The Grains of 21st Century Communication

I did a dirty thing a couple weeks ago.

I traded my beloved Samsung, industrial-strength flip phone in for an iPhone. I’m only starting to iron out what’s felt like a sharp, permanent wrinkle in my moral fiber.

Sure, when all of my peers first started trading in their original Motorola RAZR’s for Apple and Android products it seemed like maybe I was stuck in gladiator sandals while everyone else had clearly moved on to cork wedge heels. But after seeing the way that smartphones transformed some people from civilized humans who know how to walk straight lines into antisocial ogres that will walk right through you just to avoid looking away from Candy Crush, my flip phone started to stand for so much more.

-Loyalty (to what, high school? My 16 year-old, publicly Good Charlotte-loving self?)
-Pride (in my somewhat strong internal compass, not a moral compass but actually knowing how to navigate the North Side without Google Maps)
-Language preservation (because without 200 emojis at your fingertips, you’re forced to iterate, in words, that the guy next to you on the bus is unpleasantly odorous and you want Jersey Mike’s for dinner)

A few weeks into the relationship, I’m no longer completely overcome with cognitive dissonance whenever I check my email on my phone or earn “Pâtissier” status on QuizUp.

Even with the newfound ability to send any food icon via text, FaceTime Matt from 20 feet away or IMDB actors in the middle of a TV show without turning on my MacBook, I think the feature I’m most smitten with is, simply, the ringtone.

Whereas the 19 year-old me would’ve pored over this decision (Is a Sharon Van Etten ringtone too glum? Death Cab for Cutie too obvious? “Pass the Courvoisier Part II” too ironic?), my current self seemed quite sure of what needed to happen.

In less time than it would take to scroll through my (not very updated) iTunes, this was set as my incoming call sound.  Yes, it’s the ear bug that plays faintly throughout Vicky Cristina Barcelona and no, I don’t see this as some indirect political move given Woody Allen’s recent real estate in the New York Times‘ Opinion pages.

Just a simple song, that I don’t even know the translation to, and whose lyrics I have no intention of asking Siri about.

Now, for some rice.


Arroz (Spanish Rice)
Makes ~4 servings. Adapted from Mom.

1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 c white rice
1/4 yellow onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped (maybe 3 if you’re using Roma/plum tomatoes)
3/4 of a small can of tomato juice
1 large coffee mug’s worth of chicken broth OR hot water w/a cube of bouillon dissolved in it (so precise)

Get the prep work out of the way first: chop the onion, garlic and tomatoes, and heat your broth/bouillon mixture.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Once shimmering, add the rice and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until it begins to brown. Next, add the onions and garlic, continuing to stir (I know all this arm work sounds like the start of a maddening risotto venture, but it’s really not.) Add a bit more oil if things start to look arid.

Next, add the chopped tomatoes, tomato juice and 3/4 of your broth. Bring to a boil, cover and turn the heat down to medium-low. Let everything simmer until most of the broth is gone and the rice is tender (20ish minutes). If the rice still looks stiff, feel free to add more of the leftover broth and let simmer for a couple more minutes.

Once the liquid is totally evaporated, take the pot off of the heat. Cover the rice with a couple folded-up paper towels and put the lid back on (this keeps things tender until eatin’ time.)




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