Sexist chocolate

I took it as a personal challenge.

A few years ago, Flaneur and I were at a convenient store in London, in a hurry but waiting in line to pay for something. Right as the person in front of us finished and it was our turn to move up, I saw something that caught my eye.

A chocolate bar sitting amongst the other candy with something I’d never seen written on a candy wrapper before: “It’s not for girls!”

“Hey look,” I said to Flaneur, tugging on his shirt. “What’s that about?”

“Heh, funny,” he said distractedly, grabbing his receipt and bag. “C’mon, let’s go.”

Like I’ve mentioned before, his sweet tooth is a baby tooth compared to my non-stop-sweet-craving monster molar of a sweet tooth, so I wasn’t surprised when he scooted me out of the store without caring much about the strange candy bar.

And so I never bought it, or even so much as looked at it closer, or even saw it again since I went back to Italy where they definitely don’t sell it.

But then, just a few days ago, I found myself having a strange moment of déjà vu.

I was waiting in line at a deli (the New York cousin of the convenient store), alone this time, but still in a hurry (because Lost was starting in about 5 minutes and I was still 3 blocks from home) when I saw something out of the corner of my eye: “It’s not for girls!”

Ohmygod! There it is!

With one person still in front of me, I darted to the candy bar and snatched it.

Ah ha! I got you this time!

I ran home (no, really, I did) and bounded in through the door just as the new episode came on. Flaneur, who was already sitting on the couch, looked at me.

“Just in time,” he said with a chuckle.

“Yea, and look what I found,” I panted, digging around for the candy bar before pulling it out and holding it up like it was the Holy Grail.

“Woa! You found it!” he said, surprising me that he actually remembered a chocolate bar from almost 3 years ago. (That’s typical of me, not him. Maybe I’m rubbing off on him.)

During a commercial break I picked up the candy bar and gave it a closer inspection. “Yorkie: it’s not for girls!” screamed the blue wrapper with the big, bold yellow letters.

Well what the hell? What’s in this thing? Maybe it has a peanut and caramel covered beef jerky core. Why else would it not be for girls?

Silly Brits, it's JUST chocolate.

But as I read the ingredients I was surprised to see that it was just chocolate. Nothing crunchy or gooey or sticky, just a solid chunk of milk chocolate, divided into squares.

Psssh! What a joke!

I tore the wrapper open and sure enough, nothing a girl couldn’t handle. It was a pretty thick chocolate bar, but by no means intimidating.

I broke off two squares, one for me and one for Flaneur, who ate it without any of the inspection or analysis I had put into it.

Those Brits have a strange sense of humor, I thought as I finished the rest of the Yorkie, proving to it that this particular girl could definitely handle a silly British chocolate bar.

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Eastern European in the East Village

While living in Florence, one of the things I missed most about the US was variety, especially in food. Sure, there was variety of Italian food, everything edible between Milan and Sicily, but not much in the way of international fare.

A few overpriced sushi spots, some mediocre Indian restaurants, a couple burger places, and the ubiquitous kebab vendors— none of them really fantastic either. For the most part (and there were occasional exceptions) they were places where you went to get a burrito fix or quell a California roll craving.

But in New York, it seems cuisine from every corner of the world is represented, and a lot of times it’s pretty good. All the standards like Mexican, Italian and Chinese but also more unexpected, interesting ones like Afghani, Tibetan and Ukrainian.

Borscht: tasty AND fun to say.

It was this last one that I recently had at Veselka, a 24-hour East Village eatery serving Ukrainian “soul food.”

I had been there before, during my first ever visit to the city a few years ago, but it was one of those 4-day sightseeing whirlwinds where everything ends up blurring together. So I gave it another go.

Not really sure what to get, mostly because I didn’t really know what anything was, I ordered what seemed to have a little bit of everything: the meat combination plate. Cup of soup and salad, one meat stuffed cabbage, two meat and two potato pierogi, beet salad and apple sauce. (What can I say? I like variety.)

The waitress recommended the borscht, a typical Ukranian soup, and since it seemed to be the most authentic, I went with it. Made with beets (which give the soup it’s deep, purplish red hue) onions, carrots, and some other veggies I couldn’t make out, this soup was tasty but not heavy. It seemed like something your Ukranian Grandma Ola would slave over for hours in the winter… if you know, you had a Ukranian Grandma Ola.

The salad was good, nothing fancy but with a tangy, vinaigrette-style dressing.

Ukrainian food 101

Next up was the main event, the meat plate. The pierogi, Ukranian boiled dumplings were soft, doughy pockets stuffed with meat and potatoes. But unlike Asian dumplings, the dough used in these was a bit thicker, making these pretty filling.

But I wasn’t going to let a little pierogi stop me, so I moved on to the stuffed cabbage. This hearty hunk of moist, tasty ground meat wrapped in a soft cabbage leaf and topped with a creamy sauce was my favorite part of the meal but even more filling than the pierogi, so that by the time I finished it, I was completely stuffed.

The apple sauce, only a couple spoonfuls worth, was the perfect small taste of something sweet to the end the meal with.

I rarely say this, but I was so full I couldn’t even think of dessert. Veselka did have some nice looking sweets though, including cakes and cupcakes.

(I made a mental note for next time.)