Archive for June, 2010

Technical glitch, and Twitter

Posted by Fuchsia on June 25, 2010
Housekeeping / No Comments

Apologies to anyone who has been trying to use the contact page on my website – we updated it recently, and the contact page got left behind. It is now working properly, so I look forward to receiving stacks of emails!!

I’ve also started using a Twitter account – name fuchsiadunlop – still only a fledgling tweeter, but getting the hang of it…

Barshu awayday

Posted by Fuchsia on June 22, 2010
Barshu, Chinese cuisine, Events / No Comments

Last week Barshu (the Sichuanese restaurant where I work as consultant) ran a team-building awayday for some corporate clients in the beautiful private room on the second floor.  The programme? A demonstration by two of the chefs, Xiao Wei and Xiao Hua, followed by a Chinese wine-tasting and a fabulous banquet. Xiao Wei and Xiao Hua showed the guests how to wrap various kinds of jiaozi dumplings, glutinous rice balls (tang yuan), and leaf-wrapped glutinous rice zongzi – the latter particularly appropriate as the event took place on the Dragon Boat Festival 端午节, when they are traditionally eaten. Some of the guests had a go themselves. And then they tasted a few Chinese wines and some sake, and then sat down to feast…

The pictures show Xiao Wei wrapping zongzi (top), Xiao Hua making tangyuan (right), and one of the guests trying his hand at wrapping jiaozi (below left).

Revolutionary dinner parties

Posted by Fuchsia on June 21, 2010
Chengdu, Restaurants / 4 Comments

I’ve been going through some old notebooks, and found an account of a supper I had in 2005 at a crazy Chengdu restaurant called ‘The mess canteen 伙食团’. Its name was a reference to the mess canteens of the revolutionary era, and all the dishes on the menu were named after revolutionary slogans. So you could order ‘The fragrant grasslands 芳草地’ (a lettuce stem salad), ‘Years and years of peace 岁岁平安’ (stir-fried long beans with minced chicken), ‘Chaos 乱七八糟’ (stir-fried chicken offal), ‘Atom bombs 原子弹’  (meatballs), or – my favourites – ‘Fire-exploded embassy 火爆大使馆 or ‘Dry-fried embassy 干煸大使馆’.

All the waiters and waitresses were kitted out in army gear, and announced the arrival of new guests with a loudhailer. The boss (who you can see in the picture above, with me), was known as the ‘Village Chief’, and prefaced every sentence he uttered with a line from Mao’s little red book.

The restaurant originally occupied a sort of shack in an alley opposite the Sheraton Hotel, but later moved to a new location (pictured). Does anyone know if it’s still there, somewhere?

Brown rice

Posted by Fuchsia on June 15, 2010
Chinese food culture, Food and health / 19 Comments

Rice threshing in Fujian

A study in the US is suggesting that replacing white rice with brown rice could cut the risk of diabetes – findings that might provoke some serious interest in China, given the country’s rocketing rates of the disease.

I have to admit that, although I wouldn’t serve brown rice with Chinese food at a dinner party, I often eat it as part of simple meals at home. I love the taste and texture of brown rice, for a start, and I also like parboiling the rice, and having the silky boiling liquid (米汤)as a soup, perhaps with the addition of a few spring onion slices. And egg-fried brown rice has a lot of character.

Do any of you blog readers think that Chinese people might gradually give up their insistence on white rice, and eat brown rice as a staple, just as many westerners now eat wholemeal in preference to white bread?

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The true pepper

Posted by Fuchsia on June 09, 2010
Ingredients, Sichuanese cuisine / 12 Comments

Chengdu spice stall

My acupuncturist friend Simon came for lunch the other day, and one of the dishes I cooked was that old favourite mapo doufu (Pock-Marked Old Woman’s beancurd). For some reason we ended up talking about Sichuan pepper, and Simon mentioned that he had some stocks in his pharmacy. I doubted that it would be as zingy as the best stuff, so I sent him home with a sample of the pepper I use (a gift from my chef friend Yu Bo), with strict instructions to try his regular pepper first, and then try chewing a bit of mine. His comments, copied below with his permission from an email he sent me yesterday, are a good illustration of what it’s like trying fantastic Sichuan pepper for the first time!

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