Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Slow-Cooked Beef Ragu

A story of awkwardness: being alone in a crowded place. A couple of months ago, I was at a bar on a Friday evening; three bands were playing and I knew a few of the musicians from work. I still had one crutch with me. (It had been five weeks since I had a bad tumble while running and injured my knee.) The bar was packed, and I’m sure the number of people would have been against fire regulations in another country.

I found a seat against the back wall and propped my crutch up behind me. A few friends were nearby and chatting with me, but eventually they went to mingle and I was alone. Sitting there by myself in a packed bar, I began to feel very awkward. I worked hard to relax the pit-of-my-stomach tenseness and sit there with a pleasant look on my face.

I decided not to take the easiest way out: to look at my phone. When alone, it is certainly acceptable to do so. But I decided that if I wanted any other friends to come up to me then I should probably not. Since I couldn’t move (it was so tightly packed and I had my crutch), it was my hope that someone else would come over. But they didn’t. So I bobbed my head along to the music, which I was genuinely enjoying. And I hope that my awkwardness didn’t show.

This story came to mind when I was reading a blog that had a weekly feature called “awkward and awesome Thursday”--it was a post about things the writer had done that were awkward and embarrassing and also things that had been awesome over the past week. And there were some seriously awkward ones, things that perhaps I would not have admitted to online, because I’m an introvert. I find it hard to expose myself and my real ideas in person, let alone online.

Also I was reading a list of prompts for talking to your loved ones and friends more deeply. One question was "Are there any laws or social rules that completely baffle you?" And I must say, this question struck a chord with me because I immediately thought, I would just like to know what the social rules are! It baffles me that others know them and I don’t always. How am I really supposed to navigate the “alone in a crowded bar” scenario? Is there any way to start a conversation with those around me without feeling or looking like a lonely loser? Do others know how to do this or is it just my own awkwardness?

Meanwhile, this slow-cooked beef ragu is a quiet kind of dish for a quiet weekend at home among one or two friends. It's a Donna Hay recipe, and calls for a very slow, three hour pot cooking of beef brisket. It is comforting--good for the day after reminiscing about an awkward bar experience, for instance.

This dish is part of our Wednesdays with Donna Hay blogging group. If you want to join us, next week we are making dukkah-roasted chicken with couscous and tahini yogurt. You are welcome to join us; no long term commitment is required. Visit the others in my blogging group to see if they liked the recipe.

Thankfully, I never feel awkward in one-on-one situations. Also online is an easier place to feel comfortable. What about you? Have you been in any awkward social situations recently?

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