Post # 457 Odds and Ends

February 19, 2016 at 11:50 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 457 Odds and Ends

Today’s post will be a little shorter than normal.  It’s insanely busy around the household today.  I’ll explain in a moment.  But an email from a friend recently started me thinking about Polish and Russian foods.  And that reminded me of a time I spent two weeks in Azerbaijan in the capital city of Baku.

Of course, it was for work, and we spent our days at the office.  Nights we explored the city center which turned into a carnival in the early evening.  The city’s influence is a unique blend of Russian and Asian.  The shops were a mixture of local merchants and global chain stores.  There were trendy restaurants, hidden clubs, dark alleys, grocery stores, wine and liquor stores, and music.  Everywhere you looked there was music.

We were told never to walk alone.  Always in pairs or more.  There were people in the city who would “guide” a solitary tourist into a dark alley or hidden club and rob them blind.  In some cases, you might not ever be heard from again.  But we were all seasoned travelers and never felt threatened or unsafe.  The food was amazing.

The most prominent restaurant was McDonalds.  It had just opened about a year before and was directly across the street from our hotel.  We didn’t eat there a lot, but it made a nice landmark for the cab drivers.  Since they mostly didn’t speak English, we just had to say McDonalds and they took right to our hotel.  But there were others, too.  I don’t remember any of the names, but I do remember one experience.

We were at a restaurant that was recommended by previous travelers.  It was a nice place, serving standard Russian inspired food.  We had ham, potatoes, cabbage, and other things.  Wine for me, vodka for the others.  The entertainment for the evening was a “belly dancer” who was more belly than dancer.  She was dressed exotically and sometimes sang while she danced and wandered around the restaurant engaging the diners in the entertainment.

My back was to the center of the restaurant and at one point I could tell she was nearby because the music was louder.  Everyone at the table was staring over my shoulder and smiling.  I continued eating and talking with the person next to me, only half listening to her.  When the music started fading, I assumed she wandered to another table.

“You did that very well,” one of my coworkers said.

“Did what?”  I was puzzled.

“You acted like you didn’t even know she was there.” he replied while several others nodded in agreement.

“I knew she was there.  I could hear her.”

“But she was trying to get you dance,” someone said.  Another said, “She was singing right to you!”   Laughter started as my expression turned to bewilderment.

“She was?  I don’t have eyes in the back of my head.  I didn’t know she was doing that.”

The table erupted with laughter while I just grinned and shrugged.  “Oh well, I hope she wasn’t offended.”

Another restaurant we went to was a high end place across the square from the hotel where we had the traditional “fine dining” experience.  I had salmon.  Good stuff.  But the place triple charged a coworker’s credit card which resulted in a three-month struggle to resolve.  He finally got it corrected, but only after many phone calls to the restaurant and the credit card company.

One Saturday, we spent the whole day wandering through the historic district looking at antiques and rugs and climbing interminable stairs to the tops of ancient fortress towers to view the Caspian Sea.  That was also the day I saw the Russian Nesting Dolls in the shape of Disney characters.

The hotel left two Ferraro-Rocha chocolates on our pillows every night.

It was a good trip.

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Okay, the reason for the insanely busy time here in our household is . . . . . . . . .

The book is finally up for preorder on Amazon!!!  Open Amazon and click the drop down list and select Kindle Store.  Then search W J Copeland, and you’ll find Heritage of Humor: Stories from My Kitchens by W J Copeland available for preorder for $1.99.  I added a blurb on the side of the blog to let anyone who notices it know that the book is finally (!) ready.

But I must offer an apology to you all.  When I wrote the Dedication, I did say thank you to all my readers, but in the process of editing, etc. it got lost.  So let me say it here.  Thank you to all my readers.  Without you, the blog and the book wouldn’t be possible.

Enjoy

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