The Year in Cheeseburgers

I feel like I should say something about Christmas…about spending Christmas in a different country for the first time in my life, about spending Christmas in a Muslim country where they don’t celebrate it, etcetera. But instead I am just so excited I am going to Thailand on Friday that I am feeling over Christmas. (Quick highlights version: it was very nice, I had a few lovely holiday events with the other random few expats still left in town over the holidays, I didn’t buy one single Christmas gift or hear one single Christmas song in an elevator or store. Certainly a first.) The end of the year (decade!) is almost here and it has certainly been one of change for me. A year ago, I had no idea I would be moving to Pakistan, would be starting a new career in international development, or would know how to say “I’m hungry” in Urdu. I didn’t know any of the many people I now know in Islamabad, both friends and colleagues, and I had never even been to Asia. I went from never having paid anyone to clean my house–ever–to having a housekeeper that comes in almost every single day and even does the dishes. I also have a gardener, a driver, a guard, and a house manager to keep this massive effort together. This is worthy of an entire post all by itself, titled: “Move to Pakistan and Ruin Yourself for a Return to Middle-Class America Forever.” I went from eating a nearly-vegetarian, largely organic diet of mostly salads and whole grains to eating the kind of thing that most Americans eat: refined flours […] Read More


One of the most common desserts in Pakistan, kheer is a smooth rice-based pudding, quite firm, that is served in little clay pots. It’s delicately spiced, with cardamom usually, and a thin layer of beaten silver is often laid on the top for decoration. (Yes, real silver!) Or sometimes nuts. You can find kheer at many restaurants, but I think the best versions are homemade. The kheer in the photo was from a dinner party that one of my former staff members had for a group of us at his family’s home. There were about 15 delicious dishes to choose from for the main course (I kid you not), and three desserts, meaning that I only had room for one small pot of kheer. […] Read More

“Almost Every Single Night”: A One-Sided Conversational Piece

Hi. Can I put in an order for take-away, please? Hello? Yes. Can I have one Mongolian Beef Noodle please. Uh-huh. And one order of chicken wings. The six, not the twelve. Six, please. Yes. And the Thai Noodles, you know the one that’s like Thai noodle curry, it’s not curry but it’s like vegetables and pasta, noodles? Thai chicken pasta! But no chicken just vegetables please. NO chicken. Right Thai Chicken Pasta no chicken. Yeah, Thai pasta, right. And…Also one piece of Mudd pie. MUDD PIE. Okay. Can I actually make that twelve chicken wings, not six? Yup. Uh-huh. Yup. Yes. No drinks. Sara. Sara. S-A-R-A. Zero three hundred eight double one xxx xxx xxxx. And the driver will be Nisar picking it up. And how much time? 20 minutes, okay. And how much money? (Four minutes pass.) Two thousand nine hundred rupees? Thanks! […] Read More