Thursday, August 25, 2011

In Defense Of Food - A Book I read on my Stay Abroad

In Defense of Food - An eater's manifesto
Eat food, Not too much, mostly plants
By Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan, bestselling author of four previous books, wrote this book to help people answer the complicated question about what healthy food is. This book is his newest #1 New York Times Bestseller of him, with the title "In Defense of Food". Not only does Pollan suggest on how to eat healthier, but he also questions the nutrition science he calls "nutritionism". This is a summary for the readers of this blog. I hope that reading it has an impact on how you buy and eat your food.

Being Omnivores
Humans are omnivores, which means they are creatures who eat almost everything. We have to eat a wide variety of food in order to stay healthy. Herbivores on the other side, cows for example, have a diet which consists exclusively of plants. Concluding, people should receive their nutrients, which can be described as the pieces of a puzzle of food, from many different sources. A problem nowadays is that even though many people believe to eat a grand variety foods, they do not really do so. According to Pollan, the reason for this is food processing. Before explaining why processed foods reduce our variable nutrient intake, I will provide some information about processed foods in the next paragraph.

Processed Foods
The methods and techniques to transform raw products into food are called food processing. During food processing, nutrients can be added or subtracted, which changes the nutritional value of what one is consuming. Food is processed to make it better storable or transportable, different looking or different tasting, edible or allegedly more healthy. When Pollan talks about food processing, he means industrial food processing. Basically everything that happens between the farmer harvesting his produce on the field, and the customer buying food in a supermarket.

Nutritionism - Work in Progress
Due to the complexity of nutrition, scientists still come across major paradoxes and errors. A few examples from the book on how nutritionists believe that they understand food and its impact on the body.

William Prout proposes to classify food as a whole of three different parts: Carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Justus von Liebig declared that the big three (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) and minerals (his discovery) solves the mystery of the human diet. (Liebig's "Baby-Formula" failed due to missing vitamins etc.)
Casimir Funk called vital organic compounds "vitamins". The discovery of vitamins and the healing of illnesses like beriberi improved the image of nutritionists. For a long time, vitamins were believed to increase health in general.
The American Heart Association recommended a diet low in saturated fat (which is found in cheese, butter chocolate, coconut oil etc.) and cholesterol (found in eggs, sausages, dairy products - vital in certain amounts) from animal products. The meat and dairy industries opposed to a nationwide diet guideline for economical reasons.
A group of nutrition scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health wrote a paper: "Types of Dietary Fat and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A critical review. The authors disprove all the aspects of the recommendation of the American Heart Association, that had dominated Americas way of eating for the last 40 years.

Context of food
Pollan opposes the reductive science in nutrition science and receives confirmation by a New York University (NYU) nutritionist: "The problem with the nutrient by nutrient nutrition science is that we forget the context of the food, of the diet, of the lifestyle." Unfortunately, students at NYU and other universities learn nutrient by nutrient, which does not make a lot of sense, but fits the education system. Pollan provokes by saying that the government and the public health organizations are just too coward to admit that the idea of dietary fat was responsible for chronic diseases and has been an error. Scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health wrote a "critical review" where they confirm Pollan saying that "it is now increasingly recognized that the low-fat campaign has been based on little scientific evidence and may have caused unintended health consequences."

The Low-Fat-Illusion
There are three ways Pollan argues against the low-fat-illusion. One is the scientific way where he explains that without certain fats, our body is not able to subtract certain nutrients from plants. For example: Eating tomatoes with olive oil makes the lycopene they contain more available to the body. - The carbohydrates in a bagel are absorbed more slowly if the bagel is schmeared with peanut butter. The insulin response to the carbohydrates after eating that bagel is delayed because of the fiber, fat and protein in the peanut butter. That is why Pollan believes it is a good thing to eat dessert at the end of a meal rather than at the beginning.

The other approach is observing historical changes and trying to match dietary changes to increases of illnesses such as CHD (coronary heart disease) or other. These historical changes did not only introduce new products to the diet but also reduce foods people used to eat for a long time. For one there is the obvious replacement of vegetables by meat. Meat has become the main dish, whereas vegetables became a side dish. There is another example Pollan refers to several times in his book: The introduction of Margarine which started to replace butter. He calls Margarine the first important synthetic food appearing in our diet. Margarine was said to be healthier than butter, because "bad nutrients" such as cholesterol and saturated fats where eliminated whereas vitamins and polyunsaturated fats where added. Pollan explains that such a product can only be as smart as its creator. The scientists producing did not know at the time, that making vegetable oil solid by "blasting it with hydrogen, turned out to produce unhealthy trans fats which we now know are more dangerous than the saturated fats they were designed to replace."

Finally, there is a very easily understandable third way of arguing. Not only did we eat more meat during the last 60 years, but also did the big steak take a lot of space on our plate that used to be reserved for vegetables. So by eating more of something, people will eat less of something else.

From Quality to Quantity
The farming industry has to feed more and more people while keeping the costs as low as possible. People take cheap food for granted and there is only a small percentage of people who are able and willing to pay more for food than the bare minimum. Mass production of corn and soy was subsidized by the government which thereby defended the interests of the big food companies.
The problem of the mass production is not only the decrease of quality of the produce, but also the decrease of variety.

About quality
The nutrient content of 34 crops have declined. Examples are vitamin C (by 20%), iron (by 15%), riboflavin (by 38%), and calcium (by 16%). That means that in order to receive the amount of iron you would have gotten from a single apple in 1940, you would now have to eat 3 apples today. Our body still needs the same amount to stay healthy though. In order to get the nutrients our body needs, we have to eat a lot more than we ate 70 years ago. Could that be a reason for obesity?

About variety
Today's supermarkets are full with many different products, but some ingredients appear in almost every processed food: Corn and soy. These two crops grow very fast and contain a lot of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. These macronutrients are very efficiently turned into meat and diary products or processed foods of any kind. As cows or chicken grow fast when fed with a corn or soy based diet, the meat contains these ingredients too. Imagine eating a steak with a corn salad - or a soy based meat replacement. You even have corn in your Coke - in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. That means that we eat too much corn and soy which undoubtedly changes our diet. Next time you are in the supermarket, check the ingredients of your groceries and see how many of them contain processed corn or soy. Post that as a comment in this blog!

It is funny how people think that they could still define what they are eating. Pollan writes about a product called "Sara Lee's Soft & Smooth Whole Grain White Bread. Attentive readers of this blog might think that this is a contradiction in terms. Apparently not anymore. The list of ingredients has more then 40 items! Is this really bread? Your grandmother would probably deny that and say that in order to make bread, one simply needs flour, yeast, water, and a pinch of salt. Now, I trust my grandmothers cooking a lot more than I trust those company-sponsored nutrition scientists.

An Easy Helper
In order to chose the real products, one may need some help. Pollan created a list with some points that very easy to remember and help when grocery shopping. Here just a few:
1. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
2. Don't eat anything incapable of rotting.
3. Avoid food products containing ingredients that
a) are unfamiliar
b) are unpronounceable
c) are more than five in number
d) include high-fructose corn syrup
4. Avoid food products that make health claims (Health claims are written on a box. In order to be in a box, any food needs to be processed)
5. Shop the peripheries of a supermarket and stay out of the middle (You will find cans and boxes in the middle and fruit, fish, and frozen foods on the outside.
6. Get out of the supermarket whenever possible and shake the hand that feeds you. (There is no high-fructose corn syrup in what you buy at the farmers market)

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in what they eat. For everyone not particularly interested in a healthy diet, it is a must!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Internship with Reto Stuber and a visit of a Conference

During the last week, I had the chance to stay in Brooklyn where Reto Stuber and his girlfriend Melissa live. I was doing another internship with Reto, and as last time when I worked with him, I learned a lot about Internet Marketing and Social Media for businesses. The highlight of this week of work was most definitely the visit of a Conference in New York. Reto allowed me to visit the keynote speech, which was held by an Idol of mine: Gary Vaynerchuk.

Gary Vaynerchuk is a serial entrepreneur who has revolutionized the way people look at interacting with their Social Media communities. While developing his family’s local liquor store into a national industry leader, he observed the extraordinary potential of what he has called "The Thank You Economy" (also the name of a best selling book written by him). As a consultant, he introduced those same principles into the business world at large, with successful applications in sports, consumer goods, and retail. named Gary on its list of the Top 49 Most Influential Men of 2009.

I have seen many of his videos about wine tasting, which I think are not only highly educative, but also very entertaining. Before I will summarize his most important ideas of the keynote, I would like you to see at least one of his shows yourself. Click here to watch one or two of his 1000 episodes:

Keynote by Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary entertained the attendees with an enthusiastic speech and a long Q&A session in an easy-going style and using many curse words. The standing ovations at the end of the keynote and the long line at the book signing booth confirmed the success he has with his style and his ideas.

The main points Gary Vaynerchuk made during his keynote was that every person is a brand, and people should use their communication skills on Social Media and in real life to build brand equity with a long term objective. Meaning that you have to interact with people that need your help or are interested in the same thing you are on the internet. You need to talk to those people, or help them if necessary, to show them that you care. In doing so, people have a positive connection to you as a professional and a private person. As you helped them for free or just interacted with them on a certain topic, they will consider you as a friend and not just as another guy trying to sell stuff. Now guess who they will trust with their next problem and where they are finally going to buy what they need? They come to your business, because they started to know and trust you.

In his book, The Thank You Economy, Gary says that people used to buy their meat at the butcher's shop they always went. They went there, either because their mother used to go there or because they got to know the butcher and have a personal connection to him. Times have changed though. Many butcher stores went out of business because they could not compete with prizes mayor corporations had to offer. But now times have changed once more and people still want to interact and communicate. Only now, they do it over Social Media. This is the chance for every business, to give customers a little more value by personally interacting with them. The butcher has the chance of interacting with customers, only today and tomorrow it will be over Social Media channels.

A signed copy of "The Thank You Economy"

A great percentage of marketers need to present a good return on investment. Gary considers Social Media to be a long term marketing tool. He used many analogies when trying to convince the attendees that return on investment is not the most important thing:
- Don't try to convert like a 19 year old trying to get a girl!
- It's like a marathon versus a sprint!
- A campaign is a one-night stand!
- Slow roll it as much as you can! Don't go for the kill, the deer will be dead.
The essence of this message is that brand equity is much more important than the immediate return on investment.

Gary is a very down-to-earth person with interest in real life issues. So he decided that rather than talking about his own business or his own clients, it would be much more interesting to hear what the audience had to say. That is why he decided to make a extensive question and answer session. In the next paragraph you can read about the most interesting questions.

On the question how he felt about outsourcing Social Media, Gary replied that he would not recommend it. The reason is that people are thrilled to talk about an issue with the person responsible. The problem is that if people find out that they have not been talking to that person but a 17 year old intern, it could destroy your whole business.

Another guy asked: What if someone runs a website and a personal blog, but still thinks that it is not necessary to appear on Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. They say that on these sites, people are just telling their friends and the world where they are going to eat or what they are watching on TV?
Gary replied: As Social Media is a tool to interact with people, it should be used that way too. Meaning that when interacting, we are not constantly saying what we are doing, but we are also listening. There are many ways of "listening" to what people are saying on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Co. And if someone is saying something related to your field of expertise, you have to start a conversation with him and show him that you care and that you are the expert on this topic.
Another reason is that Google will most certainly manage to change its algorithm to a context based search. Meaning that if you search for something on google in the future, the results will be based on your Social Media interactions more than on search engine optimized websites.

Chatting with Gary Vaynerchuk

I am looking forward to coming back to Switzerland and applying everything I have learned. There are still many books to be read and hours to be invested but I like the work of an internet marketer a lot and want to continue improving my skills.

Thanks for reading and thanks once more for commenting!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Another Indian Week

This is one of my last blog posts in this particular blog. As my stay abroad comes to an end, I will not be writing on this blog anymore. But I will still post another two or three blog posts. So, keep posted!

Before going back to work with Reto Stuber, I was allowed to stay once more in the upper east side with Nikhil Mahen and on the upper west side with Yatish Uchil. You might remember those guys from previous blog posts. I cooked a Swiss dish at Nikhil's and at Yatish's place. Unfortunately, the Röschti (hash browns) and Züri Gschnätzlets (Veal chopped the Zurich style) did not turn out to be good both times. It turned out to be really delicious when I made it at Nikhil's apartment. The time I made it for Yatish and his roommates, it turned out to be really flavorless and tasteless. The upside of this mishap is that I have the chance to make it up to them when he and his roommate will come to visit me in Berne next February.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Butter Chicken (by Nikhil Mahen)

Butter Chicken (Nikhil Mahen Style)

Shopping list (for two persons)

3 chicken breasts
1 big onion
2 cloves of garlic
15 ounces of tomato puree (4-5 dl)
3 ounces of fresh cream (1 dl)
black pepper
red chili powder
Garam masala (Indian spice mixture*)
Tandoori masala (Indian spice mixture*)
4 pieces of Nan (Indian bread*)

1. Chop and marinate the chicken with Tandoori Chicken Masala (A powder containing Kashmiri Chilli, ginger powder, dry mango powder, dry Mehendi, black and white pepper powder, red chilly powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and Jeera powder) and some black pepper and salt. Marinate the chicken for as long as possible (up to 3 hours) in the fridge.

Nikhil chopping the chicken

2. Sauté the onions and the garlic in some butter and olive oil, freshly cut ginger and cumin. Some people add a little bit of cinnamon.

3. Boil Tomato Purée with a spoonful of butter and add the cream after it started boiling. Add red chilli and Garam Masala and some salt. The translation of Garam is hot, Masala is the word for mixture of spices. Ingredients of Garam Masala are Cumin, Black pepper, Coriander seeds, Cardamon Amomum seeds, Cloves, Nutmeg, Cassia, Ginger, and Mace. You'll find Garam Masala in every Indian store.

4. Indians usually roast the marinated chicken in a clay oven. As we don't have a clay oven in Nikhil's apartment, we use the regular oven. Set the oven temperature to 375 - 400 degrees Fahrenheit (around 200 degrees Celsius). It will take around 15 minutes.

5. Once the chicken is done, put everything together and boil it for another 20-25 minutes on a low flame.

How to eat

Indian food is supposed to be eaten by hand: Tear a piece of the nan bread apart and try to pick a piece of chicken with the nan. Only the fingertips are supposed to be dirty, but it takes a while to learn that. As Butter Chicken is a fairly heavy meal, it is best served with a cold beer.

Me trying to grab the chicken.


* You can find the Masalas and the Nan in every Indian store. If you have an Indian restaurant close to you, send someone to pick up fresh nan.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Phoenix, AZ

There were different reasons why I wanted to go to Phoenix, AZ. I was really looking forward to seeing all my friends again that I've met five years ago, and I also wanted to surprise my uncle by showing up unexpectedly. In addition, I wanted to experience the heat in Phoenix in summer.

I arrived in the afternoon at the Greyhound station in Phoenix. I was wearing long linen pants and a sweater because Greyhound drivers tend to turn up the air conditioning as much as they can. So I stepped off the cool bus in Phoenix and the outside temperature stroke me with its 112 degrees Fahrenheit (over 44 degrees Celsius). As my friend Lhyn was still working, she sent a friend of hers to pick me up. In an air-conditioned car he took me to the dental clinic where Lhyn was working. From there we drove back to her house which is in Goodyear, in the south-west part of Phoenix.

Soon after we arrived, her three year old son AJ and her husband Daniel arrived. After going shopping for groceries, we lit the grill and ate delicious steak and corn. Daniel took me out with another friend of ours, Eric. We went to various local clubs in Goodyear and ended up in Eric's favorite, the Lighthouse. I liked the Lighthouse as well, because it is very laid back and they have pool tables and karaoke. I excused myself from the karaoke and tried my luck at on the pool table. Even though pool is not my strong suit I enjoyed the night out.

Trying my luck at the pool table

The next day was rather expensive: As I had lost my iPhone in New Orleans, I wanted buy a new one in the States. Because of the Dollar rate and Apple products being cheaper here, I decided to buy an unlocked white iPhone. Even though it is expensive, I wanted to have an iPhone again. Also, I had the chance to have lunch at a In n' Out Burgers. It is my favorite burger chain!

In n' Out Burgers

In the evening, I learned that in order to be allowed in in certain clubs, the Swiss picture ID is not enough. So Daniel's friend Vance had to drive me back to the apartment to get my passport. We went to different bars only to end up in the Lighthouse again. It was another great night, which made the day even more expensive, but we enjoyed ourselfes a lot.

Lhyn and Daniel, ready for the clubs

The third day included two very American things, one of them being Laser Tag. Laser Tag is a game where one has to tag other people with a laser gun. After five minutes, we where all very into it and it was one of the best work outs I had in my life. Actually, as I am writing this, three days later, I still have sore muscles.
The other American thing was a house party, including "Beer Pong", a game which I am apparently very good at. We had another great evening at Vance's house that ended with enthusiastic discussions with Eric at around 5am.

Eric and I playing "Beer Pong"

The next day was a very lazy day before I ended up going to the airport. The plane left at 10.30pm and landed approximately four and a half hours later at 6am in New York. The math actually adds up if one takes into account the time difference. So after arriving at JFK Airport I went to Nikhil's place where I am allowed to stay another couple of nights. I slept the whole day until 5pm because after the last few nights I was really in need of some sleep. When Nikhil came back, we decided to cook an Indian dish called Butter Chicken. I wrote down the recipe and it will be in my next blog post.

Thanks to all of you guys in Phoenix! I had a great time!

Friday, August 5, 2011

New Orleans

The time I spent in New Orleans has been incredibly interesting, but also a little unfortunate. New Orleans is definitely worth visiting, even in Summer when it can be very hot and humid.
As you may have read in a previous post, I have lost my iPhone with all the video footage for my planned video blog post. Fortunately, there may be some pictures available that I have sent to my girlfriend before leaving the hostel.

Getting there
After my last blog post from the Greyhound station and some good Mexican food, I went on a 22 hours bus ride with transfers in Orlando and Tallahassee. The schedule was unfortunate because all passengers had to leave the bus for "service and cleaning" at 12.30am and 4am for 50 minutes, resulting in little to no sleep.

In some TV shows, I saw that New Orleans is considered to be the most dangerous city in the United States, so I decided to take a cab to a hostel which I booked on the bus. I found out later on the list of the most dangerous cities in the US, New Orleans is only ranked number #13, behind Cleveland, OH, (#4), where I have stayed without concerns. Before leaving the hostel I heard from two girls who were robbed two nights ago. They got off the street car (a kind of tram) two stations too early and encountered two guys, supposedly with guns, threatening to kill them if they did not give them their handbags.

Even though I had just heard this story, I decided to walk to the famous French Quarter because it was 10am and there were cars on the road. The French Quarter is incredibly cute and different from everything I have seen in the US so far. The buildings are over 200 years old, which is quite rare in the US. What you can see during the early afternoon are many different small art galleries and bars preparing for the night.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans LA

I had the choice between the Louisiana History Museum and an exhibition about the Kathrina Hurricane and the floods that followed. I decided for the latter and spent three hours in the Museum. It was very interesting to see an exhibition about an event I remembered and read about myself. Five years after this catastrophe I could not see any sign of what had happened.

I tried to escape the heat using the hostel's pool, but even that was rather warm. I took advantage of the comfortable backyard and skyped with friends and family in the shadow of some trees before going for dinner downtown. I then went to Morton's Steakhouse, which is an upscale restaurant, where the waiter showed me the different kinds of meat and fish they had. He also showed me on real vegetables how they are going to be cut and held a living lobster under my nose, explaining how they were going to prepare it the kitchen.
I ordered the Eisberg Salad with Blue Cheese,  the New York Cut Steak with sautéed spinach and mushrooms, and a warm chocolate cake with ice cream. Even though it was super delicious, I was not able to finish all of it so I let them "doggie-bag" for me. As it would not have been very comfortable to take it with me when visiting the bars, I decided to give it to one of the few homeless people at the riverfront. I hope that they enjoyed it.

After eating, I started walking to Bourbon Street. Since I received more feedback from the last video blog post, I wanted to improve my video blogs even more. I wanted to make it seem like a documentary, so I filmed myself walking through Bourbon Street, going in bars and commenting on the music and the atmosphere. The disappointment of the first five bars got blown away at the last bar, where I first did not even want to go in. I saw an incredible performance of Chucky C singing both his own songs and also covering Louis Armstrong and other famous Singers. I liked it so much that I bought a CD. If it works, here is a sample one of his songs.
Chucky C and his band

The night was rather short due to my early bus leaving at 6.15am the next day. I prepared everything the night before, so I could just take a shower in the morning and then leave. I sent a last Whatsapp message to my girlfriend before taking a cab to the Greyhound station. Ten minutes after the bus had left New Orleans, I wanted to take a picture of the swampy landscape. That is when I realized that I did not have my iPhone anymore. You can read in my previous post what I did to try to get it back. Had I known that I had to buy a new iPhone, I would most probably not have eaten that luxurious the night before. Anyway, when traveling, one needs to be aware of unexpected cost.

I am now arriving in Phoenix, AZ, after a 33h bus ride. The plan is to visit some friends I have stayed with on my previous travels.

Thank you for reading and for commenting.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Oops... Bummer..!

Instead of posting another video blogpost, I have to inform everyone that I have most probably lost my phone. It must have slipped out of my pocket this morning around 5.30am in the cab. Even though I called the company and they asked the driver (he said he did not find it), the phone has already been turned off.

With the "Find My iPhone"-app from Apple on my iPad, I sent a remote lock on my phone. In addition, I sent an order to the phone to let it ring at full volume and to show this message:

I ve lost my phone... please contact me on 347-649-4394...

It is a pitty because not only will I have to buy a new phone, order a Sim-Card, and deal with a lot of bureaucratic bs, I also lost all the photo and video footage from New Orleans.

I am on the Bus in direction of Phoenix, AZ, and try to organize everything as good as possible. I do not have the possibility to check my big rucksack if I have put my phone in there by accident. The rucksack is located underneath the bus and is unavailable until Houston, TX. There is a slight chance that I have put it in the rucksack, but I am most certain that I did not.

Please note: I will not be able to respond to any call, message or Whatsapp-message until further notice. You can still reach me over all different Social Media plattforms or my US cellphone.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, August 1, 2011

Second Video Blogpost

This is my second video blogpost. I shot the video in one whole time, without re-recording of any kind. I realize that there are many mistakes in it, but it seems more authentic. Thanks for your comments...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

First Video Blogpost

This is the first video blogpost. It will be a series of four or five videos to update you what I have been doing lately. I hope that during these videos, I will make some emprovements on my speaking skills especially in fluency, tone and variability.
For my own defense I would like to say that I have not prepared this post and was not able to translate, verify or re-record what I have said. It is all spontaneous and live.
I would be happy about constructive criticism and comments.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Great People

It has been a while since I have written something in my blog. But a lot has happened since the last blog entry. Because of Couchsurfing, I had a very nice barbecue where I had the most tender meat I have tasted so far. I enjoyed Mexican and Japanese Food with a lovely couple from New Jersey, and was introduced to New York's longest continuously operating bar and restaurant: Pete's Tavern 1864.

About Couchsurfing
The advantages that Couchsurfing has brought to my stay abroad have been tremendous so far and I am sure that there are more exciting encounters going to happen. The disadvantage of Couchsurfing is the dependence of a couchsurfer on the host. Even if the decision to host someone is totally voluntary and one does not receive any money in return, a host still needs to be 100% reliable. His guest will usually not have an option other than looking for an expensive last minute hotel if the host does not show up or stops answering the email.

Sleeping arrangements
I am happy to own a US cellular phone, that way I have the possibility of communicating with possible hosts in a more direct and therefore easier way. Furthermore, I am lucky to know Zapo with whom I had the possibility to stay a few nights longer than expected. Tonight though, for the first time on my stay abroad, I sleep in a regular hostel together with other travelers. Unfortunately, as my blog has not been fed with stories lately, I will not be able to take advantage of the international crowd here. I will have to focus my energy on writing about the exciting activities and wonderful encounters last weeks.

Will DosSantos had invited me to visit his cousin in New Hampshire. Unfortunately, there were some transportation issues and there was no space left for me to join him, meaning that the meeting with Will had been delayed for a couple of days. Luckily, I was able to count on Zapo and stayed another three nights on his couch. This ship has meanwhile sailed though. His roommate who is working a lot and is seldom at home complained in an email about the fact that the living room has turned in a dorm room and that he was not happy about it. Pity! Even though I completely understand his point of view, I would have preferred he speaking to me directly about the matter, as I have thought that it would be no problem with me sleeping there. Nevertheless, I have lost the very useful option of spending the night at Zapo's place. I am very thankful to have had this privilege. Thank you Zapo for everything!

4th of July
I met Will a couple of days later in Hoboken, which is on the other side of the Hudson River in New Jersey. I was very happy about the fact that I was going to spend the 4th of July with an American. Will has moved to the USA when he was only four years old and I therefore consider him a real American. His father immigrated from Brazil when he was in his 30ies and has worked in Elisabeth, NJ for the last 30 years. While driving to his girlfriend Aurora, Will told me that we were invited to spend the evening with Aurora's neighbor, Manny Caamano, who lived only four stories higher than she did. Manny's whole family was having food and drinks on his balcony. Aurora wanted to contribute something by preparing a Cheese Fondue. Luckily, Cheese Fondue is not unknown by Swiss people and I was happy to help her out. The taste was very interesting but not bad at all and the Fondue was liked by everyone.

We almost missed the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks because we kept on enjoying the view.

Great Folks
It is great, how easy it is to meet and become friends with American people. Manny, the neighbor of my host's girlfriend, invited me to play tennis a few days later. He returned from work early due to a bomb threat in his office building. After playing 30-40 minutes in the full sun, we enjoyed cooling off in his building's own swimming pool.
For dinner, Manny and his girlfriend, Maria, invited me to a Mexican restaurant with the most beautiful view on Manhattan. I had the chance to return the favor by inviting both of them for a dinner in a Japanese restaurant with some sushi and sake.

I was also invited to a barbecue in Elisabeth, NJ. Will said that I was most welcome to come to a barbecue which his brother, Steve, was organizing. I found out only when I arrived there that it was in fact Steve's birthday. It was not a regular barbecue: Rachel, Steve's girlfriend, and Steve have been working a lot. They have been preparing the smoked bacon for this barbecue for over 10! days. Here are just a few of the finest delicatessens they served: Self-made Burgers (half bacon, half angus beef), self-made sausages, mussels, and ribs (which have first been cooked (7min), then marinated and grilled (7min), and then slow roasted in aluminum foil (3h) until they literally fell off the bone).

Pete's Tavern 1864
Another gastronomic and culinary highlight was the Burger at Pete's Tavern. This establishment is New York's longest continuously operating bar and restaurant. Being host to many celebrities, Pete's bar looks exactly as on the black and white pictures inside. The restaurant and bar has appeared on television in famous shows like "Sex and the City", "Seinfeld", or "Law and Order".
On August 8th, my friend Normen and his wife, Andrea,  will travel through New York on their Honeymoon and as a gift, I plan on inviting them to this famous restaurant for a burger.

The meat fell off the bone...

How to succeed...
The most impressive and exciting thing I did on my stay abroad has most certainly been the visit of a Broadway musical staring Daniel Radcliffe (known from the Harry Potter series) and John Laroquette (he appeared in many movies and had his own television show). The name of the musical was "how to succeed in business without really trying".
The musical is a new production a story that is based on a satirical, and bestselling book with the same title. The perfection of the show was astonishing and most impressive. Even though it was not cheap, it was totally worth it. I encourage anyone who visits New York to go see a Broadway musical.

That's it for the moment... I will write about my upcoming internship in the next blogpost.