Category Archives: Lifestyle/Health

Grilled cheese and ham sandwich Frenchified: Croque Monsieur

Life is unfair in a lot of ways. For one, all cultures are not obsessed equally, especially the French. From accent to fashion to even their women (see Mireille Guiliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat), even a simple grilled ham and cheese sandwich seems that much tastier and worthy of the hefty $16 when it’s called Croque Monsieur (pronounced crock ma-seur). 

Literally translated to “fried mister,” the rustic yet elegant snack is a staple for the French and sold in most cafe, bistro, brasserie and even as frozen food in France. The iconically French dish is nothing more than “a hot sandwich, made of 2 slices of buttered bread with crusts removed, filled with thin slices of Gruyère cheese and a slice of lean ham,” according to Larousse Gastronomique.

From Burette, la croque madame (image credit: fancy.com)

From Burette, la croque madame (image credit: fancy.com)\

A ham and cheese is a “Mr” (croque monsieur) and a ham and cheese topped with an egg is a “Madame” (croque madame). While the treat can be replicated at home, nothing beats a a visit to the 50-seat, French-inspired Buvette in West Village.

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The Ultimate Sub-Zero Dress Code (and more)

Why the tendency to land myself in places that are cold? Let’s see…

  • when I studied abroad in Beijing, winter was about -10°C (14°F)
  • when I worked in Seoul, Christmas was -14°C (6.8°F)
  • when I visited Harbin for the Ice and Snow Festival, it was a walloping -35 °C (-31°F). Standing in front of St Sophia Cathedral (see photo below), both myself and the bing tang hu lu [1] held in my hand were quite frozen, albeit one slightly more than the other.
In front of St. Sophia Cathedral (Haerbin, China 2011). Even the sugar-coated plums turned form soft and juicy to completely frozen.

In front of St. Sophia Cathedral (Haerbin, China 2011). Even the sugar-coated plums turned form soft and juicy to completely frozen.

Having been to very very cold places and lived (obviously) to tell the tale, here are some tried and true advice to staying warm.  Continue reading

Walkathon, another “OMG I was so drunk and…” story

“I am so hung over!” (image credit: omgcutethings.com)

Somehow, exchanging drunk anecdotes proves to be devastatingly fun. Not only do we find solidarity in shared misery (oh yes, those hangovers), we relish outdoing our friends. The crazier, the more ridiculous the “oh-I-was-so-drunk” feat is, the better.

Let’s see, among my friends, one fell flat on her face running down Market Street in San Francisco, and another mistook a police car for a taxi. But nothing nowadays beats the late-1800s, where competitive walking was the craze. In fact, competitors walked — buzzed on Champagne  Continue reading

Bring ‘MAN-ly’ back with this hunky… CHIN

Work out the tris, pecs and lats, none speak louder of your manhood than having a strong jaw. In an article published by Details magazine, “Is Your Jaw Man Enough?” (Sept. 2014), it reports that the number men seeking jaw augmentation — injecting cosmetic fillers into the jaw — has increased 32% in 2013, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). The ASAP observed in its 2013 statistical data:

Men had more than 1 million cosmetic procedures, 9.4% of the total. The number of cosmetic procedures for men increased over 273% from 1997.

Read previous blog post: Youth-obsessed, Look and Feel Young

Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb (image credit: the perfume expert/Viktor&Rolf)

A round of treatment, consisting of six vials ($1,500 per vial of filler), costs $9,000. The benefit? A manly jaw attracts women and men alike. Women see the trait as a sign of health, gene quality, strength and reproductive potential — a virile sex machine. As for men, strong jaw signals that submission, “This man is a leader.” The top six most desirable men, jaw-based of course. (Details magazine) Continue reading

Aging in a youth-obsessed society, the battle to look and feel young

Our society celebrates youth. Youth equates beauty, creativity, energy, fun and delicious cool. Even in the media, lists such as Forbes‘ and TIME‘s 30 Under 30 elevate those who succeeds when they are very young.

Women obsess over looking younger, whereas men obsess over feeling younger (image credit: Beautifulforever Aesthetic Laser Center)

In an article titled “Women would rather hear they look young than slim” (DailyMail), the following list was posted:

  • Two thirds of women use anti-aging products
  • One fifth worry about their age every day
  • 41% wish they look younger
  • 39.5 years old is when women are most worried about how old they look

Interestingly, while women obsess over their appearance (as evidenced by anti-aging specialist Uzzi Reiss’ book title, Natural Hormone Balance for Women: Look Younger, Feel Stronger, and Live Life with Exuberance), men strive to feel younger. Continue reading

Discover the Art of Tea Pairing at Tea Time

Tea drinking is an integral part of Chinese culture. A Chinese saying names tea as one of the seven basic daily necessities; tea is as important as firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, and vinegar. During the mid-Tang Dynasty (780 A.D.), a scholar named Lu Yu published Cha Ching, or The Tea Classic. Having spent over twenty years studying the subject, Lu records his knowledge of planting, processing, tasting, and brewing tea. The monumental work, which fastidiously documents the history, place of origin, color, taste and benefits of each individual tea, is an unparalleled tea encyclopedia.

In comparison, tea plays a less prominent role in American society. Yet, tea drinking offers a plethora of benefits such as fewer signs of aging and decrease in cholesterol and blood pressure.  Thirsting for a cup of tea? Go no farther than Tea Time (downtown Palo Alto).

Tea Time _ banner

The small, quaint tea room is great for tea lovers and ideal for the subtle affair of appreciating a variety of tea and their distinctive characteristics. I am here for my introductory course to tea pairing. Have you ever tried tea pairing? Like wine, tea pairs well with food. The key is to match the flavor profile of a particular tea to its complementary food flavors. Join me and sample your way through six courses of tea and food combinations (click HERE for tasting menu).

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Spice up your life! (literally, with spices)

Spice Girls are probably not singing about spices in “Spice Up your Life,” but you can bet that spices — red chili, nutmeg, oregano, thyme, etc., make a big difference in enhancing the flavors of life.

Spices do more than add flavor to foods, they stimulate the senses (smell, taste), serve as aphrodisiacs, and much more. From Psychology Today, spices and their health benefits. (“The Spice of Life.” Psychology Today Nov. 2012: 48-49. Print.)

(image credit: thespiceguyco.com)

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Men say ‘I love you’ first, but women love longer

According to study (“The Love Code.” Psychology Today Sept. 2011: 16. Print.), men start thinking about professing their love about three months into the relationship whereas women start thinking about it around five months into the relationship. 

(image credit: fanpop.com)

From an evolutionary standpoint, women’s reservedness makes sense — women have a lot more to lose from committing to a potential mate.

Come to think of it, the word ‘love‘ is quite the great intangible. Not only do we use the word rather carelessly — “I love ice cream”; “I love my boyfriend/girlfriend”; “I love my new boots”; we also lack synonyms to categorize increments of love (“How much do you love me?” — a little? a lot? how much?).

If you are interested in learning about love, try Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of Love. This ambitious work tries to analyze, describe love; it takes a look at  the various aspects, such as history, literature, and neurophysiology, of this complex emotion.

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