Feb 12, 2011

Shake & Bake This!

Yellow trash comfort food
When I was growing up, we made a lot of Shake & Bake and other fine American classics like Hamburger Helper. This was when we first came to the US via Bolivia. I lived in Santa Cruz, Bolivia from 8 to 11 years old then we immigrated to the US to the glamorous and completely white with no diversity city of Tampa, Florida. I was SO pissed. Not because we suddenly found ourselves dirt poor. I was too young to understand the financial pressure on my parents nor the stress of learning a new language, finding a job - ANY job - when you can't speak the language fluently. All I knew was that I had to learn English and I was NOT happy about that. I remember saying, "I'm never going to learn English! I'm only going to speak Spanish and Chinese!" Well, look at me now, BA in English and a blog later, writing and writing away.

We went grocery shopping at Sam's Warehouse in Tampa, and the only food we could afford was stuff like Hamburger Helper, Shake & Bake, ramen noodles, and somehow my mom made that money stretch to feed the four of us. I was never allowed to get cheese puffs even though for a huge bag it was only 99cents. I made a big fuss about it and finally one day standing in the Chips aisle, my mom yelled at me and said, "I can buy ground turkey for 99cents and make dinner for everyone!" That kind of made me realize then how poor we were, that and not being able to afford turning on the AC in damp, humid, sticky Tampa summers. I hate Tampa to this day... That day in the Chips aisle marked my lifelong obsession with cheese puffs. I fucking LOVE cheese puffs. It's my guilty pleasure. Unfortunately for my Mom she developed an acute nauseous reaction whenever she smells cheese puffs. Every immigrant has some kind of story of this form. The "poor immigrant food" story. My friend Camilo who is from Colombia and I compared to see who had the better "poor immigrant food" story. His parents used to steal McDonald's coupons from neighbors' newspaper on the lawn. I shared the roadkill story. There were a lot of wild geese in Clearwater, Tampa and we were driving around in our white Dodge station wagon (with wood paneling...ah, that car so many memories with that old thing) and the car in front of us hit a white goose and drove off. It was a healthy-plump white goose and it was dead. So we took it home, de-feathered that bitch, and had a delicious goose dinner that night! I won the competition.

Lately I've been too busy to go grocery shopping so I dug around the cupboard and found a box of Shake & Bake, and making it reminded me of the old days. I made it today and it tasted pretty good. Considering that you bake the chicken and not deep frying it, it's actually pretty low cal and healthy. In the time it took me to walk Chewie, when I came back, it was done!

I had "Room 69" again at Hotel Chantelle last night and it was very fun. I did the champagne act - the same one I did at Macao on Monday night, but my corset got stuck and Stormy even tried to undo it for me with no luck. So I kept going but then the music stopped! This hasn't happened to me before and I actually just had a conversation with Michael about it. I asked him what he would do if his music stopped in the middle of a routine. He said he would stop the act, fix the music, and start over. Which is strange to me because whenever I've seen that happen to performers, everyone just keeps going and make it into an interactive, audience participation thing. Which is what ended up happening. Stormy, Brassy, GoGo, Sapphire, and Charlie Gunn hummed my song acoustically and the audience got into it too. Then the music started back up AND my corset suddenly came off too! All in all, it was a fun night that ended with me at the Hotel Mondrian soft-launch party with Honi and Nasty. We were supposed to gogo dance from 12-3am but due to some whatever corporate issue with their lack of a cabaret license, we actually never danced but just hung out in our room drinking champagne and gabbing! We went down towards the end of the night to check out the lounge/bar. It's called Mister Hung and lo and behold, it's all Chinese-themed. There were all these antique bird cages like what my grandfather used to have but he had them not to create a "chinoiserie chic" look but because he raised song birds. Lots of palm trees. A big neon sign that said in Chinese words "Love Liquor Hotel" or something to that effect. In one of the rooms behind a shimmery beaded curtain, there was a giant red neon sign that said, "There are no prostitutes in this room." A bit heavy-handed but seeing the word "prostitute" emblazoned on the wall of a bar does have a subliminal effect on people under the influence. It kind of plants the thought and mood in your mind and kinda makes you feel all sexual suddenly. Also helped that the waitresses were mostly Asian and, of course, "HAWT" as people like to say nowadays about Asian women. But the male bartenders were equally attractive but surprise! Not Asian. The  crowd was all fashion week people so lots of tall models and bearded hipster guys. I find all this social brouhahas surrounding Fashion Week terribly boring, but then again, I suppose to fashion people all the happenings around the NY Burlesque Festival is probably just as boring.
I call this, "Portrait of Two Unhappy Fashion/Hipster People at a Burlesque Show"
And this, "Portrait of Drunk, Happy People at a Burlesque Show"
Lastly, this is "Burlesque Person Imprisoned at a Fashion Party"
 Mr. Hung's reminded me of a blend of Indochine and Macao's downstairs where I do my "Drunken Dragon Night" show. Seems like everything Chinese is sooo chic and hot right now. Well, damn it, its' about freaking time cause that was NOT my impression growing up in middle of Texas that being different or having different eyes were desirable at all! But that's another story for another day. :)


Standing next to the most intriguing and ugliest fuzzy lamp ever...
Giant mirror!

1 comment:

  1. You know, Tampa was once a runner up in America's most depressing cities contest!