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  1. My post is two-fold. Are there any experts on Taiwanese cuisine out there? My family is Taiwanese---I am American-born. I can navigate Mandarin (conversation) but am illiterate (my parents are bitterly disappointed.) I love going back to see family and they feed me well...but much of the time I don't know what I'm eating and we don't know how to communicate. Is there an authoritative Taiwanese cookbook? My uncles and aunts and etc speak mostly Taiwanese (Fujianese if you will) exclusively and I don't know any at all, beyond a few insults and very few foods. Since it isn't a written language AND i'm illiterate anyway, I don't have a way for googling some of the dishes I really love. Unrelated, but still puzzling note---the majority of Chinese grocery stores here are Cantonese speakers, and I don't understand Cantonese at all. Is the cantonese "choy" the same as the mandarin word "tsai?"
  2. garlic mustard (now just the flowers and young young leaves at the top.) purslane (later, august or so.) milkweed shoots ramps dandelion (not this year as we got a puppy and she pees on the front yard where the dandelions are) daylily buds bass tree flowers
  3. I think you're being too soft on the "tendency to believe own culture is superior" statement. At the risk of drawing the wrath of other egulleteers, I think most Chinese are raised to believe that the Chinese culture is far superior to all others. In every way. The sleeping dragon whose destiny it is to rise to great glory, etc etc. So really, it's not about the food----it could be anything. Furthermore, there's no use debating about the merits of another culture's food, because if it isn't Chinese, it just doesn't really matter---they probably aren't all that interested. They may be interested in learning ABOUT another culture, but not too interested in respecting it as on par with their own. Hot pot is still going to be intrinsically better than broth fondue, or even better----broth fondue was created by the Chinese and then stolen by the West! Potstickers are always going to be better than ravioli. After all, the Chinese invented pasta and gave it to Marco Polo, right? I'm sorry if this sounds too harsh. I'm American-Born Chinese (ABC, as we say,) if that puts things into perspective, with a typically Asian Tiger mother. For the first decade of my life I probably believed everything I was told by my grandparents and aunts and uncles: Westerners are lazy, Westerners as a whole are not smart, Westerners are creative but not disciplined and who cares about creativity anyway? Then I woke up and eventually married an American. Oops! To be fair, I do encounter plenty of Americans who believe that their culture is the only "right" one. That's what's so interesting to me----I hear Chinese people speak of what is better, and Americans speak of what is right. Sorry for the tangent, Joe. My point is, there really isn't much of a point in debating, because the other side is not interested in learning or listening. I'm sorry it's frustrating!
  4. bwv544

    Hickory syrup

    i believe you can tap sycamores but the sugar content is too low to make syrup production effective. It's one of those trees they say to tap as a source of water.
  5. bwv544

    Garlic chives

    In addition to scrambled eggs and jiaozi and chive pancakes, my mom would put them in meatballs. Meatballs would go in soup or be eaten on their own. Meatballs were made with pork, sometimes chicken, or sometimes pork and fish paste. Sometimes the meatballs tasted mostly of garlic chives and not much else. Our garlic chives ended up taking over the whole yard, but as they were impossible to buy in our little town, our fellow Chinese friends would come over and cut some for their own households.
  6. What was your family food culture when you were growing up? Taiwanese, with a bit of Southeast Texan/Cajun. Lots and lots of rice. Lots of vegetables---sometimes stir fried and still crisp, and sometimes boiled with ham hocks until limp. Cornbread and grits along with congee. Boudain along with thousand year old eggs. Awesome Tex-Mex chiles rellenos along with firepot with cellophane noodles. You get the idea. Was meal time important? YES. The only excuse to not eat together at the table were extracurriculars/studying at a friend's house. They preferred the friends to come over, though, so they could supervise the studying. If I had stuff after school all the way until 9:30 pm, Mom and Dad would eat some first, and then Dad would stay at the table working and Mom would read until I came home and they'd keep me company while I ate. Was cooking important? YES. Certain things were a family affair----gyoza, scallion pancakes with hot/sour soup, Taiwanese fish-ball soup, roasted duck, daikon cakes. My mother, grandmother, brother, and I are all decent cooks (mom and grandma are pretty awesome). Dad is an abysmal cook but he is useful for things like opening jars, dicing, measuring, carving birds, and rolling out dough. What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table? Like a previous poster, none----but woe to those who stood chopsticks upright in their rice! Who cooked in the family? Mostly mom. We helped sometimes and after I went to college I cooked when I came home to give her a break. Were restaurant meals common, or for special occasions? Special occasions, or when mom was on a business trip. Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over? We had a "kiddy room." When did you get that first sip of wine? According to them, I haven't. Was there a pre-meal prayer? Always. Depending on how the work day went Dad could go on for quite some time. Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)? No, except that Saturday lunch was "throw the leftovers into ramen" day. How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life? Not much. No prayers before meals. We go out to eat quite frequently. There's not a lot of great Cajun food or Tex Mex or even Taiwanese food in Cleveland (unless I'm wrong and missing out???) so we've shifted to other things---Eastern European, Thai, Italian, "American." Food is still really important but in very different ways.
  7. I read this recipe years ago....ashamed to say I never tried it. Lettuce Soup with Pickled Eggplant http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/pickled-eggplant-and-summer-lettuce-soup That should have been the same issue that Grant Achatz was named one of the Best New Chefs or whatever. I think I was 17 at the time and I only remember two recipes from that issue; his shrimp and watermelon and their lettuce soup. How time flies.
  8. Thanks for the suggestions! I helped my gf move in earlier this week and then had to drive back to Cleveland to wrap up work stuffs; because of the time crunch there was no stopping in Mt. Pleasant. We did drive to Traverse City but only really had time to get a cherry pie before needing to head back to Interlochen and get settled. I'm headed up next Monday and can't wait to explore then. Thanks again!
  9. In defense of certain musicians: Sometimes we don't get full control of how we want our sound design to go; I've played a couple of gigs where the restaurant's sound technician insisted that the piano be miked, no matter how much I protested. Since there weren't monitors around me I really had no idea how loudly the music was being amplified for all the guests. Why didn't I put down an ultimatum? (if you mic the piano i'll leave?) Well, frankly, I was grateful for the gig. Was it ideal? No. Did it pay my cellphone bill that month? You bet. I personally don't like live music in a restaurant (though I'll usually take the gig) for multiple reasons: 1) if the music is of such high quality that it needs to be live, people should pay attention and 2) if it's not that high of a quality anyway, why bother?
  10. My mother always shakes her head because I don't use cornstarch at all, except in the Taiwanese fish-ball soup (sounds like "bah gee" in Fujianese). She always marinates pork with it before stir-frying. And sometimes she makes the slurry. All of my family in Taiwan do this. I reduce liquids. My father prefers my sauces.
  11. my father likes it stir-fried with pork. salt helps. really, though, i think people like bittermelon FOR the bitterness. i didn't like it much and would keep salting it to get it down. my father could probably eat it like an apple (kidding, but not really.)
  12. i hope it's ok to bump this thread. my gf and i are working at interlochen this summer, and we're curious about restaurants in the area. i don't think we'd ever be able to leave for a place overnight, so we're looking for things that are day-trippable. it seems like amical is a place to check out. i looked up tapawingo as well but it doesn't seem to exist anymore... any other must-sees? i heard there are a ton of wineries but sadly, i'm highly intolerant to alcohol. we're there for 6-7 weeks, so that should be ample time to explore all the area has to offer. thanks!
  13. http://blog.ideasinfood.com/ideas_in_food/2009/08/one-minute-pasta.html http://blog.ideasinfood.com/ideas_in_food/2009/08/roasted-and-smoked.html Hope those links work.
  14. i don't really know how to include other links but.... Linda at playingwithfireandwater has marinated octopus heads before in squid ink so they look like black olives. she's also done something clever with zebra tomatoes and gel and black sesame seeds to make them look like baby watermelon....
  15. i second the dim sum thing, mostly. my mother makes the best potstickers/gyoza/whatever i've ever eaten in my life...better than any dumpling house in taiwan or even the specialty house in beijing we were invited to on a government research trip thing when i was nine years old. mine aren't quite as stellar, but they're close. and still better than all the places that offer them in cleveland. on the other hand, the other dim sum i like----chicken feet, deep fried eggplant stuffed with shrimp, the long flat rice noodles stuffed with either beef or shrimp, etc----it's just sooo much more convenient to drive 25 minutes and order it all. when i lived in waco, texas, though (for school) and it was 100 miles to either dallas or austin, i ended up making a lot more dim sum items to tide me over between trips. as for menudo....you know, in waco there was this hole-in-the-wall joint near campus that had it, and so i never bothered making it. i haven't found a place in cleveland yet....maybe it's time i try tackling this one at home. i heard it makes the house stink for a day, though. when my parents landed in the states in the 70s, they landed in mississippi and had to make most of their beloved foods themselves---tofu, soymilk, gluten (by making dough and then washing it?) and pressed roe. thirty five years later, they live 80 miles east of houston and just drive in and stock up.
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