G and I can walk bike the streets of Amsterdam with our heads held high now that we have indulged in the late night offerings of Mama’s.  In a town where 24-hour diners and late night pizza shops are about as common as a day without rain, you can find gastronomical refuge within the dime-a-dozen Shawarma eateries.  A great way to settle both the late night munchies and the countless Belgium or Dutch biers consumed during the evening.  We’ve been to other shawarma snack bars, but our friends rave that Mama’s is the lekkerst (yummiest!)!  The only downfall to Mama’s (and probably one reason it took us so long to finally try it) is that it’s smack in the middle of Leidseplein, the U.S. equivalent of Times Square or Bourbon Street.  In other words, an area we typically avoid during our weekend outings or bike rides home from the Center.

But last night, the stars were aligned and it was finally a Mama’s night.  We attended a farewell party for G’s colleague, read: bier + bier + bier + bier, etc.  The evening was very gezellig, we were all having a great time and dinner time came and past.  With the witching hour growing near and the party winding down, our hunger pains were kicking in.  It was a unanimous decision to stop at Mama’s.  We peddled down the canal with a drizzle in the air and anticipated our meaty dish.

A & A arrived just before us and kindly ordered for all.  G & I walked in to warm shawarma pitas awaiting us on the counter.  Followed by a bowl of frites, we soon had happy tummies and G and I were officially Mama-neophytes.  No more dropped jaw reactions coupled with “you’ve never eaten at Mama’s?!?


eet smakelijk!


Salt for your frites? Ja!

On the note of late night eats, I couldn’t help but think of a few others I used to frequent in my previous cites.  During my college days in Shreveport, Murrell’s was open 24 hours with waitstaff that addressed you by honey-baby-sugar-dawlin with every roll of the tongue.  Like every poor college student whose funds were now in a bartenders tip jar, the abundance of complimentary saltine crackers + green goddess was a jackpot.  Maybe that’s why they are now closed.  Despite the limited seating, The Camellia Grill in Uptown New Orleans was a staple late night or late morning after a really late night.  The omlettes are amazing and the staff always entertaining.  If you are ever in Nola, it’s a must stop.  Like New Orleans, the NYC area food options are endless and hard to narrow down.  However, late nights in Hoboken, NJ always ended with a slice of pizza from Imposto’s on Washington.  For Manhattan, I could easily rattle off a dozen late night diners or cafes, but L’Express has always been a favorite with some of the best fries, great coffee, and excellent people watching.  Conveniently located just north of Union Square ,  it was always easy to hail a cab or catch the express train home from there.

Wishing you good eats where ever you may be!  Tot Ziens…


Two to Two

[October 09, 2010]

When the score is 2 – 2, it sounds more like a futbol game than a football game.  But in our “house divided”, the Tigers have 2 and the Gators have 2…wins.   Since 2007, G and I have attended the LSU/UF football games together.  Every year it’s been the same friendly smack talk between us during game week.  Followed by the same puzzled looks from fans trying to comprehend how a Tiger and a Gator can still walk out of the stadium post-game holding hands—because clearly one of us had to lose.

2007 was a happy game for me.  We were in Death Valley and LSU pulled out a close win during a fourth quarter littered with controversial calls.  The stadium was easily dominated by Tiger fans, but I was fairly on my own in the visitor section and constantly being “chomped” at by Gators.  Final score, 28 – 24.  Tigers also clenched the BCS championship game at the end of the season.  Geaux Tigers!

2008 was just plain embarrassing.  It was my first visit to The Swamp and I tailgated with an all Gator crowd.  If I closed my eyes, I could have mistaken it for Louisiana.  The smell of boiled crawfish and jambalaya permeated the humid air along with a sprinkling of y’alls and football talk.  Aside from my purple and gold shirt, I managed to “blend” in and everyone was more than friendly.  With a roadie in hand, I trekked to the stadium alongside Gator friends hungry for a win.  And they had a feast!  The score was 17 – 0 at the end of the first quarter.  I showed up to The Swamp, but LSU missed the turnoff from Interstate 10.  Growing up a Saints fan, optimisim is in my blood.  But by the third quarter of this game, I was bored, embarrassed, and ready for a liquid dinner.  At least the loss secured me a warm bed in the loser’s corner as opposed to the driveway at G’s parent’s house. 😉  Final score, 51 – 21*, Gators (*which should’ve been 14, but I think UF was embarrassed for us and gave us a TD).


No purple & gold around here

In The Swamp


2009 had potential and it was back to Death Valley. Both of us had a lot of friends and family at this game so our entire day was spent tailgate hopping.  Since my brother managed to score tickets for me that year, I was finally seated amongst LSU fans and G had a taste of what my last two years were like.  Well, sort of.  UF was solid, but we were hungry for a win.  Two weeks before the game, UF’s star player, Tim Tebow, suffered a concussion and his playing status was a mystery until game time.  He played and they won.  But the score was easier to digest this time, 13 – 3, Gators.  G had just flown in from Amsterdam so jet lag was abated with a ‘W’ for UF…especially one in Death Valley.

Gator on the grill

Gator & Tiger

Tailgating with family

Tailgating with the opponent

Death Valley - LSU


2010 was back to The Swamp and a Gator gave me the “courage” award for proudly donning my LSU shirt with coordinating purple and gold beads.  After our long flight from Amsterdam, I think we both deserved the fan-that-traveled-the-furthest-award. As with previous years, it was a close one to call in advance.  While LSU was undefeated to date, the wins were close and sometimes lucky.  Florida just lost to Alabama and L’s aren’t what the Gator Nation is accustomed to as of recent years.  Our seats were in a very Gator section and not a single Tiger within earshot.  No one to reach across a few rows to for a quick high-five when TDs were scored.  The lead toggled between the two teams and then it was down to an intense fourth quarter. I’m pretty sure G and I didn’t speak a word to each other during this time.  Not due to bitterness or rivalry, just sheer tension as the clock ticked down, plays were continuously reviewed, and we each quietly hoped the other would lose.  With a final TD in the remaining minute, LSU won 33 – 29.  I was surrounded by unhappy Gators and appropriately kept silent as the colors on my hat, shirt, and beads were loud enough.  Back at the tailgating site, our Gator friends offered congrats and we all enjoyed a beer as we waited for traffic to die.  G’s dad even taped a “Geaux Tigers” sign on the door to greet the divided (and very tired) couple.  I took this as a sign I was allowed to sleep inside.


Now the score is even.  We’ve each experienced both a win and a loss at home and away. We always joke that the loser has to wear the winner’s colors to the next game…but we’ve never reinforced it.  Basically because it just won’t happen.  But if you have an idea for the 2011 game, I’m open to suggestions!


Bittersweet feelings overwhelm me as my two week visit in Louisiana has come to and end.  Sad to say good bye to my family.  Sad my visits with friends were brief.  Even sadder there are so many friends I didn’t get a chance to see.  BUT…I’m off to the Florida Keys to meet up with G and excited to see him.  Excited about trying to catch my own lobster this year, not just an assist. And excited about a whole week of fresh seafood eats, mmmmm!

Coming home is nostalgic candy with that unavoidable trek down Memory Lane.  Some flashbacks are icky like licorice, while others are as sweet as pixie sticks.  This trip was full of pixie sticks, family, and special friends…

College Roomies

The Hubbies

NOLA Roomie

NOLA/NYC Friends

Little Man!

Ballet Buddy

Mini Me is all about shin guards, not leotards 😦

Baby Shower for Sorority "lil sis"

My Nanay’s Playground

The days are still going strong with triple digit temperatures in Bossier City, but that doesn’t stop my nanay (‘mother’ in tagalog) from tending to her garden and making sure the hummingbirds have fresh food.  The heat has taken its toll on the withering plants and flowers, but a few of them are fighters and sprout a veggie or flower here and there. With a chance of rain for tonight/tomorrow, I am —for once— doing the proactive rain dance.  Not just for the plants, but for all of humanity in north Louisiana.

In between rain dance sessions, I manged to squeeze in some shutterbug time and capture some scenes from my nanay’s playground.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I have this past week.

Patience paid off to catch this little guy

This one was a bit easier


One of mom’s favorite spots to sit and enjoy the scenery


A bit too much sun, but hanging in there


Adding a touch of Dutch


My niece helps with the “harvest”

Ampalaya, a Philippino veggie

One man’s heat wave is another man’s cold spell

In The Netherlands, a heat wave is defined as 5 consecutive days where the maximum temperature exceeds 77 °F (25 °C) given at least 3 of those days exceeds 86 °F (30 °C).  I  know, some of you in the U. S. South would give up your first-born for temperatures like this right now.  During my first summer in Amsterdam, we had a heat wave in early July. With no air conditioning in the house (which is not unusual), it was my biggest adjustment next to learning how to bike in the snow while toting groceries.   Little did I know this “heat wave” with no A/C would be cake compared to what was ahead in August.

In the States, the definition of a heat wave is less defined as I discovered (i) a heat wave is where the temp is 90 °F (32 °C) or above for three consecutive days, (ii) a heat wave is an extended period of temperatures considered extremely high for a particular area, and (iii) a heat wave occurs when temperatures hover some 10° F above normal for several days and are accompanied by high humidity.

In Louisiana, at this very moment, I am experiencing something beyond a heat wave.  Either my pilot had a little too much Mary Jane before departing ole A’dam and flew me to the Equator (or possibly the surface of the sun), or I am in some kind of pseudo-inferno-purgatory serving penance for the amazing 8 months I have had in Europe with G. When I left Amsterdam on Friday, I was enjoying lovely temperatures in the upper 60’s.  Sixteen hours of travel later, I am welcomed by triple digits…as if 16 hours of travel wasn’t enough.  The “lows” at night don’t even come near to the highs in Amsterdam right now.   Three days later, my body is still in shock and I wonder how I survived for 25 years in Louisiana before fleeing north.  I am also amazed by the number of people trekking around town in jeans!!!  Heaven help them if they pass out from heat stroke.  I’d be sporting a bikini for my daily wear if not for the ridiculous amount of food I recently inhaled in Spain.

Despite the weather man mocks me with a week-long forecast of triple digits, it is good to be home.  It is wonderful to see my family and I am looking forward to seeing more family and friends over the next few weeks.  I will savor the sunny (albeit scorching) days ahead as the overcast rainy A’dam days are not far off when I return.

The heat is on!