Monika’s Musings

miscellaneous tidbits on marketing, advertising, and life in general



I have mentioned before that I don’t exactly have the heart of a Lion…

In September 2001 I was living alone in the outskirts of Pairs. It was the 10th of the month and I was home, probably studying, completely unaware that one of the most memorable and by far the creepiest conversation of my life was ahead of me.

At one point, the power went off. I looked through the window- the entire neighborhood had gone dark. Before I could even think that I’m scared, the lights came back on.

Then, about 10 minutes later the power was cut again, but this time just in my apartment. It was a little past 11 at night and I reached for my phone before even considering looking for a candle. I called Maria, who at the time lived in the 7th arrondisement (in the city center) and begged her to come over to keep me company because I was terrified.

Always the sound of reason, she told me I have completely lost my mind. A) It was just some power outage and I needed to stop acting like a 5-year old and b) what the hell was the point of her travelling through half the city so that we can both be in a place without lights.

Fair enough.

I was out of the apartment in no time.

Being broke and all, I headed towards the metro. At this point it was close to midnight. The neighborhood I lived in wasn’t exactly the safest place in town and there was a sketchy gang at the entrance, so I opted for a cab instead.

Once I got in, I called Maria to let her know I was on my way. We spoke in Bulgarian and that apparently interested the cabbie. He asked me where I was from and whether we were Christian. I am not one of those people who love talking to cab drivers, or any other strangers for that matter (hi, honey), so I offered a brief “yes”, hoping to be left alone.

He fired up the next question immediately, “Do you believe that people are good at heart?”.

Erm, OK, you got me there, Mr. Cab Driver. Sure. I do.

He stopped the cab and looked back at me.

“You are very wrong, child. People are bad. Mark my words. People are bad. Very, very soon, you will have proof. People are bad. Soon you will know this for a fact, much as I do.”

This went on for a while and then he fell silent.

As I was handing him a bill, he looked into my eyes and said once again, “Soon, very soon you will know.”

I told Maria what had happened and we had some laughs about how the world in general, and Paris in particular, was full of creeps.

We went to bed and I was happy we had a light to turn off.

We all know what happened the next day.

I still don’t know what to make of this. Do you?

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Cooking instructions, grandma style


I don’t know about you, but I spent most of my childhood summers in my grandparents’ village. To this day I am convinced I had the best childhood imaginable – I was running around all day, building castles from sticks and whatever form of cloth I could smuggle from the house, riding donkeys, driving horse carriages and eating watermelon which my grandpa would pick from the vine and smash open on the ground if we had no knife on us. Some of my favorite memories and flavors come from these days.


Over the weekend, we went to visit my grandma. Yesterday I was reading on the couch, keeping her company while she was cooking lunch and I realized (a little too late) that she is making one of my favorite summer dishes, which I have wanted to know how to make for a while. For me, the best way to learn how to cook something, is to watch the one making in and take notes on each step. This time, the meal was almost ready so that wasn’t an option, but grandma started dictating and I was writing the instructions in my phone. It went like this:


-       You chop up some garlic.

-       Yeah … how much?

-       Well… it depends on how much food you’re gonna make.

-       Erm. Ok.

-       Then you fry it in some oil and add flour.

-       How much flour?

-       Exactly as much as you’d need.

-       [Pause]. Right. Of course…

-       Then you thin it out.

-       Ok, with what?

-       With whatever you have handy.

-       A-ha.

-       And then you add whatever you’re cooking…

-       Whatever I’m cooking??

-       Yeah – you know. Chicken. Or something else.


A little later as we were eating it, I noted that the dish was (then, and every time I’ve had it) notably red.


-     Grandma, you put paprika in this, right?

-     Well of course you do. It’s red.

So there. Now you guys know how to make one of my favorite childhood meals as well!

Bon appetit!

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Vegetarian for a month: The experiment


As we get older, and some of us even get a little wiser, inevitably the topic of preserving our good health creeps up in our thoughts and conversations. In a way, it is funny to see the former party crowd acting all grown-up and everything, but you gotta do what you gotta do. A lot of these thoughts are going to food and I see a trend of giving up meat.

After yet another close friend said she had stopped eating meat and feels fantastic, I decided to try it – for a while, as an experiment. My friend also said that she lost 8 kilos without even noticing and since I experience the force of gravity a little more strongly than the average person, I am always on the lookout for ways of dropping a few (while making cheesecake on the weekends).

Remember the Friends episode when Phoebe is pregnant and she craves meat and Joey, being the great friend that he is, says he will give up eating meat while she does, so the number of animals not being killed for food would be preserved? Phoebe was quite surprised, but then Joey said, “There’s no meat in beer, right? So no problem!”

So, after making sure there was no meat in chocolate, ice cream and wine, Vesko was on board and we decided that we won’t eat meat during the whole month of August.

Here are a couple of observations:

  • On one hand, this made eating out much easier. While normally I have a hard time picking between 5 dishes, now whole sections of the menu were just flipped over without consideration.
  •  On the other hand, being a vegetarian in Bulgaria is really HARD. Man, we love our meat in this country! The hardest seems to be pizza – you’ve got the Margherita and that’s about it. In this regard, as in many others, my favorite pizzeria in Sofia fails to disappoint as nearly half of their choices are meat-free. Well, maybe not half, but there’s quite a lot of variety.
  •  The habit sticks with you. The first pizza I ordered after the month was over (yes, yesterday) was Quattro fromaggi.
  •  August was one very carbohappy month – something you usually don’t see in the AG home.
  •  The thing I missed the most, to my greatest surprise, was ground beef. Because of things like nachos and stuffed peppers. I could have sworn it would have been bacon, but, alas! – I didn’t even think of bacon!
  •  People’s reactions varied between “wow, great!”, “WHY?” and “what the hell is wrong with you”. A little heavy on the what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you end of the spectrum.
  •  Total pounds dropped: 0. Looking back, perhaps we should have been less cheesecake-crazy.
  •  Well … even though I didn’t really miss meat, I love it.

The best thing about this for me was making a promise to myself and sticking to it – something I have great difficulties with lately (it seems all my willpower was consumed by quitting cigarettes and staying quit). In fact, if it wasn’t for Vesko, I would have broken it on day 12 – it was super easy while we were at the sea-side for vacation, but it got incredibly difficult when back in Sofia – mostly because August is the month during which most of our friends are back home and we go out almost every night.

In terms of how good it was for us – I really can’t say. While I do believe it was a decent form of detox (since most of the food toxins come from meat), I cannot say I felt any different. My face skin seems a little cleaner, but honestly, that’s about it.

So basically, I found out that I can be a vegetarian, but I don’t really want to. The one-month thing though … it may become an annual habit.

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