Experiments in Watercolors

I got an itch to learn how to watercolor a couple years ago and have been dabbling here and there since then. I started by trying to recreate some patterns I found via Pinterest (mostly flowery ones by Rifle Paper Co.), but I soon needed to find my own watercolor voice. This year I began a series of watercolors based off of photos from my travels. In the process of creating these watercolors, I discovered that I’ve been lying to myself for quite some time. I always said I couldn’t draw, but it turns out I can! I think I’m getting better with every new page in my watercolor Moleskine sketchbook.

Here are a few of my favorite watercolors so far:

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I’m Lovin’ It

This one is from the archives. I nearly finished this post over a year ago, but before posting it I came down with extreme food poisoning. I’m nearly positive that my food poisoning didn’t come from this dining experience, but from some bad pork in my dinner later that day. Despite that fact, I never returned to this piece until today because it still made my stomach turn just thinking about the events of that evening. That being said, bon appétit!

There have been several meals throughout my life that I remember vividly and recall with not just a sense of nostalgia, but with a passion for how delicious and perfect they were. The classically perfect Coq au Vin in Paris. The tempura battered and fried cinnamon ice cream drizzled with chocolate and raspberry sauce in San Diego. Kobe beef that melted in my mouth complemented perfectly by thinly sliced crunchy pieces of fried garlic. And lastly, the mind blowing shrimp burger at a McDonalds in Japan.

Which of these doesn’t fit in?

If you know me at all, you know that I’m a bit of a food snob. My mother was a chef and is a fantastic cook, so how could I not grow up to be a food snob?! Seeing an item on my list of most memorable and mouthwatering meals from a fast food chain, especially one like McDonald’s, should baffle you. But I must put this on my list and I’m sure if you would agree if you tried it.

The burger patty was made from whole shrimp, not ground shrimp, which instantly gave it more points, perhaps because you knew you were eating real shrimp, not some fake McDonalds shrimp concoction. The shrimp were arranged into a patty form, which was then battered, rolled in panko and fried. The patty was put between a hamburger bun and we enjoyed it with some classic McDonald’s French fries.

This was consumed after a few drinks, mind you, which may have added to the tastiness of it, but I remember that I couldn’t have been more satisfied with it. Not only that, I was completely fascinated by the fact that something so wonderful came out of a McDonald’s! I have spent my entire life avoiding those golden arches and by chance happened upon what may be one of the best things they’ve ever sold.

Ever since that night, I have always hoped that I might encounter that magical Mickey Dee’s Ebi Fillet-O (AKA shrimp burger) again. I even looked for it during a late night French fries run to a McDonald’s on Koh Samui in Thailand, but it wasn’t there. I had given up hope.

But this past weekend fate tapped me on the shoulder and my dream of eating another shrimp burger without having to go to Japan was renewed! I was sitting on a fairly empty skyline train in Bangkok allowing me to have a perfect view of one of the TVs where a commercial for the new KFC shrimp burger was played. It was a sign. I knew I had to go to a KFC and investigate.

This morning I was told that I didn’t need to come to school, so I went to the mall in hopes of sitting in some air conditioning for a few hours and to eat lunch at KFC. Yes my friends, I sought out a fast food restaurant, a completely uncharacteristic decision.

I strolled up to the KFC timidly, not wanting to commit myself to eating there until I was sure they had my elusive deep fried goodness. Once I found the picture on the Thai menu above the cash register I then had to determine how to order it. I haven’t ordered a burger in Thailand and wasn’t sure what to say, so through a combination of pointing and repeating the word goong (prawn) to the two of the five cashiers, I was able to successfully order my burger. I decided to go all out and order the burger, Pepsi, and fries combo meal, which set me back 95 Baht (~$2.70). When in Rome, right?

It was ready in no time since there were at least fifteen people working in the restaurant, which was about as many customers in the KFC at the time. I went to the ketchup and sweet chili sauce dispenser where there was a girl who pumped some Ketchup for me into a little plastic cup. After giving me my ketchup, she took my tray from me and asked me where I would like to sit. I was shocked, what a luxurious dining experience at KFC! I give the service a 10.

The burger did not qualify as a 10 unfortunately. But I guess when you have such high standards, how could it? The patty was greasier than the one I had in Japan and just didn’t have the same flavor. It just wasn’t what I had hoped it would be. Maybe if I had had a few drinks it would have been better, but I’m pretty convinced that the McDonalds version was superior whether you are drunk or sober. I guess I’ll just have to wait until I go to Japan again to eat my tasty fast food.

Neither of the photos in this post were taken by me. I can’t remember who took them though…