What they do have...in addition to a love of red meat and starch...is an incredible, incurable sweet tooth. Dulce de leche oozes out of just about everything and boy-o-boy do people love candy. It's not even about tasty pastries (they're fairly good bakers)...it's just about making it sweet.
|Ice cold without ice is best.|
Welp, in Paraguay, the ratio is a little different: two parts gin to three parts vermouth. That is, frankly, obscene. But the bartender (who works at the Sheraton in Asuncion and is aware Americans have a different take on this) explained that it just fits what Paraguayans prefer: something to match their sweet tooth. I suppose it's the price you pay for ordering a cocktail in the first place: "real men" in Paraguay seem to thrive on straight whiskey (Johnny Walker only) if they have money and beer (various) if they don't.
[everyone drinks wine of course but that's just, you know, "water;" it's not a DRINK drink]
[on the other hand, they never serve wine to the people during the Catholic Mass which is...well, whatever]
Cultural differences are interesting: sometimes intriguing, sometimes frustrating. Experiencing them is one of the highlights of travel outside my native culture. Not because I'm especially adventurous in temperament (I'd probably say I'm the opposite), but because I have a curiosity about how humans can live so differently from each other. And when visiting a new culture (as opposed to living there and occasionally wanting non-gag-worthy beverage) it can be fun to steep yourself in the differences.
In a way, it's one of the things I miss about science fiction.
I used to like science fiction quite a bit, and not just of the Star Wars variety. Truth is, I might still like it...I'm just not a huge fan of what I see in the SciFi realm these days. In film, it's so spectacle-driven these days, and probably with good reason (it drives patrons into theaters to see the latest-greatest FX and puts money in the pockets of the film industry). But...ugh, how to articulate this?
[I've been having a real problem finding words these days...partly because I'm constantly trying to communicate in Spanish, and partly because most of my human interaction in English is with my now-four year old...sigh]
Cool weapons and explosions and spaceship battles and strange aliens aren't the things that make science fiction "good" for me. Instead, it's a sense of wonderment...something so subjective, I realize it's impossible (or ridiculous) to try to define. I suppose it's one of those things that "I know it when I see it."
And sci-fi literature is even less appealing for me, as authors seem driven to stick with "hard science" and the realm of what is "conceivably possible," rather than risk becoming a laughingstock within their own genre. My buddy Steve-O is a sic-fi aficionado, and he's constantly giving me novels that postulate terraforming or space travel or whatnot based on real applied science and telling me I need to write an RPG that incorporates things like plasma rockets and hollowed asteroids and whatnot. But I just can't bring myself to do it. It's not that I want Burroughs-type "sword & planet" romances or more Flash Gordon-style "rebels against the evil space empire" stories. I don't. But I guess I don't want my fiction to be smarter (or much smarter) than me...and perhaps I'm not terribly smart to begin with,
In some ways, it seems like sci-fi is afraid to become "dated." It either passes into the realm of speculative, "this-is-a-logical-thing-that-could-happen-based-on-our-current-state-and-trends-of-development" or else it's just a bizarre, over-the-top free-for-all of laser blasting, world wrecking, giant robot, blah-blah-blah. The stories might be good, the writing/film-making excellent, but it might as well be set in a different genre than "sci-fi" for all the wonderment it provides. File off the sci-fi trappings and it's just "a story."
Maybe I'm just jaded. Or old. Or both.
As a kid, I played the original Traveller game (the "little black books") with my buddy Rob as the GM and I remember having an immensely good time doing it. It had a similar feeling to the "Rogue Trader" aspect of 1st edition Warhammer 40,000 (before the story lines were codified and inter-woven with the whole Chaos fantasy thang). It lacked so much of what, say, Star Frontiers had in a codified setting...and yet that mystery of "how things/the Universe fit together" contributed to a sense of "wonderment." You never knew what you might find when you stepped off your scout ship to explore some random alien planet.
[I realize there are many ways to play Traveller and that not everyone was simply "blasting off into the unknown," so experiences in that regard might be very different]
Anyway, today I find myself missing the space-faring science fiction of my youth...both in gaming and entertainment. I'm not sure where this longing will lead me (if anywhere), but I just feel like hanging onto it for a while and turning it over in my mind. Probably has something to do with my own current status of being something of "a stranger in a strange land."