The Webster-Merriam Dictionary defines feast as “something that gives unusual or abundant enjoyment." Here we mean for it to encompass all facets of our daily experience, from eating, to working, to sitting on the porch. So with that, you are invited to join our cyber-table. We hope you enjoy the feast!

14 January 2010

hao chi zui (mouths that love eating)

    Have you ever had really bad chinese food? The kind of greasy goodness whose meaty treasures are nestled so snugly in sweet and sour sauce that you're not really even sure what's in it? (The menu says chicken, but then, everything tastes like chicken...) It is this particular kind of chinese food that turned me off to the stuff in the first place. But apparently there is chinese food, and then there is Chinese food. Last night, for the first time, I ate the latter.
    It all began with a book: Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper, A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China. I've been reading it with some friends and its author, Fuchsia Dunlop, has inspired a lot of conversation among us about how we cook and how we eat. This particular group of friends is largely food-centric: we eat for pleasure, we cook for creativity; when we're not cooking, we're eating (or talking about food, writing about food, photographing it, admiring fresh produce at the Farmer's Market, making a grocery list) and visa versa . We enjoy both of these things—the cooking and the eating—alone and together. But we've been challenged to consider how food is not only a delightful pastime, but that for some, [it is a refuge, a solace, a safe pleasure in which you could lose yourself without fear; it provides freedom.]* It's serious. Seriously delicious, but serious. As much as we joke about the pleasure we derive from bacon and foie gras, chocolate truffles and freshly picked asparagus, this book has served as a subtle but pressing reminder to me to be thankful for the splendor of each and every bite. 
    The memoir has also encouraged us to expand any food boundaries we might previously have had—my own boundaries opening wider to include a whole realm of unexplored, intoxicating Asian goodies. Firstly, The Dumpling:
     Last night we made traditional Chinese dumplings at Ji Hye's house. Ji Hye spent her childhood in Seoul, so she likes to put a Korean spin on these dumplings, adding finely chopped pine nuts to them. Whatever you fill them with (veggies, meat, tofu or all) they are bound to be a delectable treat. They are simple to make and quicker to make with more hands, so invite your friends over and have a Dumpling Dinner Party. Check out my friend Corinna's blog for the recipe in case she posts it, or check out this link to a recipe online from Fine Cooking magazine, which, as always, provides user-friendly, thorough instructions.*
*Dunlop, Fuchsia. Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper, A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China. New York: Norton & Co., 2008. pp. 56.
*The recipe, along with a lot of other good recipes, tips and ideas can also be found in tangible form in the latest Fine Cooking magazine, FEB/MAR 2010, Issue No. 103, pp. 70-75.
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1 comment:

  1. Jen! I love this blog! While I still struggle to enjoy or understand food the way you do (the microwave is still my BFF, sigh), I admire your passion for it.

    Oh, and super random (you might not even remember this), but one of my most vivid memories of you involves food! It was my sophomore year, and I was heading to study for finals at the State and Liberty Starbucks right before the holidays. I was stressed and a little down, and I ran into you. You gave me a huge Jen hug, handed me three clementines, and wished me Merry Christmas before carrying on your way. It was a small gesture, but it calmed me down, reminded me to breathe, and touched me so much that I still remember it to this day.

    I know I never told you that, but I always wanted to! So maybe you ladies are onto something here -- maybe we all underestimate the significance of food and the role it plays in our relationships and in our lives. I know I'll keep reading :-)