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Some Googling indicates that the technical term for this style of chopping block is "end grain bamboo" and that it is, by whatever method they measure such things, exactly 16% harder than maple. It is also, we are told, an environmentally friendly, renewable resource. Here in the US, they sell them at, among others, Sur La Table -- where it costs $65 (US). Ellen reports that she paid 45 CYR (China Yuan Renminbi) for the item, which apparently translates to $5.44.

I've read comments here on eGullet and elsewhere that bamboo is too hard on knives but if it's only 16-percent harder, it seems that concern would be mute. I rather like that chopping block.

I'm guessing, based on observation, that there are both different varieties of bamboo (that we all know) and that, as FG has said, different parts of the bamboo are used for different things. For example, you don't see exposed grain on scaffolding (as you do with the cutting board) because it would be too soft. Going on deductive reasoning, I'm guessing that the discussions about bamboo being too tough on knives are in reference to either a different variety or a different part of the bamboo--interior versus exterior. I have some pictures from Yangshuo of buildings with bamboo scaffolding and I’ll get one up later today. I may also have a photo of one of these cutting boards after being “broken in” -- and while a cleaver is the “knife” of choice in most Chinese kitchens I saw, the cutting boards had a healthy depression in the center from the use.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Some Googling indicates that the technical term for this style of chopping block is "end grain bamboo" and that it is, by whatever method they measure such things, exactly 16% harder than maple.

I've read comments here on eGullet and elsewhere that bamboo is too hard on knives but if it's only 16-percent harder, it seems that concern would be mute. I rather like that chopping block.

I'm guessing, based on observation, that there are both different varieties of bamboo (that we all know) and that, as FG has said, different parts of the bamboo are used for different things. For example, you don't see exposed grain on scaffolding (as you do with the cutting board) because it would be too soft. Going on deductive reasoning, I'm guessing that the discussions about bamboo being too tough on knives are in reference to either a different variety or a different part of the bamboo--interior versus exterior. I have some pictures from Yangshuo of buildings with bamboo scaffolding and I’ll get one up later today. I may also have a photo of one of these cutting boards after being “broken in” -- and while a cleaver is the “knife” of choice in most Chinese kitchens I saw, the cutting boards had a healthy depression in the center from the use.

Bamboo would be hard on knives when deployed in "cross grain" rather than "end grain" fashion in a cutting board. Indeed, most any wood will be bad for a knife's edge in "cross grain" orientation. My superficial examination of Ellen's bamboo cutting board suggests that it's harder than my maple end grain cutting boards, but still somewhat softer than the typical "cross grain" cutting board.

Ellen's last remark may be a telling one. The Chinese cleaver is the typical cutting implement used with this style of cutting board, and the typical action a chopping one. This style of use may benefit from a harder cutting surface material.

--

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gallery_122_0_37627.jpg

I still haven't decided why this amuses me so much. It's not a particularly clear case of mangled English or a botched western culture reference. Maybe I'm just wondering if the Chinese prefer hard seats to the soft ones we westerners would more likely ask for. :biggrin:

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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It's sounding like I'll need a Chinese cleaver and maybe funny pants to go with the cool bamboo chopping block then.

Thanks so much Ellen for the wonderful story and photos. Very educational.

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LOVE THIS! Compelling, captivating, delicious, gorgeous. You are gifted indeed. Thank you, Ellen.

When i was in Guangdong this summer, our guide told us, "The Guangdong people love to eat so much ... if it's in the air (other than a plane), they'll eat it. If it's in the water (other than a boat), they'll eat it. And if it has four legs (other than a table), they'll eat it!!

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...which brings us back to the HARD SEAT CAFE!!

I would kill for that menu board. Not just for the wonderful grammar, but the food: Duck, five ways; Yang Shou Hot pot... Snake Meat? :blink:

I would never order the hamburger...

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

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...which brings us back to the HARD SEAT CAFE!!

I would kill for that menu board. Not just for the wonderful grammar, but the food: Duck, five ways; Yang Shou Hot pot... Snake Meat?  :blink:

I would never order the hamburger...

So cool! I'm relatively new to EGullet but the travelogues are so inspiring.

From the picture above it appears french fries and onion rings are dessert items in China. Phew. If that's the social norm I may have to move there then.

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From the picture above it appears french fries and onion rings are dessert items in China. Phew. If that's the social norm I may have to move there then.

That's what is so funny--because these food items are by popular demand (because it is so charming, Yangshuo is a hang out destination for western travelers who have been on the road in China for weeks or even months and as a result the local savvy restaurateurs have learned to make the favorite comfort foods—often taught by the travelers themselves—that the westerners miss when traveling in Asia) and not part of the local diet, the restaurateurs have no clue how to categorize these foreign snacks.

Along the same lines, after having ordered one of these western food items, it’s a great pastime to anticipate what form of the food will actually appear—will it be onion rings as we know them—or will it be onion rings fried in the wok with oil (ostensible sautéed onions)? Will it be French fries as we expect them or cooked shredded potato with no crispness or relation to French fries or even home fries? Don’t laugh, I’ve been with people who have been served both!

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Hi Ellen - Enjoyed your photoessay. My husband and I plan to do a less adventurous first trip to Asia in 2005. About a month - maybe 6 weeks. Just the highlights. Big cities (when you live in Jacksonville FL it's nice to get to big cities :wink: ). In terms of countries - Japan - China - India - Korea are musts.

The theme of the trip is Asia - the continent of the 21st century. We are interested in seeing places that will prove or disprove this thesis. Places of the present and the future - not the past (museums are nice - but they highlight the past - I'd rather see the Chinese restaurant which was on the national news last night - which seats 4000 people - couldn't believe it when I saw it).

I take it you've traveled extensively (or at least more than I have) in this area - and wonder which cities would be on your "must see" list if you were planning such a trip (even if they're cities you wanted to see - but had to skip due to time limitations). Robyn

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Robyn, can you give any more details about the Chinese restaurant that seats 4000 people? Wow!

It was on one of the national news programs last night. The gist is that the middle class in China is expanding by leaps and bounds - and the members of that middle class all want to do a new-fangled thing - go out to dinner. To relax - impress their friends - etc. The restaurants which are being opened to accommodate the diners come in various sizes - big - huge and colossal! And a few are chains. The piece focused on one of the chains where the restaurants were huge (hundreds of diners) - and then it pointed out that you ain't seen nothing yet (i.e., the 4000 seat restaurant). The piece didn't discuss the quality of the food - but no matter what it is - I suspect that it's better than I can get in Jacksonville :smile: .

I've been reading about Asia lately. I suspect a lot of the cities there are more crowded than I'm used to. I saw a piece about smoking in Toyko. It's prohibited on more than a few streets because the streets are so crowded that it's almost impossible to smoke without burning other people who are walking on the same street! Robyn

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If you've never been to a country like China, India, or Indonesia, but only to the US, Europe and such, you have no idea what true crowding is. Yet, surprisingly, I didn't find it harder to walk in Shanghai than I did in 1987. I'm not sure I fully know how to account for that, but my fears of impassable pedestrian traffic were not realized.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Ellen, I can't believe I have missed this until now - awesome report. Your photos are truly outstanding. Thanks.

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

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