One of the great things about living in China is that there are markets everywhere and depending on whether you need vegetables, fish, plants, plates or puppies, you can be sure there is a market for it.
Chinese food and cooking
I recently spent a week in Shanghai and did not yet get a chance to write about my little adventure. As I was on my own in China for two weeks, I decided to spent some time in Shanghai without the constant commute or at least I traded the train ride for a nice morning stroll. Once settled, I quickly picked up a daily routine that would include a small wander, some nice food and finding a cool new shop. I did have to work some days too…
Today I cooked my first tofu (or in Chinese dòufu) dish. I added beef, let there be no confusion.
On a recent obsessive book buying trip I was delighted to come across the book ‘Chinese food made easy’ by Ching He Huang. I watched the show when it was on the BBC a few years ago and used to print and cook recipes from the BBC food website. The egg fried rice was by far the messiest.
I came across a Ma-po dofu beef recipe in the book and got a little intrigued. Mápó dòufu (麻婆豆腐) is tofu in chilli bean sauce, a popular dish from Sichuan province (so quite spicy). The first time I ate it in China I was positively surprised. I’ve had it a few times since, but had not yet seen it with beef (hence the intrigue).
I have become a lazy traveller.
What makes a great travel destination? For some its history, for others maybe culture, architecture or art. For me these days it seems to be all about the food. Not sure exactly when this happened, I’d say it was somewhere between those Namibian oysters and that lovely artichoke in Lodi, CA. The city scape photos with our Canon SLR camera are slowly making way for iPhone snaps of sushi and bowls of noodles. I’d rather soak it up than capture it.
Maybe it’s just Japan that is making me care less about pixels. It is the only holiday I’ve ever been on where I have not been disappointed, not even once, with the food on our plates, despite my travel companions’ craving for carbohydrates and my fussy eating past (I can hear a few people thinking ‘o yes very fussy’).
So I have to write about the food in Japan. Obviously it will be just the tip of the iceberg but what the heck.
It’s official. I am working again.
It did not take long to get used to this time (3 days to be precise). I’ve become a pro at starting new jobs having started a few in the last couple of years. This time it will hopefully be a little less short-lived as so far I am enjoying the journey (literally). Getting up early is a little easier in these parts of the world. As we are a good bit further south, there is not so much of that dreaded and depressing winter morning darkness going on, which makes getting up all that much more bearable, although some will disagree.
To get the earlier of the two trains, I leave the house at 7am. A driver (whom I pay…) collects me from the house. It’s a different person each time but always holding up an A4 sheet with my first name. It’s a little funny having some guy standing outside your door holding a piece of paper with your name on it but it beats looking for a taxi any day.
A little absence. A little holiday. A lot of miles.
Vietnam. Some queuing and various modes of transport (taxi, train, metro, maglev, plane, plane, minibus, and legs in between) got us there in the end. Upon arrival a watermelon mojito apologised for our long journey and I accepted.
I don’t think I can say we saw the real Vietnam since sitting on a beach dreaming away in a comfortable lounge chair under a wood straw umbrella while someone brings you fresh pineapple and lime juice is not the image that conjures up when thinking about Vietnam. A trip to the local market in Da Nang probably came closest for me. But for the first time, this was not that kind of trip.
This week I am a little uninspired. Plenty of things are happening but all I feel like is taking a nap. I had to abandon my plan to write about the lovely box of mooncakes we received from our landlord on Sunday because I found the box empty the next day (this did not inspire me). Someone accidentally ate them all and it wasn’t me since it turns out I don’t like mooncakes. Even though they are all slightly different, I feel disappointed every time. It’s like picking the wrong chocolate from a box that doesn’t have one of those handy explanation cards.
I really want to like mooncakes, because they look so gorgeous from the outside and the whole idea of them is very romantic. But even if I did, evidently the box would not last untill the festival moon which is when you are supposed to eat them. Gazing at the full moon while holding hands and floating sky lanterns (that’s the romantic bit).
As it is almost the weekend and I am starting to get a little peckish, I thought I’d share what I have learned so far about dumplings (jiǎozi) and steamed buns (bāozi), other than the fact that they are very tasty when you get good ones.