Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Birthday Candy

One of the nice little touches at this conference has been the availability of small snacks and candies during the coffee breaks between talks. As this is in fact a conference about galaxies, and one of the more popular galaxies is the Milky Way, it should come to no surprise that I have found myself craving a bit of chocolate. You see, astronomy, aside from the science of sugar, I suppose, is the field after which the most candy has been named. We've got the Milky Way, the Mars Bar, and, of course, the Starburst. But apparently Americans are confused about candy. I didn't even realize it, even after I had a clearly-labelled Milky Way bar this morning, with its soft nougat-y center. Apparently, what we Americans call a Three Musketeers is actually a Milky Way, and what we call a Milky Way is actually a Three Musketeers. Think about it. Milky center? That would be the stuff in a Three Musketeers. Three components? That would be the Milky Way's nice chocolate, caramel, and nougat. Somehow, this managed to blow my mind more than the influence of the bulge on the rotation curves of spiral galaxies.

Other adventures in eating include Tuesday night (birthday!); I went to dinner with roughly the same group of people I had gone out with Monday night (when I was terribly jetlagged and could have fallen asleep in my chair quite easily). This whole Japanese food thing is growing on me ... some of the raw fish is quite delicious, while some of it makes me think, "Why is this so chewy? Shouldn't it be cooked some?" Tuesday night I had raw beef for the first time, and it struck me how yummy it was. Not too chewy, and not to, well, raw-seeming. Afterwards, we went out for "dessert," or shaved ice with flavored syrup and possible beans. I passed, but it was still a fun place and I enjoyed the company and watching people investigate their dishes. We then went to the same bar we had gone to the night before .... their menu was primarily in Japanese, but some of the headings (e.g., Sake or Beer) were in English. One such heading was "Birthday Cocktails," and there were twelve pictures of colorful drinks in martini glasses. Obviously, this had to be investigated. As expected, my drink, a "Moonstone," was free, and I even had to show ID for it (in order to prove that it was indeed my birthday). It was one of the... weirder drinks I've ever had. It was milky white, and apparently yogurt-based. Aside from the fact that it was definitely alcoholic, that is all I know about its ingredients. It had this odd citrus-y flavor to it, like it was confused about what it wanted to be when it grew up. I won't mention that I think I was at least five years younger than everyone else at the table. While I may feel as if I have wasted the last twenty-two years of my life, it was definitely a young birthday.

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