Last Christmas my dad got my mom a subscription to Saveur magazine, which turned out to be more of a gift for my dad and I, as she turned into a master cook, filling our house with all kinds of delicious things. One of which was Maque Choux, a spicy cajun kind of dish which, in my eyes, is very near perfect in every way.Though I’ve never made it myself, I think it’s pretty easy. Skillet-cooked corn, okra, scallions, bell peppers, jalapeños and such, all on top of rice. Then topped with bacon and shrimp. This dish was the vehicle for my introduction to okra, something I felt a bit mixed about, but after it’s inclusion in maque choux, loved. It’s such an odd vegetable, with the soft little white bits inside zucchini-ish skin, but I really like it. And it adds a needed bright fresh color to the mix. Moving on to the corn, another of my favorite vegetables, and even favorite foods overall. The corn bring sweetness to the table, needed to battle with, and in the end balance with, the bell pepper and spicy jalapeño. Out of nowhere this summer I became a big hot sauce/spicy foods fan, so I try to hi-grade (I don’t think this is a real word. Example: stealing all the M&M’s out of trail mix.) the spicy bits. And even went as far as trying a little Sriracha on it (Not very good. Mixing continents or something. No good.) Okay, now to speak a little to the bacon, maque choux’s crowning glory. I must admit, I’m a salt-er. I like salt and pepper a lot. Especially sea salt. Maybe a little too much. (I put it on sandwiches. Is that normal?) But maque choux doesn’t even really need salt! The bacon gives it enough saltiness, even when countered by the sweet corn and spicy stuff. Lastly, the shrimp. I like shrimp. They’re good. Always. So they can only bring goodness to this already delicious dish. And the fact that it’s on top of rice has one added little bonus–for me at least– ice cream and rice for dessert! I just discovered this a week ago or so. I had the black rice and coconut ice cream from the Thai class on my mind, and thought white rice and vanilla ice cream might be pretty stellar too. Yes! It is! Here’s the deal: rice and brown sugar, microwave, ice cream on top, a little cinnamon on top of that. The ice cream melts all into the rice and sugar and such.

It’s good, trust me.

But not as good as maque choux! Make it. It will change your life. Maybe for the worse, because nothing else can ever be as good. But. You gotta do it. (Saveur recipe linked above.)

After dinner diversion: atlas-looking. We have this giant atlas that lives under my parents’ bed, and every once in a while we get it out and fawn over places we want to go. My list has been growing. Top few as of now: Japan, Israel, Vietnam, New Zealand, Portugal, Turkey, Greek Islands, Morocco, ok, I could go on for quite some time. What began as looking at where I’m going (Jakarta) turned into a cross-continental imaginary adventure. My dad lived all over as a kid, so every map gives way a different story, which is really cool and makes me really want to go to the places he lived. When we went to Germany this year he told my mom and I a ton of stories about his childhood antics in Germany including, but not limited to: makeshift duck hunting, excessive gummi coke-eating, and cannon building. He and his brothers had a ton of sailing and other adventures around Izmir, Turkey and Okinawa, Japan which sounded rather exciting as well. Anyway, our family has got some intense wanderlust. Evidence: I’m writing this from an airport.

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