Or: the Trials and Tribulations of an Uptown Girl with a Boyfriend from Old Europe

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Location: Basel, Switzerland

Friday, January 26, 2007

Let me eat cake!

Today, as everyone in the press has been pointing out, is the coldest on record in two years. Including the wind chill, this morning it clocked in well below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. This comes after weeks of unseasonable warmth: at the beginning of the month, I was able to go for a bike ride in shorts and a short-sleeved jersey! So, even though winter is my favorite season, right now I'm happy to remain ensconced in my apartment, organizing my papers and consuming the last of the amazing chocolate mousse cake that my sister dropped off Monday night for my birthday. For someone who can't eat wheat, she can sure pick 'em.

I spent much of the day on the phone, changing my address of record to Switzerland. People's reactions were quite varied. The Indian operators couldn't have cared less. What's more, they were easily confused. "What?" one asked. "The street number comes after the street name?" The German tendency to mash a bunch of normal words into one gigantic superword didn't help: a second representative was panting by the time she spelled my address back to me. (I have no idea why she didn't take a breath in between letters.)

But another lady with a lilting Southern accent was genuinely thrilled for me. She'd spent time in Italy when she was fifteen, she told me, and dreamed of going back. We compared notes on our respective countries. Talking with her was almost like chatting with a friend, and it made me positively cheerful about the imminent move.

Until I got off the phone and surveyed my apartment again, and that now-familiar lump of dread settled back into the pit of my stomach. I've been walking back and forth from the living room to the bedroom, touching favorite things and mentally preparing myself for the possibility that I'll never see any of it again. Shipping overseas does have risks, as the recent windstorm that lashed Europe proved. At least one container ship, I read, was wrecked in the English Channel, where beachcombers had a field day picking up bottles of perfume and engine parts. Yes, that's what insurance is for, but when it costs 2.5% of declared value, I simply can't cover everything. Which is why I've only listed the most valuable and breakable stuff: furniture, artwork, wine glasses and dishes, etc. If my ship really does go down, I'm not going to be happy.

Funny, isn't it? I never considered myself materialistic, and yet I'm so attached to my belongings! Filling out the insurance valuation form was another reality check. If you saw the way I dress, you'd never guess how much money I've spent over the years on clothes and shoes. Note to self: Un-Swiss Miss if you're going to spend like that, you might as well stop looking like a slob.

The good news is, I'm almost done cleaning out my pantry. I've even had to go grocery shopping! For lunch I made a delicious pasta out of ingredients I had lying around. (A triumph, since I thought I had nothing meal-worthy in the house.) It was quite simple:

Cappellini with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Mozzarella

2 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup frozen spinach
2 oz whole-milk mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/8 package of angel's hair pasta
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put a pot of water on the stove to boil.

In the meantime, sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat until fragrant, but not yet golden. Add mushrooms and cook until softened, sprinkling a few spoonfuls of water over, as necessary, to keep the mushrooms from sticking to the pan. Toss in spinach, balsamic vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to low and set aside.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water and drain. Toss pasta with spinach-mushroom mixture and mozzarella cubes. Adjust salt and pepper as necessary, drizzle with good-quality olive oil, and serve.

Makes enough for 1 hungry Un-Swiss Miss or 2 normal people.

Yes, it's filled with garlicky goodness, but trust me: I'm not kissing anyone tonight.

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Blogger Jessica Brogan said...

wow, you're really doing it! ready to make the big move? at least you are getting your stuff over. I actually cried when Jon and I went to buy all our stuff for our apartment there, because i have it ALL here in my mom's basement...and it's still sitting here, an ocean away.
can't wait to meet ya!

January 27, 2007 at 3:18 AM  
Blogger Un-Swiss Miss said...

I keep telling myself that I'll be happier to have my stuff than not. But it's so expensive to ship! And I still might lose it all!

Are you going to bring your things over eventually? I think you have a year's period to do so duty-free, after you move. (And another few months after a wedding.)

January 27, 2007 at 8:59 PM  
Anonymous ale said...

waw! be excited!! whenever it is that i move, i'm not bringing my stuff. the things i really want i figure i'll just "pick" up on my visits... eventually will transport it all :) when is the planned move if not a secret?

January 29, 2007 at 7:47 PM  
Blogger Un-Swiss Miss said...

I wish I could take my things one trip at a time! Unfortunately, it's a little hard to stuff a Kitchenaid stand mixer into a suitcase... not to mention a dining table!

January 29, 2007 at 10:12 PM  
Blogger Un-Swiss Miss said...

Oh, and the move: TOMORROW! (That's 1/30, though I'm not flying out until 2/9.)

January 29, 2007 at 10:13 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Hi - I just moved from the NYC area to Basel about 3 weeks ago. We're in a temporary apartment while everything we own comes over on the boat. I'm not materialistic either but I miss my couch and my bed and stupid other stuff. Also, we tried really hard to clean out our pantry but still ended up with half-empty bottles of vinegars, oils, syrups, etc. Before we knew it, the movers boxed it all. They said the only things they couldn't take are refrigerated items. So maybe we get lucky and everything gets here ok, or maybe it's a disaster. Anyway, good luck with your move!

January 29, 2007 at 10:23 PM  

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