a few turns. I also can’t remember a colder day on my birthday (really, what is with this weather?) so we dug up this photo from summer to remind us that there will, indeed, be an end in sight.

There are two things that I am unable to eat under any circumstances: canned tuna and runny eggs. I have no idea why, but I’ve never been able to get them down and I can’t even stand the smell of canned tuna.

From the time when I was 8-10 years old my family and I lived in Yemen. Back then it was actually North Yemen, as the country was in a civil war. We lived in the capital, Sanaa. I have many fond memories of that time and fittingly, many of them involve food: the roasted chicken at the restaurant up the road from our apartment, drinking falooda at the Indian restaurant at the Taj Sheba hotel, eating pita bread fried with butter and honey for breakfast in the mountain palace of one of my father’s co-workers, and the street vendors where we would get shwarma and something we called yemeni pizza, which was in fact some kind of crepe-like pancake studded with meat and vegetables. I would love to go back someday.

3. Sometimes when I’m in the car by myself I will turn on the metal/punk rock radio station, even though this is not normally the kind of music I listen to. It brings me back to my days growing up in Olympia, Washington during the height of grunge. I still own a small stack of 45’s from that time which probably will never be worth anything, but I’m keeping them anyway. These days I’m reminded of that time through Facebook, however, as my old friends have been posting photos of my long-haired, high school self. Damn you Facebook!

4. I never attended cooking school. My training was entirely on the job and I’m lucky to have worked for pastry chefs who took the time to teach me. This goes way back to my first job out of college in Portland, at a cafe called La Patisserie in Old Town which has since closed. At first the owner jokingly said “I’m not running a free cooking school here”, but when he realized that teaching me to do his work made his life easier he changed his tune.

5. I have a thing for Hawaiian music. If I ever see a Hawaiian record at a sidewalk sale I automatically buy it, even if it has songs that I already have on other records and even if it is cheesier than eating fondue with Celine Dion.

6. I played bass in a jazz band for several years in college. We called ourselves Bouillon Cube because one day we got booked for a show on campus and needed to make a flyer but didn’t have a name yet. So our guitarist opened his kitchen cabinet for inspiration and… I’m not sure if we were very good (I do have some old cassettes and could listen to them, but I won’t), but one day about a year after graduation I visited the campus and saw a handwritten flyer on a bulletin board that read “Where is Bouillon Cube? We miss you! Please come back and play!”. I think I actually took the flyer and might have it somewhere in my file of “stuff”.

7. I have never eaten a fast food hamburger in my life. Ever. And I never will, just so I can continue saying that. I always got the chicken sandwiches instead. I even went on a field trip once to a Burger King with my cub scout troop (weren’t cub scouts supposed to go camping?) and when everyone else got free hamburgers at the end I requested a chicken sandwich. When told that I couldn’t have it I got a hot dog instead. Does anyone else remember that BK used to sell hot dogs?

So to celebrate my birthday, I am going to try to NOT cook on this day. That means a rare day of eating out twice for us, once for brunch with some friends and later on for an early dinner. I’m thinking French, because I would really like to introduce snails to Mia, who I think would really dig it.

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  • Jenn January 25, 2009 at 9:49 am

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!! Happy (almost) lunar new year too 🙂

  • Annie From Seattle (not someone you know, though) January 25, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Nice to really meet you, Mark. Happy Birthday!

  • Lani January 25, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Happy Birthday! Nice stories…thanks for the reminder on some of those Yemeni delicacies. I do miss the schwarma and that egg thing we got at the same stand we got the chicken. Oh, and samosas…frozen, 24 to a bag from the Brothers grocery store.

  • Brenda January 25, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Oh yay! That was a great random 7 things list, Mark! I was a little confused by your summery photo – thought maybe New York was in the midst of a heat wave or focused global warming. 🙂 Now I get it.

    Can’t wait to hear about the escargot …

  • Stella January 25, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Happy birthday, Mark! Thanks for sharing. That’s really neat to read about Yemen and other random trivia about you. I hope you enjoyed not cooking today.

  • Fiona January 25, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    “eating fondue with Celine Dion.”

    Thank you.

  • Alicia January 25, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Happy Birthday, Mark!
    Not cooking on your birthday is always the best! Hope you have a great day.

  • christie January 26, 2009 at 11:23 am

    So great seeing the family yesterday!
    Hope the cake was yummy. AOC(?) good?

    more soon…

  • Asiye Ivedi January 27, 2009 at 3:32 am

    Happy Birthday!

  • Bronwyn January 27, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Happy Birthday! I too share a January 25th Birthday. I have really enjoyed reading your blog almost daily! My partener and I own a bakery in Montreal which we took over ownership in October. He is the Baker and I the want to be pastry chef and business person! Your info has helped us greatly…we share many of the woes and thoughts of small business ownership. Hope you had a great day and thanks!

  • Vonnie January 27, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Belated happy birthday to you, Mark!

    I hear you on the runny eggs thing, I just can’t cope with it at all. Also – you know now that anyone who knows your full name will be searching for you on facebook to see the aforementioned dodgy photos? 😉