Wednesday, July 04, 2007

another June has gone by

It turns out the cheesecake I mentioned yesterday went over quite well this evening. But then again, I think there's a secret I ought to share with you about desserts and Indians, or at least desserts and Gujjus- combine pistachio and cardammom, and the rest does not matter. I'm sure no one made use of it, but some years back, I posted a recipe outlining the making of pistachio-cardammom cookies. Well, let me tell you peeps, that silly, simple recipe turns out to be the gift that keeps on giving. I crushed those cookies up, threw in a bit of melted butter, and there began the crust that made the cheesecake irrelevant. As predicted, the mango flavor in the cheesecake was extremely muted. However, those who tasted it remarked that it felt lighter than your usual cheesecake, and I think the mango pulp was the cause of that. Plus, having been hosed before by cooked/baked mango, I had sliced up some fresh mangoes to serve with the cheesecake. Anyway, enough about this- if anyone expresses even the vaguest amount of interest, I will post the recipe. Don't worry- I'm not holding my breath.


As the 4th of July approached this year, I was thinking of a lot of negative things, and how much it seems like our liberties are diminishing in this country. I was also thinking of patriotism, and how many aspects of patriotism are completely ruined for me. For example, I got a little knot in my stomach a few weeks back when my parents insisted we go to this small-town pizza place that had a huge "God Bless America" banner posted outside. Some of you know about that knot, the little stomach ache that makes you dread entering such places. And that, in turn, immediately leads to anger for me, because I feel like I've been robbed of my patriotism, like we've all been robbed of our patriotism. Because since when did "God Bless America" translate to "You're Either With Us or the Terrorists"? And is it all in my head?

Oh, so, I was all set to rail against all this sh*t, and ponder these odd feelings associated with patriotism, but then I couldn't. Because you know what? I really do love this country. The life I am living right now, the choices I have had the luxury of making- so much of it is only possible because I live in this country. I am a product of the public school system. I wasn't quite on the poverty line, but I sure wasn't catching any breaks. To think that I just got back from Spain and am about to embark on absolute foolhardiness for the next several years, it's truly humbling, because I know this country has something to do with it.

Not just that, but there's the matter of independence on Independence Day. Today, I was not seized by the temptation to regress to adolescence and whine about staying with my parents at the moment and feeling suffocated. Today, I am well aware that this was my choice, that it is temporary, and that I have had a lot of say in how I have lived my life. It always irked my mother, when I was a kid, how ridiculously independent I always strove to be from such a young age. The idea of being alone, or having your own, distinct opinion was so foreign to a woman who had been raised in India, and here her child was constantly demanding just that. But how did the notion get into my head? It wasn't from my parents- they are both cut from the same do what society would expect cloth, and truly wither away unhappily when they are not surrounded by people. Their strange alien of a daughter? Well, I have to believe it was in the air. It was in the soil, in the water, in the air where I was born- the urge to be free, the impulse for independent thought, the courage to stand alone and face whatever hand life may deal.

I certainly am not going to claim this country is perfect, or that it has not given great cause for alarm of late. Calling it a great land of opportunity nowadays seems a bit disingenuous. Still. America may not offer up the world as your oyster, but it also never says never (okay, I suppose this would be the time when the discerning reader will yelp, very rightly so, about illegal immigrants, so maybe I need to rethink my phrasing on this). America, more often that not, says maybe. And I don't know why, but today, that feels pretty powerful.

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