Saturday, May 7, 2011

Making up for Lost Time

Hey Everyone,

Yes, it has been awhile since writing, but it became monsoon season in the teaching world. I have never, ever had a quiet, relaxing May and June ever, and this year proved to be equally exciting and full of non-stop action. So, I write this blob from the quiet confines of the family farm in Buffalo, catching up in writing this month, and making up for lost time.

This issue will cover lost time for the Man Purse, Kosovo, and a great recipe that is one of my favorite dishes. Enjoy this edition's offerings.

A-List in Kosovo:

Before monsoon season really began in late May, I went to Kosovo with my friends Owen and Sarah. Why Kosovo? Why not was the attitude we had about it. Who goes to Kosovo for vacation? Who do we know has been there? No one. Most people thought we were completely crazy in Bulgaria for going there, and some feared for my safety. The U.S. report on Kosovo made it look like we would lose Sport instantly, and I would lose all of my money to pickpocketers within five minutes.

Upon arrival, there were very few tourists there, just us in Prishtina, and some KFOR and catholic tourists in Prizren who obviously were there for a day trip. Since little is known about this place, I am writing a top 5 reasons you should visit Kosovo:

1. The men are stunningly beautiful!!!!!!! This sounds untrue, but it is real. Great features, beautiful eyes, and much more. I have witnesses to prove it. Sarah and I were drooling the entire time, and Owen, the gayest straight man according to him, noticed how stunning the men were and wanted to hook the shy guy, me, up with one of the guys, but it was way too tough to choose just one. I definitely plan to visit Kosovo for this reason again.

2. There is a Lush store there: Prishtina is rebuilding, the roads are downright awful, but there is a mall with a Lush store. There is no lush store in Bulgaria, an EU member, but there is a Lush store in Kosovo, which was a battlezone of genocide just 12 years ago, and has only been officially independent three years. I was able to buy a strawberry and cream conditioner for my hair to prove this store exists.

3. Prizren, Albania:

Prizren is a beautiful town of about 175,000 on the Kosovo/Albanian border with a sad history, but I hope it gets better because this is a pretty town. It was a lot of refugees during the war, but now things have stabilized since 1999, and one can wander through the old town, see the burned out Serbian church, and visit a fortress where you can pretty much do anything because there is no admission fee, and no one watching you. The fortress was used during the Ottoman Empire, as late as 1905. The old town was great to walk around, and had a lot more to offer than Prishtina. There was barbed wire around the St. George Church was only put there after the Albanians burned this church in 2004. The catholic church in the center of town was left untouched, so it goes to show it wasn't religious retaliation, but more a Serbian versus Albanian thing.

4. Lots of hotels and gas stations: When looking for hotels online, you will find no hotels on, and hostelword only has one hotel. Knowing this, I thought finding our hotel in Prishtina was a great deal. But when we drove over the border, there were hotels everywhere. Every few kilometers, there was some type of hotel and gas station complex. It seems every Kosovar Albanian has a dream to own a hotel and gas station. For such a small country, it has LOTS of hotels, in places you would NEVER imagine there would be a hotel. But wait, there is a hotel there, just in case you wanted to stop there.

5. Kosovo loves the United States: Unlike the rest of Europe, Kosovo LOVES the United States. Since we recognized them as a country in 2008, Kosovo even loves George W Bush, but they especially love Bill Clinton. The main street in Prishtina is Bill Clinton Boulevard, and there is a huge billboard of Clinton, along with a bronze statue to thank him for stopping the genocide against them in the late 1990s. American flags were flying in a lot of places. They liked talking to Americans, and didn't treat us as if we had the plague. People were amazed we were not diplomats, soldiers, or part of KFOR. On the way out, the border guards thought we were part of KFOR, and were surprised when I said we were just normal Americans. They waved us by without really even looking at our passports.

I definitely plan to visit Kosovo again. Anyone want to join me after this pep talk?

Paris and the purchase of the Man Purse:

After three years, I have finally integrated and bought a man purse. Every man has a man purse. The big burly Bulgarian drinking rakia has a man purse. The men playing football(soccer to those Yanks reading this) have man purses. The men with ear hair and nose hair have man purses. The Bulgarian rednecks even have man purses(villagers to those who don't know what a redneck is). Pretty much, I was in the minority not owning a man purse. So, I decided to get one for my trip to Paris, because I knew there would be tons of Americans with backpacks. And after visiting little America, aka Venice, last summer with Teresa, I didn't look like all the tourists with their backpacks.

Did it work? YES! YES! YES! The man purse was great because it fit the guide book, a map, plus my itouch and a drink. It wasn't a heavy burden that gave me back sweat after five minutes on a warm, sunny day. As you can see from the photo, it hung on my shoulder, or it had a strap that I could wrap around my body. The French knew I was a tourist, but didn't know I was American. So, they were nicer to me when I ordered food and had to speak survival French.

But, the man purse has the reverse effect in the States. I wore the man purse in metrosexual Washington DC, and they have big bags, but no man purses. In Buffalo, I might wear it as an experiment one day just to see the reaction, but I am sure there will be a lot of rednecks who will stare at me all day. Little do they know they're European redneck cousins all have man purses. But, the Buffalo rednecks wouldn't believe me, and probably think I'm a communist socialist Lenin pig for living in Bulgaria.

Oh, I should tell you about Paris. So many of you reading this have been there, and I felt like I was the last person who visited this great city. I had been waiting for my mom to visit Paris, but after waiting for almost three years for her to buy a ticket to Bulgaria and treat her to Paris, I couldn't wait any longer. Today, I just found out she wants to go to Spain, or somewhere like that instead, which made me wonder why I waited to see Paris so long in the first place.

Paris was such a great city to visit. The art, the food, the beautiful people, and the great English book store in the Latin Quarter full of great history books. I spent a day in the Louvre looking at great paintings, and taking pictures of boyfriends I would want from each century. Every day was sunny, and my breakfast was a croissant with almonds, or with almonds and chocolate.

Paris was everything it should have been, and I was lucky to have beautiful weather for five days. I will probably go back, just for the art.

Spaghetti with Spinach and Sirene:

This is one of my favorite dishes with sirene, and it is very easy to make. When I had the homemade sirene, I made this twice, because spinach goes well with this white cheese. If you want something simple and quick, it doesn't get much easier than this. You can find Bulgarian sirene at the Turkish store on Columbia Pike, or any Whole Foods, where it is called Bulgarian Feta.


500 grams, or 1 lb package of spaghetti. I choose a Barilla #3, an in between angel hair and regular size pasta.

1 package of spinach, about 300-500 grams(8-12 ounces), chopped

about 300-500 grams(8-12 ounces) of sirene crumbled, depending on how cheesy you want it. I use about 450-500 grams.

Optional: 3-4 chopped tomatoes to add on top of pasta when finished

Directions: Cook pasta as you normally would. When pasta is about 2 minutes finished, add spinach and cook 1-2 minutes with pasta. Drain pasta and spinach in culinder, then add sirene and mix well. Serve and eat. If you add tomatoes, do not cook, but mix freshly chopped tomatoes with cooked pasta. It makes a great dish, nutricious, delicious, simple, and good.