Went to see “Super Size Me”: a documentary of what happens to a man who lives on a McDiet for 30 days. I highly recommend it. A good counterpoint to the book “Fast Food Nation”
We just got a wriggly wranch worm bin, and handful of colonists courtesy of Eugene and Vonnie. What is it all in aid of? Worm composting: you feed red wriggler worms (sort of like earthworms) your kitchen scraps like vegetable and fruit peels, eggshells, tea leaves and coffee grounds, and the worms produce ‘casings’ which make very good fertilizer. It’s a way to recycle. They’re like our new pets; everyday we’re really excited to feed what we can and see what they have or haven’t eaten. So far, the strawberry cores appear to be their favourite. They’re slightly finicky eaters, they’ll eat what they like first and then eat the stuff they’re not so fond of when there’s nothing better to eat.
“You’re allergic to peanuts and eggs? Poor thing, I guess you can’t eat Thai food.” Overheard at my niece’s graduation BBQ: I had to escape into the kitchen, I was overcome with mirth…and despair. It’s so sad that most people associate various cuisines with only one or two items which become ‘stereotyped.’
So Thai food is exemplified by “Pad Thai” and coconut-based curries. Mexican food always involves chopped tomato salsa, guacamole . . . and crispy taco shells. Chinese food is nothing but sweet and sour sauce, or kung pao.
Argh!! It’s so sad that people are unaware that there’s more most cusines than the tiny sampling they see. Sadder still is that most restaurants only offer the same limited range of dishes, in response to their customers . . . (Well, restaurants are in it more to make money than to be an educational/cultural ambassador.)
Rare is the Thai restaurant in the US that will offer yum pla dook foo (fluffy catfish salad), rarer is the non-Thai who will order it. (Happily, the King of Krung Siam, recently opened in Mountain View, does). In Thai cuisine, only a handful of dishes require peanuts, of those it was Pad Thai that became the poster child for Thai food in the US!
Thank goodness for Vive Sol (Mountain View) , which offers mole from Puebla: a chocolate-based savoury sauce. To my non-Cantonese friends: I exhort you to go to a juk-fun-mein/ cha chan teng joint and order black-bean beef chow fun. Or find nine other friends and order the wo-choy (set menu, usually for ten) at any Hong Kong style seafood restaurant for dinner. Ten courses, and don’t you dare do any substitutions. If you ever find monkfish liver or seaweed/algae salad on a Japanese menu, don’t pass them up.
I’m not very fond of the family chain restaurants (Chilis, Appleby’s, Benigans, TGIF ) with menus with such a bewildering range of choices, but they are all variations on the same four ingredients: american cheese, chicken breast, tomatoes and bell peppers, using watered-down embelishments. Sesame is used for a Chinese twist, guacamole for Mexican flair, BBQ sauce for a southern touch. But they will all taste of the same bland mediocrity.
This is a dumb rhetorical question, but why are people so afraid to order unfamiliar things on a foreign menu? Take a chance, it’s on the menu, so it must be edible by some human being’s standards. It’s OK to judge it . . . after you’ve tried it. It’s OK not to like it. The worst you’ve done is waste a few dollars.
I can remember the first time in my life I tried horchata. I was 4 years old. I spit it out. Since it looked like milk, I expected it to taste creamy, but instead it had a microscopic-gritty taste (from the ground rice) . The cinammon flavour was yucky, like Chinese medecine. Fast forward twenty years. I tried it again in a Bay Area taqueria and liked it. Now the horchata at Taqueria Los Charros has become my definitive standard by which to gauge all other horchatas; it’s spoiled me. I had some store bought horchata (Calcido?) at a party, it was palid and disappointing.
I must say, I’m very proud of Chris. We were at a Chinese vegetarian restaurant the other week. “What’s fried milk?” he asked. “Dunno. Why don’t you order it and see?” He looked doubtful. “Look, there’s eight of us, and if you end up not liking it, there’ll be other people who will eat it. ” It turned out to be the most popular dish on the table. This from a man who remarks on a weekly basis: “Is it true Chinese people eat monkey brains?”