Sunday, January 27, 2002

I've been paranoid about writing about food ever since I read a nasty diatribe from a prominent member of the Ex-Ex-Weblogger Ministeries, complaining about how blogging has become too precious and full of breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. It's sometimes difficult to hold back on talking gastronomy, since preparing a suitable meal is my chief therapy these days. It's hard not to mention last night's chicken fricasseed in a classic vinegar, onion and cream sauce, and the lime mousse for dessert - oh so buttery and tart.

The friends from London are in town again. Dinner was a success. We ended up talking about Egypt and how Sharm al-Sheikh was a sleepy one-road village ten years ago and now there are 90 huge resorts being built there.

"Isn't it great?" the Egyptians said to my husband and C., the photographer, when they were there last year on a photo shoot.

No, C. and the husband thought, it is not great. But for the Egyptians, it's the surest way to protect their territory in the Sinai against their worries about Israeli agression: If they build it up, it will be a lot harder to destroy. And no doubt, it brings in cash to the country as well.

"It's like Thailand," said N., the Wallpaper* editor. "It's horrible now, all built up. Did you know Ao Nang is just awful now?"

Which was a little sad to hear. The husband and I became engaged on a beach near Ao Nang. I would hardly have called it unspoiled - there was a huge new resort being built on one of the beaches - but it certainly felt removed a bit from civilization. It was easy to find a beach where one could feel alone, visited only by a woman arriving in an afternoon boat laden with bottled water and freshly cut pineapple, carefully prepared in such a way it could be eaten by hand without getting all sticky. And the funky little hotel we stayed at - cheap but full of charm, with small bougainvillea-covered courtyards with odd sets of steps going here and there, a cafe overlooking the beach - is no longer about the only thing on the road, according to N. (or little, from looking at the website.)

Yet, despite it sounding much less attractive to go there, I would think that places like Thailand or Egypt mostly benefit from tourism, despite the obvious problems caused by hordes of pasty-white garbage-strewing, mai-tai swilling, suntan lotion-slathered Europeans and Americans. So, complaining about these countries becoming spoiled is, well, the opinion of the spoiled and privileged.

The Swedish word for the day is stranden. It means the beach.

- by Francis S.

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