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By Lisa Shock
Years ago, when I visited Tokyo, I ate in a small but fascinating restaurant called 'It's Vegetable' which is now, unfortunately, closed. The chef was from Taiwan, and he made Buddhist vegetarian and vegan dishes that resembled meat. During my visit, several monks wearing robes stopped in to eat dinner. The dishes were pretty amazing. I understood some of them, like using seitan to mimic chicken in stir fry dishes, others used tofu products like yuba, but, others were complex and obviously difficult. One very notable dish we enjoyed was a large 'fish' fillet designed to serve several people. It had a 'skin' made of carefully layered 'scales' cut from nori and attached to the surface. Inside, the white 'flesh' flaked and tasted much like a mild fish. Anyway, apparently Buddhist fake meat meals are very popular in Taiwan and many places, cheap through to fine dining serve them. Yes, if I worked on it for a while, I could probably refine one or two dishes on my own, but, I am wondering if there's a Modernist Cuisine type cookbook for skillfully making these mock meats from scratch? (I have heard that some items are commercially made and available frozen there, much like soy-based burgers are in the US.) I am willing to try almost any offering, even if it's entirely in Chinese. And, I know how to use remailers to purchase regional items from the various local retailers worldwide who do not ship to the US.
I got an e-mail this morning about the Modernist team's next project - pizza!
Modernist Pizza is Underway!
After taking on the world of bread, we’re thrilled to announce the topic of our next book: pizza. Modernist Pizza will explore the science, history, equipment, technology, and people that have made pizza so beloved.
Authors Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya, with the Modernist Cuisine team, are currently at work conducting extensive research and testing long-held pizza-making beliefs; this quest for knowledge has already taken them to cities across the United States, Italy, and beyond. The result of their work will be a multivolume cookbook that includes both traditional and innovative recipes for pizzas found around the globe along with techniques that will help you make pizza the way you like it.
Modernist Pizza is in its early stages, and although we’ve begun to dig in, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. Although we can’t guarantee when it will arrive at your door just yet, we can promise that this book will deliver the complete story of pizza as it’s never been told before.
In the meantime, we would love to hear from you as we continue to research pizza from around the world. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us about your favorite pizzerias and their pizza. Connect with us on social media to get all the latest Modernist Pizza updates.
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 lead 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:
The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato
Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.
Stir fried lotus root
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
Beef with Bitter Melon
Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
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.
Tonight I finished Kristen Kish Cooking, Recipes and Techniques. Alas these are restaurant or competition dishes, and while I would probably enjoy most of them, I saw nothing that I am compelled to cook. Nor for that matter am competent to cook. I commend her for sharing them. I appreciate her definition of culinary terms. My only gripe is that after assuring us she uses a Packojet at work, her ice cream recipes call for a home ice cream maker.
Kristen moved me. I was taken by her back story as a gay interracial adoptee. I can relate to that.
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