September 12th, 2008 — Eating local, Eating Out, Lunch, Reviews
I think I’ve mentioned it before but if I haven’t: I really miss Chinese food. Country Chinese just doesn’t cut it. It’s ok once in a while, like when I’m feeling nostalgic for the food I ate at Chinese restaurants as a child: the sweet and sour that looked radioactive, ‘combination’ chow mein, beef and black bean, lazy susans, back pages of menus that listed ‘Australian’ meals of steaks and chips. They probably knew what they were doing. Not everyone would embrace the food. There would invariably be someone who turned up their nose at the bright red sauces and the battered pieces of goodness-knows-what, not for reasons of taste but to demand something with which their palate was familiar. As kids we used to wonder why you would turn your nose up at Chinese. You would have to be mad.
Some adults went too far in the opposite direction, wearing their imitation cheongsams in an embarrassing attempt to…do I don’t know what. Fit in? Send them up? When in Rome? Who knows. Whatever they were doing seemed denigrating and small.
As kids a big treat for us was to go to the food halls in Chinatown when we visited relatives in Sydney.Usually we would end up eating from the “all you can cram on a plate” buffets because it was all so good and we didn’t want to miss anything. And probably because it was food like that we were used to in the country. And then there was the bbq pork. Dad used to buy a kilo or so and we’d sit in the back of the Kombi, Mum doling it out on pieces of paper. We’d demand more and guzzle and fight until it was gone and we’d be at Hornsby on our way back up the coast. Our parting gift from Sydney.
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May 11th, 2008 — Dinner
This is the picture that accompanied the recipe for first meal I ever made my family for dinner; it’s “Fillet Steak Chinese Style” from the Women’s Weekly Chinese Cooking Class Cookbook. I can’t remember how old I was – 13, I think, because my much older sister was living with us that year. The book doesn’t have a publication date or ISBN, but it sold for $3.98.
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May 1st, 2008 — Celebrity Chef!, Cookery Books and Food Writing
Fuchsia doesn’t know about it, though, so don’t go telling her and freaking her out.
I heard about Dunlop’sSichuan Cookery (the US title is “Land of Plenty“) through the first food blog I ever started reading, Though Small, it is Tasty (which seems to be on hiatus). Dunlop also got tremendous writeups at a favourite US blog Tigers & Strawberries (which reviewed her second book, Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook here).
I cook from those books at least once a week, usually more. She’s permanently changed where I shop, what’s in my cupboard and what’s on my plate. The picture above shows some new cupboard staples – red (chilli) oil, hunanese salted chillies and sweet aromatic soy sauce.
On Monday I managed to get my hands on a copy of her new food memoir Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, which I’ve been
hassling for asking about in bookstores for a couple of weeks.
As isn’t uncommon, the US and Australian covers
are different. Can you pick which is which, though?
Nah, the one with the overblown lychees and those
slightly lewd mushrooms is Australian.
I’m keen to start it but I can’t do that until there’s a
good clear stretch in front of me – judging from past
experience, once I start reading I won’t be doing
anything else for a while.