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Everything posted by Ohba

  1. I found them confusing, and weighted with assumption. Which I've already said with commendable clarity, but I can be more specific. Confusing because I couldn't really follow a logical thread. You touched on Italy, Spain (as in jamon iberico) and something about small family farms. I didn't understand what point you were making. The assumptions seemed to center on the idea that "we" are wealthy while others, the people producing our food, are not. You mention "the small, peasant, artisinal woman in a small town in italy". Questions come to mind. Is this intended as a type (a possibility suggested by your use of the definite article)? Do you feel it's a strongly representative type? (Does such a woman have a family; what is her actual source of income; does she own land etc). If she does indeed wish to "luxuriate" in capitalism like "us", how would she do it? There is also a hint of contradiction if you say "peasant...in a small town", as it's generally accepted that peasants live on (and to a large extent from) the land. Perhaps a small amount of rationalizing can resolve that, and it's by no means impossible, but it did rather suggest that this figure is simply a convenient and rather contrived fantasy. She's poor, while we of the "northern elite" are rich, etc etc. Personally, I don't find the world that I've seen anything like that simple.
  2. I agree. I'm not too keen on the mess, but I think it does improve flavour.
  3. If it's what you want, unless your stove is _really_ bad, you can probably manage to get the oil to ignite. You need to heat the wok, a couple of minutes if the flame is weak, put in the oil, get that as hot as possible, add the food, and give everything a good shake or two. As you say, the aeration helps, and if you can get the oil to aerosolize above the pan, it doesn't take a lot to ignite it. Tilting the wok also helps, moving it off the centre of the flame. Obviously, you need to be a bit careful, especially first time around. I nearly had a heart attack the first time I did it, because it was unintentional. As you might expect, this is not a very clean way to cook, it will distribute oil around the kitchen and over you as well. To some extent, you are conflating what restaurant cooks are doing with what ordinary people do. As some of the comments in this thread indicate, and my slightly limited observation of Chinese cooking at home bears this out, many people don't cook exactly this way at home (Bourdain rule: "My kitchen is not a restaurant"). Another thing is that by no means not all Chinese recipes call for cooking at fierce temperatures.
  4. Discourse and ideology. Well, there are people who will put everything into those terms. I don't find it very persuasive, because it reeks of intellectualism for its own sake. On this score, Wikipedia's entry seems to confirm my worst fears: Aspirin please. The other problem I've got here is that you don't seem to have said anything without resorting to comfortably held assumptions of your own. And some of it's just confusing.
  5. But they'll happily spend the $25 on something else. Perhaps in the majority of cases, that's going to be on something that you, and society, deems to be non-elite. And then the question of having the financial means to do it once again fades into irrelevance, because we know that nearly everyone has $25 to spend from time to time on non-essential items. And that's my point. The distinction here between what is elite and what isn't is superficial and irrational. I'm not sure that any label at all is required.
  6. I think you're splitting hairs there, considering you said "what else would you call people who...", but what the hell, I'll concede that point. Just out of interest is $100 the minimum expenditure? I think it's relevant because most people I know don't buy the expensive ham by the pound unless they're laying it in for a party. It's certainly not the way I've ever bought it, either. There's a world of difference between putting down $10 or $20 and spending $100. Blowing just $10 - even on something frivolous and supposedly overpriced - doesn't have quite the same psychological impact, does it? Not what I what I said (it was more general than that), but anyway, moving on. Willing and able are two very different things. It would be boring to repeat myself too much, so I'll just remind you that I already covered this in the previous post. (It was specific to Britain and the attitudes that prevail there, because I know more about the place than I do about America. Also note that I clearly drew a distinction between "low income" and "destitute". While there are plenty of the former in Britain, there are very few of the latter, and setting our standards of affordability by them wouldn't be especially helpful anyway.)
  7. No, it's an opinion. People from all walks of life place high value on things that interest them, and are prepared to pay for it. This doesn't make them elitists. The elite label attaches to certain things and not to others, and although it's usually based on cost/income arguments, this seems quite irrational to me. For example, three pints in a pub in England will cost around 7.50 GBP. You can choose whether you want to drink it in a frightening inner city dive, a gracious 17th century coaching inn, or something in between, but it costs about the same from one pub to the next. And drinking beer, especially bitter, is seen as about the most down-to-earth, righteous activity you can engage in. It is also something just about anybody can afford to do, including those on low incomes. It's only beyond the reach of the destitute. For everyone else, it's not a question of "if" they can do it, but "how often". You could just as easily spend that money on organic chicken. Or on slices of jamon iberico. But the moment you do this in Britain, there are people (a lot of them) who will jump on you for being elitist, being too middle class, or being a snob. And that's just the way it is. Some things are identified as appropriate for the ordinary man, like football (now an absurdly expensive spectator sport), and others are strictly for snobs. I've eaten jamon iberico a few times myself and never once considered it something for the elite - just something a person interested in food in all its wonderful varieties might want to do.
  8. On the contrary, it seems to me that people are suggesting - with some scientific backup - that one method of killing a lobster is little different from another in terms of pain and/or suffering inflicted. That is very different from arguing against being humane, because it denies that method A is more humane than method B. I haven't seen any very convincing scientific argument to refute that yet.
  9. I'm thinking that paying for the coffee was showing it as much respect as is possible. ← No doubt, but it's no reason why another shop has to let people come in with hot drinks - or concern themselves with what was paid for them. I wasn't sure if this coffee was being carried to the car with a detour or two, or drunk on the hoof, but if it was my shop, it would make no difference and I'd have done the same.
  10. Lemongrass: to get enough to use effectively, I think you'd need quite a bit of space. I'm not sure if a pot would yield much. When I grew it in Hong Kong (in the ground) it got large very quickly. The good thing is, it's low maintenance. I had less success with it in Japan, probably because of the lower temperatures, but it did grow reasonably well in summer. If you need more plants, if you can get hold of lemongrass fresh from a Thai shop, you can get it to root in about two days just by standing it in a glass of water, and it's very easy to plant on from there (obviously not in midwinter though). I think if you look in Tokyu Hands, you'll should be able to find coriander seeds. They sell quite a few herbs there, both the seedlings and the seeds. Shibuya is probably the better branch to try. If you plan on using cilantro a lot in cooking, you're going to need more than one packet, because you'll have to sow quite regularly. Thyme is easy to keep happy, another low maintenance plant. It will die back in winter (it may look as if it's actually dead), but will return in spring - mine's just made a very welcome reappearance this week. Dill is easy to grow, but requires a little more care than thyme. You'll have to make sure it gets enough water and not too much direct sunlight. Don't worry about it unduly, you'll soon see if dill isn't happy.
  11. Actually, nothing's to stop him finishing the coffee, then going into the shop. But if you value the coffee for reasons of price, taste or whatever, how about respecting it instead of taking it shopping with you?
  12. Teaching people to cook is one thing. But it has been pointed out that many recipes in this book/series do not save time, are more expensive, or require ingredients that are difficult to find (and are therefore no kind of timesaver). People have also pointed out the direct contradictions between what Smith says in this book and what she has said in other books she has written, concerning the use of fresh ingredients for example. I've no particular dislike of Delia Smith - other than for her insistence on using the term 'freshly milled black pepper' in every recipe, and her apparent belief that the leek is the cornerstone of all good cooking - but the idea behind this series is pretty horrible. There are many ways to cook food that is quick, very easy, and inexpensive, without making the kind of absurd compromises she's promoting here or pandering to the repulsive lowest common denominator of British food.
  13. Thanks to V. Gautam for that extremely helpful answer! Exactly what I needed. Yes, I'm in Japan, and in light of your comments, I'll try to get seeds locally as far as possible. To the person asking about cilantro, seeds are very easy to find - they seem to be available almost anywhere that sells vegetable or herb seeds. They will be under the name "coriander" (in katakana). Once the full heat of summer arrives, you may find it doesn't grow well (i.e. dies), but worth trying anyway. Growing tomatoes on rooftop: I'm no expert with tomatoes, but find them relatively easy to grow from seed, and have been able to get very flavourful tomatoes even when the plant looks like hell as a result of my careful blend of neglect and abuse. Three things you'll need to watch out for - if the roof surface is concrete or tile and in full sun, it will radiate a huge amount of heat into the container, so it may be better to ensure that air circulates beneath the pot rather than placing it directly onto concrete. Terracotta/clay pots look better than plastic but will dry out much faster. And too much rain will kill your plants - if the leaves stay wet for too long, they'll rot - so they'll need some protection.
  14. The gardening thread linked by Toliver is also very good, and might be more specific to your needs, geographically speaking. With those very hot temperatures, you'll need to keep basil well watered, especially if they're in pots and getting a lot of direct sun. You'll see a huge difference between clay and plastic pots - clay looks nicer but will dry out much faster, and obviously, smaller pots will too. Also, if they're placed directly onto concrete, tile or stone, hot summer temperatures will really hit them hard. For your first year, it's a good to do some successive plantings a few weeks apart in case one batch dies off for whatever reason. You should be able to use basil well into autumn, and then it will die off really fast before or at the beginning of winter. I don't think any of the common herbs will harm your cats. More likely the other way round. And catnip will be a good thing to grow for them.
  15. I don't think this was addressed yet, and it looks like some people didn't know how to deal with their basil, but basil is one of those great plants that throws out two new stems for each stem that was cut. Cutting it quite regularly will actually promote growth, and in season, it grows fast. You can be fairly aggressive with it. It's also simple to grow from seed, so it's not really worth buying seedlings. I'd recommend growing chillies, too, either from seed or seedlings, as it's not difficult at all to grow, and it's a beautiful plant. On the Japan forum, Hiroyuki, and Helenjp, Torakris and others have given some extremely useful information on growing vegetables. Hiroyuki's square foot gardening blog has great pictures too.
  16. Dan bing. It's years since I've been to Taiwan, and I really miss those. Taiwan breakfasts are great.
  17. Why not though? What's the furthest point from the ocean in Japan? Most fish would have travelled much further to reach port in Japan from the point where it was hoovered out of the sea than it will to get from the coast to the top of a mountain. I find it far stranger that in my hometown in Britain, just 6 miles from the sea, and with the excellent quality of fish and seafood in British waters, buying fresh fish is a near impossibility - a situation that is replicated in many parts of the country.
  18. I don't expect everyone will agree with me, but I think Hong Kong offers poor opportunities for real street food, particularly if you're coming from Taiwan, which would be worth a trip for street food alone. The variety is huge in Taiwan, while finding any at all in Hong Kong can be a challenge. Hong Kong's strengths lie elsewhere - as far as I'm concerned, chiefly in (cost-wise) mid-range restaurants, though that's mainly a matter of personal taste.
  19. You already have, in the other thread, which is a much better place for it.
  20. I see that they also have many kaiten shops. All the ones I've visited were non-kaiten. http://www.bikkuri.co.jp/tenpo.html
  21. Nothing for Osaka, sorry. You can probably find good, affordable sushi almost anywhere in Tokyo. The only place I can mention by name is Bikkuri Sushi, having visited quite a few times. I have seen some criticisms, but I've never been disappointed. There's one in Ginza, another in Ebisu (the exterior is a fright, but don't be put off), and there are a few others around. It's open very late, 4 am I think, which is a bonus, and pretty cheap. I've also tried some places around Tsukiji. I'd recommend hitting that area first, in fact. I'm not much interested in the places where you need to wait in line for an hour to get in and then sit elbow to elbow with everyone else, so I just hunt around until I see somewhere I like and that isn't bursting at the seams. I can't remember the name of the place, but my last meal there, in a group of four or five, was around 3000 yen a head for a lot of very good sushi. Beer was drunk.
  22. For me, the trouble with kaiten sushi is that there seem to be a lot more of the _really_ cheap places around than there used to be. I feel the same way about kaiten that I do about the plastic-display restaurants. If I need to _eat_, I might choose a kaiten. If I need to eat _sushi_, I prefer non-kaiten places. There are plenty of affordable ones, 3000-6000 yen is about all I ever spend, and usually at the lower end of that range. At that kind of price level, it would be a pity to pass up good sushi to eat in a Genki-chain. Though I'm sure there are some very good kaiten places too.
  23. Red Pepper is still good, but the menu is from 30 years ago (which is not necessarily a bad thing!) and the dishes are seasoned to suit more Cantonese or gweilo palates. For a more authentic mainland-style Sichuan experience that's also cheaper than Red Pepper, I'd recommend Man Jiang Hong in Causeway Bay. 1/f Thai Kong Building, 482 Hennessy Rd. The entrance is around the corner, not on Hennessy; look for the hostess at the little booth with the chili peppers on it. Tel: 2838-8811. ← I didn't want to be the first to say, but I do agree with HKDave on this one. I only went once, but my impression was that Red Pepper was old school Hong Kong. Something about their incessant newspaper ads grated with me, too. I think what some of the more recent Sichuan places are doing is far more interesting and faithful to their origins. Not that I'm any kind of expert. Those pork photos further up reminded me of a place in Wanchai that does great cha shao. The name escapes me. It's on one of those roads parallel to Tonnochy (or it might actually be Tonnochy), just as you turn off Hennessy left towards the harbour. There's always a queue right out the door at lunchtime. Anyone know the place? I know there are many in the area, but this one is popular, and I thought it was really good.
  24. I would suggest that whatever card or message you might use, you can never be really sure that you've been understood fully. So if there is any question of life-threatening problems, consider it your responsibility to prevent them, not the card's or the restaurant's. I know that probably sounds really obvious, but it's far better to be safe than sorry. Personally I wouldn't want to just flash a card and hope for the best, except, maybe, at a 5-star hotel. Ambulances don't seem to move too fast here (a leisurely 25-30 mph seems to do it -- when you're in Tokyo, check this out for yourself), so you definitely don't want to be relying on one of those to save your bacon.
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