The Best No Deposit And Deposit Casino Welcome Bonuses To Earn Right Now

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mFortune

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GoWin

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PocketWin

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We hope this guide, which has been provided by Casinoslots has been helpful and thank you for reading. We’ll see you again next week.

State of iOS Gaming in 2019

– Guys, I’ve got my hands on the new 11 inch iPad Pro. And because of this today we’re going to have a look at what is the current state of gaming on iOS devices. So, gaming on iOS has always been incredibly popular. The app store is one of the most iconic and well known places for downloading games on a mobile device.

But in recent years with the addition of Metal support we’re seeing more amazing games with high end graphics and amazing vistas come to our platform. We’re also seeing new hardwares that have new improved chips and stunning HD displays. Because of this new hardware we’re also seeing more augmentive reality games.

So, for this video I’m going to be demonstrating all these games on this 11 inch iPad Pro. Doing this will give us the best ability to see what it is like to play more high end games. And the GPU here offers Xbox One S performance which is really remarkable. So let’s get into having a look at some of the games here. Right, so the first game we have here is Sky which is an upcoming game.

Luckily the developers gave me a beta code for the game so we’re able to see what it offers in an early access state. It’s going to be an online kind of crop game where you can explore worlds with people and you have to kind of collect light. This is going to be an Apple exclusive game at first How the hell do I jump Alright there we go This is going to be an Apple exclusive game at first for Mac, iOS and Apple TV which is really cool that the developers are showing such love and dedication towards our platforms which is really nice. This is a really breathtaking game, it’s got great vistas and it’s just such small little details like right now I’m just spinning on the ground there. But this game is a very good example of what developers are doing with the Metal API on our system.

Creating breathtaking vistas and just really exciting game play. Next I wanted to talk about a new service added to the iOS app store which is PS4 remote play. This app allows you to access your PS4 wherever you go via Wifi connection. You can use the onscreen controller to control your PS4.

It’s worth noting that a DualShock 4 controller, and using your own mobile data is currently not supported on the app. But regardless, it’s a great new feature if you’re away from home and want to play some of your favorite PS4 games. Or if someone is using the TV and you can’t use it.

Alright up next we have GRID Autosport. So this game was ported iOS by Feral Interactive back in 2017. However in late 2018, this game has been heavily updated for iOS.

And this is just a phenomenal game that is basically a console game that has been ported to iOS. Now what’s also good about this game is that it offers full controller support. Which is great because I’m really bad at playing with just my fingers. Also with this stupid thing in my hand. So let’s just pause the game and I’ll get a controller that we can use, a bluetooth one. So here we have the SteelSeries Nimbus which is sold by Apple.

I don’t have a case for this iPad so to stand it up I’m just going to use four little blocks of wood. Bit unorthodox but hey, you do what you do. This is a really great game that is demonstrating controller support here. Yeah this is offering pretty much a console experience right here on your iOS and it is just stunning. This game has remarkable graphics, it has car damage and this iPad Pro is a great demonstration of the gaming power offered by GRID Autosport. Alright so up next we have, I don’t know how to play this game but it’s NBA 2K mobile basketball.

These guys who brought these games to iOS have always been great because they pretty much bring the whole fully fleshed out experience to the palm of your hands. Now this new NBA version offers great, great features for the iOS. So NBA has seamless motion matchmaking and inverse kinetics. Now this can deliver an ultimate number of animations here.

Which means all fans in the background are individually rendered. All details on player bodies is just to the point where they’ve got sweat, they’ve got pinholes in jerseys they’ve got detail in the hair and we’ve got actual personal tattoos by the NBA players themselves. And it overs anti-aliasing I think it’s pronounced and we’ve got HDR bloom and depth of field. This is all running at a seamless 60 frames per second here.

Incredible. Alright, so the next game we have here is Assassins Creed Rebellion. Now I’m only going to quickly talk over this game because it has one major feature. Which is that it can run at 120 frames per second on here because this is a 120 Hertz display. So it really does show here. It is just so seamless, if you’ve never experienced 120 frames, it is just remarkable compared to 60 frames.

If you’re into frame rates, you’re in for a real treat here. Up next is Shadowgun the Legends. Which is my favorite first person shooter game on iOS.

– Wanna kick some alien ass? – Shadowgun legends offers great graphics and also really exciting gameplay that is similar to Destiny. Okay, so this is the first level but it’s still a good demonstration. So this iPad Pro allows me to play at this game’s ultra quality settings.

So I’m playing ultra-high 60 frames per second and it looks great. This game can also work on iOS devices ranging all the way back to like the iPad Air 2 it’s very well optimized but it does look fantastic on more high end iOS devices such as this iPad Pro. But, yeah this is a really great game and I said it’s quite similar to Destiny being able to play online with other players and also being able to go to different worlds like to missions, it’s just a really, it’s a great fully fleshed experience that you can expect from this game. Here we have my favorite AR game which is Euclidean Skies. Now this game can be in the normal mode or obviously in the AR mode. You scan your surface, which in this instance is my table and you can see a little bit of the set.

Whoah, I’m right on the side of it. So here we have I don’t know what you call this but the level with this girl you basically have to move her to the end of this path here to the door. You can move level around, you can move all the different axes if that’s what you call it but let’s get this girl to the end of this level. So we can spin this little dinosaur arm that way, spin her that way, move her there. Back over here, where is she?

And then, I can kill this man and then I can go to the door. And then you pretty much move on to the next level. There’s also another AR game which is Kings of Pool. Okay so, let’s put the pool table right here. And as you can see, it’s all stuck to the environment and when you move around it stays there, which is really good. So let’s have a little bit of a shot here, Pull this back.

Bang. In general, I’m not very good at pool. Okay so here we have My Caterpillar which is our next AR game. And this one is obviously a children’s game but it just gives you a really good demonstration of the AR possibilities here.

You get to interact with this little caterpillar, and you can give him little toys to play with. See it’s all tracking to this table and as you move around it’s all still there. And because of the really great camera on this iPad Pro it’s all able to track in real time. Here we have everyone’s favorite iOS game it’s one of the most downloaded apps on iOS it’s obviously Fortnite. Fortnite has recently added controller support. While the iOS hand controls were fine, things are just so much better with this controller.

(sounds of chopping wood) This game is able to run at its epic quality setting and at the epic settings for the quality it is running at 30 frames per second but then at high settings it’s able to run at 60 frames per second. I’m not going to play much of this game because everyone knows everything about it already. Isn’t that just lovely?

Isn’t that just a lovely design? I would live in that if I had the chance. So, the last thing I want to talk about is screen mirroring right to a television or a display using the Apple TV. You can just go on your iOS device, screen mirroring and then you can connect right to your display.

This is great because it can be just like playing a console you can sit back on a couch and just enjoy yourself. So let’s beat up NBA. Now obviously the iPad is at an aspect ratio of four by three so that’s why it isn’t taking up the whole screen real estate but it still looks really good in my opinion. And it really does demonstrate how great this game does work. And it’s still able Okay no, okay So that is gaming on iOS today in 2019. It is pretty good, we’ve got some really great high end games on this system now thanks to the addition of Metal.

Metal has been around for a while but it’s getting better and better with more developers utilizing this framework to bring really great games to our system. And AR is finally starting to take off. It’s not fully there yet but we are seeing some really creative things that companies are doing. Even if it is just a children’s game it’s still really cool. I hope you guys enjoyed this video if you did, you know what to do leave a like and subscribe for more content about iOS gaming.

Thanks for watching. Bye.

The Future of Virtual Reality: Crash Course Games

Hi, I’m Andre Meadows and this is Crash Course Games. Today we’re going to take a look at what seems to be a cutting-edge new gaming technology that has actually been around for decades: Virtual Reality. People have been trying to create and experience truly immersive worlds like what you see in the holodeck on Star Trek for years. But none of these attempts have had any staying power.

But why is that? By the looks of the huge Kickstarter out pour for the Oculus Rift VR headset in 2012, lots of citadel casinos canada players want, or at least think they want, VR Games. And the industry has responded with headsets from some of the largest technology giants.

But even now, we’re still in the early stages of VR and there’s still a lot of uncertainty. So let’s take a look at how far the technology has come and hopefully we’ll get a better idea if it’s finally here to stay. [Theme Music] Virtual Reality has actually been a recurring aspect throughout game history. It attempts to deliver us a deeply enhanced experience by immersing us in the worlds that populate our games. This feeling is one of the core experiences game developers and game designers seek for their players. The lower the barriers into the alternate realities presented by games, the easier it is for players to feel transported to another world.

Over the years these attempts have had varying degrees of success to say the least. Some of the very first attempts involved art that surrounded and immersed people. Giant, full 360 degree panoramic paintings, such as the Panorama Mesdag by Hendrik Wilhem Mesdag in 1881, have popped up throughout history. They were found in the 12th century dynasties of China and more recently in 17th and 18th century Europe. The term “panorama” was coined by an Irish painter, Robert Barker, to describe the massive, fully cylindrical paintings he made depicting Scotland in 1792. And scientist Charles Wheatstone showed in 1838 how the human mind combines similar 2D imagery into 3D imagery.

When two identical images are placed close enough together, our mind merges them and can make them appear three-dimensional. These early findings were the first stereoscopic images. They gave viewers a deep sense of immersion when they were viewed through appropriately named stereoscopes.

These handheld devices would come with images from around the world. The most famous of these devices was the 1939 View-Master by William Gruber. In literature, Pygmalion’s Spectacles, written by Stanley G. Wienbaum in 1935, describes people of the future experiencing entirely new worlds that involve tasting food, touching fabric, and smelling flowers all through a head-mounted display.

And these ideas were implemented in Morton Heilig’s 1950’s Sensorama. It combined full face-immersion with a stereoscopic 3D display and also had fans, smell generators, stereo speakers and even a vibrating chair to thrust people into full sensory films like Dune Buggy, Belly Dance, A Date with Sabrina, and my personal favorite, I’m a Coca-Cola Bottle. It wasn’t a game by any means but it was a huge step towards immersive experiences. Morton Heilig went on to create a new device called the Telesphere mask which really looks like a prototype Oculus Rift and was worn over the eyes.

And in 1968, Professor Ivan Sutherland and a student created the gigantic Sword of Damocles VR device. It was too heavy to be worn and had to be suspended from the ceiling but it did show basic computer-generated wireframe objects and rooms that they could exist in. So as you can see virtual reality has been around for a long time, but the term Virtual Reality wasn’t coined until 1987. The founder of the Visual Programming Lab or VPL, Jaron Lanier, used the term to describe all of the devices his company was creating. They created the first VR goggles and the Dataglove that could work with the VR imagery. About this time VR began to get noticed by the public thanks to the Virtuality Group.

VR could be found in various public arenas, most commonly in local malls. The company created many arcade games and VR machines that could hold multiple players in one contiguous virtual space. Players would strap into large, bulky chairs, otherwise known as VR-Pods, and then don massive, neck-breaking, head mounted displays.

And the games pretty weird. Like, Dactyl Nightmare: up to 4 players bounced around a series of floating, checker-bordered platforms, while dodging the neon-green pterodactyls that swooped around them. That was a game. VR also showed up in the home console markets. One of the earliest attempts was the 3D-Imager peripheral for the Vectrex console released in 1984. But it was retired the same year it was released due to the Great Video Game Crash of North America.

Almost a decade later, Sega actually tried to start a new VR craze when it debuted the Sega VR headset for the Sega Genesis at the 1993 Consumer Electronics Show, but it was never released. Sega claimed that the experience was going to be too “real” for audience but it has been reported that the limited processing power of the Sega systems at the time could not adequately create a feasible 3D experience. And the next major entry in console gaming VR: the Nintendo Virtual Boy, released in 1995. The device, also known as the VR-32, was famous, or infamous, for its games with only two colors, black and red. It cost around $180 and had very few games.

Players also reported that the Virtual Boy caused headaches and eyestrain, sometimes for up to an hour after playing. The Virtual Boy was discontinued 1 year after its release. And that seemed like the end of consumer VR. But in recent years, the technology has come thundering back with the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, and the Playstation VR.

Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. In 2011, 18 year old inventor Palmer Luckey was frustrated with the existing selection of head-mounted displays for gaming, so he decided to build his own. He debuted the Oculus Rift on Kickstarter in 2012. And with the vocal support of ID Software’s John Carmack, the father of First Person Shooters, quickly raised $2.5 million dollars, proving once again that there was still an audience that wanted this whole VR thing to work out. By 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus for $2 billion dollars, and the Rift was officially released in March of 2016.

The Rift notably included much higher resolution displays, a wider field of view, and a significantly reduced lag time, which produced a much less nauseating experience. The industry quickly followed with HTC’s release of the Vive in April of 2016 in partnership with the Valve Corporation. The Vive platform encourages open development through the Steam Workshop and utilizes a novel room scale technology that seems like it’ll have a lot of important uses like keeping players from running into walls. Gaming behemoth Sony also will launch its own headset, the PlayStation VR, in October of 2016. The device will work with a Playstation 4, significantly lowering the price barrier, as compared to the other headsets that require a more expensive PC to process the graphics.

The Playstation VR is also in an interesting position as it will be able to leverage its existing developer relationships and current install base to bring lots of new players and games to the VR genre. Thanks Thought Bubble! And did those devices seem expensive to you? Well, there are more affordable VR devices on the market, like Google’s Cardboard.

And that’s just not a name — the Cardboard is just that cardboard. It’s an inexpensive viewing device that turns a smartphone into a VR viewer. Google’s goal with this low-cost device is to encourage development for VR applications. And their efforts seem to be successful as there are now over 1,000 applications compatible with the Cardboard. But Google’s is not the only contender for phone based VR.

Samsung has teamed up with Oculus to create a VR headset that is compatible with their Galaxy phones. This device serves as a consumer friendly headset that will only set you back about $100 as opposed to Oculus’ $600. Granted you still need to purchase the phone too. That’s where they get you. VR is also starting to expand into other entertainment experiences.

Amusement parks are now starting to integrate VR with their rides. Six Flags just opened their newest VR coaster, The New Revolution, which promises a complete immersive experience combining the physical sensation of the coaster with a VR experience that will place you “in a futuristic battle to save the planet from an alien invasion.” There’s even a virtual reality theme park called The Void being built in Pleasant Grove, Utah. The Void will be a mixed reality attraction dedicated to VR experiences that blend VR with physical environments and haptic feedback to provide a convincing virtual world that employs even more of your senses! All that and we haven’t even talked about Augmented Reality Games – games that are overlaid on the real world.

These games aren’t exactly virtual reality, but are very closely related. The most notable one right now is of course Pokemon Go. Sorry Pickachu. I’ll catch you later. So with all these advances in VR gaming, new and actually pretty convincing worlds are forming inside these game spaces.

And yes, there are still some existing problems like the field of view on these devices isn’t quite as wide as it should be. And players have to be tethered to large, heavy computers. And we still haven’t quite figured out how best for a player to move around in a small room. But it’s VR! It’s so cool! And at the same time these VR experiences are growing rapidly in player adoption and immersion capabilities.

Never before have we been able to participate in these worlds as we can today. And with the continued improvements in technology as well as seemingly huge selection of games on the horizon, virtual reality might, MAYBE, be here to stay. Only time will tell.

Thanks for watching and we’ll see you next time. Either real or virtually. Crash Course Games is filmed in the Chad and Stacey Emigholz Studio in Indianapolis, Indiana. And it’s made with the help of all these nice people.

If you’d like to keep Crash Course free for everyone forever, you can support the series at Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows you to support the content you love. Speaking of Patreon, we’d like to thank all our patrons in general, and we’d like to specifically thank our High Chancellor of Knowledge, Morgan Lizop, and our Vice Principal, Michael Hunt. Thank you for your support.

Las Vegas VIP Club Fashion Tips

Today we are in Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Ironically enough at the ah wedding chapel in Planet Hollywood. The information that Chez has to give us is awesome because everyone from around the world is a ble to go to Las Vegas and go to like the best nightclub and get really dressed up and be fabulous.

Where not everybody necessarily on a Red Carpet or can go to Los Angeles to go to a nightclub. But here in Vegas everyone can come and Im sure everybody wa n ts to get into the hottest nightclubs. Well luckily we have someone we have Chez with us and he does work all of the hottest nightclubs in Las Vegas. So he knows his stuff. Chez you consider yourself to be a VIP promotional host correct.

Thats correct yeah . Can you kinda share with us how that works for you. My job is to basically walk around profile individuals and groups of people who are ah prospects to go inside and are dressed in the right attire and hopefully arent too tipsy. Haha thats true.Because t hen they wont let you in. Basically I profile people for our nightclubs. I actually met Chez one night where I was in LA I went to a red carpet I flew on a plane came here and I was walking around a casino like all dolled up and he approached me he was li k e hey do you wanna you know now go into this club and I was like Oh I dont know you know.

Hes no really Ill hook you up. Im ok and I ended up going in. Long story short we became really good friends and now whenever I come to Vegas hes a great friend to h a ve for helping me get into cool clubs that you know.

Thats right. normal people cant really get into. You know a lot about mens fashion when it comes to club promotion because obviously you are dressed really nicely whenever I see you. And you are like yo u said you profile people.

Of course our show is about looking good and fashion and all that kinda fun stuff. So from a mens point of view what kind of tips and tricks can you give for ah going into clubs and stuff for a guy. In Las Vegas basically theres f or the guys theres more dos and donts for guys. Women have better fashion than then ah men do.

So its usually never have any issues with women getting them into the club pretty much no matter what they are wearing. Its more of a dos and donts for guys. Li k e the donts basically the tan hide boots white shoes any kind of like cargo pants or shorts and then just like plain collared tshirt um tees. Basically you dont wear any combination of that whatsoever.

Even if youre just like wearing jeans and a white and a white tee youre not guaranteed to get in.Its key for men especially with mens fashion because obviously thats what were all about on the show is um you know to just dress nice you know just really honestly present yourself in a really nice manner. Dont c ome in looking like you know a thug. Like youre just off the couch. Rolled off the couch off the street exactly. Basically men have two options you wear you wear designer jeans or you wear like dress slacks and then obviously you wear like nice shoes look i ng polished hopefully.

You know not too many scruffs Im just kidding. Ha Ha Sports jackets you dont have to wear a tie all the time. If you do end up wearing a sports jacket its nice to wear the 70s style with the collars that are out and then your cuffli n ks that are clipped up. One of the styles that are coming back is like its like the retro paisley if its done in good taste but it doesnt look like it came from the 70s but its more like our style. Its dressy and classy without having to be like in a suit and tie you know in all of type.

Thats basically the minimum of what you can what you need to wear in order to get into a club properly without having any issues or getting hungup or getting sent to the back of the line. Ha Ha. So to speak. Do you see tha t a lot of men do maybe perhaps show up in suits and ties or wear kind of how does that work.

Not very many suits and ties mostly if you go to like a 5 star lounge type of place. They do because they specialize most mostly in like bottle service. You go to the nightclubs unless theres a big convention or venue out you dont see a lot of people wearing suits and ties.

Theyre mostly theyve got their theyve got the jackets off you know the ties are a little bit unloose you know what I mean. So its kind of more a laid back type of environment and its not really necessary if youre going to a nightclub you know plus it gets hot in there and So Its best just to be relaxed with your attire and um not having to wear your jacket plus still looking good at the same time . And ties you know shirts you know suits and ties without the jacket is perfect as well. And its interesting because everything that Chez is sharing um it its the same way for the red carpets. You know there are some red carpets where men have to show up w earing a suit and tie thats just thats just the way it is. Its like you just expect it.

But then theres other ones where just exactly what youre saying maybe just the just kinda loose tie or kinda this look or that look. Sometimes you can wear designer je a ns but you dont want the jeans to look really bad you know its very similar with mens fashion on the red carpet also. And thats really interesting actually kind of kinda goes over goes over everything. The thing to remember as a male coming into like a h o t hot Las Vegas nightclub is um coming up to a host or knowing a host and and really having that relationship.

Having the host walk you to the door and you were mentioning ah tipping the host. The key in Vegas is its most important to have a host take you to a club. Most of the time it gets you to the front of the line depending on what kind of venues youre going on. Youre either going to pay to get into a club or youre not gonna pay to get into a club. Heh heh yes basically you need to find yourself a hos t in Vegas and always tip your host. Depending on who youre talking to a lot of us work on commission and tips and then some people are on salary but generally everybody accepts a good tip.

Course you want to get into other nightclubs if you just go into o n e nightclub for the evening you can always go back and ask your host if they can put you on a list for another 4 or 5 star nightclub down the street maybe for the next day or for the next night. Then basically youve got someone on speed dial you can call u p for all of your needs. If you do show up and you do look really good and lets say perhaps you dont have a host a host will actually find you.

Whereas if you come and you look kinda sloppy and youre walking around youre gonna end up waiting in line for t h ree hours to get into a hot club and then youre gonna have to pay a ton of money to get in. So thats another reason why lets say maybe you dont have the best fashion sense it might pay to go out and buy something before you go to a really really nice Las V egas club just so you can meet someone like Chez who will pick you out and say Hey do you want to come in. And so do you have any additional comments or anything else that you want to share with our viewers.The key for gentlemen if youve just got a big gr o up of guys your best bet honestly is to buy a bottle service because then you get your own spot and thats easier for you to have more for them to have more fun in the club if you heh heh. If you do wanna pick up on the ladies if you have a table with bott l e service. Exactly.

Hint Hint. Exactly. And if you dont do a bottle service usually you have to pay to get into the nightclub. So even if youre on the guest list there still may they still might charge you to get on the guest list.

But if you come with a 1 to 1 ratio or like a 1 to 3 ratio you know 2 guys 6 girls or you know 2 and 2 then its easier to be on the guest list and not have to pay to get in and then even so once youre on a guest list you still need to find a host thats around the area so you get treated properly and when you get to the front door and theyll explain to you all the dos and donts for the club and while youre waiting in line. And then obviously when it comes to women and Im sure Chez youll probably agree with this the sexier the bett e r. I mean when youre gonna go to a Las Vegas club just go all out have fun wear your best dress. Put on your most popular fabulous jewelry and do your hair and makeup. Why not youre in Las Vegas. So as long as you look great not only will people like Chez be able to pick you out and be like hey do you want to come into this club VIP for free.

But also youre gonna have fun guys are gonna check you out. Its gonna be a lot of great times. So just do your best and really take the time to get ready before you g o to a Las Vegas club especially if its a 4 or 5 star one. My name is Kristin McCoy with Red Carpet Fashionistas coming to you live from Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas at the Wedding Chapel and uh Chez since were here.Yes. Um do you ah do you have any shoul d we get married. I mean were here right it is Vegas.

Remember were not supposed to walk up there. Oh yeah thats true Supposed we cant actually go up there. Well maybe next time maybe next time so again thanks for tuning in and thank you so much Chez for t he interview I really appreciate it. Have a great one.

TOP 14 Best Romances in PC Video Games

Valentine’s Day has put us in quite a romantic mood and what better way to spend the holiday of love than by playing a game with a great romantic subplot? Whether you’re spending this time alone or with a significant other, we’re sure you’ll appreciate those fourteen amazing interactive love stories, so let’s dive in! Warning: this list is not spoiler free! Saints Row IV Volition’s insane gangster simulator makes fun of many video games tropes, and romance is just one aspect parodied by the fourth installation of the series. The Boss can easily challenge Commander Shepard when it comes to romantic prowess – they get to have a tryst with all the crew members, including the blue-eyed floating younger brother of HAL-9000.

All it takes is initiating the conversation and pressing the correct button, perfecting (or satirising) the simplistic and straightforward romance mechanics in BioWare’s games. The romance between Corvo and Emperess Jessamine is quite low key, and the two don’t share much time on screen during the gameplay. However, the backstory makes it clear that the two had been lovers for a long time, and the fruit of this tryst was Emily Kaldwin – the girl we need to rescue in Dishonored 1 and an adult, fully-trained assassin-Empress in the sequel.

It’s a shame Jessamine only got a brief appearance, and it’s downright terrifying that one of the gadgets in Corvo’s disposal is her still-beating heart. The premise of the game might be considered controversial, because 1) it’s a visual novel slash dating sim and 2) it focuses on romantic relations between dads. But the game is surprisingly wholesome, as well as funny, cheeky and self-aware. There is a bunch of dads to romance, coming from all walks of life, from rebels to more settled and mellow, to dark and brooding types, and there’s enough personality thrown in there to make sure it’s not just a boink-a-thon usually expected in the genre. In order to resurrect his beloved Mono, who had been sacrificed to avert a catastrophic event, our hero, Wander, is ready to make a literal deal with the devil. Of course nothing ever is easy, and the deal goes south in a way that would make Greek tragedies consider it harsh.

Wander’s attempt to bring Mono back causes the second coming of a demon, the hero dies in the process, Mono potentially ends up possessed by the female half of said demon. Oh, and a weird horned baby is found, suggesting further hurt. To paraphrase Meat Loaf: he would do anything for love, but he shouldn’t have done that. Dominic Santiago and Maria Flores had a nice life, living as a family with their two kids and a white picket fence, probably.

But everything changed when the Locust attacked. During the Emergence day the kids died, and Maria herself disappeared without a trace, only to be found later on, merely a husk of herself after enduring heavy torture at the hands of the Locust. The wedding vows say ” ’till death do us part”, but after euthanising Maria to end her suffering Dominic couldn’t move on so easily. The story of Dom and Maria struck a chord with many fans of the bombastic shooter series, and with good reason. Seeing it unfold across games and books is something best experienced by oneself. Aerith and Zack?

Cloud and Aerith? Tifa and Cloud? Cid and his ship? Vincent and Lucrecia? There are several options to consider here, and most of them don’t have a happy ending. Zack appeared in Aerith’s life and died promptly after that.

Cloud smashed into her life (and flowers) and took her on an adventure that did not end well for her at all. Tifa found herself endlessly caring about the detached Cloud. Vincent spent several decades sequestered in a coffin to atone for the sin of not being able to stop Lucrecia from unwittingly becoming Hojo’s incubator for Sephiroth. Generally speaking, Sephiroth is bad news for any romantic relationship. But hey, Ferris Wheel rides are fun, right?

A story as old as time: an immortal man who lives hundreds of lives and a young tiefling raised on the streets of a bizarre city. The unlikely story of The Nameless One and Annah’s uneasy relations is rather brief when compared to other stories in the game, but it’s worth remembering nonetheless. The Nameless One and Annah tend to bicker and quarrel quite a bit, both of them headstrong and snarky, but during the events of the game there is a connection forming up in subtle ways between the lines. Sadly, the budding affection between the two broken people can’t seem to gain traction, since before long the protagonist catches up to his past, regains mortality and finds the strength to atone for the sins he committed across lifetimes. In this romantic story, Jackie and Jenny meet in an orphanage where they were raised together, and the couple is quite happy for a while… Until Jackie is adopted by a mafia boss and through a series of unfortunate events becomes the host to The Darkness, a cosmic power of evil.

After several roaring rampages of revenge and many, many nightmares, Jackie descends into Abyss to discover that The Darkness kept Jenny’s soul hostage, and in the final moments it’s revealed that she is in fact reborn as an avatar of Angelus, the force of light and good. Being possessed by opposing forces entangled in an eternal cosmic war is a challenge for even the healthiest couple, and Jackie being trapped in Hell surely didn’t make it any easier. This love was clearly cursed from the start. Shepard had already been Kirking around the galaxy when Dragon Age: Origins arrived and firmly solidified the new era of prominent romances in modern BioWare games.

The Grey Warden could romance multiple characters, but none so essential as female Warden’s possible romance with an unwilling heir to the throne, Alistair or male Warden’s with witch Morrigan, whose mysterious plan can save your character’s life. The sequel and the third instalment of the series came with new romantic options for the player characters, including various gender and race variants, and getting rid of the “give gifts and agree with everything I say to get a kiss” mechanic. Ah, Shepard.

What a trail of broken hearts you’ve left in your wake. To talk about just two ME romances is to sell these games short. Even considering just the core crew of each game, there were thirteen romantic options to choose from, though some exclusive to a particular gender. As you see, picking a particular pair isn’t easy, especially since none of them carry any importance for the overall plot.

As far as personal preference goes, it would be Tali or Liara for male Shepard and Liara or Garrus for female. What can we say, interspecies relations with aliens are fun, and the best part of them is Mordin’s medical advice on what not to do with them in the sack. The story of teenage romance between Chloe Price and Rachel Amber would be rather sweet, if not for the fact that one of the girlfriends is dead by origin story, the second leading cause of death for video game characters.

The sudden explosion of passion between those two unlikely gal-pals may or may not have been manipulative on Rachel’s end and driven by her desire to escape the town she loathed, but it sure felt real to Chloe, and Rachel’s disappearance was a devastating blow for her. Good thing Max comes back to town shortly afterwards and helps Chloe get through the trauma. Or leaves her for dead to save everyone else she knows. Choices! When you take a dashing treasure hunter and a scrappy journalist you’re in for a very interesting dynamic whenever they butt heads.

They clash, make up, break up again and get together multiple times across four games, in no small part due to Nathan, being the loveable thrill seeker that he is, unable to adjust to normal life. In the end, however, as shown in the epilogue for Uncharted 4: Among Thieves, they managed to stay married for years, and they even raised a daughter together. Unlike most stories on this list, it has a happy, wholesome ending. And that’s worth celebrating. Geralt has a way with women, especially sorceresses, but none more than Yennefer of Vengerberg and Triss Merigold. Yennefer didn’t make an appearance until the third game, but her tumultuous relationship with Geralt was a major theme of the original books about the Witcher.

The on-off relationship with Triss has been cause for some tension, and she’s been a prominent romance option in the first two games, building up the conflict for the last entry. There are many choices to make in TW3 regarding Geralt’s love life. One of the most satisfying was a chance for breaking the djinn wish binding Geralt and Yennefer together, a delightful nod to the short story describing their first meeting. So, what’s your choice? A happy, if mellow, relationship with Triss, or a passionate and stormy one with Yen?

Maybe you prefer your Geralt alone, or are saving yourself for Shani in the DLC? Just remember – trying to score with both Yen and Triss will not end well for anyone. Both of you have been riding with a gang romping around the Wild West, but you fell in love and ran away, leaving your past behind. You got a cottage, you have a son and had a daughter, free from the past you ran from. You are respectable, productive members of your community.

That’s the story of John and Abigail Marston of Red Dead Redemption before the game begins. And then the federal Bureau of Investigation comes knocking and kidnaps Abigail and Jack in order to force John into cooperation. They want the remnants of his old gang gone from the Old West. They don’t care that they have reformed, John has dropped his criminal, violent ways. The country needs you, whether you want it or not.

Red Dead Redemption has a really harsh, but captivating story, and John’s hopeless final stand so that Abigail and 16-year-old Jack can escape remains a fantastic, heartbreaking moment, possibly one of the best in the entire line-up of Rockstar games. That’s it for our list! Do you agree with our choices? Or did we forget about a love story that captivated your heart?

Can You Game on a Mac?

Now the simplest way to game on a Mac is going to be to use a streaming service such as Nvidia’s GeForce NOW. Now this is actually something that was able to work all the way onto the $200 laptop. And personally, as far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the better ways of gaming here, as long as you have a decent internet connection.

The way the streaming service like GeForce NOW works is that instead of running it on your computer, which could be a problem if you’re running a Mac and therefore can’t play a lot of games, is that instead it’s going to be streaming it from the cloud. Now the main thing to keep in mind here is that you do need to have a good internet connection. So especially when you’re playing like high intensity games such as Fortnite for example, having a good internet connection is going to be hugely vital. Alright, we’re in the game. So there’s a couple things you are going to notice with a setup like this. First of all, there’s going to be latency.

There’s always going to be some latency. So, for this it’s, I don’t know, it’s hard to tell just based on looking at it. I’d say maybe it’s like a quarter of a second or so. It doesn’t seem to be too bad. But something else that’s going to be noticeable is the reduction in image quality.

Because you’re essentially just looking at a video feed as opposed to playing the game natively. Depending on your connection, you will see some artifacts. Although, to be honest, this looks pretty close to a native set up right now. As long as you have a good internet connection, I really feel like GeForce NOW is worth a shot. Now the only thing you should keep in mind is that while it is free, it’s going to be in beta right now. And so unless you’ve actually signed up in the past, there is going to be a wait list, so it might be a little while before you can actually get your hands on the service.

But for free, especially if you wanna be able to play games on the go on something like a Mac, it really actually does make a lot of sense. Also as a side note, GeForce NOW is available on ecopayz casinos as well. So if you guys want more information on how it works, and especially on the PC side of things, I did do a full video at CES this year that you guys can go check out. Continuing on the streaming train, we have OneCast. So if you guys are familiar with Xbox One streaming on a Windows PC, it’s really straightforward. So basically as long as you have your Xbox and your Windows computer on the same network, you can stream games from your Xbox to your PC.

And generally speaking, when you’re over a very short distance, say, you know, a local network, latency’s not going to be too bad. And with OneCast, that brings that same functionality to the Mac. I actually haven’t tried this yet, so let’s give it a try.

The app is pretty straightforward, you just need to install the drivers for your Xbox One controller. Which you’re going to need. And then once you log in to your Xbox account, we hit connect, it should get us on to our Xbox. Yeah, there we go. So, if I try to scroll through here, it seems to be just like I’m playing on a normal Xbox. Alright, we’re in the game.

The first thing I’ll say is that the video quality is kind of so-so. Looks like there’s more compression than there was with GeForce NOW. Yeah, it does seem like there’s a little bit more lag than there was with GeForce NOW. The image quality is definitely not as nice. Now to be fair, you should always expect some latency. But considering that instead of running on a server, who knows how many miles away, I’m running on an Xbox, that’s only a few feet away.

That’s a little bit annoying. Yeah, I mean it’s a $20 program, which is definitely not going to be cheap. Luckily there is going to be a free trial, so you can give it a try and if it sucks you can bail on it.

But, I’ve gotta say I’m actually kinda disappointed. I think, think we can do better. Now as with any computer, whether it be PC or Mac, the GPU matters when it comes to gaming. Now higher end Macs such as the iMac, as well as the MacBook Pro 15 inch that I have here, actually do have somewhat decent GPUs inside. However when it comes to lower end stuff, such as the 13 inch MacBook Pro, the 12 inch MacBook, as well as the MacBook Air, they’re all going to have integrated graphics and are going to have a lot more trouble gaming. At least right out of the box.

Now external Thunderbolt enclosures are nothing new. But they have gotten a lot better and they’ve gotten a lot more well supported. You can see, something like an RX 580 can fit in a nice small package. But on top of that, this also will work on Windows.

All you need is a Thunderbolt 3 port, and it should be good to go. Just keep in mind that you should connect your display to the actual graphics card, as opposed to your computer. It will definitely help alleviate any kind of bottlenecks in the actual Thunderbolt 3 interface, but once you hook it up, it should be a very seamless setup. So to start out with, we’re going to be using the MacBook Pro 15 inch with it’s standard graphics card. And we’re going to be using a little game called Rocket League.

So using my Xbox One controller, I’m curious to see what kind of performance we’re gonna get here. I was able to actually crank the graphics pretty much all the way up. And it actually is not going to be too bad. So as some of you guys are probably aware, Steam is supported on the Mac.

And if you buy a game on Steam for Windows, you are going to be able to play it on the Mac, provided that there is another version. This is actually not bad at all. We’re getting 68 frames per second or so here, 67, wow this is totally playable.

Next up, let’s try to see what we can do with the actual gaming box connected. So like I was saying earlier, the setup is going to be really straightforward. We’ve got Thunderbolt 3 into the box, and then we’ve got the box going to DisplayPort, into the monitor. This is pretty nice and smooth. Although I’ve gotta say, the frame rate actually is not going to be a huge difference.

So as opposed to being in the mid 60s, instead we’re somewhere in the 80s. Oh, there we go, alright. I will say one thing, even though this is not making a massive difference, Rocket League is surprisingly playable on Mac. I honestly really can’t see any major differences. And especially with a nice high refresh rate monitor. The performance is really not going to be too bad.

So to put this whole setup to the test a little bit more, we have Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Now this is a game that is well known to be very taxing. But it’s also an interesting title because it does support Metal. Essentially the macOS version of something like DirectX 12 or Vulkan. So for some context, we’re running this right now at 1080p very high settings, on the MacBook GPU. As you can see, performance isn’t exactly great.

We’re getting somewhere in the neighborhood of well, exactly 14 frames per second. So move over to the Gigabyte Gaming Box with the RX 580 inside, and we get to see something that’s a lot more cinematic. With a whopping 24 or actually 25 frames per second now. Keep in mind, this is obviously not going to be an ideal scenario, we would really wanna probably turn the graphic settings down a little bit. But this does show that we’re getting somewhere in the neighborhood of about double the performance by plugging in an external GPU.

Next up, we have DiRT Rally. And this is a game that has some slight issues on Mac. Most notably when you have dual monitors. So I had to bust out the keyboard and close the MacBook display, so we’re only running on one monitor. But, here running at 1080p on ultra settings on the MacBook’s GPU, we’re getting somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 to 40 frames per second.

Definitely playable, but it’s not going to be the smoothest experience in the world. Now if we plug in the Gaming Box, what we’re seeing is there is going to be a little bit of a performance difference, but it’s actually not going to be that big. So for certain scenes when you’ve got the full car in view, it’s going to be only a few frames per second higher. And right now, we’re a little bit more in the 40s, Although even here, look, it’s dipping to like 38, 39.

It’s a little unusual, I’m not sure if DiRT needs an update to fully support it, or something’s going on here, but it’s a little bit better, not by a lot though. Moving right along, we have Fortnite, for what feels like the 18th time in this video. So this is running on the MacBook, and right now we’re actually running it at pretty decent settings. This is going to be 1080p on high. And at least in the sky here, it’s not too bad. And when it starts jumping out and it starts tanking, and ooh, wow, that’s, okay.

Spoke too soon. ‘Kay. Nothing like a whole lotta four frames per second… Ah, there we go, that’s better. So it seems like we are hovering around the 30 to 40 frames per second mark, but man that stuttering is not good. But I actually do wanna get a good sense of what the MacBook can do on the same settings as what we’re going to be able to run with the RX 580. Woo, that’s a, oh yeah, that’s stuttery.

So with our RX 580, what we’re seeing here is, immediately a much higher frame rate. We’re getting somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 to 50 but weirdly we’re still seeing that same stuttering issue. I’m not really sure what that is.

I mean it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be a network thing. It’s not like a latency sort of issue. Because I mean, I even get it some times when I’m just sort of scrolling around here. It’s interesting, generally speaking, Fortnite is a very well optimized game on everything from Windows PCs to iOS, but here on Mac, it seems like it’s got some issues. Okay so now that we’ve actually spawned, everything seems to be smoothed out a little bit. It’s a weird issue, ’cause it doesn’t seem to be related to sort of the power.

I mean right now, this is totally playable. I’m getting a solid 50 frames per second, 1080p high, I don’t have any complaints. Oh, but there we go, we start stuttering. Oh, then, that’s brutal. So as you guys can see, gaming on a Mac has evolved.

The idea that you can use an external GPU really does make a big difference. Especially to lower end Macs. However, the software support is definitely not fully there yet. So I’m curious, what do you guys think about gaming on a Mac? Is it something you would ever try?

Or is it something that’s best left to trained professionals? Let me know in the comments below. And I will catch you in the next one.

Deer lord a party card game

Hi! I’m Dries, this is Dennis. Together we made a party game called DEER LORD! The game is perfect for a group of friends who like to manipulate, deceive and confuse each other.

The game consists out of 2 types of cards. The DUEL cards are fought between 2 players. But the core of the game lies with the cards that tell you to ‘do something’. The other players have to notice, but don’t be too obvious, or you’ll be caught- Like a deer in the headlights! One of the best strategies is acting totally random, so the other players don’t know if you’re ‘doing something’… or you’re just creating a diversion. Let’s play!

To begin, everyone draws 5 cards. Let’s see who’s playing. Bridget kicks off the game by challenging Ruth to a Duel. They both have to compete and prove ‘who can tell the most exciting story?’ Ruth is rrreally going for it. She’s even using props!

The other players agree she was the clear winner. Ruth places the card face-up on the table. She’ll get to use it later. But, there was something else going on. It’s Ellie’s turn now, and she reveals that she ‘did something’ during the last duel. A card told her to play roulette games free.

The others definitely remember seeing her do that just a minute ago. Ellie places the card face-up on the table. Looks like Charlotte is getting a call.

Bo finds it mighty suspicious that there was no ringtone and asks to see the phone. It wasn’t even turned on!? DEER LORD, Charlotte! You were definitely ‘doing something’. She was exposed, so Charlotte has to replace the ‘do something’ card.

As a reward for his keen observation, Bo gets to swap any card from his hand. Now Bridget is acting weird… Ruth accuses her of ‘doing something’ by yelling ‘DEER LORD!’ Naaah, it was all a diversion! As punishment for her false accusation, Ruth either draws a new card or, she may discard a face-up one instead. The game goes on until, finally, Ellie plays her last card. She has no more cards in her hand which makes her the winner!

Well played, Ellie, you deserve ALL the glory! …but that’s not all. Customize your game experience by adding one or more of the following 6 expansions. They really add some flavor to the game… BROADWAY Perform your heart out, conquer the spotlight.

GANGSTA Act tough, earn street cred. GEEK – Prove your superior intellect and pop culture knowledge. MEAN – Start fights, sabotage the game and roast your friends. FLIRTY – Make it all about seduction, temptation and attraction. ASYLUM – All the craziest cards put together will send youz flying over the cuckoo’s nest.

Matched Betting Example: Coral Sign Up Offer – 100% Risk Free Make Money from Home, Top Tier Betting

Ok, so, first of all, I’d like to welcome you to talk to you about in this video has been made to help you follow the instructions on this page. As for the first few offers may be difficult to understand, this offer will be using coral. We can go to Carl by clicking the button to the left of this video. You can see the new customer offer the top of the page. They offered 20 pounds in free bets when place 45 pound back with your own cash. So the first step would would be to fill out your details and complete the registration once you’ve done.

That you’ll also need to open an exchange account. If you don’t already have one you can use either markets or better. I personally use markets so once you create both your coral and exchange account you’ll need to deposit five pounds into Carl.

Now I’m not logged in, but they will be a deposit button somewhere on the homepage. You’Ll probably be around top you’ll also notice that by default the odds-on call are displayed in a fractional former which can see here. This is no you stores and won’t work if you try and put into calculator. So if you literally just goes to the top of the screen, you can select decimal. So once you’ve done all of this, you will need to find a close match between the back of the coral and the layout on the exchange.

You’Ll need to bear in mind the minimum backwards, for this offer our 1.5. If you place your qualifying bat below these odds, the free, that’s won’t be credited, so we just click on football will want to avoid the in play market of the odds moves too fast. If we scroll down a little bit you’ll see today’s four matches, we can see a game here between Western and Manchester City, the odds lunch of city hour or 1.7.

As you can see here, we want to compare these to the lay odds on the exchange. I’M going to use markets too much to see game is actually on the homepage of the minute. That’S because it’s the feature game of the day. So, if you click on to it, we can see the layouts are 1.76. If we now open, the calculator will want to select qualifier. The back stake for this offer is five pounds.

The back odds that i have found our 1.74 yours. It will probably be different i’ll put in 1.7 as the buckets and the layout. I have found our 1.76 at this point will need to import the delay commission if you chose to open a smart account nice to send for me i’ll, just import 2 %.

However, if you opened a bat, fair exchange account you’ll need to import five percent. If we scroll down and click calculate, we can see that the qualifying lost on this bit but will be 22 to pence. Qualifying loss will vary depending on the back cards under layout. You’Ll want to try and keep the qualifying loss below 25 points. At this point, you’ll also see that the lady liability will be three pounds and 72 pants. This is the amount you want to deposit into your exchange account in order to place to lay back once again the deposit, but annonce markets, or your exchange should be around the top of the page.

You now should have created your call account created your exchange. Account deposited five pounds and coral deposited the amount that the calculator shows at liability inferior exchange account and should be ready to place your qualifying back with the selection that you’ve children. In my example, I would go to Carl select much of the city. I put five pounds of the back steak and select place bet.

If you asked you to confirm the better make sure you do so, you don’t want to go to the calculator copy. The lace take go to the exchange and place of the lace. Take at the odds for you have found it quite place that and concern you have now completed the qualifying bat and you’re 45 pound free bets will be credited instantly and I ready to use whenever you have to do so. The five-pound three bats must be used within four days for free bets that you’ll want to use high odds in order to maximize your profit. Anything above four-point-oh is acceptable.

So if we go back to carole, i like to use horse-racing 43, that’s just because the odds are usually quite high. If we select a horse race it off here, plowboy is at 6.5. We can also use the better when only odds, because we only care about the house within so x. Concall are 6.6.

If we check the same horse on markets for the exchange we can see, it is our odds of seven. We want to select free back snr. The free back would be five pounds of our cards were 6.6, the lads were seven and the Commission is a two percent or five percent.

If you’re using that, you can see on this free, but we would make a three-pound 94 profit. We would need 24 pounds and sixpence in our exchange account in order to place the leg up. These numbers will vary depending on the odds.

Are you selected? So now we want to go to call select club. I you will see in your back slip a small dropdown menu that will allow you to select one of you. 45.3. That’S simply select it and then place. The bet.

You’Ll then want to place the lace. Take that the calculator has provided on the exchange, simply click place back and confirm you don’t want to repeat the free that process with the other 33. That’S you should profit around 16 pounds with this offer.

Keno Betting

Learning the bets is the part of learning the rules of keno. There are various keno bets, including straight bets and way bets. These bets are the most elementary bets. Other bets provide players the option of selecting the size of wager, whether small or large. The various keno bets are explained below

Straight Bets: Straight bets allow players to select single keno numbers on which to wager. Players can select up to fifteen numbers in a single game, against which the house draws 20. A few online casinos allow wagering on as many as 40 numbers. The lowest allowable bet is $1.

Way Bets: Way bets are keno bets in which players wager on groups of numbers within the same keno game. Way bets are most complicated keno bets as players must pick assorted combinations of numbers from preferred numbers. But way bets do have an advantage that they have a greater opportunity of giving small, consistent wins.

Split Bets: The split keno bet is another bet where you can mark multiple groups of numbers within the same keno game. The groups of numbers selected are marked by a line or circle. Players who wager $2 on each group carry a $4 total bet.

Combination Bets & King Numbers: A combination keno bet involves combining various straight bets on one ticket in different styles. A king keno bet is simply a twist on the way bet. The difference between the two is that the king bet requires the player choose one or more of his selected numbers to be king numbers.

Learning how to play keno is the first step to enjoy the game. Always remember, keno is not about winning or losing, it is about having fun. The keno rules are very simple.

There are three general rules that should be kept in mind when playing online keno game.

1. The higher numbers of coins wagered means the higher payouts.

2. The more numbers you select, the less they will match.

3. Payouts depend not only on how many numbers match, but also on how many numbers are chosen to play.

Thanks for reading this article, I hope, you have learned something new. I really enjoy sharing my passion with you. Be sure to check other articles about games and casino. Stay tuned for new materials. Be responsive with your game and your money, Good luck, and don`t forget to have fun!

Some Useful Tips for Making Money from Blackjack

Blackjack has become a very popular game among the people because it is easy to play and requires less knowledge about casino gaming. You can reduce the house edge up to 1 percent if you employ some basic blackjack strategy. No other casino game offers that much low house edge.

No matter where you play on internet or on a land based casino you must know the rules of the game. There are many informative blackjack sites that present blackjack rules in details and comprehensive manner. There are many variations in blackjack gaming so it is quite impossible for one to remember all the rules of a particular game. Besides, some of these rules vary from house to house. But if you know the basics, you will be able to pick up other rules quite easily.

Stop running behind 21. The secret is beating the dealer that is you have to have a card total which is enough to beat the house. Congratulation if you get a natural blackjack, but remember that does not assure your win. If the house also gets a natural blackjack the game is then will be pushed further ahead. You must not play with your gut rather use your strategy to beat the house. Because strategy can win you games. It’s not wise to hit if your strategy says you to stand. Playing with gut may increase the house edge up to 6 percent.

Gaming environment is the main difference between the online blackjack and traditional land based blackjack. Some people feel that real land based black jack houses are very noisy and crow die and they can’t focus on their keep. Well if this is the case for you, then you should better switch on to playing online casino. There you can play in the comfort of your house and there will be no one to distract you from your game. Besides online black jack offers free games, so you can even earn money without losing any. Beginners are recommended to take part at these free games to enhance their real time gaming experience.

Thanks for reading this article, I hope, you have learned something new. I really enjoy sharing my passion with you. Be sure to check other articles about casino. Stay tuned for new materials. Be responsive with your game and your money, Good luck, and don`t forget to have fun!

TOP CHEF CONTESTANT EDWARD LEE AT BELLYQ

Okay, I admit–I’ve been on a Top Chef binge lately. Fortunately, my type of self-indulgence doesn’t lead to cirrhosis or chlamydia, so I leapt at an invitation to meet Top Chef and Iron Chef contestant Edward Lee at his private book signing at bellyQ. Guests at the event received complimentary Jefferson’s Reserve cocktails, a bottle of Red Boat Fish Sauce, and a signed copy of Lee’s cookbook, Smoke & Pickles. (“One part Southern soul, one part Asian spice, and one part New York attitude, Smoke & Pickles shares 130 recipes that mix the flavors and techniques of his Korean roots, his classical French training, and his Louisville, Kentucky home.”).

After a hideously long drive down a congested I-94, I arrive an hour late (a.k.a. just on time) but am warmly greeted by Lee’s publicist. She introduces me to Lee, who shakes my measly little journalist hand before resuming his conversation with other attendees. As I wait for my turn to chat with Lee, I wander off to taste some delectable bites.

The menu of southern, Asian-inspired hour de voires included:

  • Tamarind Glazed Strawberry Ham
  • Cornmeal Fried Oysters with Lettuce Wrap
  • Pork Crackling
  • White Pear Kimchi

Being particularly Southern and Asian, my taste buds expected a little more from the bites, which were decently tasty. As usual, I find myself in bellyQ’s back kitchen, where young, tattooed chefs carve away at the ham and assemble lettuces for the fried oysters. Behind-the-scenes is never glamorous (especially when you see vats of sauce and garnish in giant metal containers), but there’s something glorious about the backstage process. It’s a mad orchestra of plating and prepping, with chefs frying away and servers dumping leftovers into take-out boxes.

Because the kitchen openly faces the dining area, I’m able to observe a fascinating dichotomy: a well-dressed, mostly professional crowd sipping on classy cocktails versus a diverse band of artistic misfits cranking out delicious food. I discover that bellyQ servers and cooks, whose experience range from restaurant management to high-end dining, actually enjoy their job.

Which I find surprising since line chefs work notoriously hard and long hours. But as founder Bill Kim later tells me, you gotta love what you do, even if the perks are rare and lackluster. Kim tells me that he went directly to Kendall College after high school while his Korean friends followed the usual path to lawyerhood, doctorhood, and engineeringhood (“Asian parents,” we both acknowledge). Years of kitchen experience later (including Charlie Trotter’s and Le Lan), he’s opened a slew of Belly restaurants. Given his rising culinary stardom (and the accompanying asstight schedules), Kim acts more as a “businessman” than a chef nowadays, participating in media events and giving back to the community (aka fundraisers, hosting book signings, collaborating with other small businesses, etc). I ask him whether he’s ever modified his food for the American palette, and he replies that he gets “lots of shit” from people who say his menu isn’t traditional Korean. In fact, his menu is diversely Asian, with Korean kimchi, Chinese steamed buns (or bao), and Japanese edamame.

In addition to bonding over our heritage and love for food, Kim also imparts a bit of sage career advice. He tells me to pursue my passion, regardless of what friends, parents, or critics might say. But it’s also easy to give romantic career advice if you’re Bill Kim or Edward Lee–you’ve paid your dues and have sixteen medals on your shiny golden belt.

Despite their successes, I wonder–at what point does a chef become the Richard Blais who runs the gammit of celebrity shows, cookbook deals, and media tours?

The restaurant industry is fiercely Darwinian, and chefs who aren’t hustling will inevitably fall behind. Although I chatted only briefly with Ed, I can tell he’s burned out. Puffing on a cigarette after downing a shot of Bourbon, Lee looks like he could drink 20 more beers. In fact, with 18 more signings on his book tour, Lee tells me that he’s “always” stressed (though static photographs with zealous fans would never reveal that). But really, with his cornucopia of successes and the cultural expectations of Asian men, I don’t blame him.

In the meantime, I’m taking it easy, slowly sipping on my cocktail as the evening winds down.

SEAFOOD GRILLING AT THE CHOPPING BLOCK

I can be a total snob with it comes to home cooking. I’ve sauteed enough vegetables to know their wilting rates and sprouted enough grains/legumes to produce a lifetime of farts. Whenever my friends gloat over their puny stir fries and sweet potato hashes, I scoff with pretentious disdain while thinking in a British accent: Yes, but did you make truffled risotto and roasted bone marrow for dinner last night? Because III did.

Despite my occasional bouts of superiority, I’m not really a snob. I grew up eating and cooking with my parents and playing free online pokies, food and gambling has always played an integral part of my family and culture. My wonderful childhood was a culinary kaleidoscope of pickling radishes, kneading dumpling wrappers, and butchering animal bits for stock and roasts. And I believe that when it comes to cooking, the best tool is one’s palette and sense of smell. No, I can’t afford a Robot Coupe, and my knife skills are dangerously amateur, but I can tell you when that omelet is motherfucking ready.

So why did I sign up for a seafood grilling class at The Chopping Block when clearly, my intentions were to deride my fellow peers on their lack of culinary skill and expertise?

Because a) that’s not why I signed up;  b) if there’s one protein that I can reliably screw up, it’s seafood. I don’t know how many scallops and tilapia filets I’ve turned into solid rubber, and I once cooked a red snapper into literal smithereens; c) I hadn’t grilled for years and forgotten the scent of accidentally-singed eyebrows

Located in Lincoln Square and Merchandise Mart, the Chopping Block is “Chicago’s largest recreational cooking school and gourmet retail store,” offering “demonstration and hands-on cooking classes, as well as wine classes, private cooking parties and corporate team building events.” They’re like a Chicago-based Williams-Sonoma, except 10 times cooler. When I arrive at the Lincoln Square location, I follow the scent of burning charcoal to the outdoor patio, where class participants are munching on pre-dinner popcorn and booze (because contrary to popular belief, booze helps one chop and slice more accurately).

It’s an intimate crowd, and with the setting sun casting glorious rays over the patio deck, I feel invigorated and inspired. As I don my apron, I fiercely judge my competitors–I mean, classmates. Some cute guy and his mom, a daughter-mother pair from Oklahoma, a few couples, some pairs of friends. Our main instructor was Trevor Moore, who was aided by Melissa Novak. Although there were some hitches getting started (is there enough shrimp?!) and the occasional confusion as to who-chops-what (wait, did you mince that garlic?), the 3-hour class zoomed by, and by the end of our prepping and cooking, I was ravenous. And luckily, our menu did not disappoint:

  • Cedar-planked lemon salmon with bacon and watercress salad
  • Thai marinated and grilled shrimp and pineapple skewers with spicy peanut sauce
  • New Mexican grilled fish with grilled zucchini, red onion, and avocado salad

shrimp pineapple skewersDuring the class, I learned that:

Marinating is the key to life and love. Marinate everything.

  1. I love overly-charred vegetables. Something about the smoky taste rouses my cavewoman instincts.
  2. Although cedar planked salmon was delicious, the shrimp was the rockstar of the meal.
  3. Gas grills are nice and fancy, but they can’t replicate charcoal/wood-burning grills

Fresh produceNeedless to say, our meal was delicious, which surprised me given how many people didn’t know the fundamentals of cooking. Now, I’m not just saying that to be obnoxious, but some participants hadn’t stepped in the kitchen for years. Some couldn’t measure out a tablespoon of olive oil worth their life, and others were handling knives in ways that significantly elevated my blood pressure. Luckily, Chef Trevor and Melissa were incredibly helpful and knowledgeable about the ingredients and cooking products, and any mishaps were quickly resolved by their clever improvisations.

Which is more than I can say for me. It was admittedly frustrating for me to work in groups, as I impatiently watched people cut zucchini and onions into unwieldy, uneven chunks. But instead of walking away from the class like some egotistical bastard, I was filled with appreciation and humility. Not everyone knows how to cook, and even fewer know how to cook well. But that’s the whole point of these classes–to learn or refine basic techniques, to cook and converse with complete strangers, to drink five glasses of wine before dinner. For me in particular, I enjoyed talking to Trevor and Melissa about their burnout from the restaurant industry and their transition into a more instructor-like role. In other words, you get as much as you put in, regardless of your skill talent or interests.

YUM.

I grew up eating home-cooked meals at The Dinner Table (aka Place Where Everything Happens), but others may have eaten crappy microwaveables in front of the TV. But like everything else in life, just because you may have something better doesn’t mean you should prance around with (genuine) superiority. Although clocks seem to operate 3x faster nowadays, there’s a wholesome quality about homemade cooking that’s people back into the kitchen. And classes at The Chopping Block are helping to build that momentum, which ultimately is a great thing.

HAVE YOU GOT (RAW) MILK?

During my usual breakfast fix of Lucky Charms a few weeks ago, an unusual question popped into my mind as I absentmindedly gazed at my carton of Stonyfield organic milk. I was wondering what the hell ultra-pasteurization was when I thought: do people still consume raw milk? Like most Americans, I purchase and drink grocery-store milk, a substance probably not produced by those happy Guernsey cows freely grazing on the packaging. U.S. milk usually undergoes heavy processing during pasteurization and homogenization, processes designed to create a safe and palatable breakfast beverage. However, real-food proponents often opt for more “natural” versions, including grass-fed or “gently-pasteurized” brands. But what about raw milk, freshly squeezed from the precious udders of a hay-chewing cow? Can I purchase it legally in the U.S., and more importantly, would I die from salmonella if I drank it?

Raw milk proponents argue that in addition to killing off “good” bacteria, pasteurization destroys milk’s full nutritional value, claims which have been fervently refuted by the FDA. And since the US tends to illegalize anything remotely detrimental to the human body, only 28 states can sell raw milk, including Illinois. Even then, farmers must abide by stringent regulations, including no advertisement or marketing of their products. Another controversial aspect of raw milk (and whole milk in general) is its high fat content. For nearly 50 years now, the health profession has recommended skim or low-fat versions, although no substantial evidence exists suggesting that whole milk (or fat in general) causeshealth issues like diabetes.

Eager to learn more about raw milk, I decided to visit one of the few farms in Chicago that sells it: Barrington Natural Farms (BNF). Owned by Cliff McConville and Konda Dees, BNF is a small local farm that prides itself on organically-raised grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken and pork, raw milk, and free-range eggs. They don’t spray pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers, nor do they use hormones, fungicides, or synthetic medicines (unless the animal’s life in danger).

I arrive at this green, organic oasis just in time to help Cliff with his evening chores. Part-time businessman and part-time farmer, Cliff is an unpretentious sort of guy with a warm laugh and affable disposition. An early sunset keeps introductions brief, and we head off to collect the chicken eggs before it gets too dark. We drive five minutes to a nearby plot of leased land, labeled by a crooked “Barrington Farms” sign. Cliff and I hop the fence and make way towards the chicken enclosure, a large coop enclosed by an electric barrier meant to deter coyotes and other predators. Smashed patties of cow manure, topped with freshly molted feathers, dot the land like fecal landmines, but the pasture smells remarkably fresh (a pleasant surprise as I’d prepared for an invisible wall of vomit-inducing stench).

Cliff practices rotational grazing by relocating his chickens to partitioned pasture areas, which reduces overgrazing and allows for easier nutrient control. However, the process is labor and time-intensive: he uses his truck to drag the coop across the pasture and must rearrange the electric barrier every time. The chickens, busy picking grubs and parasites from the manure, greet us with loud squawks, while the geese (meant to guard the chickens from aerial predators) glare at us from a distance.

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We climb onto the coop, where Cliff proceeds to fill his basket with little brown ovals of organic goodness. When he accidentally cracks one fragile egg and tosses it onto the ground, the chickens flock violently to consume the remains. I’m surprised by such carnivorous behavior, but Cliff informs me that egg-eating is actually fairly common.

After collecting the eggs, feeding the chickens, and pouring a bit of apple vinegar into their water (to help with digestion), we pay a quick visit to the cows. These majestic beasts wander slowly through the field, pausing only briefly to ensure I wasn’t a predator. One curious cow tentatively approaches me to sniff my hand before ambling off in search of fresh turf. Although some cattle are bred for meat, Cliff keeps his dairy cows (the Guernsey girls) for at least ten to twelve years.

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Our final stop is the pigs, who snort with excitement upon the prospect of receiving leftover milk. These spotted, stout Berkshire porkies are remarkably clean, unlike the feces-covered swine squealing in anguish on PETA propaganda. No, these pigs are well-fed and well-treated, and I can only imagine how succulent Wilbur tastes on an open spit. Curious about the “farm to table” movement, I ask Cliff whether restaurants actually buy pigs and cows from the farm. He replies that the seasonality and scale of his farm means he can’t readily supply restaurants with a constant supply of animal products. Although some chefs do purchase milk or pigs (including Zimmerman of Sepia), most of his customers are individual consumers, most of whom are very health-conscious. In fact, a sizable majority of his customers are Eastern Europeans who enjoy eating grass-fed meat and homemade kefir.

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Not that demand’s a problem. In addition to the growing interest in local organic food, the farm’s proximity to Chicago and high quality of farming means Cliff can command a high price for his products. Eggs are 50 cents apiece, and raw milk is ten bucks a gallon. Although Cliff eventually plans to expand BNF and work as a full-time farmer, he’s content with his operation for now. He tells me that many farms masquerade as “small, family farms” while raising thousands of chickens for retailers and restaurant empires (e.g. Rick Bayless). For Cliff, quantity comes second to quality, and he’s staunch on producing superior, nutrient-dense foods.

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Freshly collected eggs

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Ready for milking!

After returning to the farm with our eggs, we proceed to milk the five dairy cows, gathered expectantly by the gate’s door. Cliff tries to get the cows pregnant at least once a year to ensure a steady milk supply. Although the Guernsey gals naturally forage on grass and hay, Cliff supplements their diets with organic grain and alfalfa to boost their caloric intake, especially during the winter.

Milking is actually quite an elaborate process, involving pumps, machinery, and sanitation protocols. First, Cliff cleans the udders with a moist towel before dousing them with iodine to kill off remaining pathogens. He then attaches the milking apparatus, a system of tubes, teat cups, and pumps reminiscent of some futuristic prop off the set of Alien. The five cows know their milking order, but weary of a stranger’s presence, pause before entering the stall, eying me with a mix of suspicion and fear. But the allure of molasses-flavored grain quickly overrides any lingering trepidation, and they quickly trot into the barn for their daily treat. After Cliff finishes pumping the cows, he pours the product into a cooling tank, which filters and rapidly cools the milk to a safe temperature of 4°C-6°C.

The frothy, raw milk smells intensely sweet and appears quite yellow, as Guernsey milk contains an unusually high content of beta carotene (and more protein and cream in general). The taste resembles light cream, laced with a kind of sweet earthiness reminiscent of perfectly-ripe fruit. Combined with the buttery froth and silken smooth finish, the milk was nothing short of sublime.

Like many food movements, raw milk proponents may seem like petty extremists, the kind of health-nut hipsters you want to throw Chicken McNuggets at. But after visiting BNF and seeing the level of care that goes into raw milk (and organic farming in general), I think more people should try (and support) raw milk. Because it’s not the idyllic, happy farm fantasy that changed my mind—it’s those few, hard-working Midwesterners whose passion and honest ideals remind me that good food is natural food.

THE SPIRITUAL SIDE OF YOGA

A Healthy Autumn Dinner for the Soul

From pumpkin bread to stuffed turkey to gingerbread cookies, the period from Halloween to New Year’s always seems like a continuous marathon of gastro-gluttony. It’s when root vegetables begin popping up on restaurant menus, when vegetarians attempt (and fail) to imitate the glory of roasted bird, and when pies become the seventh food group. I always associate autumn with social meals, when people gather around a scenic open fire to share great food and wine. So naturally, I was quite thrilled when my friend Nancy Grabowsky invited me for a “healing” autumn dinner with her friends and family at Company.

As a yoga instructor and graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Nancy integrates seasonal foods with superfoods, nutritious and purifying ingredients meant to energize the mind and body. Her culinary philosophy—“Let your Food be Your Medicine”— permeates both her cooking style and life attitude. Our vegetarian dinner menu consisted of:

  • Cauliflower mint petit brioche with rose and green grape reduction sauce
  • Fig & Kabucha Squash Soup with fine herbs and crispy chipotle kale
  • Golden beet, purple potato, and Jerusalem artichokes vertical torte with aged manchego cheese, caramelized red cabbage and chestnut puree
  • Arugula Salad, Purple Basil, Dandelion & fennel, salty blackberries, lemon balm and pomegranate dressing
  • Amaranth Pilaf with Hemp and Almond Sauce, fried plantain
  • Flourless date cake with a sage-kiwi glaze, dark chocolate mousse
  • Turkish Wedding drink (almond Milk with crushed pistachios and Rose water)

Now, I’ve indulged in enough food to forget about most of them, but I will always remember Nancy for her unique flavors and textures. Despite lacking formal training, her understanding of ingredients surpasses anything professional education could ever teach.The chipotle-infused, slightly-bitter crispy kale married perfectly with the velvety sweetness of the rose-laced soup. The crunchy, celery-like fennel, dressed in an acidic and sweet vinaigrette, left my tongue-buds tingling with virginal delight.

Fig and squash soup, crispy kale

The vertical torte, layers of salty manchego sandwiched between sweet potatoes and beets, hit my palette with so many textures and flavors that I barely breathed between bites, fork wobbling with euphoric joy. Even the red cabbage, bathed in the savoriness of Amish butter and rose extract, tasted sublime. Now I know I’m biased, but friendship can only enhance food so much, and I try to dote compliments in moderation. Nancy truly astounds with her creativity and an uncanny ability to cook mouthwatering dishes. How she can “mentally” create a recipe with such developed and harmonious flavors simply amazes me.

The fundamental hallmark of a great meal is pure, soul-drenched satisfaction. Are you full? Do you feel about yourself? Are you content with life? I usually don’t feel that way about most meals, but I left dinner that night with a profound sense of happiness. Watching Nancy carefully stir the pilaf, re-season the brioche, and top the date cake with mascarpone mousse made me realize that food doesn’t just taste good because of fresh ingredients; it tastes good because of the love that chefs pour into their creations. It tastes good because great conversation is the best garnish. It tastes good because it reminds you of home.

APNA GHAR: TASTE FOR LIFE FOOD GALA

I was fortunate enough to be invited to Apna Ghar’s 2013 Taste for Life Gala, hosted at the Chicago Cultural Center. Apna Ghar is a “safe haven for women and children in Chicago who face domestic violence, but don’t have the support networks or access to services needed to break free.  While our services are open to all women in Chicagoland, Apna Ghar specializes in serving immigrant women who must overcome significant cultural, social, economic, and legal barriers to life in the United States.”

Restaurants who contributed their delicious morsels included:

  • American Junkie (poke fish with cashew cream sauce, lentil and cauliflowers with spiced almond & caper dressing)
  • Atwood Cafe (Ramp soup, lamb dish)
  • Bombay Wraps (berry lassi, chicken and purple potato partha wraps)
  • Cabot Creamery Cooperative (cheese samples)
  • Cantina Laredo (octopus and shrimp ceviche on spicy blue corn chip)
  • Chocolat-Uzma Sharif (tea-infused chocolate, truffle with white chocolate chip)
  • Cobra Corn (spiced popcorn)
  • Emilio’s Tapas (balsamic grilled vegetables, quinoa, black bean, and mango salad, and potato and cabbage salad)
  • Gaylord India (Bhel Poori, chicken malai kabab)
  • Isla Pilipina (grilled vegetables, vegetable pancit, lumpia)
  • Metropolitan Club (sticky rice cake with cauliflower, white chocolate mousse in mini waffle cone)
  • The Peacock-Fine Indian Cuisine (mini rotis, Lamb kebabs, spiced chicken, spiced paneer and eggplant)
  • Sataza (Chicken Tikka, Tandoori Tofu with lots of toppings, including chickpeas and red onions)
  • Sullivan’s Steakhouse (ahi tuna tartare on wonton chip, filet mignon pretzel sliders with horseradish sauce)
  • Untitled (chicken liver on homemade crostini, cream-cheese filled grit cake with tomato jam)

All participating restaurants also had to incorporate a purple food item into at least one of their dishes, and many of the dishes were uniquely created for the event (i.e., not available on their main menu). Let’s just say I consumed enough food to last me AT LEAST six Chicago winters, and that I probably should’ve spent more time taking pictures than stuffing my mouth. Although all the restaurants presented superb dishes, I literally could not resist three or four trips to American Junkie’s station. The smooth texture of the seared poke meshed perfectly with their slightly acidic, creamy cashew cream sauce (i even got the recipe!). The freshness of the pea shoots, peas, and mushrooms also added a delightful earthy undertone. Their lentil dish topped with purple cauliflower and an almond and caper sauce made me weep with vegetarian glory.

Cantina Laredo’s spicy tortilla chip topped with fresh ceviche (shrimp, freshly grilled octopus, avocado, onion, Jesus’s tears) also brings back fond memories. Gaylord’s malai kabob–chicken marinated in spiced cream cheese and then baked–melted so gently in my mouth that I barely had to chew (not that I chewed much anyway while shoving things down my throat). And Untitled introduced me to chicken liver for the first time..and dear god, was it a delicious explosion of umami.

The fantastic food reflected the fantastic chefs/owners/managers who created the dishes. I met several interesting and funny characters, including the guys  from Isla Pilipina. They’re like the big brothers I’ve always wanted–silly, goofy, and goddamn lovable in every kind of way. And the tattooed chefs from Untitled reminded me that the best food comes from general badasses. Even MasterChef Suzy Singh was there!

Apart from the food, the Taste for Life gala proved highly enjoyable. There was plenty of booze, great music, and lots of FlAsHinG photography. But what I found most amazing was the sheer diversity and amount of people that came to the event. The idea of domestic violence often evokes anger and shame, and these uncomfortable feelings often deter individuals from understanding more about the subject. Yet there were children, men, and women of all ages and ethnicities present at the gala, all bound by a common desire to support Apna Ghar’s cause (and a common love for food, of course). As Serena Low (Executive Director at Apna Ghar) says, “Food is life.  And it cannot be ignored or taken for granted particularly when we are trying to heal and or help others heal from trauma and abuse.”

Apna Ghar’s core services include (from website):

  • 24-Hour Hotline: Our hotline addresses the immediate safety needs of callers, who can connect to our services, get referrals to other programs, and get information about domestic violence and the protective options available to them.
  • Emergency Shelter: Our 15-bed, 24-hour emergency shelter provides women and their children who are escaping abuse a home-like atmosphere where they can regain control of their lives.  Care is taken to maintain a culturally-sensitive, secure, and healing environment.
  • Transitional Housing: Our seven transitional housing apartments offer Apna Ghar shelter clients who have moved beyond an emergency phase the space to establish long-term self-sufficiency.  Transitional housing is available for 18-24 months.  All transitional housing residents receive ongoing, intensive case management during their stay.
  • Counseling: Our counselors use individual and family therapy, support groups, art therapy, conflict management, and communication training to help women and their children process and heal from the trauma of abuse.  Counseling is provided to both residential and non-residential clients.
  • Legal Advocacy: Our legal advocates guide residential and non-residential clients through the US legal system.  Advocates help clients access available legal remedies, including obtaining civil orders of protection, pressing criminal charges, obtaining crime victims’ compensation, filing for divorce, custody, and support, as well as acquiring legal immigration status through protective statutes such as the Violence Against Women Act.  Advocates also help clients obtain legal representation through an in-house legal clinic and partnerships with area legal aid agencies and volunteer attorneys.
  • Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Center: Our supervised visitation and safe exchange center, one of only three in the city of Chicago, provides a free, safe place where children can interact with their non-custodial parent in the presence of a trained facilitator.  The center also offers a safe location for parents to pick-up and drop-off their children when the courts determine that the non-custodial parent may have unsupervised visits.

TACKLING HUNGER AT THE COMMUNITY KITCHEN

For me, hunger has always been a voluntary choice. I’ll forget my lunchbag on the El or fast for an upcoming barbecue, but I have never faced serious issues procuring and eating food (as my blog clearly suggests). So it shocked me that in Cook County alone, 1 out of 6 people suffer from food insecurity. In fact, a 2010 study by the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) found that:

  • 47% of households that the GCFD serves “have had to make the choice between buying food and paying for utilities
  • 44% “had to choose between paying for food and paying for housing”
  • 28% “had to make the choice between buying food and paying for healthcare

To lack the basic necessity of food is a problem you’d expect in Sierra Leone or Haiti, but in the goddamn United States of Excess? “I don’t know why people still struggle with hunger when we’re one of the richest countries in the world. I think it’s racism, I think it’s classism, I think it’s the structures that are in place to keep people disempowered,” says Mary Frohna, Volunteer Coordinator at A Just Harvest (AJH). Located in Rogers Park, AJH is “an anti-hunger organization committed to feeding the hungry andaddressing the root causes of hunger and poverty.”

I decide to explore the hunger crisis in Chicago by volunteering at The Community Kitchen (CK), one of AJH’s numerous programs. With an operating cost of $1,000 per day, CK receives immense support from local volunteers and corporate partnerships (including Jewel, Whole Foods, and the Greater Chicago Food Depository). Having served 54,000+ dinners and contributed 296,000+pounds of food in 2012, the kitchen is open 365 days and welcomes anyone in need.

Our goal is to have it be about respect and dignity,” says Mary. Volunteer waiters serve patrons in a restaurant manner, and house rules (no seconds, no fighting, no taking food home, etc.) are faithfully obeyed. Mary says the goal is to promote interaction between the patrons and volunteers by creating a mutual understanding that “we’re all just people not that far from being in either circumstance.”And tonight’s particularly special because I’m cooking with the Temple Judea Mizpah, the only organization that regularly cooks along side AJH’s chefs. Donning on my plastic gloves and sexy hair net, I help by mixing a monstrous bowl of chicken salad and slicing up gigantic whole watermelons. The menu also consists of spaghetti, chopped salad, mixed vegetables, bread, and various pastries.

As we prep the food, I ask one of the volunteers why hunger remains such a critical issue in America. “There will always be people who are needy,” she replies, adding that a poor economy, dwindling public services, and personal circumstance all play contributing roles. Intrigued, I decide to ask the patrons for their opinion. By now, most of them have settled into the dining room as our one-hour service begins. I strike a conversation with George*, a local resident who serves on the board of directors and organizes Northside P.O.W.E.R., another AJH program that offers “community organizing training and leadership development.” He’s recently returned from a trip in Washington D.C., where he spoke to Senator Durbin about affordable housing. “There are little jobs, no education, it’s a sad situation. Each day you get up, it’s getting worser and worser,” he says. George has been a social activist since the 60s, when he used to be a member of the Black Panther Party. “My thing was to kill the white man. I was carrying guns and weapons, protecting my woman and children,” George says, adding that age and experience has since mellowed out his philosophy.

I ask George about the racial dichotomy often seen in soup kitchens. In fact, 75-90% of CK’s patrons are people of color, 60-65% of which are African American. He replies that blacks suffer from an overwhelming and crushing sense of poverty, adding that “they really have knocked the self-esteem out of our people. We don’t feel like we can go any higher than where we’re at.” Furthermore, he says “every other ethnic group in this nation have been able to prosper. They own their own businesses, they control their own dollars. We haven’t been able to do that.” George says that drugs are “deliberately placed in our communities to stagnate growth of our people.” His friend, Tina*, nods along but holds a positive outlook. She says the biggest misconceptions about black people are that “they’re lazy, they don’t wanna work, they have a lot of babies, they don’t want an education. A lot of us want more out of life; it’s just that some of us are in more situations than others. There are a lot of stressors in the world.” A community organizer and mother of 3 young children, Tina is currently studying for both her GED and college degree.

“I really do believe everybody’s one person, one body, one blood. If people stopped looking at the outside and really look at what a person really is on the inside, they will just see we’re just all the same. What is color anyway? That should be a good blog right there.”

Tina adds that people tend to overly fixate on social issues within the narrow perspective of black versus white. “Why do they always look at black people? We got other nationalities. They have hardships and issues as well.”

George says that nowadays, economic status overshadows skin color as the main problem, adding that “the black man suffers from being poor, not from his color.” However, he acknowledges that the two are inextricably intertwined. He also points out the current fast-food strike, describing the industry as “modern-day slavery” where workers are “underpaid for hard jobs.” George further laments Obama’s increasing centrism, poor education opportunities, and despite my general optimistic disposition, I’m beginning to feel rather morose. But Tina smiles and pats George on the shoulder. “Everyone has the same potential to make it; it depends on you. Even though you’re going through a lot of things in life, you just don’t give up hope. What’s the point of living when you can’t put yourself to make some of your dreams come true?”

Dinner service begins with a rush but quickly dies down in the last 20 minutes. With the crowd dwindling, I sit down with a patron named Keith, who is eating alone and looks needing of company. It’s his first time at CK, and we click immediately. A former coke addict, he now attends Malcolm X College for his GED and describes himself as a workout fanatic. He says programs on the Northside have far more resources than on the Southside or Westside, and he’s taking full advantage of the community programs.

“If you’re hungry, you’re hungry. There’s nothing to be ashamed about,” he says.

Keith tells me about his struggle with hardcore substance abuse: “Coke and heroine are the biggest things that can pull you down into the slums.” He says that drugs play a significant role in many of the patrons’ lives, warning me that drugs “will take you down some dark alleys, some places you never thought you’d go.”

I ask him how he managed to get clean when a sizable percentage of his community still struggles with drugs. “Some people don’t make it—their hearts bust. They die,” he says, “But by the grace of God, I know He has a plan for me.  You can lead a horse to a bucket of water, but you can’t make him drink it. You can lead someone to something, but you can’t make them do it. They have to want to do it on their own.” He adds, “I’m striving for excellence—it’s not where a person has been, it’s about where a person is going in life.”

From my chats with both patrons and volunteers, I realized that food inaccessibility and hunger inevitably became a conversation about race. Nowadays, one would find the rampant racism and sexism of the 50s and 60s as ludicrous, but contemporary Americans fare no better by ignoring our generation’s issues. Not enough people question why homeless people tend be minorities or why certain industries are dominated by blacks or Hispanics. We tend to ignore or delicately meander around uncomfortable information, suppressing them neatly into the back of our social conscience. In trying to foster a “partnership” between patrons and volunteers, Mary encourages volunteers to take the first 20 minutes to interact with patrons. However, she admits that there is often hesitation from the “perceived separation and discomfort that comes with not knowing.” In fact, I rarely observed any of the volunteers interacting with the patrons outside of their perfunctory duties. But really, there’s a fine line between shaming and raising attention to glaring social issues, and I struggle with treading appropriately. Identifying ignorance is often interpreted as an attack on character, and I try immensely hard at avoiding the latter.

If this post has mentally fatigued you with social commentary, rest your weary soul. Ultimately, the Community Kitchen (and all of AJH’s programs) is a fantastic organization that fights hunger by providing the basic necessity of food. Sure, hunger remains a serious societal concern, but they’ve made significant achievements with the resources they have, and that’s a wonderful thing.