Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

eG Foodblog: Nina C. - Around the World in Just One Borough


Nina C.
 Share

Recommended Posts

Great stuff, so glad you persevered. Great pies, great sausages!

No breakfast for me as I stayed up too late working, and now I just don't have any appetite.

Who hasn't done that at one time or another? Have your breakfast before you go to bed, it becomes tomorrow-guy's problem, not hungry-tonight-guy's problem.

BTW, If Bedford-Stuyvesant can be "Bed-Stuy" I think goat roti can be "goti".

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great stuff, so glad you persevered. Great pies, great sausages!
No breakfast for me as I stayed up too late working, and now I just don't have any appetite.

Who hasn't done that at one time or another? Have your breakfast before you go to bed, it becomes tomorrow-guy's problem, not hungry-tonight-guy's problem.

BTW, If Bedford-Stuyvesant can be "Bed-Stuy" I think goat roti can be "goti".

Goti! I love it.

(If anyone's wondering, I know the old Dutch town names can be difficult. It's pronounced Bed-ford Sty (like a pig sty) ves ant)

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Holy smokes, that's a lotta stuff! I'm looking forward to seeing the 10 dishes you make with it. :laugh:

I'm enjoying your blog, and glad to see you back online. What certain birds or certain seafood is excluded from Halal cookery, do you know? I knew about the pork, but clearly, I have more to learn.

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm still in the midst of uploading pictures, so I'll have to tease a little more until tomorrow.

Here's what I saw, ate, or bought today:

tacos al pastor

tripe

more kielbasa

bahn mi

pan dulce

hundreds of fruits and vegetables

pig trotters

pork buns

preserved lemons,

litchee milkshake,

gallery_37101_5335_6695.jpg

and

gallery_37101_5335_61884.jpg

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Breakfast this morning:

gallery_37101_5335_5936.jpg

These are made by Baked, a chic little bakery in Red Hook. (Although I bought them yesterday at Blue Apron Foods in Park Slope.)

You may have heard of Red Hook for its legendary Latin American foods at the ball fields or for it's history of shipbuilding and longshoremen. Right on the water, Red Hook isn't served by any subways, and it's geographically divided from the rest of Brooklyn by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. It has few grocery stores and it seems like it has been forgotten by those who maintain city infrastructure for far too long. (Potholes and burned out street-lights, for example) But the yuppies are moving in, slowly and a few intrepid businesses and restaurants are springing up. Baked is one of them.

Baked has a young design sense, characterized by the faux-animal heads on the wall, and clean packaging look of lower-case letters. They got write-ups in all the important press, and hipsters decorate their lounge-like cafe. But far more important than any of the hype is that they make a great product.

These are not quite as good as homemade but they're still light and fluffy and the cocoa flavor is rich. I wouldn't be surprised if they were using Valhrona cocoa. The only description I've found of them says that they are dusted with cocoa, but they've got a light-brown inside which makes me suspect that chocolate is also added at an earlier stage. They made a good and sugary breakfast, which I'll need to get through a long day!

Edited by Nina C. (log)

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All of Carroll Gardens used to be considered as Red Hook until it started becoming gentrified in the 80's. BTW, Ferdinando's lies within your definition of Red Hook. :wink:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All of Carroll Gardens used to be considered as Red Hook until it started becoming gentrified in the 80's. BTW, Ferdinando's lies within your definition of Red Hook. :wink:

That is a fascinating thing I did not know! It's especially interesting considering the backlash against people trying to apply the Red Hook label to the Columbia Waterfront district - which used to be part of Red Hook? I guess it's kind of like the Clinton / Hell's Kitchen name war - the developer types want the nice name and the dive bar types want the cool one. One of my friends used to live in Red Hook and LeNell's, now, that is an amazing place to go if you like bourbon.

Nina, you don't seem to be at all intimidated by ethnic markets or factory settings. Were you ever? Some places I can handle and some just scare the crap out of me. It's not my fault I was raised on sterile supermarkets :blush:

To hell with poverty! We'll get drunk on cheap wine - Gang of Four

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh for a bigger stomach! Oh for expanding pants!

Such is the lament of a writer visiting Sunset Park.

This neighborhood.south of Park Slope is home to two great eating areas – a cluster of Mexican groceries, taco spots, and churro sellers on 5th avenue, and Brooklyn's Chinatown on 8th Avenue. These are areas that I have yet to explore as thoroughly as I would like – partially because it's a multi-transfer train ride from my house, partially because I'm lazy, partially because I don't have enough eating buddies who think a Saturday spent eating tacos is a fantastic Saturday.

But all this means is that when I do make it here, around every corner is a new surprise, a new gamble to take. Will this place sell better dumplings than the other? Will this sweet bread contain a great filling or a terrible one? And of course, how bad will my indigestion be?

gallery_37101_5335_40047.jpg

gallery_37101_5335_75952.jpg

gallery_37101_5335_36677.jpg

The place I've liked before, Tacos Matamoros, was strangely closed but I wasn't too worried. At Ricos Tacos: one taco al pastor, one taco carnitas. I stay away from the tortas, thinking I should keep things light, save room. At the last minute, my mouth defies my brain, and adds on a spicy chicken tostada. I can take things home, I reason.

gallery_37101_5335_65151.jpg

As I open these babies up and snap their picture, I think to myself that I should analyze them so I can report back to you all. But as soon as I've tasted a bite, all pretentious food babble goes out the window. I'm hungry, the receptors in my brain recognize GOOD FOOD IN MOUTH and before I know it, the carnitas taco is gone, my stained fingers their only legacy. This isn't food for pretension anyway – it's simple, it's spicy, it's hot and it's good. The al pastor was even better than the carnitas – less about heavy handed spice, and more about flavor. But that's all I can tell you for now. More research is necessary.

I did try a few bites of the tostada, but my mouth was ready to move on to new adventures. Around the corner, and a few doors north, the smell of baking breads lures me into a tiny bakery. Their small shelves are full of my manna – pan dulce. When I take out my camera, it turns into a photo shoot as an owner eagerly asks me to take pictures of the men working, the many breads and sweets, and even himself eating dinner.

gallery_37101_5335_11311.jpg

gallery_37101_5335_32339.jpg

gallery_37101_5335_30969.jpg

gallery_37101_5335_26664.jpg

My bag grows fuller with 2 kinds of pan dulce.

gallery_37101_5335_90195.jpg

(above: pyramid of manteca aka lard, tripe, pig trotters, charcuterie of a different sort, piloncillo sugar, I forget the name of these, bags of chilis, fried churros and treats, pinatas.)

Reason starts to win over desire as I walk further. I have chili peppers and Ibarra and even some jarred mole already at home. I don't stop in any grocery stores, although another bakery causes me to buy a few more sweets. But there is no time for pausing now. It's on to Chinatown.

Edited by Nina C. (log)

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All of Carroll Gardens used to be considered as Red Hook until it started becoming gentrified in the 80's. BTW, Ferdinando's lies within your definition of Red Hook. :wink:

It's funny how the neighborhood names change, don't you think? Honestly, the entirety of Park Slope has such shifting borders. Real Estate agents seem to push the southern border ever southward. Sometimes areas far too western are called Park Slope. There's a new neighborhood called "Greenwood Heights" and I know that since I've only been here 8 years, I probably don't call neighborhoods the same thing as old timers.

I don't know if I'm going to get to Carroll Gardens really. I was there briefly tonight for dinner, but I wasn't really in food blog mode. My best friend got some scary medical news today so this was Be cheerful! Hang out! Drink wine! Oh that's right, I should take some pictures mode.

Park Slope I have one or two pictures of. It's changed so much - you should see 5th avenue. Hot restaurant central. When I lived in the slope it was boarded up storefronts, the odd video store, and El Salvadorian restaurants. Unfortunately that's not where I was yesterday, so no pictures of that.

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nina, you don't seem to be at all intimidated by ethnic markets or factory settings.  Were you ever?  Some places I can handle and some just scare the crap out of me.  It's not my fault I was raised on sterile supermarkets  :blush:

Not really. The one time I've had food poisoning, I got it from a vegetarian restaurant. And it was terrible, awful food poisoning. Also, I lived in Mexico as a child (where I did have Montezuma's curse but that's different) so I probably got any fears out of my system quickly. It's possible I'll get sick, but it's certain that I'll get to try new and/or satisfying foods.

I am kind of creeped out by freegans. Or just eating any of their food. But that's neither here nor there.

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whoops! There goes another one of my poor vocabulary choices. 'Sanitary' was the word that popped into my head when I imagined cold, impersonal service (or lack of, really) and over-packaged, robot-produced food things lined neatly up on shelves. I didn't mean to imply my market was any cleaner than those - who knows what went on in the back room at the A&P?

Women in my family tend to be shy so we love non-interactive shopping. My mom would have loved Fresh Direct even more than I do. Small markets I can handle, e.g. the Thai Grocery in Chinatown, esp. when I know exactly what I need and can't get it (or recognize it) myself. But enough about me!

So I guess what I was trying to ask was, have you always been an adventurous shopper, or did you have to train yourself?

(Oh, and I used to have chef friends who went dumpster-diving at Trader Joe's long before it had a cool name. The only creepy part, really, was the fear of getting caught and lectured by the employees. The food was quite fine - just broken.)

To hell with poverty! We'll get drunk on cheap wine - Gang of Four

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I reacted poorly as well - I should have discounted the notion that the places I shop aren't as sanitary. But an attempted sentence to that effect sounded sanctimonious, so I deleted it rather than work on it further.

A quick digression: Because of my mother's work as an art historian, I spent several years as a child in Oaxaca, Mexico. My nervous mother brought suitcases full of board games, peanut butter, and breakfast cereal, and plenty of iodine to wash the vegetables and fruits. We were strictly forbidden to eat any street food, as she couldn't be sure that it was safe for us unless she had cooked it herself. Little did I listen.

Since she was working most days, my brother and I were left on our own, or with a babysitter. We had money for shopping – with the old peso of the 80s, fifty cents meant we were the richest kids anywhere. My brother spent his money on soccer balls, which quickly sailed over fences or popped on the shards of glass that guarded compounds. I spent mine on art supplies and food. Most of it was sweet – packs of chicles, fruit on sticks, sticky bunelos in the middle of the zocalo. But my child-size sweet tooth was most sated by pan dulce - a soft white bread decorated with a thick layer of sugar, often in tempting colors.

Unfortunately, the idyllic memory of pan dulce means that what I've found in this country has a hard time measuring up. I keep buying it, content for the first few bites at the simple sweetness, but then the bread tastes fake, not what I know bread to taste like. I suspect it is because most pan dulce here is coming from a central supplier, or uses vegetable shortening, but I'm not certain.

I suppose the same instinct that leads me to be what you call an "adventurous shopper" is what brought me to New York. Plenty of people ask me how I can live in NYC's dirt/crime/bustle, but the truth is that none of that is as extreme as it seems and what's left has more charm than negativity for me. Then again, I don't think of myself as that "adventurous" - you'll notice that none of the tripe made its way into my basket. :biggrin:

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

Link to comment
Share on other sites

gallery_37101_5335_66988.jpg

If you've ever walked through Manattan's Chinatown, you know the assault of the senses can be overwhelming -- millions of products with bright colors (many of which make noises or flash lights,) thousands of pounds of foodstuffs, shopkeepers shouting, trying to lure in customers, cars honking and traffic bustling, and above all, the swarms of tourists reaching for a cheap knockoff Fendi bag. While one would hardly call Brooklyn's Chinatown quiet, the lack of tourists, the more contained sidewalks, and wider streets mean that a foodie on a mission has a little more elbow room to squeeze the persimmons and smell the durian.

Chinatown stretches for almost 20 blocks along 8th avenue, but fortunately, my favorite Vietnamese sandwich shop is near the start. .Fortified with a thick litchee shake and a half a banh mi, I poke through almost every shop, my bag gaining weight every few steps. I seem to be planning for a starch-a-thon, as the bakeries and dumpling houses keep tempting. The old axiom of "no recommendations? Look for the most popular spot" doesn't work; every place is full of people seemingly having an afternoon snack and chatting up a storm. So what's a girl to do, but keep pointing to ambiguously-filled soft golden buns, waiting for a reaction from the non-English speaking workers? When they make a face, I assume they are saying "White girl, you don't want that. That's hard core." But if they just nonchalantly put it in a bag, charging me 80 cents, it gets added to the pastry Russian Roulette that awaits me.

gallery_37101_5335_320.jpg

gallery_37101_5335_64591.jpg - the best Banh Mi

In the grocers, fish tanks of lobsters and large mouthed fish swim along, stupefied, on their way to becoming tonight's dinner. Piles of brightly shined fruit, each more impossibly cheap than the next sit to gardens of bok choy in every size, and mountains of dried mushrooms and herbs. The items I can't identify far outnumber those I can. People around me motion for the workers to given them small dried brown things from one jar, and bright orange jellies from another.

gallery_37101_5335_27559.jpg

The color is pretty accurate

gallery_37101_5335_21203.jpg Rachel Perlow would be proud.

I start to worry at having to tell my sweetheart, "We're having cold bahn mi and an assortment of sweet pastries for dinner." Will he be ready for a carbo joy ride, punctuated with rich pork products? Perhaps we need a soup – a simple, healthful, brothy vegetable soup to counteract the damage I'm doing. In my bag, a few vegetables make friends with the piles of baked dough – bok choy, garlic scapes, carrot, scallions. Then I grab what I assume are rice cakes along with a huge bag of dried black mushrooms. I don't think too much about authenticity – I couldn't even begin to. I consider piles of shrimp, glistening in their beds of ice, but decide instead that simple is better. However, Chinese hot sauce, unusual snacks, lap xuong (sausage) and more bakery buns come home with me. Those devious words "it's research!" keep looping through my head.

gallery_37101_5335_41338.jpg

gallery_37101_5335_45555.jpg

Later that night, I soak the mushrooms to make a rich broth, add soy sauce and sesame oil, then simmer the vegetables and rice cakes briefly. To liven up all the moody browns, I slice the carrots into pretty little flowers. The pastries are nice, but it is the soup that deeply satisfies.

gallery_37101_5335_11221.jpg

Don't worry - we didn't begin to finish all of these. gallery_37101_5335_30220.jpg

This one we did finish - the inside was an intense coconut paste that was awesome with the flaky and soft pastry

gallery_37101_5335_7039.jpg

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

Link to comment
Share on other sites

banh mi has got to be the most satisfying and cheapest meal one can get (:

oh and those mushrooms look absolutely beautiful. They taste fantastic cooked on a korean tabletop grill after you cook pork belly on it so they can fry in all the pork fat

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

whoa I just saw that you added some korean rice cakes to your soup (: don't they add a nice texture to soups? I love adding them to spicy ramen

Edited by SheenaGreena (log)
BEARS, BEETS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm loving this blog so much! just about my favourite thing in the world to do on holiday is just walk, poke my nose into neighbourhood grocery stores and try to figure out what everyone is eating and cooking.

those pastries look wonderful :wub: now to make a coconut paste danish.....

Spam in my pantry at home.

Think of expiration, better read the label now.

Spam breakfast, dinner or lunch.

Think about how it's been pre-cooked, wonder if I'll just eat it cold.

wierd al ~ spam

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good morning -

This is the sight that greeted me today: gallery_37101_5335_257631.jpg

It's 20 degrees outside, and the forecast calls for the snow to change into delightful "wintery mix" of rain and snow by the afternoon.

and so I'm eating breakfast and pondering what to do with the day. I think that rather than treking around the city, it might be a nice day for a baking project and/or an elaborate soup.

gallery_37101_5335_181548.jpg

(it feels silly to take a picture of an english muffin with peanut butter and banana. But there it is.)

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good morning -

gallery_37101_5335_181548.jpg

(it feels silly to take a picture of an english muffin with peanut butter and banana. But there it is.)

Oh, but that is just perfect on a cold snowy morning. An elaborate soup would be most welcomed as we are covered by snow.

Hubby and I were in Manhattan's Chinatown acouple of years ago. It was a completely new experience for me - to be surrounded by so many and so much Chinese! I felt like a foreigner (and I'm Chinese!)and was very envious of all that people in big cities have easy access to. I can't even remember where or what we ate - just the clothes we bought. :rolleyes:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

banh mi has got to be the most satisfying and cheapest meal one can get (:

oh and those mushrooms look absolutely beautiful.  They taste fantastic cooked on a korean tabletop grill after you cook pork belly on it so they can fry in all the pork fat

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

whoa I just saw that you added some korean rice cakes to your soup (:  don't they add a nice texture to soups?  I love adding them to spicy ramen

Mmmm I wish I had some of those mushrooms right now!

I love the rice cakes - They are soft and chewy and add heft to the soup. Do you know how to store them? How long will they keep?

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

Link to comment
Share on other sites

banh mi has got to be the most satisfying and cheapest meal one can get (:

oh and those mushrooms look absolutely beautiful.  They taste fantastic cooked on a korean tabletop grill after you cook pork belly on it so they can fry in all the pork fat

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

whoa I just saw that you added some korean rice cakes to your soup (:  don't they add a nice texture to soups?  I love adding them to spicy ramen

Mmmm I wish I had some of those mushrooms right now!

I love the rice cakes - They are soft and chewy and add heft to the soup. Do you know how to store them? How long will they keep?

you freeze them if you want to store them for a while...or refridgerate them if you are going to use to fairly soon. To reconstitute them if they are frozen, you just soak them in some water.....for how long I don't know ): Some people say all day, some an hour, I usually soak them until they get soft (an hour)

BEARS, BEETS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nina: I’m a little hazy on when your foodblog ends, but I will not be at all upset if it continues for a while (you may feel differently, of course). I visit NYC now and again, and you have provided lots of ideas for exploring your borough beyond the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Thanks persevering in the face of adversity and providing a week filled with charm and lovely food (especially the beautiful market montages).

Nicely done!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      Note: This follows on from the Munching with the Miao topic.
       
      The three-hour journey north from Miao territory ended up taking four, as the driver missed a turning and we had to drive on to the next exit and go back. But our hosts waited for us at the expressway exit and led us up a winding road to our destination - Buyang 10,000 mu tea plantation (布央万亩茶园 bù yāng wàn mǔ chá yuán) The 'mu' is  a Chinese measurement of area equal to 0.07 of a hectare, but the 10,000 figure is just another Chinese way of saying "very large".
       
      We were in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where 57% of the inhabitants are Dong.
       
      The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels.
       
      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.
       

       

       
      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
       
      Then into lunch:
       

       

      Chicken Soup
       

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato
       

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.
       

      Stir fried lotus root
       

      Daikon Radish
       

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.
       

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable
       

      Fried Beans
       

      Steamed Pumpkin
       

      Chicken
       

      Beef with Bitter Melon
       

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
       

      Oranges
       

      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known for the quality of its pomelos.
       
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.
       

       

       

       

       
      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.
       

       
      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
      And here they are:
       
       
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By FoodMuse
      Hello everyone,
      eGullet was nice enough to invite me to write a food blog chronicling what I've made or eaten out for one week. I'm so excited about it! Thanks guys.
      About me:
      I dream about food, I wake thinking what's for dinner and I'm so excited to share it with you. I'm part of the food world in New York. By that, I just mean that I'm so fortunate enough to be invited to great events where I get to eat great food. I'm also a nerd and a part of the technology world. I produce, edit and sometimes host food related web videos and I'm also a part of the tech world.
      I'm launching a website called Please, Pass the Gravy. www.pleasepassthegravy.com We let you create a menu, invite friends and then collaborate on that menu. Never host another potluck with 8 pasta salads. You could use it now, but we're alpha launch, it works but it's ugly. It's my ugly baby. So, if you use it be kind and message me if you have improvement ideas. I thought it would be ok to write about it here because it is food related.
      I live in Brooklyn with a lovely guy who likes to eat and a small corgi mix dog. I cook pretty much every night and do a nice brunch on the weekend. I am not a crazy dog lady, but I do admit to cooking food for the dog. I have an excuse, beyond doting, he had seizures that have stopped since not feeding him dog food.
      Foods I cook:
      Spicy foods! If you look at my blog I have a simple papaya ketchup with habanero that is pretty darn good.
      I love great cheese. This may be the week for Beer Cheese Soup.
      I try to limit carbs, though I do cheat.
      In any given week C. and I probably eat cauliflower, broccoli and green beans as a side.
      Tonight's dinner will be Vietnamese inspired. We'll see how it goes. I'll post about it as soon as I can.
      Any requests? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.
      -Grace
    • 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.
       
       
       
       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...