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what i ate when i was 33

6 min

this was supposed to be a birthday newsletter but i'm bad at time

a thing i’ve made recently

NASA recently completed its first mission to bring back samples from an asteroid! It’s super exciting for science, but my favorite thing is thinking about all the scientists and engineers who have spent years working on this mission. So for Tiny Matters, we learned more about the surprising challenges of asteroid sample return and talked to one of the engineers involved in the mission. We also talked to an environmental historian to learn more about the moon microbial crisis that never came to pass with the Apollo missions.

things i ate when I was 33

I turned 34 at the end of September, and I was thinking of writing up a post that would just be one big photo dump of everything 33, from the fall we spent in Oslo to the spring we spent in Austin. But I realized that most of the pictures I was planning to share were pictures of food, and also that there were themes and lessons to my food.

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lesson 1: i’ve got find a new favorite food

When I was a kid, I would do that thing where you find a favorite cereal and then proceed to eat it for every single meal until one day, you’re tired of it. As an adult, I’ve mostly learned to not do that, except when it comes to ramen.

My first dinner as a 33 year old meant braving ramen in Oslo (and it was good!)

I love ramen, and I wish I didn’t because of all the foods you can order from a restaurant, it’s the most likely to disappoint. Either the meat isn’t quite right, or the broth is too thin, or there aren’t any toppings, etc.

TikTok promised me this was the best ramen in Austin, which is the last time I believe TikTok

But it’s so hard because you’ll find a few good places, and it’s like the sting of betrayal never existed.

a friend recommended meeting up at TabeTomo in new york, and it was amazing
Ramen Tatsuya, the better Austin ramen (though I wish they did thicker noodles)
My favorite ramen spot for years: Pai Men Miyake in Portland, Maine

lesson 2: vegan food in Europe is good now?

One of the most frequent questions Nathan and I have been asked about our trip to Norway is how he handled being vegan in a very-much-not-vegan country. And honestly, it wasn’t too bad. Finding good veggies in stores was tough, but there were a lot of vegan meats and cheese for sale. And when it came to going out, there were options…even when we went to the Arctic Circle, we were able to get a giant vegan pizza.

emphasis on “giant”
if you want Sri Lankan food in Oslo, go to Palmyra Cafe

It wasn’t like Norway was overflowing with vegan options, but it felt like there was always something. And in general—based on our trips to England, Germany, and Austria—it feels like more and more places are getting better about having at least one vegan option on the menu, and also about labelling vegan versus vegetarian. (Also, if you’re traveling and looking for vegan/vegetarian restaurants, I highly recommend the Happy Cow app!)

lesson 3: i am in my bougie era

More specifically, I am in my pilates era. I decided to try it for the first time in Oslo, and did you know that doing exercise geared towards making your body feel better has the surprising effect of making your body feel better??

It was important to me to make pilates an even more bougie ritual by introducing the post-pilates snack. And a quick travel tip: while Norway is good at a lot of things, cinnamon rolls is not one of them. If you’re looking for your post-pilates ritual, go with cake.

when you’ve finally given up on the super dry cinnamon rolls

And while we were in Austin, the Lagree studio I went to had a swanky French pastry shop next door. (Also, Lagree isn’t really pilates, it’s more like pilates-inspired strength training. I hated Lagree 70% of the time and probably won’t do it again unless I’m feeling particularly masochistic.)

i have 0 memory of what this was, just that it was delicious and better than my workout

lesson 4: running is good, actually

I had this great idea to join a running club in Oslo to meet people, despite the fact that I couldn’t even run a 5k a few months before we left for Norway. Luckily couch-to-5k exists, and it got me capable enough to join the super welcoming people at the Mikkeller Running Club. It turns out I can become a person who runs if you promise me beer and chocolate souffle after.

again, so much better than the cinnamon rolls. unless you like dry cinnamon rolls

And one of my proudest moments of 33 was running my first 10k race in Acadia National Park in June. Sure, I was slow. But I earned my post-race ice cream.

not too shabby for a girl who swore she was never going to run more than a 5k

I still refuse to become a marathon person though.

lesson 5: never trust a sxsw taco

I think there’s a chance that Texas tacos could replace ramen as my favorite food.

current reigning champion: granny’s tacos in East Austin

Tacos even played an essential role in a core memory from our time in Texas: The Eras Tour. We needed a pre-concert meal that would provide us with the necessary fuel to last through hours of Swifties and emotions, which is how we ended up at Chipotle. Are they at the level of all the other Texas tacos? No. But it got the job done.

Era Tour Essentials

If you’d asked me a year ago what my favorite taco spot is in Austin, I would’ve said (based on our prior Texas travels) that it’s Veracruz. But this year, I made the mistake of ordering Veracruz during SXSW, when they made the tacos both more expensive and more mediocre. I swore I would never return.

the instagram story of a woman who is about to get her heart broken

I did go back, and I guess the key is to just not go during SXSW because it was good again. But that was an expensive lesson.

lesson 6: there’s no food like mom food

When I look through all of my food pictures, the ones I get most excited and emotional over are the Indian meals my mom made when we stopped over in Long Island, and the Sunday dinners my mother-in-law made throughout our stay in Austin. I wish I could write something that feels like it adequately sums up what those meals meant.

sunday dinners in Austin

I think it’s hard to write about because it inevitability devolves into cliches about coming out of the pandemic and feeling that value of being with other people. But also, like, sometimes things are cliche because they’re true. In a year where we were finally with other people—where we got to make new friends and reconnect with old ones—it was good to be there in person with our families, enjoying the food we grew up on.

shout out to my favorite travel partner

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