The Art of the Sandwich

 

Ah…what is more satisfying than taking the first bite out of an excellently constructed sandwich? My boyfriend always makes fun of me of how seriously I take sandwich-making. I do feel that I have strong opinions of what constitutes a good sandwich, values that have been instilled in me by my father, the Master of Sandwich-Making.

One of my secret dreams is to have a food truck specialized in a very special sandwich. How exciting would it be to just quit my job and completely switch career paths? Also quite terrifying.

For now, I will continue meeting and creating delicious sandwiches!

 

 

Work Lunch

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Photo: A spiced beef Manoush from the Lebanese Sajeria in Amsterdam.

When I started working at ELIA in February 2016, I arrived with a fresh energy, ready to take on my first (second, but WWC somehow doesn’t count) real job. A job where I could stay for at least a year. It felt like a security blanket warm and fuzzy and filled with potentially fun co-workers.

Little did I know that I joined an office environment where everyone ate at their desks, glued to their screen. I came from offices where everyone ate at a communal lunch table, fought over the avocados and shared stories about the latest TV shows they watched. I was psyched to finally have a real connection with my colleagues.

At the first staff meeting I brought up the topic. Two of my colleagues were very supportive of the idea and enthusiastically approved the idea of having lunch together every day. But the others shot me down. It was quite painful. But I tried to keep a smiling face and say it doesn’t matter, we will make the office lunches look so good, they would definitely want to join!

Of course, this did not happen. We had two or three lunches together and then we reverted to having food in front of our screens. I lost my energy to fight. At least we had the smoking breaks.

2017 is a new year, new energy, new colleagues! I am happy to say that it only took one extra person, that one little bit of critical mass to push us over the threshold. Now we have lunch every day together. We even order food and we have Falafel Tuesdays! Sometimes the discussions are forced and there are times where I would prefer having a half hour to myself. But everything beats eating in front of my screen.

Continue reading “Work Lunch”

A new beginning?

One of the first posts I wrote was about the purpose of this blog, or in other words, what prompted me to start writing. Since then I haven’t been writing that much at all. I was unemployed, frustrated and my boyfriend was telling me to go and do something with my life, which was hurtful since I was really doing my best in trying to find a job.

I have done a few internships and when I finally got hired for a real job, I was ecstatic. I felt like an adult. I would get a proper salary and feel for the first time that I can afford things. 6 months later the company went bankrupt and I was let go. For a few months I received unemployment benefit, but I didn’t have enough work experience to rely on that for a longer time.

And thus, my grueling job search started. Not enough work experience, not enough expertise, the wrong study, the wrong qualification. The rejections were flooding in and my morale was being buried under the deluge. I swore to myself that my priorities were to find a job in the film/cultural sector and that it would have to be a paying job since I was 26 turning 27 and let’s be honest I should be financially independent by now.

I had a few interviews where I felt that it might go somewhere only to be rejected three weeks later. Then I started thinking, maybe it would be good to have more experience and what better way to gain more experience than working as a slave..sorry, intern, for a company with a good network and some prestige.

I caught a glimpse of a great internship position in a big photography company and I applied. I thought, what the hell, I have nothing to lose. I ended up getting the job. I was happy I had something to do again. I was even happier that it was somehow linked to what I studied and the direction I wanted to go towards career-wise. Thankful as I was, I still had it in the back of my mind that I am doing yet another internship. I am 27 years old. Some people have kids by this age. Some people are buying a house, getting a mortgage etc. I felt like I was lagging behind with my life. That I was not performing the role of being a 27 year old properly.

Now, I have made my peace with it all. I am working hard, or more like interning hard. Maybe they will hire me at the end of it, maybe not. I cannot count on anything but I am grateful to be here. To be active and to meet awesome people who love their jobs.

So this is why I didn’t have time to write. I was busy with life and new/old beginnings. Besides, I don’t have any readers so who cares, right? 🙂

A European Halloween

I went to primary school in Romania where Halloween was surprisingly not completely ignored. Only a few years after the fall of Communism, there was a gradual influx of Western media thanks to illegal satellite dishes that people installed on their roofs. My dad had purchased a huge satellite dish when I was around 4 years old. I remember he always had to climb up to the attic to be able to reach the dish and move it towards the right signal. My mom then had to look at the TV screen and shout when she saw a clear image.

This way I grew up with MTV, CNN, Cartoon Network, German TV channels like Pro7 and RTL. I feel like my childhood was defined by these foreign yet familiar TV channels. I used to watch MTV nonstop. In the mid-90s, MTV was still music television and you could just put it on and it was like radio but with racy images. The occasional Real World or MTV News would offer some insight into American culture, but otherwise it was just me and Madonna, Simply Red and George Michael. My favorite video was Madonna’s Like a Prayer and Chris Isaac’s Wicked Games. It was pretty sexy.

I think I owe my knowledge of the English and German languages and that of American culture to TV. After school, I used to binge-watch classic American TV shows dubbed in German. Shows like Alf, The Cosby Show, The Simpsons, Roseanne, Married with Children, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Family Matters. The list goes on. I was really familiar with all of these characters and the lives they lead. It never once occurred to me that it is so far removed from my life.

So American celebrations such as Halloween were already in our collective consciousness. At school, we had a Halloween party where we dressed up. We didn’t really go Trick or Treating because older people didn’t really know it and didn’t really care. We didn’t bob for apples but we did carve pumpkins. So we distilled Halloween traditions that were easy for us to emulate.

My relationship with Halloween was quite personal since for a few years in my early teens, I thought I was a Wiccan. I was definitely influenced by Buffy and the Charmed sisters. Not to mention Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I made my own Book of Shadows, I recruited my eager yet ignorant younger best friend to play demons, vampires, evil witches that I could fight. She was never a winner, never one of the good guys. Maybe this is why we are not friends any more.

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One game I made up was particularly cruel. I used to turn off the lights in my room, so that it was completely dark and I would come at her with a wooden “stake”. I would kick and pretend to do head rolls and vanquish her. Other games included, me being Special Agent Fox Mulder and her being boring Scully. We would walk out in the garden and I would pensively look up at the huge satellite dish on our rooftop and say in my best impersonation “The truth is out there”.

So anyways, Halloween is coming up and I was just reminiscing about the time I actually started celebrating Halloween and how it just petered out at some point. The occasional dress up during university felt a bit forced. It didn’t have the innocence of a child’s enthusiasm any longer. Besides, in the Netherlands, especially in the South, Carnival is a huge deal. University shuts down and there is a week of nonstop beer drinking in crazy costumes. Truly mad.

In two days I am going to a Halloween wedding. My boyfriend and I were pretty uninspired, didn’t want to spend a lot of money on costumes so we ended up going for a classic couple’s costume. Morticia and Gomes Addams. Apparently, I look like Anjelica Houston. My boyfriend is blonde and blue eyed, the opposite of Gomes. Also his demeanor is that of a Northern stoic and not that of a hot-blooded Latin oddball. So we’ll see how good of an actor he is.

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Dark Night by Natalia Drepina

I just wish sometimes that I was among people who love celebrating Halloween. It is really a celebration of the beginning of my favorite season! I love the eerie stories and spooky ambiance and don’t get me started on all the great movies!

So I hope that you guys will all have a spooky Halloween and don’t forget that it’s not only an American tradition, for there are little girls and boys all across the world who like to dress up as witches and goblins and hope that one day they can go Trick or Treating just like those kids in the movies.

Reinventing myself – a cinepicurean confession

I started this blog with the intention of just writing down everything I thought about, a sort of diarrhoea of thought. I felt sometimes the painful cramps in my mind, itching to share what I thought about things. The moment I started writing though, the academic writer in me took over. I had worries like “No one really cares about what you think”, “Your arguments need to be well-reasoned and neatly presented”, “The internet does not need another blog about being a 20-something year-old” etc.

Faced with these mind-obstacles, I started to wonder why I named the blog Cinepicurean in the first place. ‘Cine’ came from cinema of course, and ‘epicurean’ from my unconditional love of food and cooking. But how to combine the two, these seemingly different areas of interest?

Well, prepare yourselves for the revelation – Food and Film pairings! Do I mean films that feature foods or that are about the restaurant industry? No. I want to combine them into the perfect marriage for the senses. Think of food and wine pairings. The former is enhanced and complemented by the other and vice versa.

fullmetaljacketTake for example, Goodfellas. Now you could go for the easy spaghetti and meatballs, however you could also go for something more authentically Sicilian like a caponata or a delectable seafood couscous. This, of course, is a very simplified explanation of what I would like to achieve.

The analysis of the film should be intertwined with flavour combinations and enhanced by food memories. For example, whenever I have good filter coffee, I automatically think of Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks having a damn good cup of coffee. When I watch Full Metal Jacket, it reminds of the bloodiest steak I have ever eaten (mostly inspired by Animal Mother). And so on…

I have been known to dabble in the culinary arts, so all of this talk would be accompanied by me actually preparing the dishes and then possibly inviting people over for a dinner party/film evening. This way, writing a blog becomes automatically more social.

Question remains, will anyone be interested in what I have to say?

Cinema on Demand – the offspring of Digital Cinema and the Crowd

“It’s better than sex, it’s better than love”-  talking about going to the movies, Jack Angstreich, Cinemania, 2003

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Jack Angstreich, still from Cinemania

Comfy red seats, ambient low lighting and a warm buzz around you. The lights are dimmed and screen fades to black. There is a sense of anticipation and then you are totally immersed in the darkness. It’s the magic of cinema. But what does the future hold?

A new generation of cinephiles is emerging as the film industry ponders and predicts the future of cinema.  Cinephiles like Jack Angstreich, from the unnerving and funny documentary, Cinemania (2003), view going to the movies as something stronger than a physical experience with another human being. He might be a bit crazy, but it shows the significant impact going to the cinema has on an individual.

Nowadays, the cinephile experience takes the individual out of the cinema and into the world of film forums, message boards, VOD and behind the scene DVD extras.  The most successful film franchises are the ones that use state of the art technology to convey a virtual world, making it as immersive as they can. Blockbusters, action-packed adventures and science fiction franchises that sell out multiplexes leaving behind a graveyard of 3D glasses.
“The digital revolution is shaking the foundation of the movie theatre” – is the appropriate sensationalist headline here.

Future of Cinema: What the Greats say…
This year the Holland Film Nieuws gives an opportunity for film industry professionals to express their views on the future of cinema. Piracy is seen as a crisis whereas digitisation and the technology driven aspect of new forms of filmmaking and viewing are seen as positive. Here are some excerpts.
James Cameron: “People want the group experience, the sense of going out and participating in a film together”


Will cinemas become the new vinyl records? Mark Kermode thinks that the digitisation of film and its wide availability on mobile devices will mean the end of the multiplexes. Kermode thinks that people who go to multiplexes do not really go there for the film experience. Nowadays people who go to independent cinemas are the ones who really want to be there.  “In the end, cinema won’t be the only way of seeing it, but as long as I have the option to see it there then that’s great”.
George Lucas: “Going to the movies will cost 50 bucks or a 100 or 150 bucks, like what Broadway costs today. It’ll be an expensive thing…”

Martin Scorsese: “In the future, you’ll probably see less and less of what we recognize as cinema on multiplex screens and more and more of it in smaller theatres, online and I suppose, in spaces and circumstances that I can’t predict.”

The conclusion I have drawn is that all of these big names in the film industry, have no idea what is going to happen. And this has been true throughout the history of film. The inevitable death of cinema has been predicted countless times and still it is here. So personally, I don’t know what to believe. Maybe it is time to make up our own minds!

Cinema on Demand

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Cinema on demand, aka theatrical-on-demand, emerged out of the need to create a different experience in the cinema and democratize the film consumption landscape.  We perceive event-based cinema as the future of cinema.

Recently, tugg.com , the cinema on demand service in the US,  managed to raise 5,9 million dollars to maintain and further develop their platform.  Placing so much value on cinema on demand shows a   significant change in the way audiences consume entertainment. There is an increasing need of crowd-powered events, the creation of communities and the ritual consumption of culture.

Tugg works with crowd ticketing and they earn their money by keeping a share of  box office. A percentage goes to the filmmakers and to the movie theatres. Like this everyone gets a fair share of profit-making it a symbiotic relationship at the same time supporting good filmmaking. Which no one can put a price tag on!

Tugg is for people who love film and are looking for a different, non-Hollywood experience.  As it aptly states in the article linked below “it’s a vehicle for film nerds operated by film nerds”. Nick Gonda, founder of Tugg, does not see Netflix or other VOD platforms as a direct threat or competition.  He says that services such as cinema on demand keep “the communal movie-house experience alive”. He also observed that the trend is moving out of the theatre to non-theatrical locations that are inspiring and beautiful. Whilst film buffs might consider the cinema auditorium beautiful in itself, by screening a film in an old warehouse, for example, adds something extra to the cinematic experience.

Some interesting snippets on COD:

The Rise of Theatrical-on-Demand: What’s Working

Theatrical on Demand: Bring the Movies You Want to See in a Theatre Near You

Photo credits from IMDb

Article quoted you can find here.

**Note: this article was posted first on the blog of We Want Cinema, the cinema-on-demand company I worked for.

Home is where your bed is

I settled down into my chair. The tables were arranged in a U -shape, so that everyone could see each other. One by one we introduced ourselves. I said where I am from and how old I was when I moved and that my mother tongue is not Romanian but Hungarian. As always, I was greeted with confused faces. Then, I had to explain my heritage and it is a story I have told many times. It really annoys me that I have to share it every time I introduce myself to someone. Maybe I am not proud of my nationality. Or maybe I just think that it doesn’t really matter. Is it only me that doesn’t care where others are from? That I am more interested in the person they are?

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Kolozsvar/Cluj-Napoca in Romania. The city where I was born.

I wish I could just say that I am international. Or that people would not care so much about my background. For now I feel that my home is where my bed is.

A place to be

Writing this blog is quite a new activity for me. Firstly, I am writing it purely for myself and as an exercise in writing. I feel that I need an outlet for all the pent-up creative energy in me.

I am currently unemployed and my self-esteem is extremely low. I feel like I am worth nothing, that my studies were useless and that my life is going nowhere. However, I also feel that I deserve a chance to try to be good at a job. The fact that I do not get a chance like that is unfair.

After a lot of arguments with my partner, I decided that it is time to do something therapeutic. And in this day and age, everyone turns to the internet for therapy. Be it self-diagnosing illnesses or just venting their frustrations on other people in the form of cyber-bullying, the online verse is a place where in some form or another, one can be heard.

I am not looking for sympathy, nor a huge readership. I just want to carve out a space for myself where I feel comfortable expressing my thoughts and passions. It is my self-prescribed therapy.

P.