FWIW: How to Fold a Plastic Bag

For What it’s Worth Wednesdays
My thoughts on many topics, widely varied

One of the useful lifeskills I acquired while in Mexico is the art of folding a plastic bag. Most people I know just bunch these things up and stuff them under the sink, where they expand, multiply like rabbits, and take over. Now, I’m not into hyper-organizing and I’m ashamed to admit that my house is messier than most, but this is one area where I do have just the tiniest bit of OCD. I hate an unfolded plastic bag.

Interested in taking back the territory next to the cleaning supplies and the recycle bin? Join me in folding your way to freedom!

Here’s how:

Clear some counter space. Spread the bag out so that the pleats, handles, and everything lay flat. I make sure to have the printed side facing up, but you need not be so meticulous.
 Fold bag in half lengthwise. Smooth, checking for rips or holes that would render the bag useless.
 Fold bag in half again, lengthwise.
 Grasp then bottom corner closest to you and fold it along the opposite edge, creating a right triangle:
 Continue folding right triangles. Resist the urge to create triangles with no 90-degree angles:

This is correct.

This is wrong.

Keep on folding those right triangles until you’ve got just a bit of handle left:
 Tuck that bit of handle between the folded layers.
 TA-DAH!
 Now you can fashion a plastic bag bouquet!
Or, just throw them under the sink. It’s OK; they won’t multiply.

At least, not like rabbits.

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Why I’ll Never Be A Food Photographer

Over the years, I’ve had a number of different ideas about what I’ll be when I finally grow up. When I was 8, I wanted to be a seamstress. Hah. When I was 15 I wanted to be a graphic designer. Hah again. At 25 I had my sights set on becoming a sommelier. Well, at least I’m good at tasting wine.

I’ve also given a passing thought or two to cookbook writing and food photography. Tonight’s events are proof I ought to give up on the latter.

Inspired by a tweet from Expatria, Baby, I whipped up a batch of these carnitas. They were delicious. I served them with warm tortillas, sliced avocado, home made roasted tomato salsa, black beans, and my arroz mexicano, which The Better Half always likes because it reminds him of jollof rice. I even chopped up onion and cilantro and served it, half and half, yin and yang in a shallow dish, just like they do at every taco stand in Mexico. And what do I have to show for my efforts?

This lousy, unappetizing picture:

Carnitas, Stage I

I was too busy eating to take any other shots.

Better not quit my day job.

Breakfast and cultural identity

So yesterday I’m following a one-armed used car salesman around the car lot with my fussy daughter on one hip. I’m speaking to her in Spanish, ’cause I’m pretentious like that, and we want to expose her to all the languages we speak, and ’cause when she’s understandably fussy my natural inclination is to speak to her in the most tender language I know. Plus, the salesman’s heavy accent reminds me that I ought to be speaking more Spanish to her. Sometimes I forget.

Anyway, he overhears me and asks where my husband is from, assuming he must be the reason this güera speaks passable Spanish. No, mi esposo es africano, I tell him. So how come you speak Spanish, he wants to know. En mi corazón soy mexa, I reply. Tapatía, de hecho. I explain that I spent five and a half years in Mexico, most of that time in Guadalajara, and really came to identify with that city. Turns out he’s from Guada, too. I would have called him paisa if I’d liked him more. Smarmy used-car sales guy.

I was thinking about that statement this morning as I made breakfast. For a long time I have asserted that what people choose to eat for the first meal of the day is a true indicator of their dominant culture. Your average North American might be a very adventurous eater when it comes to lunch or dinner, but we really tend to stick to what’s familiar when it comes to the most important meal of the day. Why is imported boxed cereal so outrageously expensive in stores that cater to expats? They know they’ve got us right where they want us.

The Better Half, incidentally, shoots down this theory. He couldn’t care less what he eats for breakfast. He has, in fact, developed an affinity — bordering on obsession — for maple syrup since our marriage. He’ll make French toast just so he can douse his plate in maple syrup. Still, there is no way anyone would claim that his dominant culture is North American. He believes himself physically incapable of eating a sandwich for lunch two days in a row. If he goes more than a week without some egwusi or ogbono and fufu, you can tell something’s wrong. It’s like his world is just slightly off-balance and he has trouble being his usual wonderful self.

Back to my breakfast. If you were to ask me what my favorite breakfast food is, I wouldn’t have to think about the answer for even a second.

Chilaquiles rojos, with queso fresco, a little bit of cremita, and un huevo estrellado. OK, the ones in the picture are verdes, but this photo looked the most appetizing. To my way of thinking, there can be no better breakfast food. Now, ask me when was the last time I partook of this soul-soothing dish that makes such a bold statement about how I view myself and who I think I am… I couldn’t even tell you. It’s not like it’s that hard to prepare, but in the mornings, I just can’t be bothered.

Sigh. Better finish off my English muffin…which I’m really enjoying, by the way. Those things were hard to come by in China, outside of McDonald’s.