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.