Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Skinny Genes Part III. continued

This is the second half of my blog (Skinny Genes Part III.) posted on December 7th.  Continuing the horrible tips from a sick girl's diary, who is clearly out of her mind with these eating (or non-eating) habits she has.

21.  Weigh yourself before and after every time you eat.  (That's just silly.  We all fluctuate 2-5 pounds daily.)

22.  Watch other people eat.  Sometimes people eating looks so gross.  (Be careful!  It could be appetizing as well!)

23.  Find pictures of overweight people or family members and put them in various places around your house.  (Or just watch the Big Looser.)

24.  Brush your teeth and tongue whenever you hungry, this trick will keep you from eating.  (You'll be dying, but at least with very clean teeth.)

25.  Arrange your house so you won't eat.  Put things away in high places you can't reach.  If you have to get a chair to cheat you might think twice.  (Maybe works in theory, but believe me when you are hungry, you'll be getting that damn chair.  Better idea: break all chairs and couches in your house!)

26.  This is a Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen trick.  Put red lipstick on perfectly.  If you eat, it will get all messed up and all over your teeth.  (This trick might be patented by the twins, so be careful for using rights!  Also i advise to use smudge proof lipstick.  Works like a charm!)

27.  Taste your food.  Chew it and spit it out!  (What a tease.)

28.  Crest White Strips.  Here's the deal.  You're supposed to wear these on your upper and lower teeth for 30 minutes each, 2x a day.  And you definitely cannot eat while you've got these babies on.  You can have up to 2 hours a day of literally not being able to eat!  If you put them on about 15 minutes before dinner then you can't eat dinner with your family and they'll have to let you eat on your own later, which of course you'll skip.  It's perfect!  (Revolutionary!!! This chick is onto something.  She should get paid by Crest White Strips for free advertising.)

29.  Ride out the hour.  When you start to get hungry, just tell yourself that you'll wait until the end of the hour to eat anything.  That way you'll have time to think about whether or not you really want those calories, and you'll also feel really powerful since you've proved to yourself that you can go for that time without food.  (Better yet, try to "ride out" the whole month, you won't even have to think about whether you want to eat or not, because you'll be DEAD!)

30.  If you are in college, schedule classes around meal times.  You can't eat in class, can you?  (I know I can.)

31.  Stop yourself before you eat and think about what you are doing.  (WHAT ARE YOU DOING?????)

 These are some of the advices that are given to young girls.  Of course I make fun of them.  What else can you do?  It's way to ridiculous to take it seriously.  First I get shocked on how someone thinks it's healthy to be this way, then I make fun of it.


 The fact that these girls look up to models for inspiration - or "thinspiration" as the website mentions - it's utterly terrifying to me.  The reason why some girls become, or at leasth SHOULD ONLY become models is because they are naturally skinny.  If you have to do extreme dieting - as I think a healthy diet is good -, and have to make you and your body suffer.  PLEASE DO NOT become a model!  Better yet, become a plus size model. 

 I recently worked on a shot where the company designed clothes not only in a sample but a plus size as well.  What does "plus size" means?  It ranges between a dress size 6 to 12 or even above that.  It doesn't have such strict requirements as sample size do.  If you have a great face, nice hair, and good skin, you can be as successful in modeling as any other fashion models around the World.  In fact, plus size modeling is a fast growing industry, with the media focusing on these models more and more.  Reflecting a healthy, happy body image, introducing them as the "real women".  Which phrase I don't agree a 100%.  Me being a size 4, I consider myself as much of a real women as anybody else.  But will talk about that later.

The girl I've worked with was absolutely gorgeous.  About a size 8, age 29, she was curvy with a beautiful face and a great smile.  I even bet she works more then me, or many other girls I know.  She seemed confident and happy with her looks.  But still, I felt a sense of sourness when we started to talk about the industry.  I could see, she was ok with her job as a plus size model.  But no matter how much she worked, was a bit bothered by the fact, that is still me - the sample size model - who is the main girl is a shoot we were doing that day.  As I'm the MODEL, and she is the PLUS SIZE MODEL.  I felt she wanted to be mentioned as the model only.  For which I'm not sure I'd root for, as it would probably eliminate me working as a model all together.  I told her that my ideal situation would be the 90's modeling era.  When a true 4 was a true 4.  Healthy skin, shinny hair, big smiles.  She agreed, knowing that even back then she would only be a plus size model.  But what is wrong with that?  She is still extremely lucky to be able to make such good money with only her looks and nothing else.

It seems today models have more options with the rising acceptance of "plus size".  It used to be that if your weight had changed, there was no place for you in the high fashion world.  But now there is room for all beauties. 

A friend of mine recently sent me an email with a Polaroid of a semi famous model we both worked with a couple of years back.  But in this picture she seemed at least 20 pounds heavier.  I looked her up and it turns out she skipped a full season and her agency ended up moving her to their plus size division.  I remember her being super skinny.  Her body change could be that she actually grew up, and become a woman.  Or that she finally gave in and stayed true to her real body type, the body she was always supposed to have.  Whichever is the reason, I'm glad she looks herself, and hope she is happy.  All though she could still use some toning up.  I don't want fall to the other side of the horse by saying her gaining 20 pounds it's an all positive thing.  She should still be eating healthy and exercising on a regular basis.  As I believe that those two activities are for anyone of any size.

Don't exercise to stay thin, do it to stay healthy!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Otto's Motto

 Xmas is right around the corner.  And with it all the fun holiday parties.  Despite the fact that I have a non-religious, but still Jewish boyfriend on my hands, I do get into the holiday spirit.  So decided to play old fashioned and bake something as a thank you present to the hosts for inviting, and giving me free eggnog.

 After searching online for the perfect recipe, in my head I already started seeing the drama that might go down in the kitchen.  I quickly changed my mind.  Why bake something, when you can buy pretty much anything fresh?  Groundbreaking!  With this mentality I'm never going to learn cooking.

 As I mentioned in a previous blog before, the Hungarian treat for Xmas is Poppy seed/Walnut roll.  Which is way too hard to make on my own, knowing the fact that I can't even make waffles.  But thanks for a great local Hungarian store, there's no need for any culinary talent to have a taste tonight. 
Otto's is amazing.  I'm not sure who started it or how long it has been there.  I simply don't care.  They have everything a Hungarian's belly might desire in a time of need, or when lazy like me.  They collection of import food products is highly impressive.  From fresh meats, and old school chocolates to handmade soup pasta and goose liver paste they pretty much carry anything.  The place being tiny feels a little overstocked, which kind of adds to its original old school Hungarian feel.  All the available space is used up, with an occasional handmade extra shelf added.  Stuffed with cookbooks and even a Hungarian/English dictionary.  On your way out you can even pick up the latest Hungarian magazines or crossword puzzle.  Naturally I went crazy and got all kinds of stuff.  Here some of my favorites in pictures.

Trying to decide what to buy.  You better get a little bit of everything just to be on the safe side.

"Dear Santa, this year I've been a very good girl.  For ideas on what to bring me please see attached picture above."

I know, i know!  Kinder is a German product.  But come on, they have Duna kavics (colored candy coated peanuts)!!!!!!!!!!  And Sport szelet (a super retro Hungarian treat)!  Ahhhhhh!

Fonott kalács (twisted bread), tepertős pogácsa (which you should all know about by now, as I have written about it before, and if you don't, it means you don't read my blog, so screw you), and MAKOS BEIGLI!!!!!  Woooohooooo!

According to the guy working there, they run out of the Poppy seed/Walnut rolls very quickly especially around this time of the year.  And every 4 hours they have freshly made ones delivered.  From where?  I didn't ask.  But I have a feeling some old Hungarian lady is busy baking away at her house around the corner.:)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Skinny Genes Part III.

 I've always had a low blood sugar level.  I used to faint all the time when I was younger.  Standing on the sun for long hours at the opening of our school year, I'd just pass out.  Which sometimes would go unnoticed, as being the tallest I had to stand at the end of the line.  I'd see black dots dancing front of my eyes.  My ears buzzing louder and louder, until my whole body would just give up and fall backwards.  Once I was down, the whole class would gather around me worriedly.  While a teacher lifting my legs up in the air with confidence, explaining the others that this is the fastest way to get the blood flow back in my head, like I was some sort of guinea pig.  Meanwhile me - half unconscious - trying to hold my skirt down to prevent completely exposing myself front of the entire school.  Like it wasn't bad enough I had fainted.  Giving some talking material to everyone for a full week.  I had kids and teachers casting worried looks towards me for days, ready to jump and hold me in case I'd faint again.  I felt weak.

 This happened to me less often as I grew older.  Also I had learned to control it.  As soon as I feel light headed, and see the black spots, I just sit down, have some water and breath through it.  And try to keep candy with me all the time.

 I used to do fit modeling for a well-known designer, where I was required to stand in heels for long hours.  While the team would fit their creations around my body.  Gorgeous dresses and gowns with corseted waists, tight bodices are every women's dream.  Wasn't mine at that point.  I would get light headed several times, and had to sit down to sip some water, while cursing myself and the situation.  As it is really something you can't control.  I hated myself for slowing down the work of the designing process.  What was more annoying, that I was constantly asked if I had eaten anything before coming to work.  Which of course I did.  I hoped they didn't think of me as someone with an eating disorder.

 Everybody Google-s themselves once in a while.  I type my name into the little search window sometimes just out of curiosity.  To see what's out there about me, or if anything has been updated on certain modeling websites.  I have never thought I would find myself on sites dedicated to anorexia and bulimia.  Where clearly sick individuals blog and exchange information and tips about how to stay thin by simply not eating.  I won't mention the names of these sites, but there are plenty.  Where pictures of models are being showcased as "inspiration" for the sick.  Looking and reading these websites I was shocked on how some people live their everyday lives.  Clearly obsessed with their body image, having completely lost touch with reality.  Not knowing what's right or wrong, what's fat and thin anymore.  I feel sad of course, and disappointed that fashion - which was supposed to bring joy and excitement in people's life - had brought such a terrible message.  Who can be really responsible for that?  The models?  Fashion?  Hollywood?

 Here are some of the shocking tips on how to stay thin according to one of these sites.  As awful as these next lines may sound, they are not made up, but real and were written by real women.  The following comments displayed in parenthesis are made by me.

1.  Keep a thinspiration book.  Get a really nice journal or something and print pictures of skinny        models, tips, quotes, or workouts, and glue it in there.  Look through it whenever you want to binge.

2.  Keep a stack of magazines weighing the same amount you want to lose.  When you lose weight   remove some magazines from the stack.  Use fashion magazines so that they also can inspire you as you remove as you lose.  (Hoping that with the revolution of technology in the future, paper magazines will be eliminated, and with it this ridiculous tip.)

3.  Eat on a blue or black plate.  Dark colors usually make you feel fuller faster.  Better yet, eat on small dark plates.  (Better yet, eat your small dark plate!)

4.  When you want to eat something yo shouldn't, make a list of all the reasons you shouldn't, and read it at least 20 times.  (I'd say 30 times, just to be safe.)

5.  When you get a craving, count to 100 really slowly, and it might pass.  (And if it doesn't, please refer to tip #3.)

6.  Pick one food for the day, like an apple.  Cut it into 4 quarters, eat on part for breakfast, one for lunch, one for dinner, and you've got one left over for a snack.  (You even get a snack, what a splurge!)

7.  Take a Polaroid picture or a cell phone picture of yourself wearing nothing but you underwear.  When you want to binge, look at it, and see all that fat that you need to get rid of, and carry it in you wallet or phone whenever you go somewhere where there will be food.  (This tip should be posted out front of every McDonald's in the US.)

8.  Eat with the opposite hand you normally do.  (Better yet, try your feet. 100% success rate.)

9.  Clean something gross like your bathroom, or if you have cats, clean the litter box when you want to eat.

10.  Wear tight jeans so you remember how much weight yo have to lose.  (Hipsters suddenly make sense.)

11.  Pour tons of something gross on your food like salt or pepper so you can't eat it.  (Or just give it to some homeless person. But first make sure they are not on a diet, you don't want to be rude.)

12.  Eat in front of the mirror.  Hell, eat in front of the mirror naked and see how much you want to eat then!

13.  Never eat dinner!  If you eat dinner you don't give you body enough time to burn off the calories.  (Yeah, not if every night you sit front of the TV watching bad soaps you fat f***!)

14.  Go shopping and try on clothes that you wish you could fit.  (Like child apparel.)

15. Pinch all your fat if you want to eat and see how disgusting it is.  (Wait!  That's just skin.)

16.  Stay away from food and the kitchen!  Unless your family around, then pretend like you just finished eating and getting a snack. (The 1/4 apple.)

17.  Look at super models do they look like they eat?  (Noooooooooo!)

18.  To keep a binge from coming, go outside and go for a walk, do 20 push-ups and then 20 jumping jacks after you won't feel like eating anymore.  Better yet, do them in front of the mirror.  If you see what moves up and down yo won't feel like eating again.  (Why don't you cover the interior of your entire house with mirrors, so once you loose all the weight you wanted, you will only have to deal with your own self loaded vanity.)

19.  Caffeine is great, it decreases the appetite.  (Plus it makes you go to the bathroom.  Bonus pounds off.)

20.  Munch on ice cubes to get rid of the cravings of chewing.  (Why don't you just smoke a nice Cuban then?)

To be continued...


Monday, December 6, 2010

Hungary Or Not Hungary? Part I.

When one born in Hungary moves to the US, certain differences are expected to be seen.  These are not the differences many I've met might think about.  Like, do we have electricity over there.  Or if we have TV and such.  Basically stupid questions only ignorant people ask.  I ignore those as it's not even worth my time to try to satisfy their undereducated curiosity.  Many of those don't even know where my country is, or that it even exists.  Mind blowing, isn't it.  The infamous video comes to mind, in which country music singer Kellie Pickler shamelessly admits her not existing knowledge of the World.  I had a model ask me once, if my country was in Africa.  No comment.  She clearly had no idea where Eastern Europe was.

 Then again do we really talk about Eastern Europe when mentioning Hungary?  According to my patriotic sister it's located in Central Europe.  Which I'm not gonna fight against as I haven't argued with her since we were teenagers.  What is wrong with belonging to Eastern Europe anyways?  I don't see the big deal.  But for Hungarians it's not an attractive statement.  When you look up online, you find that Hungary is in the heart of Europe between East and West.  Which is kind of weird as it's geographic location pulls more towards the East.  And the middle is more like Austria.  But again common knowledge explains Hungary as an Eastern European country.  Like it or not.

 The questions I get sometimes when i'm visiting my home country is this: How is life in the US?  I figure they expect me to say, it's wonderful, i'm so happy, everything is perfect, life is easy.  I'm lucky to say that it's pretty much the description of my current life.  But I always have to add, that it is not glamorous for all.  There are many poor, jobless and struggling people here as well as in any other place.  People work for their money every day to put food on the table.  There are problems, issues and daily complications with life.  And yes, there might be more opportunities here then in a small village in Russia, but you still have to work to make things happen. Things don't just fall on your lap.

 All though I have to say opportunities are a big part of being successful.  People always say, if an opportunity presents itself you must jump.  Yeah, but what happens if opportunities don't present themselves?  You just hang out?  I have a bunch of aspiring actress friends.  Some from the US some from other places.  I can definitely see the difference in how one growing up in LA have more open windows towards the entertainment industry then the other from abroad.  Most of them in the US were part of some drama class by the age of 5, were seen in various commercials and acted as child actors.  There was no drama class in my town.  It was a freaking communist country back then.  We had to learn Russian and Hungarian folk dance.  Didn't have the chance to watch Hollywood movies, we felt lucky if something came in from Austria.  Don't feel bad!  I had a very happy childhood.  I'm just saying.  If I wanted to pursue acting in big international movies, I would've had to jump over a couple of  more obstacles, then just deciding about which agent to choose.  After all many of today's movie stars were born and raised in LA, even went to Beverly Hills High School.  What an advantage presented at your feet.  I'm not saying even a talentless brat would've made it, but come on!  I remember Charlize Theron's acceptance speech at the Oscars.  She got up there and the first thing she said: "Oh my God, I'm from South Africa!"  She was completely shocked, and I felt her amazement.  All though she didn't have to get through the language barrier.  Which is the biggest problem for aspiring actors from around the World trying to make it in Hollywood.  So many talents get wasted, just because you were born in the wrong place in the wrong time.  And for you it might take 20 years or more to fight yourself out of it just to be in a position were others simply born into.  Plus you have to speak at least one more language other then yours.  Needless to say this statement goes to any other profession, not just acting.

 Growing up in Hungary you hear a lot of youngsters talk about how they trying to get out, and make it in the capital or even in one of the Western countries.  GET OUT!  This expression bothers me.  It sounds so alarming.  Like there's an immediate threat.  I never felt the need to get out.  I always liked where I lived, and certainly had high hopes from life, but still never wanted to get out.  I just left.  Not because I planned to.  I had an opportunity, I took it and it took me around the World landing me in the US.  I still have friends in Hungary who want to 'get out'.  Even though they have a great life and success.  They still don't see the country side of a small Eastern European country as the place for their future.  Of course I understand.  I couldn't either.  At least not now.  I've seen too much, can't go back.  But that doesn't mean life can't be good there.  Happiness is relative.  I have another friend who is complaining about how all the young people leave, instead of trying to make it there.  What happens if everyone leaves.  A country which at one point was regarded as one of the cultural centers of the Western World will end up being a place for old retirees.  Kind of sad and scary.  She thinks people should stay and make this country a better place.  Fight for the memory of Hungary, which for more then 900 years was a great power in history.  I agree with her, of course i do.  No matter how far away I am, where I live, at heart I will always remain true to my nation.  We have good food!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Skinny Genes Part II.

 I can't ever imagine being on a diet, or having to stop myself from eating something I crave.  For that I consider myself extremely lucky and spoiled by Mother Nature.  I ignore the angry and sometimes jealous looks I get from people around me, when consuming a juicy steak. Or one of my favorite, a hot dog.  Then top it with some tasty, sugary dessert.  I'm pretty used to people asking me, if i have to diet to keep this shape.  Or accusing me living off only on salads.

 I don't eat fast food, but I do like Fatburger.  Which is a very popular burger joint on the West Coast, it advertises itself as "The Last Great Hamburger Stand", and it's actually very tasty.  As I sit there waiting form my order, I notice a man starring at me.  And after much pacing around finally bursting out about how surprised he is to see such an unusually skinny sight - me - in a burger joint.  Other times I would see women looking at me eating a hearty meal.  And getting the wrong idea, when I go to the restroom at the end of dinner.  It's almost like they want their theory of "being skinny can be only achieved in an unhealthy way" to be right.  I feel sad for those people, and their comments make me even more eager to prove that they are in fact completely wrong.  And spreading they anger and ideas about skinny people is unfair.  We should all know it by now that there are three types of skinny people:

1. Naturally, inherited skinny genes.
2. With hard work out routine, and a healthy diet.
3. And obviously if you are sick - which i don't recommend!

 Being naturally skinny still doesn't mean that you are in a good shape or in fact healthy.  I've seen the thinnest models walking around with such floppy asses, that even a 90 years old could envy.
Basically, no matter what shape or size you are, you still need to work out to look good and firm to achieve a healthy look.  Skinny or not skinny that might be.  I know that every person reading this now would go:"Oh, i know this".  Then why is there still such a controversy about being skinny out there, in the media, accusing the thin of being a bad example and making young kids anorexic.

 I knew an anorexic girl, and she wasn't a model, just a regular girl in my high school class.  She was never really heavy, or even mildly overweight, just a normal 16-year-old girl slowly developing into a young woman.  She had a totally normal figure, with an average height.  And we - her classmates - slowly watched her getting thinner and thinner, as months went on.  Nobody had any idea what might have triggered her.  She was always the quiet type, nobody watched over her eating habits.  We didn't know what anorexia was, and didn't realize she was way too thin.  Until one day she collapsed on the street front of the school, and was hospitalized.  We found out later that she was living on a couple of apples a week, and her stomach had shrunken to such a small size, that it actually closed.  Refusing to let in and digest even the little food she had.  I remember our teacher came in that afternoon, explaining the situation, and we were all shocked.  I was so naive it didn't even occur to me that it might have been me, who was the reason for her to do such a drastic thing.  I'm still not sure of course, and I hope that wasn't the case.  As i'd feel terrible to be responsible for something I obviously couldn't control.  Thankfully she had survived the incident recovering completely.  I recently found and befriended her on a Hungarian social network site, and was glad to see her happy and healthy.

 I know that these days skinny models give a bad idea about what a healthy image should be for a young girl, and in a way I agree.  Many of those painful images we see on some of today's catwalk should not be the inspiration for anyone.  I do think fashion went way too far.  A lot of emphasis has been put on how thin these models are, but the thing that a lot of people forget to mention is a lot of them are teenagers still, and they are thinner because they're teenagers.  And knowing that I looked like that when I was 16-17 years old makes me realize that most of those girls are naturally skinny, and don't have any form of eating disorder.  Unfortunately in America, most kids are already overweight by the time they reach puberty, or even much earlier.  No wonder that even today most young models come from Eastern Europe or other parts of the World.
 When it comes down to it, I believe that designers who are hiring the models deserve to pick whichever kind of models they want.  You watch these girls who are built like race horses that are over six feet tall coming out in shoes that make them even taller.  It's and incredible effect, so I can't ever blame them for not putting real women in their shows all the time.  It's about fantasy and spectacle.  We shouldn't judge any woman whether she's skinny or young or big or voluptuous and you shouldn't judge skinny girls either because there's a lot of skinny girls who can't help it, too.  Again, I don't tend to generalize as most people do.  I'm sure some of those young models do have to suffer to keep the size their agents require, and i do feel sorry for them.  And wish for fashion to take a turn to a healthier look, like it was back in the 90's.

 Instead of accusing others for being too big or too thin.  We should just acknowledge the fact, that people naturally come in all shapes and sizes.  And while for some people it's easy to be thin and never have to worry about their weight.  For others it might take a lifetime of dieting and long hours at the gym to achieve the desired size they want.

 Every era has its ideal female form and beauty.  Today the skinny look is in, but it hasn't always been that way.  The "in style" keeps changing, and we have to deal with it, whichever direction it might take.  It's like fashion styles that change every season.  The best we can do is to find what works for ourselves and embrace it, rather then following aimlessly and desperately trying to fit the trend.

 How terrible would be if we all looked the same?  First of all, entertainment and fashion business would disappear all together with many others.  And life would be extremely boring.  We can't all be skinny, or curvy, or have big breasts, long luscious hair, or whatever is that women today want to look like.  We have to embrace the fact that people come in ALL shapes and sizes, and make the best of it.  I know it's easier said than done.  But still try to be healthy and happy, and take care of your body!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Have a Coke!...Or Don't!

Today I had a Coke (not diet, REGULAR) for the first time in two months.  It actually didn't feel as fantastic as i thought it would be.  I'm disappointed in a way.  Maybe i had passed the time limit of my sugar addiction, where it doesn't affect me anymore.  The only reason i choose to drink one today is really because i had Mexican food, which just calls for one bubbly goodness.  I couldn't say no to a side order of 1 drink.

 Oh, the sweet addictive Coca-Cola.  The fun memories on a hot day by the pool.  For its existence we can all thank a man called John Pemberton of Georgia, founder and creator of Coke.  All though he can't be blamed for everything as his intention was only to make medication.  Some sort of a remedy drink that will surely cure morphine addiction, headache and even impotence.  Well, now we know, that if he would've been right, millions of dollars could've been saved on male enhancement medications like Viagra.
 Cola is originally made with coca leaves.  Which have been chewed by South American Indians for many thousands of years to induce a mild, long-lasting euphoria.  The Incas venerated coca.  I'd tried it last year on a trip to Peru. I have to say i take a Coke anytime over a handful of dry leaves.  It wasn't really tasty, and left chewed up leaf pieces in my mouth for hours. Though it does make you a little high if you have the right amount.
 Mr. Pemberton ended up giving all the rights to the drink to his son Charley.  Who eventually created the famous The Coca-Cola Company known today.  From then on we pretty much know the future of Coke, and it's famous by products such as Diet Coke, Coca- Cola Zero etc.

 I can't imagine anyone ever really expected to see Coke to grow to such a sensational success.  A national icon of the US.  With a secret formula that is only known to few and worth billions of dollars.  I remember being a little girl, i always felt there was this myth around Coke, like i'm drinking some sort of a magical drink that no one knows how to make.  It even added to its attractiveness, plus i liked the taste.

 Back then it didn't even cross my mind that what i'm drinking might not be good for me.  It contains an incredible amount of sugar made of high-fructose corn syrup (naturally, what else).  One can of Coke apparently has 10 teaspoons of pure sugar, which alone should scare you off for life.  Plus a huge doze of caffeine, to keep you up and running all day long.  It also contains artificial coloring and other ingredients such as acids like sodium benzoate.  A strong preservative as well as a controversial additive used in Diet Coke, can be generally found in every soda drink available out there.  Linked to DNA damage in yeast cells. And guess what? When mixed together with a nice doze of artificial colors, it might increase hyperactive behaviour in children and create disorders such as ADD.  Think of this next time you give a kid a can of Coke.

 In response to consumer insistence on a more natural product, The Coca-Cola Company is in the process of phasing out sodium benzoate.  The company has stated that it plans to remove it from its other products, including Sprite, as soon as a satisfactory alternative is found.  I guess their hard work of finding a replacement has't payed off yet, as it is still in every can we drink.  Lovely!

 Soda is literally making Americans drink themselves fat. And it's not only Americans now, as Coke and it's other soda product have become a World wide sensation.  No matter where you are from, you can now all enjoy the "benefits" of this sweet tasting sugary drink.  It's like cigarettes.  Even the heavy smokers know it's bad for your health, but still smoke.  I guess if you are an adult who's aware of the consequences and still won't stop it, then go for it.  Spare the kids though!

 As for me, i have kicked the bad habit once and for all.  I still consider myself a recovering Coke addict.  But I proudly say, i can have a can once a month and not crave more.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Skinny Genes Part I.

 Talking about food draws attention to people's view on body image.  And I feel like it has to be mentioned, as I know it is a very controversial subject.  Not only in today's media or fashion World, but in our every day lives as well.</span>

 When I was in my teens, I continuously struggled with my self-image for being overly thin.  Of course it wasn’t my fault, even if I’d had eaten 10 juicy burgers a day, I wouldn’t have looked any different, it was in my genes to be skinny, as did my mom, my sister and many generations in my family before them.

 I was teased and mocked for the longest time in elementary and high school, was called names such as toothpick etc.  It was obviously no fun.  While my schoolmates had dates and young boy heads turning after them as they adolescent body developed into curvier, sexy figures.  My body stayed the same, only it stretched in a more vertical direction.

 I remember when in the 90’s those stretchy pans came into style, or at least they did in Hungary:).  My mom bought a bunch for me and my sister, who – despite the skinny genes – had some mild curves on the bottom and on the top as well.  While I, – even though she had two years plus on me – was completely left behind with almost nothing, but skin and bone.  And a little bit of muscle from my years spent in gymnast class, and practicing on the swim team.  So anyways, the pants fit her great, she was still pretty skinny, but it wasn’t sickening to look at her or anything like that.  While I – trying on the smallest size possible – still had a significant amount of airspace left between my tiny legs and the pants.  But thinking it was the fashion of the time, I MUST wear them, so I did.  Big mistake!  I was teased immediately and repeatedly by my classmates and some others around.  I hardly made it through the day, and remember running home after school.  My mom opening the door, and me breaking down crying, and complaining about how ugly and skinny I am.  Let me just tell you, those weren’t happy times.

 When I look back at old pictures I am surprised to see what a chubby baby I was.  An unusually chubby one.  Then a pretty little girl with a triple chin, and fat rolls on my butt and thighs.  But I didn’t develop in the same way as my other friends.

 Around the age of 11-12 I suddenly grew almost 5 inches.  I remember at the age of 14-15 getting into high school I was already over 5’7”, of course the tallest of not only the girls but amongst the boys as well.  I remember thinking, that’s it, I don’t want to grow anymore, this is plenty enough for me.  I didn’t know then, that somewhere another 4 inches were impatiently waiting to grow on me.

 I come from a generally tall family.  Most people would say what good genes I have, but believe me it’s not that comforting when you are a 15-year-old girl, trying to fit in.

 I know now that standing out of a crowd with my weight and height was the reason why I am, where I’m today, and I can’t complain.  Modeling had found me at the right time, and gave me the confidence i needed.  I have been extremely lucky not having to ever go on a diet, and make an entire carrier and great living with my looks.  I love eating, and as my boyfriend’s mother says, some people eat to live, and some live to eat.  I definitely belong to the latter group.  

 Growing up in Hungary, where pretty much every dish contains pork and potato in some form or another makes it hard to eat lean.  And being a vegetarian is almost out of the question.  Believe me I had tried it for a week just to see how I’d do, let’s just say it didn’t work out.  When me and my boyfriend Jason (no pork guy) traveled home together the first time to visit my family, it was hard to find a meal that he could eat.  As even such foods as a simple pasta dish of some sort will have pork in it.  So when my mom made an extra effort to leave pork out of the cooking and was proudly presenting her pork-free dinner dish, we realized it was cooked in pork fat.  I – of course - eat it up with much excitement.

 Hungary was never known of its lean cuisine, and its heavy eastern European dishes might be hearty and heavy sometimes, but also rich and tasty with flavors like paprika.

 So being on a diet is not the easiest thing to do, even though my mom’s cooking have gone healthier as years past on.  Food in her kitchen could still be much heavier then is some other nations.  And eating smoked sausage with warm white bread is still an every day habit.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

In Memory of an Octopus

 I've never been into watching sports.  Following teams fighting each other through a whole season again and again. Just seems madness on the fields.  So when the World Cup had started this year I was as uninterested as ever.  The only thing that really raised my attention was Paul the Octopus, and his flawless record in predicting game outcomes.

 Poor thing had passed away from the land of the eight armed sea creatures.  His short life span, perfectly normal for an octopus, is really sad considering the world wide celebrity status he was able to achieve.  Octopi are widely famous for their intelligence, problem-solving capability and long term memory. Though I've always known them for their delicious meat, and the tasty dishes prepared with them.

 I have enjoyed octopus meat for years, and planned to continue to try new recipes created around the World.  While my boyfriend Jason have always had a different outlook on consuming any intelligent being.  And for this reason he won't eat pork and octopus.  Which of course I respect, but it still won't stop me from continuously eating either of those animals.

 At least this was my opinion until recently, when coming across a documentary about the intelligence of the octopus on NatGeo.  Which changed everything once and for all.  The amazing thing is that I pretty much knew all the info the film had to show, but actually seeing it with my own eyes really did me in.  I sat in amazement as an octopus performed all kinds of different puzzles, that scientist presented them with.  They were put in mazes with several different exits, where they were able to find the easiest, fastest way out, by squeezing their flexible bodies through the tiniest holes possible.  Plus memorized the solution and remembered it for next time.  They were placed in amazing situations.  One example was especially fascinating.  Scientist put a tiny crab into a screw-top glass bottle and placed it inside the aquarium with the octopus.  It took the smart chap a couple of minutes to figure out where the opening of the bottle was, and to remove the screw by twisting it to one side to get to its delicious pray.  I'm sorry but even my smart doggie Jo could not do that.  She'd probably roll it around until it smashes into something and sets the crab free.  But to remove a screw-top, it's pretty amazing.  I feel the need to mention their ability to change color and shape anytime they want, to be able to disappear into their surroundings.  Seeing and learning the shapes and movements of other sea creatures, which they are able to copy and mimic to confuse their predators.

 It's not just the problem solving intelligence or the amazing memory that mesmerizes, but also the way they execute all of this.  The calm thoughtful movements.  You can almost see them think about the challenge before even starting on it.   Then carefully and calmly absorbing the surroundings, to make sure it's safe.  Then quickly resolve the problem.  Needless to say, I couldn't look at an octopus the same way I did before.  They seemed more like my dogs now, then just slimy sea creatures of the deep.  And I could not eat one ever since.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cooking Takes Practice!

For avid iPad users i highly recommend an app called "The Photo Cookbook" - quick and easy.

Cooking has never been easier. 80 recipes range from meat, fish, vegetarian dishes and desserts illustrated with over 700 beautifully done pictures. The photos create a montage for each recipe. So you can really follow the process step by step. It even let you click on every ingredient for further info on the product, and where it can be purchased. All together it's pretty cool, and looks like a fun way to cook even for beginners like me.

So i thought and decided to choose the easiest recipe i can find, just to be on the safe side. Of course I couldn't figure out the right temperature my oven needed to be set. The recipe said preheat to 350 degrees and bake for 7-8 minutes until cooked through. I did everything as i was told, and still got a half baked monkfish. Ended up putting it back twice. Needless to say my frustration over the whole thing. I was on the verge of crying, as my perfectly planned dinner presentation was chopped into three pieces, and somehow still raw in the inside. To get the perfect result took 30 minutes on a much higher temperature, and a search for the oven manual (obviously not found).

Ended up giving half the fish to our two dogs, who were patiently waiting by my side. I sensed they secretly hoped things would go wrong, and they get the better end of it. Indeed they did.

Cooking is not easy, even if it's helped by some smart, modern technology cookbook. Some people have special talent for it and some just need practice. I definitely belong the the latter. And i'm eager to try more. Maybe i should start on desserts.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Meat, Meat and more Meat

 Not only for my fellow Hungarians, but for anyone who is hungry for some meat, and adventurous enough to try some tasty goodness from my homeland I recommend The Hungarian Meat Market.  Not only because it's pretty much the only one in whole NY, but because it's really good.

 Surprisingly wide variety of goodies.  Several different types of bacon.  Fresh as well as dry sausages (Gyulai) range from spicy to mild.  Head cheese which is one of my favorite, all though I know it can be a bit scary for the ones not used to pork jelly and fat.  They also carry töpörtyű or also called tepertő, which is basically fried pork (also make it from goose) skin dried with some meat and fat still attached to it.  It's some pretty heavy stuff.  Also found in Mexican cuisine, but it's called chicherones.  Same thing but in bigger cuts then the Hungarian version.  They also sell tepertős pogácsa, which is a kind of bread snack made of the tepertő.  I know it sounds weird, but it actually tastes great freshly baked with bacon bits.

 Diós-mákos beigli is another favorite.  Especially baked for Christmas festivities, but here you can find it year around.  It's basically rolled up pastry filled with mák (poppy seed) or dió (grounded walnut).

 Then there's the famous Hungarian paprika from Szeged (an old city at the SE tip of the country) or from Kalocsa ( 80 miles south of Budapest). I have to mention some of the home made goodness they have refrigerated.  Goulash (which is actually spelled gulyas) and stuffed cabbage, as well as fresh savanyú káposzta, which is basically sauerkraut.  They apparently make some of the stuff in the back, but they also have an outlet in New Jersey.  The family owned joint has been there since the 50's.  Walking in you'll be welcomed by friendly Hungarians, who'll give you a taste of anything before purchase.

 The only thing I really wish they had is túró rudi, which is a very popular sweet snack filled with cottage cheese and covered with chocolate.  The only version they carry is some similar stuff from Russia, obviously doesn't look or taste the same.  Not even close.  I understand the difficulties of importing food goods from a foreign country, and i appreciate the stuff they already have.

 They are located on the upper east side on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 81st.  You won't miss it, there's a huge picture of old grandpa cooking up gulyas on the side of the building.  Everytime I go there, my heart warms up of the colorful sight of such wonderful food that my homeland has created for centuries. So go with an open mind and a hungry stomach.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


 When craving good pizza Lombardi's is definetly the place to go.  It's not only an excellent food adventure but also good to bring family and friends from out of town, to show how real New Yorkers dine. Crowded, loud, long wait for the table, but when the pizza comes out you forget all about it.

 I took my mom (visiting from Hungary) there on a friday night, so expected some wait.  People where lined up outside waiting for their names to be called for the next available table.  We grabbed some wine at the bar. Got into a conversation with a couple from LA.  Which reminds me how easy is to meet people in NY for casual chatting when stuck at a bar waiting to be seated.  Even though we had to wait a good half an hour 45 minutes, i felt like it flew by quickly and pleasantly.

 Apparently the restaurant opened up in 1897 as the FIRST pizzeria in the US, when pizza wasn't even a popular thing at all.  And i'm adding here that last year i did visit Naples and one of the first ever pizzeria in the World called Da Michele (recognized by most women as the Eat, Pray, Love eatery).  They only serve Margherita with cheese, or double cheese.  Of course my boyfriend Jason immediately asks for one with funghi (mushroom).  The horror.

 Anyways, back to the Big Apple.  Once Lombardi's were opened they pretty much went through three generations before shutting down around 1984 due to the neighborhood's turn to the worst.  But reopened it's doors in 1994 by a childhood friend of the original owner's grandson, who relocated it to it's current location on 32 Spring St.  They pretty much started with one small spot, and expended next door as space became available.

 The growing popularity of the place is unquestionable. The original oven still in use from 1905 can be seen as you pass by the kitchen on the way to the backrooms.  It's awesome.  Quick and friendly service. Pictures of famous people with the owner covering the original brick walls.  The crust is not as thin as i'd normally like it,  a bit more bready, but still very tasty.  It's perfect.  Red and white tablecloth, chipped wine glasses, and a wide variety of delicious pizza toppings.  I'm hooked.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Peruvian

 I have never heard of Peruvian cuisine before i went to Peru.  Knew absolutely nothing about it or it's origin.  I decided not to look it up before the trip, so i was truly blindsided.  I have to say i was pleasantly surprised.  Having been to Brazil a couple of months before, i figured it'll be something fairly similar.  Lots of fresh fruits, many different types of meat and even some tasty BBQ.   The experience exceeded my expectation more than i could've imagined.
 I can say that Peruvian food is one of my favorite ever since i visited the land of corn.  Which is how i refer to Peru in my mind.

 Peruvian cuisine is also among the most diverse in the world, with the largest number of dishes (apparently more then 400).  It puts even Hungary to the test.  Their food comes mainly from the combination of Spanish cuisine (not surprised!) with traditional native Peruvian ingredients, with later influences from the cuisines of China, Italy, West Africa and Japan, obviously due to the arrival of immigrants from those locations.

 The three traditional staples of Peruvian cuisine are corn, potatoes and beans.  These ingredients have been combined with many others brought by the Spanish, rice, meat (such as beef, pork and chicken). Some of the traditional food items, such as quinoa, chili peppers and several roots which had previously been tossed aside for European products, have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent decades with a revival of interest in native Peruvian food crops.  Just look at a menu in almost any health conscious restaurant in LA or NY and you find quinoa on the list, as called one of the "super foods".  It's gluten-free, considered a good source of dietary fiber and super high in protein.

 Anyways, corn is my favorite of all the things found in the wonderful land of the Inca.  Strongly recommend a trip to the local market in Cuzco, where you come across of all the different types of corn there is (35).  They come in a variety of vivid colors, and with kernels at least double the size as we have it in the US.  They pretty much include it with any known dishes.  Throwing a handful of steamed kernels around the plate or having a full corn on the side.  They also roast them to crunchy perfections, perfect for snacking.  It seems like one can never run out of options when it comes to corn.

 Talk about corn makes me think of my other well known favorite, ceviche.  Which is mostly covered with giant kernels as well as one or many types of raw fish marinated in the almost acidic aromatic lime juice, with sweet potato on the side topped with raw onion rings.  Needles to say the recognition from Japanese cuisine is immediate.

 Another dish that's even more rich in Japanese influence is called tiradito.  Thinly sliced raw fish marinated in a mix of lime juice and ginger.  The reason i like ceviche better is really the corn and the onions which gives the dish a more subtle taste.

 I have to mention a great restaurant in Cuzco named after a Hungarian porn star called Ciccolina.  I'm not saying the idea makes me feel proud thinking that's how my country is represented in such a far away land.  But I do find it funny, if not only for the fact that locals believe she's a famous Polish actress.  At least I know the truth behind the catchy name, and kudos for the great food, plus the half nude picture of my home grown talent hanging in the ladies bathroom!:)

 Potato is another tasty delight for your taste buds.  It seems to grow in unlimited colors and types. More then 2500 different kinds are registered.   They grill it, bake it, stuff it, cut it, shave it, fry it, steam it and who knows what else.  It's pretty impressive.  Being there for almost a full week i eat potatoes pretty much every day.

 Have to mention the amazing lentils, best lentil soup i've ever had.  Sorry mom.  Also eat carrot soup on the plane!  LAN airlines are fantastic.  At last but not least i have to mention my guinea pig experience, which i know makes a lot of people go ewwwwwwww, but i was there, i had to try it.  So i did, and it was great.  The local restaurant i had it required the order a couple of hours in advance, as they had to go and catch the poor little thing first.  It really is a tiny pig, tastes like one, looks like one, the difference is the amount of meat the guinea pig lacks of compared to it's bigger relative.  I know it looks scary all cooked and stuffed in one piece, but it's just pig meat.  The stuffing though wasn't that yummy, some sort of cheese with green leaves and herbs, was kind of strong to me.

 Peru is not a good place for wine lovers.  It's just not great, i've tried many different types just to see if there was one i liked.  Nope!   Alpaca on the other hand is great, super lean and very tasty with a slight sweet flavor.  Its meat is light and white, with minimal amount of fat.  They are cute animals, and seeing them up close at a reserve i felt bad eating them, but it was really just a try.  Peruvians have been farming alpaca for centuries, not having had pigs, chicken until the spanish came, that's really all they had.  I think they tried Lama meat, but didn't taste good, so just used them for their fur.  They sell alpaca meat in the states too, some people have whole farms making good money on the special treat.

 Thankfully now there's no need to travel to South America just to try Peruvian food (all though highly recommended), as finding a peruvian restaurant in any major US cities is not that hard.  The one place i like in LA called Los Balcones Del Peru is specialized in ceviche, and it's authenticity is flawless. Located in the heart of Hollywood with a very casual atmosphere.  Has great chicken dishes and a friendly owner, who recently changed the menu into a bit more gourmet.  Which to me makes no difference as my order contains ceviche and some more ceviche.  In NY is Panca on 7th Avenue in the West Village.  Again great ceviche mix, and surprisingly tasty veal tounge BBQ-d on a stick.

 Food like Peruvian should be really experienced by people who love to eat and experiment as for some other cultures it might be too exotic.   To try meat that is really unique and unfamiliar sometimes takes courage and an adventurous spirit.   Especially the ones who got used to used to chicken and turkey.  But i can tell you that it's definitely worth it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Food!  Let's discuss the basic importance of food in our everyday lives without getting too philosophical.

If you look up the word food in Wikipedia you'll see the basic definition: the intake of any substance or materials eaten or drunk to provide nutritional support for the body or for PLEASURE.  My interest is clearly in the last part of the sentence.  I didn't accidentally hit the caps lock key on my keyboard before writing down the word pleasure.  I happily admit I am in the group of people that "live to eat" instead of just "eat to live".  I'm not saying that the nutritional value of food is not important, or that we shouldn't all think about what we are putting into our bodies on a daily basis, counting calories and looking up the amount of sugar on the back of every packaged good.  It's all good and useful and I will definitely get into the matter later on, but first and foremost I have to talk about the absolute and pure pleasure of food.  I mean any kind of food from appetizers, salads, veggies, pork fat, sweets and delicious fruits to meat dishes, pickles, fish, pasta al dente, the fantastic and never ever replaceable bread.  We all secretly love bread.  It's one of the few food item that we all share in our culture, let it be pita, nan, pumpernickel or my all time favorite crispy, freshly baked white bread).

Unfortunately I can't recall my first experience with food, which was probably some mashed up carrots or random baby food (which actually is very tasty and I remember really getting into it at a later age when some relative around me had a baby and I took a bite out of curiosity).  In Hungary food is a very interesting, exciting, and often quite frightening experience.  The hardships of war and history is truly embedded in our culinary culture, with 'easy to cook in bulk' items such as potato, bean and of course lots of white bread, with the occasional meat.  Which back then was only eaten on holidays or very special occasions, as food wasn't an option more like a necessity, let alone luxury like it is today in some places.  I'm extremely proud to belong to a nation with such a huge variety of dishes, in fact I'm not afraid to say that my mother can cook a different meal every day for a year and still not run out of options.

Needless to say this is one of the reasons why there is no real need to eat other type of food while living in Hungary, as there is very little chance you'll ever get bored of it.  I - for example - didn't really eat anything else other then Hungarian cuisine until I was about 17 years old.  I occasionally had tried Greek, Italian, and German food while vacationing with my family, but on an everyday basis really just eat my mom's and grandma's home cooking.

I remember I was 18 when I had the fortune of traveling to Japan for the first time.  I was absolutely shocked when walking around the supermarket and not finding a single item I could recognize by it's appearance or ingredients.  Eventually I bought a giant apple (btw they have the biggest apples ever, with the cute individual wrapping on them) and some weird packaged pastry.  I had tried sushi and I hated it.  I could not imagine how raw fish can be appetizing for anybody, it looked and tasted disgusting to me at that point.  Of course little did I know that very soon it would become one of my favorite cuisines.

It always amazes me how taste can change with time.  When I was little I used to hate certain things that now I absolutely love.  It wasn't really that I didn't try it, I just didn't like the way it tasted.  Other times it wasn't my preference that changed, more the fact that the cuisine was way too unfamiliar and alien to me.   Trying it several times I'd discover the new flavor and often would become obsessed with it.

I'm sure we all went through that with many dishes.   This makes me realize that loving some food and not others is sometimes not about taste and the question of 'like it or not', but more about how adventurous one is willing to be when it comes to trying new cuisines.  I can gladly say that I'm definitely the adventurous type, not only willing to try new stuff but even go and travel in search of interesting flavors.  Needless to say that I'm obsessed with Andrew Zimmern and his Bizzare Foods around the World, and would love to see him come to Hungary and check out the weird cuisine we have, cuz I'm telling you, some of the stuff we eat you wouldn't even wanna look at, that's how funky our food is.

I say I will taste anything once, and if I can't keep it down I give up.  At least I can say I tried it, and know how it tastes.  I had the same adventurous thought in mind when I traveled through Tokyo with my boyfriend Jason last December. A type of fish caught his attention at the first class lounge at Narita Airport called marinated cod roe, he immediately urged me to have a bite as he was placing a piece on his plate already.  I took it, I put a whole piece in my mouth and after the first chew I spit it out into my napkin.  Marinated cod roe is basically a piece of sushi made of the eggs from mature female fish, which one might think is not a big deal as we eat caviar, but I'm telling you this was the fishiest most disgusting thing I've eaten so far, which is to me a big deal, as I can take down pretty much anything.  This I couldn't.  The fermented fishy flavor of the cod roe made my eyes tear up, and left an awful taste in my mouth for hours, while Japanese business men - and Jason - were eating it away for BREAKFAST.