I’d already had a long day: First I took a bus to a train, since I’d booked my flight at a local, out-of-the-way Italian airport (it was cheap!). Then I took a plane to another airport, snoozed through a layover, and hopped on a second jet. By the time I landed in Sweden, it was 11 pm and I was exhausted.
I picked up my bag and walked outside. I flagged a taxi and flopped into the seat, handing the driver a slip of paper with the name of my hostel on it.
“Honey, you’re not in Stockholm.”
“You’re not in Stockholm.”
He grinned comically at me through the rearview mirror. After a few minutes, I learned that I’d booked my flight into an airport near Stockholm. And by “near,” the website meant 2 hours from the city center. I’d need to take another bus to the city, then a taxi from there to my hostel. I started to sob.
The poor cab driver didn’t know what to do. He came around the side of the car, opened the door for me, and lead me to the giant bus that was about to pull away. I threw my bag into the luggage compartment and took the last open seat on the bus, right next to a very wide man who smelled like boiled potatoes and body odor. Smashed between him and the window, I stared at my reflection as tears poured down my cheeks.
I was 20 years old, then, and that was my first solo trip. I eventually met up with a friend in Stockholm the next day, and we spent the following week attending ice dancing shows in a language we couldn’t understand, eating pints of Ben and Jerry’s, polishing off many meat-and-potato plates, and exploring the charming city’s coffee shops. As a silver lining, I ended up traveling back to Denmark with my friend, where I stayed with her host family for a few nights (that bus-flight-flight-train-bus scenario was, as you can imagine, too daunting to re-execute). Copenhagen was one of the best places I visited during that year abroad.
As I sat on that bus, I typed an email to my mom into my old cell phone — an email that I still have and pull up on occasion when I need to remind myself that things are rarely as bad as they seem. Someday, things that go horribly wrong might even seem funny.
Roasted Potatoes with Indian Spiced Yogurt
Makes enough potatoes for 4 people, as a side dish.
- 6-8 medium-sized potatoes (I’ve made this recipe with purple potatoes, red potatoes, white potatoes, yellow potatoes, fingerling potatoes, petite potatoes, and sweet potatoes. I’d stay away from russet potatoes, but everything else is fair game.)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 t fresh chives
- 1/3 cup yogurt
- 1 t garam masala (a mix of cumin and paprika will also work)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch chunks (skins on), then toss them with the olive oil and coat liberally with salt and pepper.
Throw the potatoes onto a baking sheet in a single layer and bake them for 15 minutes. Then, toss the potatoes around to make sure they’re cooked evenly and roast for another 15 minutes. You’ll know that the potatoes are done when you can prick them with a fork easily, and when the edges of the potatoes are crispy and golden brown.
In a small bowl, mix the yogurt with garam masala and chives. Drizzle the yogurt sauce over the top of the warm potatoes, tossing them to coat. Enjoy warm or reheated the next day (they’re just as good then!).