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eG Foodblog: hzrt8w - A week of Chinese New Year celebration


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Ah Leung,

One of my favorite chicken dishes is the soy sauce chicken, but I never imagined using Coca-Cola for it. Looks great!

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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Ah Leung, the soy sauce-Coca Cola chicken looks good. I think I have some drumsticks in my freezer, so this might have to go on the menu for next week.

I would love a big RV, too, and to drive across the country. I don't think that will happen anytime in the near future for me, though... but I can dream.

Your Safeway looks like a nice grocery store. It kind of resembles our newly-remodeled Giant Eagle, which they call a "Market District". I still prefer to go to the specialized shops in the Strip District instead, where I feel I can get better prices and selection. Also, we can't buy wine in grocery stores here in PA, either - have to go to the state store for that. Bah!

Jennie

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Safeway stores have been around for decades, but as far as I know they stop right around the Rocky Mountains in the United States.  (There may be Safeways in Denver, but I can't swear to it.)  Strangely enough, they do go farther east in Canada; I can go northeast from here and find them in Ontario.

For those who are interested, here's a link to the Safeway web site. At the bottom center is a row of logos of the grocery store chains they own. Safeways used to extend all the way down to southern California, but now they're mostly up north. We have Von's down here and it's funny to see them sell Safeway grocery items.

History Desk at your service. Approximately speaking; I don't even claim Wikipedia's level of accuracy.

Safeway Stores dates to the early 1920s and was founded by the Skaggs family (the folks from Salt Lake City who later acquired American Stores [parent of the Acme Markets chain in the Philadelphia area] and were in turn acquired by Albertson's).

Historically, they were to the Western United States what A&P was to the East--ubiquitous. But like A&P, they had a presence outside their core territory. For a while, the company even had stores in the New York City area, just as A&P had a major presence in Southern California. By the time I was old enough to know what a Safeway was, their territory extended from Kansas City on the east all throughout the West, along with an East Coast enclave in the Washington, DC area. (In Kansas City and Washington, as in LA, you could shop both Safeway and A&P.)

In the 1990s, Safeway (like many other chains) reshaped itself, pulling out of some markets (just about all of its old territories between Washington and Denver) and entering new ones. But unlike Kroger (and like the shrinking A&P), it kept the names of the chains it acquired, as the Web site indicates. (Randalls and Tom Thumb are in Texas; Dominick's operates in Chicagoland; Genuardi's is one of the leading chains in the Philadelphia market; and so on.)

But it did standardize their acquisitions' operations--and that cost them dearly here in Philadelphia, where Genuardi's had a reputation for superior customer service and some very popular private label products. Their mucking with both sent customers away in droves; it got so bad that the chain aired TV commercials featuring store employees apologizing for the chain's slide.

As for why US supermarkets have so much quantity on their shelves: It's not just because they can, it's also so that they can support a high volume of business without constantly having to restock shelves. (I'm referring to your comment about hundreds of cans of whatever-that-was on the shelf, Ah Leung. Why US supermarkets have 167 different brands of sugar-coated cereal (made by the same four companies, more or less) in all the colors of the rainbow on their shelves, but only six brands of soup (if you don't count Knorr, which gets its own section), is another question entirely.)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Erik:

To return in kind, here is my obligatory picture of my work place:

[...]

Oh…  Errr…. It’s classified.  If I show you, I will have to kill… myself.

The only non-classified part is the keyboard and the mouse.

Ha!

Thanks, Ah Leung!

I'm really enjoying your foodblog.

My boss took us out for dim sum yesterday to celebrate the new year.

Even though I am a dragon, I ate like a pig.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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...

As a central Californian, I remember well the celebrations we had for Chinese New Year when I was in school.  I haven't yet seen it written this way in your blog, so I'll add my version of the greeting:

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Thanks for blogging during this auspicious time.

If I remember correctly, some Chinese friends taught me another way to say "Happy Chinese New Year".

My best phonetic attempt is, "Gonh-she, Gonh-she".

(It looks like that could be a shortening of "Gung Hay Fat Choy".)

Any comments, hzrt8w?

Thank you for a wonderful blog!

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Good Day everybody!

Phewwww.... I hate these day-long meetings! A good day went by, just like that.

Breakfast was more of the same: Just hot soy milk heated up at home.

Lunch pictures will be provided. Gosh... my ground school class starts in a couple of hours. Will be late posting again...

Thanks for all your responses! So many questions... I will get to answer them. Promised. That's my style. But time is tight. If I don't get to answer all of them before this blog is up, I will PM you with the answer.

Disappearing again in 10 seconds...

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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This is a typical aisle in an American grocery store.  For those of us who live in the USA this is a daily scene.  But this is one of those things that gave me my first cultural shock when I first came to this country.  The aisle is so wide.  And people put so many quantities of the same good on the shelves!  Why do they need to place 15 cans of Del Monte creamy corns on the same shelf space, with 6 more rows of 15 cans behind them?  - Just because we can!

Only in America!

As for why US supermarkets have so much quantity on their shelves:  It's not just because they can, it's also so that they can support a high volume of business without constantly having to restock shelves.  (I'm referring to your comment about hundreds of cans of whatever-that-was on the shelf, Ah Leung.  Why US supermarkets have 167 different brands of sugar-coated cereal (made by the same four companies, more or less) in all the colors of the rainbow on their shelves, but only six brands of soup (if you don't count Knorr, which gets its own section), is another question entirely.)

Ah Leung -- Safeway also operates in Hawaii, BTW. The layout you've shown in your photos -- with large "islands" of fancy cheeses, sushi, etc. -- is typical of Safeway's "Lifestyle Store" format for its newest stores & remodels, which emphasize fresh foods.

In addition to what MarketStEl said about not having to restock shelves as often, another reason US supermarkets have so many "shelf facings" (as they're called in retailing) of the same brand and item -- such as "15 cans of Del Monte creamy corn" -- side-by-side is for visual impact. Manufacturers also spent lots of money (called "slotting fees") in payments to supermarkets to make sure they get prime exposure.

If you've ever seen the Robin Williams comedy "Moscow on the Hudson," it featured a memorable scene similar to your culture shock at first encountering American supermarkets, where the character (a Russian immigrant) was so dazzled by the enormous selection of coffee that he fainted!

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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I now know how it feels like to be a non-Asian at the aisle of cooking sauces inside a Chinese grocery store.  A total lost on what to pick, and how to pair wine with the food.  It is not that I can’t read the label.  But the incomprehension is just the same.

Actually with the limited knowledge on wine that I have, I owe it to working in a Chinese restaurant called Ming’s Garden in San Diego when I was in college.  The owner had a very interesting history.  He was born in Hong Kong, raised in Paris and later on immigrated to the USA.  His father was a top Chinese chef specialized in Sichuan/Peking style.  He helped his father managed their family restaurant in Paris.  He took his wine knowledge with him to open up Ming’s Garden.  His wine list is quite impressive – over 100 selections of wine, both domestic and imported.  I had never seen a Chinese restaurant owner who knows about wine as much as he did.  We used to have these training “seminars” and wine-tasting after our shift. 

I've noticed that most Chinese restaurants don't emphasize wine or alchol as much as other types of restarurants. I guess, in part, it might be harder to pair wine with Chinese food. But, at the same time, that's always puzzled me because I know that the sale of alcohol is where most restarurants make their biggest profit. How do Chinese restaurants compete with the loss of that revenue? And, why don't they?

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Hzrt8w,

I love your feelings about Coke. I hate it when I order a Coke and they ask if Pepsi is okay. No, it is not. I find it hard to believe there are people who can't tell the differnce between Coke and Pepsi.

I think Coke is the perfect drink to pair with the food at Chinese buffets. Somehow, I think the carbonation cuts through the spicy foods. Maybe it is the ginger flavor you mentioned.

I only get a craving for a Chinese buffet about 3 thimes a year, but when I do, it requires many glasses of Coke to wash it all down.

I will try your Coca-Cola chicken recipe soon.

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epicetus

Amanda Newton

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Just came home from the pilot ground school class. Tonight’s topic was how to use the “inflight computer” E6B and how to use a plotter to examine heading and distance on an aviation map, how to calculate speed, how to incorporate cross-wind in the calculations, etc.. Very interesting.

Earlier today I went to Tug Boat Fish & Chips for lunch:

gallery_28660_4251_42803.jpg

It is within 3 minutes walking distance from my house. Owned by a Japanese family, as it is typical of a few of these fish & chip places in both Northern and Southern California that I have been to. I don’t know what the connection is. If anybody knows, please enlighten us. Would it be that these fish and chips are very similar to tempura making?

gallery_28660_4251_27230.jpg

I ordered a seafood plater combination. It contains 1 piece of cod, 3 shrimp, 3 small oysters and 2 scallops. All battered and deep-fried. Came with some French fries also. The owner brought out a trio of sauces: catsup, cocktail sauce and tartar sauce. The malt vinegar is already at the table. I really like the way they made the batter. Crispy, not too thick. Just right. I think it is much harder to make good deep-fried seafood that it looks.

After my class, I dropped by another Hong Kong style restaurant that opens late: Macau Café. This restaurant is owned by the same financial group that also owns New Hong Kong Wok Restaurant. They serve a mix of Hong Kong and Macau style entrees. Hong Kong and Macau are only 40 miles apart. Cantonese Chinese are the predominant residents. Macau Chinese speak Cantonese dialect just like we do in Hong Kong. The living habits, food, language… everything is indistinguishable. They do, however, have a few dishes that are done different.

Tonight I came here and ordered:

gallery_28660_4251_1494.jpg

Hong Kong / Macau style Curry Beef, served in a stainless steel hot pot. It came with a plate of rice. The other choice is plain spaghetti. Typical of what’s served in the Hong Kong / Macau style café. Beef slices, onion, potato, green bell pepper and curry sauce. Done very well.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Earlier today I went to Tug Boat Fish & Chips for lunch:

It is within 3 minutes walking distance from my house.  Owned by a Japanese family, as it is typical of a few of these fish & chip places in both Northern and Southern California that I have been to.  I don’t know what the connection is.  If anybody knows, please enlighten us.  Would it be that these fish and chips are very similar to tempura making?

There's a Japanese-run fish and chips shop I know of in San Diego which is also very good. They make battered fried zuchini that is to die for. I definitely think the tempura tradition is at work here--somebody in that kitchen really knows what they're doing with a fryolator.

You know, I too have a long-standing pipedream to get an RV and hit the road. Myself, I was contemplating a much more modest vehicle--more likely one of those truck insert campers. But the intent was similar--head cross-country and do foodie stuff. :biggrin: Along with a whole bunch of other stuff, of course ... hey, we could have one of those RV camping jamborees! :laugh:

Edited by mizducky (log)
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The company sure made a big boo-boo with the introduction of the “New Coke formula” in 1985.  This goes to show: when you have something that works, don’t mess with changing it!  The company had to save face.  Instead rescinding their efforts, they said “we will still have the new Coke, but the original Coke would be called Coke Classic”.  Classic, my boo-boo!  The “New Coke” just died a quiet death.

I'm don't quite remember where I read this (Fast Food Nation maybe), but the theory was that when New Coke was introduced, they were still using cane sugar in American Coke. New Coke came out with corn syrup in it. When that "failed," Coke Classic was introduced which was sweeted with...you guessed it, corn syrup! New Coke then was slowly phased out. So the theory goes that New Coke was introduced soley so that Coke could make the transition from cane sugar to corn syrup without Americans noticing the difference. Those of us who've ever had a Coke in a foreign country know there is a difference.

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Earlier today I went to Tug Boat Fish & Chips for lunch:

There's a Japanese-run fish and chips shop I know of in San Diego which is also very good. They make battered fried zuchini that is to die for.

You know, I too have a long-standing pipedream to get an RV and hit the road. Myself, I was contemplating a much more modest vehicle--more likely one of those truck insert campers. But the intent was similar--head cross-country and do foodie stuff. :biggrin: Along with a whole bunch of other stuff, of course ... hey, we could have one of those RV camping jamborees! :laugh:

I used to have a chafer of deep-fried battered mixed vegetables: broccoli florets, stalk, carrot, onion, zuchinni, potato chunks - buffet filler. :wink: I loved the broccoli florets the best.

There's a tiny cafe attached to one of the "not-so desirable bars" in Brandon. It's runned by a Newfie, and his fish 'n' chips are really light and crispy. Wish he could make them lower in calories and cholestrol! :laugh:

There are Good Neighbor Sam Jamborees, Wally Byam Jamborees, etc. We can have an eG Jamboree. Or, if we're set on Chinese food - eG Wokkers! When Wally Byam had their jamboree in Brandon, the city prepared a farmer's field for them - with water and electric hookups. There were over a thousand silver bullets - quite a sight especially if you were flying over. I can just see the eG jamboree now - high-power burners, portable stoves, international flavours wafting up over the city. Yum! :wub:

We travelled a great deal in the 70s, 80s, in first our Volkswagan camper, then a Ford MiniVan conversion (still at our country home). I often cooked one pot rice dishes on the camp stove, or on the interior stove if it was windy or rainy.

"Roll 'em out! eGulleteers!" :laugh:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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My friends went cross country in an RV on their honeymoon. They had a great time. It does look like fun, but I'd probably get a little stir-crazy after a while.

That curry dish looked delicious. Wasn't Macau a Portuguese colony at one point? Are there any Portuguese influences in the food?

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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I've noticed that most Chinese restaurants don't emphasize wine or alchol as much as other types of restarurants. I guess, in part, it might be harder to pair wine with Chinese food. But, at the same time, that's always puzzled me because I know that the sale of alcohol is where most restarurants make their biggest profit. How do Chinese restaurants compete with the loss of that revenue? And, why don't they?

It's not hard to pair wine with Chinese food. It's just not done as frequently as with Western food because wine is a recent introduction to our culture. (Try pairing a nice light, crisp white wine with lobster in ginger scallion sauce. I think that would work.) It's like asking why isn't soy sauce used that frequently in Western cooking. Y'all haven't had it for but so long. :smile:

I can only speak from a Cantonese viewpoint but the majority of Chinese do not consume alcohol on a regular basis. It's saved for special occassions and even then, you don't consume so much. I was taught growing up that those who overindulge are of "lower class" and that proper ladies don't drink. Even a cocktail for me was frowned upon. (Thank goodness I don't really like to drink. But I curse like a sailor. :laugh: )

Chinese restaurants make money on volume. At least that's how we've made money on our Chinese-American restaurant. The profit margin on the entree may be low, however, given the high volume of sales & low overhead, that's how one makes a profit. I was free labor for a while until I wised up and asked for allowance money!

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gallery_28660_4251_27230.jpg

I ordered a seafood plater combination.  It contains 1 piece of cod, 3 shrimp, 3 small oysters and 2 scallops.  All battered and deep-fried.  Came with some French fries also.  The owner brought out a trio of sauces: catsup, cocktail sauce and tartar sauce.  The malt vinegar is already at the table.  I really like the way they made the batter.  Crispy, not too thick.  Just right.  I think it is much harder to make good deep-fried seafood that it looks.

How I used to love that sort of food! I still do, actually; I just can't afford to indulge in it often. That looks scrumptious.

After my class, I dropped by another Hong Kong style restaurant that opens late:  Macau Café.  This restaurant is owned by the same financial group that also owns New Hong Kong Wok Restaurant.  They serve a mix of Hong Kong and Macau style entrees.  Hong Kong and Macau are only 40 miles apart.  Cantonese Chinese are the predominant residents.  Macau Chinese speak Cantonese dialect just like we do in Hong Kong.  The living habits, food, language… everything is indistinguishable.  They do, however, have a few dishes that are done different.

Tonight I came here and ordered:

gallery_28660_4251_1494.jpg

That also looks delicious. I had no idea Hong Kong and Macau were so close together. Guess that makes sense, given the goings and comings in the early days if James Clavell is to be believed. Still, I think I'll have to go re-read Tai-Pan and use a map this time.

The company sure made a big boo-boo with the introduction of the “New Coke formula” in 1985.  This goes to show: when you have something that works, don’t mess with changing it!  The company had to save face.  Instead rescinding their efforts, they said “we will still have the new Coke, but the original Coke would be called Coke Classic”.  Classic, my boo-boo!  The “New Coke” just died a quiet death.

I'm don't quite remember where I read this (Fast Food Nation maybe), but the theory was that when New Coke was introduced, they were still using cane sugar in American Coke. New Coke came out with corn syrup in it. When that "failed," Coke Classic was introduced which was sweeted with...you guessed it, corn syrup! New Coke then was slowly phased out. So the theory goes that New Coke was introduced soley so that Coke could make the transition from cane sugar to corn syrup without Americans noticing the difference. Those of us who've ever had a Coke in a foreign country know there is a difference.

Ahh, sweet enlightenment. I have always attributed my waning taste for Coca-Cola to a general reduction in my sweet tooth. Yet whenever I go to Egypt I love the stuff. I bet if I thought about it hard enough, I'd find that indeed, I started losing my taste for Coca-Cola when they made that shift to corn syrup. Thanks for that information.

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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Good Morning Everybody!

Today’s liquid breakfast:

gallery_28660_4251_32679.jpg

Pennywort drink, recently rediscovered from a conversation on eGullet in the China forum. I had been drinking this when I was a kid but it was not available in the USA (or so I thought). It is a grassy taste drink made from a herbal-like plant. In Cantonese it is called “Bung Dai Wun”, which literally means a big bowl with a crack. That’s what the leaves of a pennyworth plant look like – a coin with a crack. Some street vendors sold this drink in Hong Kong on a cart. I believe they simply boiled the plant and sweetened it with some sugar. On a hot summer day, drinking a bowl (yes it was served in a bowl, as so many drinks are served on bowl in China, including beers) of ice-cold pennyworth can crunch the thirst quickly.

Oh… about my cup. It was from the promotion of “The Truman Show”. I love that movie. The idea of a life that everything is staged since birth. The childhood, friends, wife, the whole town, everything around Truman was all staged.

And speaking of movies, there are many movies I like. But the one that really stands out, and one that I immediately watched a second time just to understand the story – Mulholland Drive by David Lynch. (More so than Blue Velvet.) It is a movie of a dream within a dream. The story line may look weird. But every shot of that movie is giving you a clue of what is going on. The story is not served up to you. You need to connect all the dots to get the whole story.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I have such a backlog of questions to answer.

I have been taken a FIFO approach. FIFO is a geek-speak. It means "First In First Out", computer programming term. Pronounced as Feefol. That didn't work well. But the time I get to answer a question, the content was already forgotten.

Maybe I will try a different approach. LIFO. "Last In First Out". Pronounced as Leefol. Answer a question while memory is still fresh. And go backwards.

I can only speak from a Cantonese viewpoint but the majority of Chinese do not consume alcohol on a regular basis.  It's saved for special occassions and even then, you don't consume so much. 

Actually we do. Chinese do consume alcohol on a regular basis. Just that a lot of us don't drink wine. Beer is by far the most popular. Local ones ("Sun Lik" I think, used to be San Miguel). And lots of imported ones from China (Tsing Tao), Japan, Europe (e.g. Heineken, Lowenbrau). US beer like Budwiser was not common until recently.

Many Chinese also like drinking rice wines.

And brandy.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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That curry dish looked delicious.  Wasn't Macau a Portuguese colony at one point?  Are there any Portuguese influences in the food?

Yes that is correct. Until December 20, 1999. It is now a Special Administrative Region of the PRC. Much like Hong Kong. It is like saying "I don't know what to do with you yet because you are not communistic. I will deal with you later."

One country, two systems.

Any Portuguese influences in the food? You bet ya! There were a few thread discussions in the China forum on that.

That's where we got our Dan Tart!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_tart

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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...
I can only speak from a Cantonese viewpoint but the majority of Chinese do not consume alcohol on a regular basis.  It's saved for special occassions and even then, you don't consume so much. 

Actually we do. Chinese do consume alcohol on a regular basis. Just that a lot of us don't drink wine. Beer is by far the most popular. Local ones ("Sun Lik" I think, used to be San Miguel). And lots of imported ones from China (Tsing Tao), Japan, Europe (e.g. Heineken, Lowenbrau). US beer like Budwiser was not common until recently.

Many Chinese also like drinking rice wines.

And brandy.

I should clarify - I was thinking more along the lines of the 5'o clock happy hour or cocktail. I haven't found it to be common in Chinese culture, but I could be mistaken or I could've grown up in a very strict area. Eh, sorry for giving out any misinformation.

Ok, ok, we're all lushes! :laugh::raz:

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There are Good Neighbor Sam Jamborees, Wally Byam Jamborees, etc. We can have an eG Jamboree. Or, if we're set on Chinese food - eG Wokkers! When Wally Byam had their jamboree in Brandon, the city prepared a farmer's field for them - with water and electric hookups. There were over a  thousand silver bullets - quite a sight especially if you were flying over. I can just see the eG jamboree now - high-power burners, portable stoves, international flavours wafting up over the city. Yum! :wub:

That must be an awesome sight! I don't know if RV camping and Chinese food would mix well. Do you think it will? Or maybe it will. We can get the fresh meat and produce in town enroute. I just need to carry all my dried goods and sauces.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I'm don't quite remember where I read this (Fast Food Nation maybe), but the theory was that when  New Coke was introduced, they were still using cane sugar in American Coke. New Coke came out with corn syrup in it. When that "failed," Coke Classic was introduced which was sweeted with...you guessed it, corn syrup!

Thanks for the interesting bit, Henry. I would think that Coca-cola would use the same formula all around the world? Or may be it is just the "sugar" part that is different from country to country.

McDonald's do adjust their menus in different countries, as I have seen in Singapore, Paris and London. I wonder if Coke adjusts its formula for the local tastes or culture in different countries.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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That curry dish looked delicious.  Wasn't Macau a Portuguese colony at one point?  Are there any Portuguese influences in the food?

Yes that is correct. Until December 20, 1999. It is now a Special Administrative Region of the PRC. Much like Hong Kong. It is like saying "I don't know what to do with you yet because you are not communistic. I will deal with you later."

One country, two systems.

Any Portuguese influences in the food? You bet ya! There were a few thread discussions in the China forum on that.

That's where we got our Dan Tart!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_tart

And I thought Dan Tarts were all ours!! My favorite dessert. I do remember now reading the threads about Portuguese influence here, but the memory ain't what it used to be.

BTW, I think Chinese food would be perfect for an RV, esp. if you have a wok burner.

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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You know, I too have a long-standing pipedream to get an RV and hit the road. Myself, I was contemplating a much more modest vehicle--more likely one of those truck insert campers. But the intent was similar--head cross-country and do foodie stuff. :biggrin: Along with a whole bunch of other stuff, of course ... hey, we could have one of those RV camping jamborees!  :laugh:

I would love to see a RV camping jamboree!

I want to have a modest model too. Just a 40-footer would be enough. :laugh:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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      One I’ve always resisted doing is Fish etc in China. Although it’s interesting and I love fish, it just felt too complicated. A lot of the fish and other marine animals I see here, I can’t identify, even if I know the local name. The same species may have different names in different supermarkets or wet markets. And, as everywhere, a lot of fish is simply mislabelled, either out of ignorance or plain fraud.
       
      However, I’ve decided to give it a go.
       
      I read that 60% of fish consumed in China is freshwater fish. I doubt that figure refers to fresh fish though. In most of China only freshwater fish is available. Seawater fish doesn’t travel very far inland. It is becoming more available as infrastructure improves, but it’s still low. Dried seawater fish is used, but only in small quantities as is frozen food in general. I live near enough the sea to get fresh sea fish, but 20 years ago when I lived in Hunan I never saw it. Having been brought up yards from the sea, I sorely missed it.
       
      I’ll start with the freshwater fish. Today, much of this is farmed, but traditionally came from lakes and rivers, as much still does. Most villages in the rural parts have their village fish pond. By far the most popular fish are the various members of the carp family with 草鱼 (cǎo yú) - Ctenopharyngodon idella - Grass Carp being the most raised and consumed. These (and the other freshwater fish) are normally sold live and every supermarket, market (and often restaurants) has ranks of tanks holding them.
       

      Supermarket Freshwater Fish Tanks

      You point at the one you want and the server nets it out. In markets, super or not, you can either take it away still wriggling or, if you are squeamish, the server will kill, descale and gut it for you. In restaurants, the staff often display the live fish to the table before cooking it.
       
      These are either steamed with aromatics – garlic, ginger, scallions and coriander leaf / cilantro being common – or braised in a spicy sauce or, less often, a sweet and sour sauce or they are simply fried. It largely depends on the region.
       
      Note that, in China, nearly all fish is served head on and on-the-bone.
       

      草鱼 (cǎo yú) - Ctenopharyngodon idella - grass carp
       
      More tomorrow.
    • By Duvel
      The first week of November are „autumn holidays“ in the area where I live. We wanted to use that time to go to Paris, but when my parents-in-law somewhat surprisingly announced they‘d be coming over from Spain for the whole of November, we scrapped that idea and looked for something more German …
       
      So … Berlin. Not the best time to travel (cold & rainy), but with a couple of museums for the little one and the slightly older ones to enjoy together, plus some food options I was looking forward it was a destination we could all agree on. The Covid19 warnings in the Berlin subway support that notion …
       

       
    • By liuzhou
      Big Plate Chicken - 大盘鸡 (dà pán jī)
       

       
      This very filling dish of chicken and potato stew is from Xinjiang province in China's far west, although it is said to have been invented by a visitor from Sichuan. In recent years, it has become popular in cities across China, where it is made using a whole chicken which is chopped, with skin and on the bone, into small pieces suitable for easy chopstick handling. If you want to go that way, any Asian market should be able to chop the bird for you. Otherwise you may use boneless chicken thighs instead.

      Ingredients

      Chicken chopped on the bone or Boneless skinless chicken thighs  6

      Light soy sauce

      Dark soy sauce

      Shaoxing wine

      Cornstarch or similar. I use potato starch.

      Vegetable oil (not olive oil)

      Star anise, 4

      Cinnamon, 1 stick

      Bay leaves, 5 or 6

      Fresh ginger, 6 coin sized slices

      Garlic.  5 cloves, roughly chopped

      Sichuan peppercorns,  1 tablespoon

      Whole dried red chillies,   6 -10  (optional). If you can source the Sichuan chiles known as Facing Heaven Chiles, so much the better.

      Potatoes 2 or 3 medium sized. peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

      Carrot. 1,  thinly sliced

      Dried wheat noodles.  8 oz. Traditionally, these would be a long, flat thick variety. I've use Italian tagliatelle successfully.    

      Red bell pepper. 1 cut into chunks

      Green bell pepper, 1 cut into chunks

      Salt

      Scallion, 2 sliced.
         
      Method

      First, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and marinate in 1½ teaspoons light soy sauce, 3 teaspoons of Shaoxing and 1½ teaspoons of cornstarch. Set aside for about twenty minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

      Heat the wok and add three tablespoons cooking oil. Add the ginger, garlic, star anise, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, Sichuan peppercorns and chilies. Fry on a low heat for a  minute or so. If they look about to burn, splash a little water into your wok. This will lower the temperature slightly. Add the chicken and turn up the heat. Continue frying until the meat is nicely seared, then add the potatoes and carrots. Stir fry a minute more then add 2 teaspoons of the dark soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the light soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of the Shaoxing wine along with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium. Cover and cook for around 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are done.

      While the main dish is cooking, cook the noodles separately according to the packet instructions.  Reserve  some of the noodle cooking water and drain.

      When the chicken and potatoes are done, you may add a little of the noodle water if the dish appears on the dry side. It should be saucy, but not soupy. Add the bell peppers and cook for three to four minutes more. Add scallions. Check seasoning and add some salt if it needs it. It may not due to the soy sauce and, if in the USA, Shaoxing wine.

      Serve on a large plate for everyone to help themselves from. Plate the noodles first, then cover with the meat and potato. Enjoy.
       
    • By liuzhou
      Way back in the 1990’s, I was living in west Hunan, a truly beautiful part of China. One day, some colleagues suggested we all go for lunch the next day, a Saturday. Seemed reasonable to me. I like a bit of lunch.
       
      “OK. We’ll pick you up at 7 am.”
       
      “Excuse me? 7 am for lunch?
       
      “Yes. We have to go by car.”
       
      Well, of course, they finally picked me up at 8.30, drove in circles for an hour trying to find the guy who knew the way, then headed off into the wilds of Hunan. We drove for hours, but the scenery was beautiful, and the thousand foot drops at the side of the crash barrier free road as we headed up the mountains certainly kept me awake.
       
      After an eternity of bad driving along hair-raising roads which had this old atheist praying, we stopped at a run down shack in the middle of nowhere. I assumed that this was a temporary stop because the driver needed to cop a urination or something, but no. This was our lunch venue.
       
      We shuffled into one of the two rooms the shack consisted of and I distinctly remember that one of my hosts took charge of the lunch ordering process.
       
      “We want lunch for eight.” There was no menu.
       
      The waitress, who was also the cook, scuttled away to the other room of the shack which was apparently a kitchen.
       
      We sat there for a while discussing the shocking rise in bean sprout prices and other matters of national importance, then the first dish turned up. A pile of steaming hot meat surrounded by steaming hot chillies. It was delicious.
       
      “What is this meat?” I asked.
       
      About half of the party spoke some English, but my Chinese was even worse than it is now, so communications weren’t all they could be. There was a brief (by Chinese standards) meeting and they announced:
       
      “It’s wild animal.”
       
      Over the next hour or so, several other dishes arrived. They were all piles of steaming hot meat surrounded by steaming hot chillies, but the sauces and vegetable accompaniments varied. And all were very, very good indeed.
       
      “What’s this one?” I ventured.
       
      “A different wild animal.”
       
      “And this?”
       
      “Another wild animal.”
       
      “And this?”
       
      “A wild animal which is not the wild animal in the other dishes”
       
      I wandered off to the kitchen, as you can do in rural Chinese restaurants, and inspected the contents of their larder, fridge, etc. No clues.
       
      I returned to the table with a bit of an idea.
       
      “Please write down the Chinese names of all these animals we have eaten. I will look in my dictionary when I get home.”
       
      They looked at each other, consulted, argued and finally announced:
       
      “Sorry! We don’t know in Chinese either. “
       
      Whether that was true or just a way to get out of telling me what I had eaten, I’ll never know. I certainly wouldn’t be able to find the restaurant again.
       
      This all took place way back in the days before digital cameras, so I have no illustrations from that particular meal. But I’m guessing one of the dishes was bamboo rat.
       
      No pandas or tigers were injured in the making of this post
       
    • 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.
       
       
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