28 July 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Eat Here Get Gas Edition

Holy bucket o’ chicken with three sides, Batpeople! It’s that time again, grab a button and go!

LET’S HOPE NOT AT THE SAME TIME: So I’m watching some fine video tranquilizers, er, kids’ programming on the ol’ idiot box, Wee Lass at my side, and a new show has come on. New for me, anyway. The storyline involves two adorable pigs, best friends with big imaginations who just love traveling the world and seeing things and learning stuff. All good, right? Well, the name of the pigs and the show? “TOOT and PUDDLE”. Are those words you really want associated with small children who are still learning the finer points of sphincter control?

GOOD THING THESE WEREN’T ON THE FOOD NETWORK: Okay, sometimes I am easily amused. Scrolling through the channel guide (see previous item), I came across this:

Hooray! Muy bueno!

And just a few channels over:

Beginnings and ends, weddings and funerals, the Alpha and the Omega…

MANDARIN FOR “I DARE YOU TO EAT THAT”: For some reason I’m on another thought loop involving Chinese food. Last week I ginned up a Chinese-inspired bok choy and mushroom stir-fry, sauced up with toban djan and soy sauce (light and dark), garlic and ginger. Pretty tasty stuff. Curiosity being what it is, I have been leafing through some of what passes for my reference library on Chinese food, once again turning to my favorite Western interpreter of the cuisine, Fuchsia Dunlop. Reading her Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper memoir, something caught my eye and brought my stomach up short. She was in Beijing and wanted to sample “street food”, and was directed to find something called lu zhu huo shao. She said that loosely translated it meant “flatbread in broth”. What she got was nowhere near flatbread. Think “offal” and how it rhymes with “awful”. Probably should have said “parts of animals not for the faint of heart or stomach in broth”. Whuff. Suffice to say, I was happy to munch away on my greens and ‘shrooms, that’ll do for me…

MINE IS PROBABLY OVERDONE: Of the many things that can be done with codfish, turning it into dried salt cod (or bacalao) is probably one of the best known. Seems that the Norwegians and the Spaniards in particular had a hankering for the stuff. The Norwegians are also the best known producers of stockfish, which is air-dried cod (other fish can be used), and which ends up making the fish hard as rocks. Seriously, these things get like baseball bats. Probably why Norway is the world leader in fish related beatings per capita*. So what do you do with the other parts of the fish? Well, in his book Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World (a neat read, by the way), Mark Kurlansky offers us a clue. At the end of one the chapters, there is a short end piece titled ‘The Well-Cooked Head’. Apparently, roasting a cod’s head is a vanishing art. Dammit, and I was just learning how to roast squash, now this?

TRULY THE ART OF EATING: In keeping with my mild obsession on Chinese food, let us now consider the wonton. I love wonton. I could eat them by the pound. Come to think of it, I have eaten them by the pound. There are, however, two difficulties for me with wonton. One, I don’t know if I am patient enough to make them myself, or at least patient enough to make them well. Two, I am not sure if I have ever had truly excellent wonton (or chao shou, to get all Sichuanese on you)**, but I don’t have enough experience with them to know what separates an average wonton from a stellar won. Er, one. Not to worry, I’ll continue to be on the lookout for more test subjects, to increase my store of knowledge. On that note, consider this little tidbit: in his delightful book Swallowing Clouds, A. Zee posits that one of the common ways to write ‘wonton’ in Chinese*** is translated as…’swallowing clouds’. Isn’t that wonderful?

Happy Tuesday, dear readers, I’m stuffed! Although I could swallow some more clouds…

*I totally made that up.
**Please indulge my nerdiness.
***Forgive the simplification; it’s just that I can’t reproduce the characters here.


  1. I love Dim Sum (which in chinese means "bit of heart" according to wikipedia)

  2. Colon Detox? Is that the highly-related "make you puke" show that I've heard so much about?

  3. Ha - Alpha and Omega. Nerdiness indulged.

  4. Dude! China Taste in Marlborough MA has the cloud like Won-tons you speak of. And the egg drop soup? two words: Sun Juice

    Peace -Rene

  5. After living in the orient for a while, I swore off their cuisine seeing some of the stuff that goes into it.

    The colon detox made me laugh my butt off (no pun intended).

  6. You made me hungry and want to get rid of it all at the same time!!


  7. i have just won thing to say to you, mister.....pass the soy sauce!!

  8. This reminds me I haven't been for dim sum in awhile. Mmmm. Trick for Chinese restaurants, look how many Chinese people are eating there. And I can't believe I haven't had those characters translated for you yet!

    *awkward silence*

  9. Wow...I could have gone all day without reading "colon detox" while grabbing lunch. LOL.

  10. I said the same thing when I heard about Toot and Puddle

  11. Hmmmmm....Colon Detox...is that a daily show ?

  12. Swallowing clouds? Well, who'd-a thunk it?!! Great post!

  13. You are too much, Irish! So funny! Sounds like you could use a Louisiana Crab Cake. Cheers!

  14. Oh, I missed this...love it!


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...