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eG Foodblog: Gabriel Lewis - From Nihon to Sichuan to ... Sorbet?


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Next I headed off to the JTM, which was decently busy on a friday afternoon. I dislike coming on weekends, as usually I like to make a full circuit of the market to see what's available, and this takes a long time on weekends. The only disadvantage to this, is that usually more stuff comes out on weekends. By now, I have the entire layout of the market memorized, and maximize the efficiency of my route from vendor to vendor, once I have made the circuit once and decided on what to buy.

Here is the alleyway through which most busy traffic first enters the market:

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My first stop was Porcmeilleur, a small shop that sells pork directly from their farm. They are incredibly friendly, have fair prices, and are always very helpful. Occasionally I will get 20lbs of pork bones for them to make stock, free of charge. And if you need something special ordered, they will be happy to accomodate. Carswell got a suckling pig from them christmas last year, and spoke very highly it.

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When I asked to take photos, the cashier insisted I take a shot of the dancing pig:

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Some photos from inside the store:

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I should've mentioned that Porcmeilleur is in the new strip towards the top of the market, this was put in only a few years ago I think? The perimeter of the market is lined with butchers, cheesmongers, fruit stores, and other specialty stores, whereas the middle is lined with aisles of mostly produce vendors. If you think of the market as a square, then I consider this new strip the "top" of the square.

Here is the middle of the new strip, where a lot of food vendors are gathered:

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Continuing along the strip we have Olive et Epices, one of my employers' stores. As you may have guessed from the name, this store specializes in spices and oils. The bulk of the spices I process are sold here, and they carry a huge variety of spices, oils, vinegars, mortar & pestles, and other things from around the world. This is where Philippe de Vienne can usually be found on the weekend.

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Next we have Qui lait Cru!? One of JTM's two cheesemongers. They also carry a lot of great quebec milk products, like low temperature pastuerized cow and goat's milk, artisanal butter, cream cheese, and yoghurt. This is where I get my milk most of the time; I have to be careful though, because it is minimally processed it only keeps for about a week, so I have to time my purchases carefully. Dairy products arrive on Thursdays. They also carry baked goods from le Fromentier, one of montreals better bakeries.

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Next we have Havre aux Glaces, an artisnal ice cream outfit. Run by two brothers, they have a sister shop at the Atwater market that is only open during the summer season. They make all sorts of interesting ice creams and sorbets out of mostly local products, and are always very busy.

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Next we have La Depense, my employers' second store. This store specializes more in non-fresh esoteric foodstuffs from around the world. They have all sorts of tea, rice, asian condiments & sauces, vinegars, chocolates, asian cooking tools, etc. It is a lovely little shop, and my favorite of the two. I like to go in every now and then and let my eyes run along the shelves, looking for new things. This is also where you can buy Bahjis, and likely find Ethne Devienne on the weekends.

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Some shots from inside the store:

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Next I made a circuit of the market, I'll mostly let the pictures speak for themselves save for a few notes. (Apologies for the blurry ones)

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If you need fish or seafood at the market, this is where I'd go.

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One of this chain bakeries outlets at the market. They're bread is very good.

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One of my favorite vendors. Why? They have a lot of chiles. Other good stuff too.

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JTM's other cheesemonger. Much bigger, more variety, if you're into cheese a must visit.

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The next two pictures of are of the two specialty greengrocers at the market. Personally I find their prices little short of gouging, and not all of their stuff to be that great. For some things though, they are quite good.

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Here we Le Capitaine, my egg guy. This is where I got the flat of eggs the other day. They are the best eggs I've found in montreal, and inexpensive to boot (2.75 for a dozen, 6$ for 30).

Le Capitaine himself in action:

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More pictures:

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Another of my favorite vendors. They have lots of lovely organic produce from quebec, and often have choice mushrooms, asparagus, garlic, etc.

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An alleyway inbetween the aisles of vendors.

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Another of my favorite vendors, can you guess why?

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Wow, Gabe! What a wonderful year it has been for all. I love this time of year. We get the fall crops, it has been warm enough that tomatoes and peppers are still there, and we are (at least in Minneapolis) seeing the return of the cool weather crops like lettuce and beautiful spinach. Plus apples, and squash, etc., etc.

You've mentioned up topic about how you delve into a particular cuisine rather intensely. I notice a more Asian bent in your obsession. Comments?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Gabriel, I have been 'offline' for awhile now and am now marginally 'online' and finally have caught up on the food blogs and am up to date! I am so glad to see you blogging! Montreal is one place that Mr. Kim and I are considering going to, perhaps next year or the one after that. The care and time you take to make your meals is really inspiring! I am fascinated with your food and your city!

Kim

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Wow, Gabe!  What a wonderful year it has been for all.  I love this time of year.  We get the fall crops, it has been warm enough that tomatoes and peppers are still there, and we are (at least in Minneapolis) seeing the return of the cool weather crops like lettuce and beautiful spinach.  Plus apples, and squash, etc., etc.

You've mentioned up topic about how you delve into a particular cuisine rather intensely.  I notice a more Asian bent in your obsession.  Comments?

Yes fall time is my favorite time of year at the market, every other season pales in comparison. The selection of peppers seems to get steadily better each year, there is quite a variety of them available right now. Unfortunately I am not too impressed by our market tomatoes; better than supermarket but a far cry from homegrown or some of the ones I have had from farmer's markets elsewhere.

As for my leanings, what can I say; I like strong flavors. Not to say that I don't enjoy or appreciate western cuisine. I am interested in food and cooking in all its forms, its just that most western food doesn't get me really fired up. The things I really want to devote my time to are flavors and techniques I have never seen or heard of before. There is a whole great wide world of cooking out, infinitely vast and varied, and largely undiscovered. To me this world is just that much more interesting than the largely francocentric (with some italian) cooking of the west. It isn't just restricted to Asia though; I am also very interested in the cooking of latin and south america, persia and the middle east, and to some extent africa. To date the cuisines I have covered thorughly and would consider myself competent in are Indian, Mexican, Thai, and now I am learning some sichuan/japanese. The ones I am definitely planning on getting to beyond these are peruvian, vietnamese, and korean. I also plan to revisit the first five and explore them more thoroughly, region by region (maybe not all the regions, but the ones that interest me most), rather that treating them as a whole "unified" cuisine.

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Gabriel, I have been 'offline' for awhile now and am now marginally 'online' and finally have caught up on the food blogs and am up to date!  I am so glad to see you blogging!  Montreal is one place that Mr. Kim and I are considering going to, perhaps next year or the one after that.  The care and time you take to make your meals is really inspiring!  I am fascinated with your food and your city!

Kim

Thank you for your kind words Kim. If you do manage to find your way to montreal, I think you will find it well worth your while. There is no other city quite like it in North America, and in other respects the world.

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So my friend Nathalie came over tonight to cook Sichuan food with me. Here is what we made:

Appetizer: Beef slivers with sesame seeds (zhi ma niu rou si):

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This was an interested and very unusual dish. Slivers of lean marinated beef first deep fried until beginning to crisp, and then slowly simmered in a soy based sauce fragent with star anise and cassia until glazed, finished with sesame and chilie oil and garnished with toasted sesame seeds. Wildly overcooked by western standards, the beef had a chewy texture not dissimilar to jerky. I really liked this, it was deliciously chewy and flavorful with the sauce.

For the main meal we had Prok slivers with preserved mustard tuber (zha cai rou si), and Dry fried green beans (gan bian si ji dou):

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The beans were a vegetarian version of a Sichuan classic. I opted for the vegetarian version as there was already plenty of meat in the meal. They were very tasty, plenty of wok hei and coated with an oil subtly laced with garlic, ginger, scallions, sichuan pepper, and dried red chiles.

The pork was also very good. Tender strips of pork interspersed with slivers of Zha Cai, a preserved vegetable from Sichuan that is simultaneously salty/sour/spicy/pungent.

And as per the sichuan custom we finished with soup. Chicken soup with pickled mustard greens (suan cai ji si tang):

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A delicate soup, savory from stock and slightly sour from the pickled mustard greens. It filled the mouth nicely, as it was slightly thickened by cornstarch and egg white. It made for a pleasing palate cleanser between the broth, tender strips of chicken, and occasional bursts of pungent white pepper.

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I forgot to mention the drinks with dinner. Nathalie was kind enough to select and bring the wine.

We had a sparkling wine to drink while prepping:

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This was quite nice, very citrusy and easy to drink.

For the appetizer we had a few beers. I find beer goes very well with almost all Sichuan food.

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To go with the main meal we had this Fume blanc from california.

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This was even better. It had a deep flavor with some notes I couldn't quite put my finger on, grapefruit maybe?

And for desert we had Chocolate and Raspberry sorbet.

Raspberry sorbet as a natural choice with the raspberries I picked up earlier. Delicious and well paired to the chocolate (this one I made late in the day, and was very difficult to quenelle).

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Nathalie mentioned to her the other day that she was a fan of dark chocolate ice cream, and I asked her if she had tried chocolate sorbet. I told her that true chocolate fans didn't care for dairy messing with their chocolate flavor, so naturally I had to make it for her to try out. I used this recipe. I'm not sure why the cocoa powder is in there though. Even though the stuff I used was good quality, I can't help but feel that it only took away from the chocolate (michel cluziel, 70%); it also seem to contribute some graininess to the the texture. I think I may try a version with just chocolate. Anyone out there who can recommend a great chocolate sorbet recipe?

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wow, gabriel. if that market is a week day i wonder what it is like on a weekend! what beautiful pictures and your food is spectacular. thanks for letting me hitch along for the ride - an i can't wait to show my boss the dancing pig

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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Wow, those market shots are wonderful! :wub: Makes me wish I had "smell-o-vision" for my computer! Just looking at all those beautiful spices and herbs is droolishus, but oh, the smells must be great! :wink:

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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So after a long week I'm a bit worn out and decided to take it easy today. Breakfast was more st-viateur bagels, and a few spoonfuls of raspberry sorbet. Continuing on this them I'll be checking out a korean restaurant I've been meaning to try for a while, but before that I'll be messing around in the kitchen a bit.

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Apologies for the long delay, I was out late last night and then left early again for breakfast, and only just got home a short while ago.

Breakfast today was a bit of a change of pace. I recently learned that my girlfriend is pretty handy at making pancakes, so I headed over to her place to see for myself. Unfortunately I forgot to bring the camera, but I was quite satisfied with the results, save for the lack of maple syrup. Interesting she added a bit of whole wheat to her pancakes, which seemed to improve their character.

That aside, last night we went to Hwang Kum, a tiny almost whole in the wall korean restaurant located in NDG, a neighbourhood west of downtown.

I was quite eager to try this place out as I had heard great things about it, and am very fond of Korean food even though I don't know much about it. I have a lot of korean friends in Portland Oregon, where my parents live. And whenever I back to visit I always ask one friend if I can come over to his place for dinner (his mom is an excellent cook). Inevitably she always ends up cooking a big feast, and I am always more than satisfied. This past summer when I went to visit my parents he was out of town though, and I felt cheated out of my korean meal.

When we arrived they were quite busy, but after a short wait we were seated and served piping hot barley tea. I was feeling good vibes already, as the place was quite cozy and run by of staff of only three in a tiny kitchen! Apparently they knew what they were doing, as everything was excellent. I neglected to write down the korean names, but here is what we had:

We started with a seafood pancake:

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A korean friend introduced this dish to me a few months ago, and I enjoyed it so much I had to try it here. It arrived sizzling hot on a cast iron platter with bowls of dipping sauce. This was my favorite of the night, and an amazing value for the size of the pancake. So crispy.

For the main meal we shared a grilled eel accompanied by rice, various pickles & vegetables, and a spicy beef and vegetable stew.

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These were also both very tasty. The grilled eel was very similar to japanese Unagi, and the stew a rich chilie based red broth with tender chunks of beef and transparent noodles.

The portions were huged, so the three of us were quite stuffed with just these three. The bill came to 60$ tax and tip w/ drinks; I'll definitely be coming back.

I'll be back later on to post some photos of my kitchen and dinner, and answer any questions anyone might have.

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So I had planned on making dinner tonight, but after a long week and with a lot of things in my mind, I ended up passing out and sleeping much longer than I intended to. Thus far the week has been more or less an accurate representation of my life, but a bit higher volume of cooking than I might normally do. I've certainly had weeks like this before, or where I've done even more, but never with the same level of other obligations to school, work, etc.

Here are some photos I took of my kitchen earlier. My kitchen is very important to me, and although there are still a lot of things I want to do it, I am satisfied with its level of functionality at present.

These photos are of what I think of as my "prep" area. Not too long ago I went to Ikea and bought some pot racks and shelves to create a corner in which to work. My kitchen doesn't have a lot of shelving and or counter space, so this corner made a huge difference once I finally got it up and running.

On the shelves I keep most of my asian condiments, teas, oil, and others stuff that I use frequently in cooking.

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This prep table I recently inherited from work after we got some new tables there. It is working quite well as I was dying for flat space before we had this. The appliance counter thing to the left I got off the street, it isn't ideal but it is certainly functional and for the right price. I feel a bit like my kitchen is pieced together from odds and ends, but I can't complain. People really do throw away perfectly good stuff so often here.

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Here we have my knife rack. From left to right: Tosagata Deba, kiwing paring, yoshikane gyuto, kershaw shun chef's knife. The tosagata and yoshikane are recent acquisitions, and I love them both. They are such a pleasure to use. The deba I thought was going to be a traditional single bevel knife, as it is carbon steel and from a traditional maker in japan, but for some reason it isn't. I still love it, it's very tough and great for breaking down fish and poultry. I often use to chop chicken bones into small bits to make stock faster. The yoshikane is also great, it doesn't have much of a belly, so sometimes I use the shun for rocking, but it makes such a huge difference when cutting meat.

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This is the cabinet above my stove, where I keep baking supplies and other odds and ends.

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A little stoveside spice rack. I rotate in and out the spices I need (literally) on hand for this one.

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My stove.

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Another street acquistion, but quite useful. Unfortunately there isn't any great place to put this, so it makes it a bit difficult to get to the bathroom in back. The cabinet on the left is for alcohols and rices. As you can see, we eat a lot of rice.

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The Japanese drawer:

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Spice drawer:

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Sichuan Drawer:

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My Pantry:

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Spacious, but quite far from the kitchen itself. Since getting more space in the kitchen, it has become a bit disorganized.

My freezer:

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In the forefront is avocado sorbet, something I forgot to mention. A recent experiment of mine, it is pure and simple with only avocados, sugar, water, lime juice, and a pinch of salt. There's so much fat in the avocados though that it comes out almost like ice cream.

My Fridge:

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Fridge door:

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Most of this is my cousin's. As I mentioned, I don't have much pre-prepared stuff.

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So that's my kitchen, and this brings my week to an end. My apologies for burning out towards the end of the week, I didn't prepare myself for the difficulties of blogging as well as I might've liked.

As I mentioned above, this is a fairly normal week in my life. More food related activites than I would do normally in schoo, but not by a huge margin. It takes a lot more time when you have to document it all and write about it.

For those of you who wanted to see schwart'z, I'm sorry I never made it there, but truthfully Schwartz is very old hat to me, and not somewhere I really wanted to go. As you may have guessed by now I am largely an introvert, and am mostly wrapped up in the world of my own cooking projects. For those of you planning to come to montreal and needing advice or where to go, what to eat, and what to see, I would suggest An Endless Banquet. This montreal foodblog has all the information you'll ever need and more, done better than I could have by any means.

I hope you enjoyed my week of blogging, and would love to hear from you if you ever come to montreal. Most people my age aren't really interested in cooking, so I am a bit starved for conversation with people who appreciate food as much as I do. I'd be more than happy to have a chance to check out some great montreal restaurant with an egullet, or if the timing is right, have you over for dinner.

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Gabriel, thanks for sharing a week of your life. Over the course of a foodblog, life usually intrudes in some way – illness, car trouble, camera trouble, computer problems, job school, family, etc. This slice-of-life aspect is one of the things that make foodblogs endlessly fascinating. You showed us a snapshot of your life, your current culinary quests, and some delicious cooking. I learned a lot about Montreal and its impressive food scene. No apology needed - ya done good. :smile:

For what it is worth, at your stage of life, I was living on takeout food, jazzed-up frozen pizza, and fettuccine Alfredo. Keep exploring, keep having fun in the kitchen, and please keep sharing your culinary adventures and what you learn from them.

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Gabriel, thanks for sharing a week of your life. Over the course of a foodblog, life usually intrudes in some way – illness, car trouble, camera trouble, computer problems, job school, family, etc. This slice-of-life aspect is one of the things that make foodblogs endlessly fascinating. You showed us a snapshot of your life, your current culinary quests, and some delicious cooking. I learned a lot about Montreal and its impressive food scene. No apology needed - ya done good. :smile:

For what it is worth, at your stage of life, I was living on takeout food, jazzed-up frozen pizza, and fettuccine Alfredo. Keep exploring, keep having fun in the kitchen, and please keep sharing your culinary adventures and what you learn from them.

What he said, in every respect. Ya done good. Blogging is much harder than it looks.

When I was in college, I was a passable baker but a hopeless cook, and even some of my baking efforts became the stuff of legend.

Thanks, and keep on cooking!

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Gabriel, thanks for a great blog. I'm hoping to visit Montreal next year and your blog makes me wish it was already time to go!

I especially loved the market pictures. Those multicolored cauliflowers, wow!

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So that's my kitchen, and this brings my week to an end. My apologies for burning out towards the end of the week, I didn't prepare myself for the difficulties of blogging as well as I might've liked.

No need to apologize--this was a fine blog. Great glimpse into your (very busy!) life, and lots of fabulous pictures. Thanks!

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    • By Duvel
      In these challenging times, a full summer vacation is not an easy task. For the last 1.5 years we have been mostly at home with the clear plan to visit Catalonia (or more precise my wife’s family) latest this summer. And it looked good for a while. Unfortunately, the recent rise in case numbers in Spain have resulted in …
       
      OK, let’s skip this part. Long story short - my wife and me are fully vaccinated, as are >90% of the people we care about in Catalonia. After some discussion (after all, Germans tend to prefer to be on the safe side of things) we simply fueled up the car, got each a test (for the transit through France) and started to drive …
       
      After a leisurely 11h drive we arrived at a small fishing town somewhat north of Barcelona around 3.00am. We unloaded the car and my wife an the little one went straight to bed. 
       

       


      I found an expired beer in the elsewise pretty empty fridge and enjoyed the cool breeze on the terrace. Holidays, here we come …
       

    • By liuzhou
      Last week, Liuzhou government invited a number of diplomats from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar/Burma, Poland, and Germany to visit the city and prefecture. They also invited me along. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday introducing the diplomats to the culture of the local ethnic groups and especially to their food culture.
       
      First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new.
       
      So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with.


       
      This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women, including her, wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions.
       
      Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look.
       

       
      Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look:
       

       
      As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover.
       
      The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional.
       

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
    • By shain
      It's been more than a year in which international travel was challenging to impossible, but gladly this is changing, as more countries are able to vaccinate their population.
      Greece had managed to return to a state of near normality, and opted to allow vaccinated individuals to enter. And so I decided to go on a slightly spontaneous vacation (only slightly, we still had almost a month for planning). To the trip I was joined by my father, to whom I owed some good one-on-one time and was able to travel on a short-ish notice.
       
       
      Many people are yet unable to travel, and many countries are suffering quite badly from the virus, and therefore I considered if I should wait some time with this post. However, I hope that it will instead be seen with an optimistic view, showing that back-to-normal is growing ever closer.
       
       
      We returned just a few days ago, and it will take me some time to organize my photos, so this is a teaser until then.
       
       
       
       
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