Monthly Archives: May 2008

Woman Wanted

Must be willing to live with and be a companion to an eccentric, moody man who talks and sings to himself when he is in a room all alone and can be temperamental but is usually a fun-loving, great guy. The client is perceived to be considerate and kind but also an occasional hothead by all his close friends.

Must have an excellent sense of humor and comprehend the concepts of cynicism, sarcasm, and black humor. The applicant cannot be temperamental whatsoever and must balance the mood of the client. The ability to induce laughter is essential. Bland and banal conversationalists need not apply. Egomaniacs are unwelcome.

Applicants should not be taller than 5 foot 9 inches or 175 cm, but measurement requirements are flexible. Brunettes are preferred, especially those with naturally curly or wavy hair. Applicants must be considered “pretty” when no make-up is applied.

Must be able to please the man 24 hours a day, providing various forms of entertainment, especially during late evening hours. Should demonstrate creativity, flexibility and open-mindedness.

Fears and phobias must be few—aversion to cockroaches is tolerable.

Must have an acute attention to detail and cleanliness. Cleaning the home using a provided vacuum cleaner, brooms, extension devices, cloths, sponges and mops—using various powers, liquids, and creams when necessary—is a mandatory requirement. Laundry services must also be rendered—a washing machine will be made available.

Must be an excellent, versatile cook. Will be required to prepare various kinds of ethnic foods, occasionally with the assistance of the client.

Should take part in all eating, drinking, and other spontaneously engaged, yet interesting activities with the client. The applicant should have a minimal dislike for any fruits, vegetables, or meats. Should enjoy alcoholic beverages, notably wine.

Should possess some sense of adventure and enjoy the simple life on an occasional basis. Should also be willing to go on excursions into the countryside in a motor vehicle driven by the client.

Must be cultured, well-rounded and well-read. Must astutely appreciate the arts and film. Music preferences must include jazz, some rock, classical, and ethnic world music. Familiarly with or willingness to learn the music of John Coltrane and other jazz musicians is essential.

Should have an eclectic taste for fashion. Spike high-heeled shoes are not allowed. Clothing worn must be comfortable to the applicant—the wearing of tight-fitting garments is unnecessary. Cosmetics must be applied in small amounts or not at all. The usage of hats in all weather conditions, indoors or out, is extremely valuable to the client.

Language preferences—must speak English fluently, preferably with a charming accent. Fluent Armenian is also essential. Knowledge of Russian, French, Catalan, Hindi and Japanese languages is advantageous.

Compensation—Room and board, frequent entertainment provided by the client implementing various creative scenarios and situations.

Applications are being immediately accepted on a rolling basis—no deadline at this time.



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Cooking up a Storm

Last Saturday I decided to repeat a performance conducted the previous weekend-roasting a chicken. I enjoy cooking but I don’t take part in it as much as I like, mainly because it isn’t much fun to prepare a large meal for yourself only since making single portions I find is impossible. Yet I love chicken-I also make chicken piccata as well which is always a success among my guests. And there is nothing like roasting a whole chicken, since even though you cannot finish it all in one sitting at the table you can refrigerate the leftovers and eat it cold later on, when it tastes even better. I have been experimenting with the herbs and vegetables in season, something which is a shame not to take advantage of. So without further ado, below are my recipes for roast chicken, potato salad and a simple lettuce leaf salad.

Roast Chicken à la Garbis

– 1 whole chicken, just over a kilo or about 2.5 to 3 pounds in weight (an “organic” chicken if possible, white and on the skinny side, no hormone-injected anatomically warped sickly yellow chickens need apply)
– Three to four cloves of garlic, depending on taste, farm-fresh if possible
– Three to four long sprigs of fresh tarragon
– A quarter cup or about 100 ml of oil (I use sunflower but light olive will do as well I suppose)
– Squeezed half of a lemon, or a whole lemon if the rind is very thick
– Quarter teaspoon of paprika (for color)

Thoroughly wash the whole chicken inside and out with salt water. The cavity of the chicken should be the focus when washing, so use plenty of salt. Allow the chicken to dry. Press the garlic into a small bowl with one of those tools that pulverize each clove. Combine the lemon juice and oil with the garlic in the bowl, then add the paprika. Mix well with a teaspoon or small whisk.

Preheat your oven to about 450 degrees Fahrenheit or about 230 degrees Celsius. Put the chicken in a roasting pan, about an inch deep or a few centimeters deep-if the neck is already severed place it in the pan beside the front end of the chicken so there will not be any separation anxiety. With the end of a sharp common kitchen chopping knife gently pierce the flesh of the chicken along the breast and thighs-no stabbing, just tiny punctures. Apply the oil-lemon-garlic mixture all over the chicken, with the exception of the back, with a small basting brush or even a teaspoon which is what I use. Pick the leaves off two tarragon sprigs and gently tear them in half with your fingers while sprinkling them all over the chicken. Insert one or two whole sprigs of tarragon into the chicken’s cavity. Add a very small amount of water to the pan, just enough to coat it. Then insert the roasting pan, chicken included, into the oven. Cook for about one hour. Remove the chicken from the oven, let it cool for about 10 minutes, carve away and enjoy.

The chicken should look beautiful when done, but don’t roast it too much so that the skin chars. Just make sure its cooked thoroughly-I usually partially remove the thigh at the hip to check if the meat is moist and white.

While the chicken is cooking you can prepare some nice cold salads to accompany the chicken.

Simple potato salad

– Just over a half-kilo or a pound of new, fresh small potatoes, large enough to pop into your mouth whole or by cutting in half

– One small white onion, sliced

– Several sprigs of fresh dill, chopped (five to 10 will do it)

– Three to five tablespoons of oil, such as sunflower or light olive, depending on your taste

– Freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt (if possible, or else just use ordinary salt and pepper)

Wash the potatoes, removing excess skin hanging from each one by rubbing them between your gripped hands. Boil the potatoes in water in a shallow pot for about 10 minutes or until tender. Immediately drain the water when they are done and allow the potatoes to cool. Coarsely chop the dill and finely slice the onion. Combine the potatoes, dill, onion and oil in a large bowl. Add the black pepper and salt to taste and mix. Refrigerate the potato salad still in the bowl until the chicken is ready, then take it out and eat it with the chicken.

Simple romaine lettuce salad

– One small to medium-sized head of romaine lettuce

– One tablespoon of oil

– Freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt (if possible, or else just use ordinary salt and pepper)

Chop off the core of the lettuce head a couple of centimeters from its base and discard. Thoroughly wash the lettuce leaves, especially the bottom ends where dirt usually collects. Pat dry the lettuce leaves with paper towels or an ordinary kitchen cotton towel, clean of course. Chop the lettuce into horizontal strips, the width of which is up to you, using a good sharp kitchen knife and insert them into a medium-sized bowl. Add the oil and black pepper along with salt to taste. But sprinkle more pepper than salt, not very much salt actually. Mix the salad and serve it with the roast chicken.

Naturally this is a lot of food for one person. When you’ve finished eating cover the salad bowls and the chicken with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator. When you’re hungry again there is no need to heat the chicken, enjoy it cold along with the salads, it tastes fantastic that way.

Bon appétit. 😉

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Love Sickness

After a few days of semi-lethargic behavior due to intestinal congestion issues and the end of the sweet and sour relationship with the love of my life, I felt a bit energized this morning. It may be due to the mild mood stimulant the instant coffee instigated after I drank it to induce a shakeup of the abdominal region. It’s been just about six days since I began to experience irregular bowel movements and severe constipation, tinged with searing hemorrhoidal discomfort. The other night I ingested a mild laxative called Senade which encouraged the intestines to expel the toxins that have been building up there. I have swallowed nearly 10 tablets in the last five days but I had not seen any tangible benefits until yesterday when I went to the toilet five times, three times in the afternoon during work hours. In fact I left work a few hours early to go home and rest, feeling exhausted. The ongoing problem may be attributed to some frankfurters I gorged on laden with extra spicy mustard last week. This afternoon I will go to the pharmacy to buy some Epsom salts as they seem to do the trick. Regrettably while working their wonders they induce diarrhea, thus compelling me to sit on the porcelain throne of misfortune several times an hour.

The woman in question who will remain nameless in this text entered my life late last September. My love is a delicately petite, sensually graceful maiden with almond-toned skin and lustrous henna-tinged carob-colored hair. In the beginning we met several times as friends, going to an Indian restaurant where we pondered the mysteries of the Indigo people, the clairvoyant, and the nuances of Indian culture. I was well stocked with beedi cigarettes at the time which we smoked ritually while chatting. She enjoys long walks as do I, so we strolled about at mid-evening before I walked her home. My love by nature is a charming woman and nearly always had something fascinating to talk about with me, usually spiritually-related topics and musings of her past. Then my friend Ara from Boston decided to visit Armenia and I invited him to stay with me. The second week after his arrival and dozens of bottles of downed wine later we decided to have a dinner party. The main course of the meal was to be a traditional dish made from a mash of slowly-cooked lentils, white onions, and some other mysterious ingredient topped with chopped parsley and served cold, not necessarily the best accompaniment to wine but at that point it mattered very little. I had purchased some choice beef cuts to prepare something, I can’t remember what. Then she arrived for the first time, examined the meat and seasonings, having brought her own Indian spices, and went to work without any persuasion on my part—she just started cooking. She stayed later than her curfew but I walked her home to ensure she arrived safely. For several nights she returned, invigorating us with her charm and grace, staying late each time. She and Ara played a game where a player chooses four digits which the opponent has to guess when given coded hints—she excelled at it. My love is perhaps the most laid back, down-to-earth, least uptight, selfless and sublime woman I have ever met in this country, or perhaps anywhere. In my experience most women nearly always have something to gripe about and are rather conservative; there is something always holding them back from being carefree. For the most part women in Armenia don’t even kiss men on the lips or hardly kiss at all while they are being courted. They may seem happy during the first few meetings but after some time passes the fussiness sets in coupled with mild dyspepsia. With her there was none of that, she was not afraid to speak her mind and share her thoughts with me, no matter how private they were; there were no inhibitions. She made me want to be a better man, and she tamed the heart fire. We met frequently, almost ever night, apart only when she worked through the late evening. Our friendship fortified, and our mutual trust began to bind. In a natural transformation out of our own control, the friendship metamorphosed into a blossoming, fragrant romance which became increasingly intense as the days went on. I had to fly to Boston during the holidays, and she was there to greet me upon my return at the airport after the two-week lapse, with indigo blue contact lenses disguising her luscious, chocolate eyes. She was ravishing, beaming with her love for me, and it was at that very moment when I realized I was madly in love with her. Plans for the future were made, plans for our life and travels together. She gave me gifts—for my birthday she presented me with a gorgeous Japanese tea set. I remember for my birthday party we served dolma, or rolled grape leaves stuffed with ground beef and rice, which we made together. We were doing everything as a dynamic duo, life was grand, we were unstoppable. The romance continued unabated for another six weeks until things began to deteriorate quite drastically, without reason. The love once ceaselessly emanating from her abruptly died overnight. There was no explanation—no other lover, no habits of mine which disturbed her, nothing I said troubled her, nothing out of the ordinary occurred. The love was simply dead, and no matter what I tried to do through words or actions I could not revive it. At first we both thought it was some kind of temporary ailment of the soul, that some kind of fear had gripped her. I was sure that was the case. I tried explaining to her that her very fear of our romance dying interrupted our united lives. She had once hinted that she feared our relationship would end later than sooner, and it would be too much of a burden to take. It is as if she shut down emotionally so that she would not bear the burden of a possible future breakup that more than likely would never have happened had our relationship progressed as it had, undeterred. Towards the onset of the slowdown we had been seeing each other daily, we were always together while not working, but one day the bliss started to unravel and we met infrequently, often at a loss for words. Several weeks went by as things between us teetered on the edge of oblivion. We decided to end it once and for all last weekend.

The effects have been devastating for me. I question my future with women as I have been burned several times before. Women do not last very long with me before other interests impede our relations or their love wanes unexpectedly. With my ex-wife it was her career and ego that dominated her priorities in life which ultimately ripped the marriage apart. And with this last relationship, which was much more dear to me in many ways as it was the most satisfying I have had with a woman, it was love that betrayed me, or rather betrayed us. Actually I am convinced that the evil eye was at play here, that someone perhaps both of us know who is envious of our love cast some kind of curse, undoubtedly someone with bad karma. There is of course the probability of love being renewed between us, assuming that the evil eye is destroyed—anything is possible in this life as I often jest. Yet the unpredictable, foiling fluids of love that ravage possibly every human being on the planet instilled this vague, wavering malaise I experience now. How long it will linger is anyone’s guess, certainly not mine.

While I write these words lying on my couch of refuge resting my entrails I am compelled to seek the dispersion of the malevolent spirits that infest my body. Life will go on. Although I have just recently declared war on womankind I will undoubtedly love once again, and foolishly I should add. But I am not in any rush. 

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More Great Wines

In my relentless quest for finding superb Armenian wines, I discovered a few more.

Areni of Maran, 2004, Maran Winery. This Areni is a quite dark, dry wine which features hints of bitter chocolate. Great accompaniment to Roquefort cheese, romaine lettuce, fresh tarragon and lavash crisps.

Areni of Yegheknadzor, 2002, Maran Winery. Perhaps the most satisfying Areni I have had to date. This wine’s bouquet spews out of the bottle the very second the cork is extracted. It flaunts characteristics of black raspberry and rare filet mignon with bernaise sauce. You don’t need to eat anything with this wine, just sip away. It will satisfy the most ravenous souls.

Experimental Wine, Nazaryan Winery, 2007 (private stock). My friend Tigran decided to start experimenting with wine making last year, preparing a batch and storing the wine in large glass containers with long necks. Last winter when visiting Boston he asked me to bring back a considerable supply of wine making necessities, such as corks, bottle labels, contraptions to test the pH balance and sulfites. I have been providing him dozens of empty wine bottles, and in return I received a bottle each of his experimental red and white wines. The white is a bit sweet and I am saving it for cooking. The red however, despite his criticism and mild disappointment, is a very interesting wine, especially good for someone who doesn’t yet quite know what he is doing. It is a semi-sweet, with flavors reminiscent of black currant as well as blueberry and has a dry walnut finish. The more you sip the flavors change, transforming to peach, blackberry, and sour plum. Hopefully he’ll give me some more….

A friend of mine told me about six years ago that the Areni wines produced by Maran Winery are some of the best you can find. In my several years of tasting I have not found any which rival the quality of vintages this winery produces. I have not yet tried older vintages of wines produced by that winery since most are out of my price range. Both of those mentioned above are 1650 dram or about $6. But some of their wines can be purchased for as high as $30, perhaps even more depending on the vintage. The Areni of Yegheknadzor is really great, my favorite Areni so far, actually. These wines, except for Tigran’s, can be found at stores selling fine foods and in some supermarkets across Yerevan.

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Time Ticks Away

I feel like my biological clock is ticking. That feeling probably applies only to women, but nevertheless the urge to have children is becoming stronger now that spring is in full bloom. I think about sex most of the day lately. And I need a woman by my side. But they traditionally cannot commit to me. Reasons are unexplainable. One of them, with whom I was married, ran away to the jungle last year to study at an obscure university and wouldn’t promise that she would ever return. Before leaving she admitted that she never wanted to marry me in the first place. Another one says she doesn’t know what is upsetting her and causing her to doubt our relationship. It seems on the surface that perhaps she cannot figure out whether she wants to be with me. What does it all mean, what are women looking for? What I am doing wrong? A close friend of mine named Chrissy tells me that it is not only me per se who believes he is inept in forging relations, but perhaps about half the people in the world are screwed up in one way or another regarding the same tribulations. Sweetly sublime spring days are passing by, and the desire to procreate intensifies. But the women do not cooperate.

One reader of this blog wonders whether I am having an “emotional crisis” for writing about topics such as love and marriage, and that what I write is not necessarily “profound.” Well, perhaps being an emotional romantic is a kind of fault in this capitalist-driven world where financial security defines your place in society over and above your skill set, talent and personality. I cannot say for sure. And I certainly don’t know what defines the makings of a “profound” blog. After all, the term “blog” is a shortened moniker for “Web log,” basically an online journal on which one can write whatever comes across one’s mind at any time of the day or week. On this blog anything goes, profound or not.

Back to romance and breeding. I have pondered lately (though not taking myself very seriously) about going to a random village and taking my pick of the 18-20 year-old virgins running about. A friend of mine did that—actually his family members arranged a brief meeting whereby they visited the village mayor’s home and his supermodelesque daughter came into the room to set demitasses of coffee on the table before strolling out five seconds later. Soon after that the courtship started and eight months later it was party time, red apples galore. Their lovely but bashful daughter is two-and-a-half. I think they can help me. I only have two requirements basically—that she can dig Coltrane and she does not have a mustache. I will hopefully not have to worry about all the cooking, washing and cleaning in the house being done unless she turns out to be lazy and apathetic. In that case raising children with her would be out of the question. After some time lounging about in my apartment while letting the dirty dishes pile up and the overflowing trash bin reek she would probably start dreaming about picking mulberries from the 80-year-old tree in their garden which her great-grandfather planted so long ago, and collecting eggs in the chicken coop at dawn. Then bored beyond tears perhaps she would be off for the village using the money I gave her to buy some cheese and bread in order to catch a ride on the homebound minibus. At that point I would be back where I started. Tings. Here’s hoping good fortune and karma will come my way soon. Making babies will nevertheless have to wait.

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