Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

11 November 2019

Chenzhou west railway station

Want to talk about water?
Time to catch a train back to Hong Kong and return to Europe. The station at Chenzou is impressive as ever.

Or maybe it is normal for a city of 4 million to have a modern railway station with fast trains and proper facilities.

Like wifi. There is free wifi everywhere in the station, though it is not super fast and at times a bit erratic.

Several shops sell food, drinks, small stuff.

Everything is payable electronically with Wechat or Alipay. I am, again, one of the few, maybe the only, customer using cash. Oh wait, this really old man is another one I feel less lonely! Not that I did not try.

Vacuum packed duck meat
But I have not been able to use WeChat pay as I do not have a Chinese credit card. The app allowed me to register a European Mastercard, but when I try to use it to pay it tells me I have no funds. When I try to add funds, for example, my wife tried to send me money from her Wechat, I get a message I am not allowed to receive funds either. So I am stuck, though I can still use the app to communicate with my friends!

As for paying, I am resigned to always be the only one using cash in the supermarket, in the farmer's market, restaurant, everywhere really, though my Mao portraits banknotes have never been rejected. At the station's toilet dispenser I was saved as I had paper tissues in my handbag!

Something which is advertised here though you can not just buy it on the spot and take it away is a Japanese style WC, with all the bell and whistles they come with. All kinds of buttons, to wash, dry and even a "lady function" as the ad says (in English), who knows perhaps it is a front-toward-the-back water jet? Arab toilets have it the other way, back-to-front, to wash the rear of either gender. This is new to me. I am convinced that the first person to import bidets to China will get rich quickly. This high-tech gadget is manufactured in Italy by a company called Faenza.

Strangely empty station in Chenzhou
The fast trains come and go every 6-10 minutes. They are marked white on a large electronic board when they are still far away, then become green when it is time to board, usually 10 minutes or so before they arrive at the platform. This way only passengers for the next departing train can be on the platform at any given time. The train numbers become red when boarding is closed! It's my turn soon, got to gather my stuff and get ready to sprint!

Siedo accanto a due signore che parlano cantonese, non capisco una parola ma riconosco l'accento, che subito tirano fuori pezzi di frutta esotica che non riconosco e uova sode.

Buona parte dei passeggeri mangia roba che si è portata da casa. Mi ricorda i treni che prendevo da bambino in Italia, dove le mamme avevano sempre panini pronti, di solito con prosciutto o salame, prima di tutto per i bambini e per se stesse pure

Filiamo via sui lucidi binari lisci come velluto e arriviamo puntualissimi dopo due ore e mezzo a 300 kmh. Controllo passaporti (ancora necessario per accedere al territorio di Hong Kong dalla Cina) e dogana e poi attraverso ancora una volta la larga striscia gialla che indica il "confine" tra quella che convenzionalmente tutti chiamano "mainland" e la "regione autonoma speciale" che è Hong Kong.

Arrivo a Hong Kong in una splendida giornata di sole, e dopo aver fatto chek-in alla Finnair a Kowloon (a Hong Kong si fa check-in in città e si mollano i bagagli prima di andare in aeroporto) mi accingo a fare un giro per la città quando noto televisori della MTR la metropolitana) che avvisano di disturbi al servizio dovuti a dimostrazioni degli attivisti pro-democrazia.

Rapido controllo sul mio telefono (finalmente posso accedere a tutti i siti e il wifi gratuito dell'aeroporto è velocissimo) e apprendo che ci sono sommosse significative un po’ dappertutto, con anche un ferito grave colpito dalla polizia. È la terza volta che si spara da giugno. Decido che forse il giro in città lo farò un'altra volta.



04 November 2019

Ci qo kou, "città vecchia" di Chongqing

Piccola zona di Chongqing, preservata più o meno come era prima della modernizzazione della Cina, una specie di museo a cielo aperto.

Non c'è moltissimo, se non un piacevole passeggio con tanti turisti cinesi e un sacco di leccornie da mangiare, cucinate e servite in banconi e ristorantini lungo la strada.

Quasi tutti i cuochi dimostrano dal vivo come si preparano le specialità che hanno da offrire.

Mi piacciono molto i trroni con arachidi e tè verde.

Si vendono anche strani (per me!) impasti piccanti che servono per condire la cucina del Sichuan, nota per essere tra le più piccanti di tutta la Cina.


Tè di tutti i colori letteralmente!

Spezie in polvere macinate al momento da graziose ragazze.


Qualche negozio vende peperoncino, che qui si consuma in quantità industriali, e lo preparano davanti a tutti in enormi wok in cui lo girano usando delle vanghe al posto dei mestoli!


Mi incuriosisce una piccola libreria di fumetti dell'epoca maoista, molti sono di storie della guerra contro i giapponesi, ne compro qualcuno.

Nel negozio anche molte illustrazioni di Mao, manifesti, riviste un po' dovunque, compro un manifesto con Mao e il Dalai Lama, quando si parlavano, in effetti sono immagini di quando erano molto giovani, ne è passato di tempo...

Moltissima gente in giro anche se oggi è giorno lavorativo, non posso pensare ad un fine settimana.

C'è anche un tempio buddhista, si salgono un bel po’ di scale per arrivarci, ma non c'è quasi nessuno. Molte sale di preghiera, c'è sempre un Monaco o monaca in attesa di offerte o comunque a far da guardia alle sale del tempio.

Stranamente ci sono cartelli di divieto di fotografare un po' ovunque. Facciamo qualche piccolo voto lasciamo offerte.

In cima alla colliinetta del tempio c'è una sala da tè con un bel terrazzo, ci sediamo a idratarci con un tè verde e uno rosso, fermentato?, noccioline e semi di girasole. Difficili da mangiare, bisogna sbucciarli con i denti e far cadere il seme in bocca per poi buttar via la buccia. Lifang ha cercato di insegnarmi tante volte ma non ci riesco, quindi me li mangio interi, con tutta la buccia, non è male soprattutto quando è speziata.

Ci sono molte zanzare e la barista ci porta uno zampirone, che ci permette di restare un po’ a goderci il tè e il panorama senza essere massacrati dagli insetti.

07 October 2019

Al supermercato di Chongqing

Piccolo supermercato sotto casa, molte verdure fresche, anche una bella lattuga da insalata, che però qui cucinano, chissà che penserebbero se sapessero che me la mangerò cruda con i pomodori, anch'essi crudi? Loro i pomodori li usano rigorosamente per la zuppa o nel hot pot per cui il Sichuan è famoso.

Ci sono infinite qualità di riso, con prezzi diversi. Quello a grani lunghi è più caro, anche il doppio di quello a grani corti. Non sapendo che fare ho comprato quello a grani lunghi, poi chiederò a mia moglie. Il riso è offerto in enormi contenitori, ognuno per decine di chili di riso, forse quintali, difficile a dirsi. Poi c'è un enorme cucchiaio col quale il cliente riempie la solita bustina di plastica, la sigilla con un nodo e la porta alla bilancia posta al centro del supermercato, dove una commessa pesa, stampa l'etichetta col prezzo e via alla cassa a pagare.

Acquari con pesci vivi, divisi per taglia e tipo. I clienti li pescano con un retino, li tramortiscono con un bastone di legno a loro disposizione e li mettono in una bustina di plastica trasparente per essere pesati. Oppure anche senza tramortirli, nella bustina ancora vivi e saltellanti. Sostengono che così si è sicuri che il pesce sia fresco. Il pesce non viene pulito, si mangia tutto. La testa è considerata prelibata, come nel sud Italia forse, ed anche le interiora del pesce, fritte, sono buonissime, le ho provate, non capisco perché noi li buttiamo via.

C'è anche un acquario per gamberi e il sistema è lo stesso anche se leggermente meno cruento a vedersi perché i crostacei non vengono bastonati ma semplicemente infilati nella busta di plastica per essere pesati.

I maiali invece non sono vivi. Ci sono vari tagli, diversi dai nostri ma il più comune è il lardo, grandi pezzi, generalmente molto grassi e con la cotenna. Ne scelgo uno da aggiungere alla frittura di verdure che piace tanto a Lifang. Il commesso lo pesa poi prende una grande torcia a gas e brucia via i peli dalla spessa cotenna. Pesa, etichetta e mi consegna il tutto ancora un po’ tiepido.

Molta scelta anche di datteri secchi, son buoni nelle zuppe di fagioli a colazione, Lifang li prepara molto bene, o anche come snack, così secchi.

Verdura a piacere: broccoli, cipollotti, cavoli, pomodori, peperoni, mi posso sbizzarrire a cucinare in questi giorni. Anche funghi, di forme che non conosco ma mi fido, li compro e si riveleranno ottimi!

Al piano di sopra molti cibi sottovuoto. Mi piace la carne di oca piccante, va moltissimo. Preparata in porzioncine formato boccone, in micro confezioni sottovuoto, molte con una figura di anatra che sorride. Non so che potrebbe avere da sorridere un'anatra prima di essere mangiata ma vai a capire!

Non ci sono cibi occidentali, strano in una grande città come questa. Ma ho notato che non lontano c'è un Carrefour, forse lì ci sarà da scegliere di più, chissà se troverò dell'olio di oliva, magari un barattolo di conserva di pomodori, non mi dispiacerebbe ogni tanto un piatto di spaghetti. Ma non mi mancano, sono in Cina, una cultura gastronomica ricchissima, posso aspettare di tornare in Italia.

16 September 2019

Fiori e tortini di luna del mezzo autunno

A casa mia suocera prepara sempre spaghetti (di riso o grano) per colazione, di solito al brodo con qualche pezzo di carne. Mi piace, ci sono abituato, ma ogni tanto mi stufo e cambio. Oggi ho fatto una frittata. Uova di oca, più grandi e con un enorme tuorlo, cipollotto e aglio.

Oggi è il "giorno di mezz'autunno" del calendario lunare cinese. È anche il terzo anniversario del mio matrimonio di Sanya. In realtà quel giorno era il 15 settembre solare, oggi è il 16, ma siccome si conta il calendario lunare la data nel nostro calendario gregoriano cambia tutti gli anni. Basta saperlo...

Esco da solo, non sono ancora mai andato a far compere per conto mio ma ci provo. Compro un mazzo di fiori per 90 Rmb per un bel mazzo, mi regalano anche qualche fiore in più.

Poi compro i classici tortini per il mezzo autunno, 100 Rmb per 10 poi me ne faccio regalare un altro ma so che comunque mi ha fregato anche se sono molto buoni e hanno ben due tuorli al centro!

Quanto torno a casa Lifang è contenta dei fiori, per una volta sono riuscito a farle una sorpresa gradita! Mio suocero è sorpreso pure, per il fatto che sia andato a far spese da solo senza parlare la lingua. Non che sia stato difficile, e poi mi hanno pure fregato sul prezzo, ma non importa: comunque ho guadagnato qualche punto.

La sera andiamo a cena ad un ristorantino particolare, si chiama "Golden Claypot Rice" cioè il "riso nella ciotola di terracotta dorata". Un posticino speciale, dove cucinano il riso in ciotole di terracotta, appunto, su fornelli alimentati a carbone posti sul marciapiede antistante la porta d'ingresso.

Poi dal menù si sceglie cosa abbinare al riso: carne, pesce, ortaggi vari. Quando hanno finito il riso chiudono, non servirebbero mai carne o pesce senza riso. Sennò la terracotta dorata che ci sta a fare?

27 February 2019

Back to Hong Kong

Breakfast with dumplings by Ouyang's wife, he brought them to us yesterday when he visited. Very thin envelope, more like northern China style than the thicker southern Chinese kind.

He is a very traditional Chinese man even though he is only in his forties. He said he got her daughter a job in Chenzhou as a kindergarten teacher but does not want her to go and live far away or have a career. He gives her some extra money each year to compensate for what she's missing. Despite his young age, he has already planned to bequeath some money to his two daughters but all real estate properties to his only son.

Ready to go back to Europe, but first one last espresso in China. My three-year-old niece learned how to operate my Nespresso machine a few days ago and now every time I say out loud I want a cup of coffee she wants to do it!

My niece makes me coffee!

We leave at 7.30 with a Didi car my wife booked night before. It is rush hour so it takes a bit of time to get out of the town. On the way, we meet a funeral procession on the road. Four people are carrying the coffin on shoulders. A long line of mourners follows them and they all wear white cloth on their head. Musicians play trumpets and cymbals. I am curious and interested in the ceremony, though we do not have time to stop and look. Lifang, however, is not amused, she does not like to talk about anything that has to do with death or accidents in the morning, especially early morning, at the start of the day.

On the road to the airport, lots of little street hawkers sell hot dumplings to cars on their way to work in Chenzhou. Maybe commuters or just people going for shopping or business to the big town. Big pots and steam coming out are quite inviting but we just had a substantial breakfast and decide not to stop.

Another fast train to Hong Kong. Lots of people at the station, but fairly disciplined this time, no one is cutting the line, or almost no one.

On the train, I can't help chuckling every time I see, over and over again, this promotional tourist video with a chubby doll in a red dress showing her enthusiasm for the major Chinese tourist sites.

Once in Hong Kong, we have a few hours until our late night flight to London, and decide to make our way to the "Peak". It is not the best day to visit, the visibility leaves a bit to be desired, but still, it's worth the effort. At the top, besides the obvious view, there are lots of restaurants and souvenir shops. Tricky Hong Kong... once you are topside you have to pay another ticket to get to the terrace from which you can enjoy the view, otherwise, you are stuck at the restaurants and the museum!

It is not always easy to get a ticket for the iconic tram at the last minute, but we manage to get a combo pass of some kind that will also allow us entry into a funny wax museum with all kinds of statues of well knows (and some not so well known to us) Hong Kongers from all walks of life.






After which we need to go and pick up our many bags at the hotel we stayed in last time, and traffic is not promising but luckily a trusted Uber driver shows up when we start up our App and we get through the rush hour in no time.

20 February 2019

Train to Chenzhou

Crispy fish skins
Easy morning around Mong Kok. I would like to try a snake soup again but my friends are not so enthusiastic so we opt for a traditional family restaurant of Cantonese cuisine. Fun to walk around this part of town, lots of peculiar shops, selling goldfish, cats, rabbits and all kinds of food, of course. This time I tried noodles, bovine pancreas and fish skins.

In the early afternoon we take a taxi to the sparkling new West Kowloon Terminus, the final stop of the newest fast train coming directly from the mainland. One more step toward the integration of Hong Kong with the motherland.

It is all very new and impressive. For some reason we foreigners are charged 30 Rmb to collect our tickets even though we had already book and prepaid online. Perhaps because we must show our passports to a human teller. (All tickets are nominal.) Chinese can do this at an automatic teller and for free with their electronic ID cards. Anyway, we are lucky to have seats at all. It is still the end of the CNY celebrations, lanterns day festival was yesterday and millions of Chinese are still on holiday.

Second class tickets are the equivalent of about 40 Euro each, fairly reasonable at European prices for 2 and a half hours ride on a superfast train, but quite expensive for the average Chinese. And yet the train was long fully booked. My wife was smart to catch tickets for us and our visiting friends via a special app which somehow manages to snatch tickets as they become available (one month before the trip) or when there is a cancellation.

Pass Hong Kong passport control first and enter a duty-free area, just as if we were leaving the country although Hong Kong is an integral part of China, if with a special autonomous status. I bought some whisky to share with my family in Guiyang.

Then, before we get to the PRC passport control positions, we walked over a thick yellow line on the ground and passed from the "Hong Kong area" to the "Mainland area" on the other side. Landing cards must be filled and we were at the Chinese passport control checkpoint. The officers did not smile much but are polite and very fast to let us all through.

The ride is quite smooth. We arrive in Chenzhou and it's dark and very cold. We have to get off fast as the train stops only for very few minutes before resuming its run to Wuhan.

Taxis are readily available, 100 Rmb to Chenzhou. We tried Didi, the company that bought Uber out in China, but could not get one. We don't trust some illegal taxi drivers who approach us and offer a discount.

Pile up our suitcases in the truck at the back of the taxi but they do not fit, so the driver just leaves the lid open and ties everything together with some strong belt he always carries with him.

15 September 2012

Book review: Andrew Zimmern visits Taiwan (2009) by Andrew Zimmern, *

making dim sum in a Taipei restaurant

Synopsis

One chapter of a book about the author traveling around the world to try different foods. This chapter is about Taiwan, or so I thought when I bought it. In reality only half of it is about Taiwan and then only about dim sum.


Review


Disappointing. I bought it to learn about food in Taiwan, and all you get is one restaurant in Taipei he visited. One that is in all the guidebooks and that just about any foreign tourist will probably end up trying. I did too. It was very good, but did not need this audio-book. Anyway, the first half of the piece is about the author's food experiences trying Chinese food in New York!

Look elsewhere if you are interested in finding out more about Taiwanese food. Which, by the way, is absolutely excellent, possibly the best Chinese food in the world. Perhaps because in mainland China the rich traditions of Chinese food were repressed for decades during Maoism, though they are obviously nurtured again to their full, amazing variety.

You can buy this chapter about Taiwan as an audio-book or the whole book by clicking below.


making dim sum in a Taipei restaurant



30 August 2012

Dim Sum in Singapore

Marina Bay Sands, Din Tai Fung restaurant, probably among the best dim sum in the world.































































23 August 2012

Tour and cooking course in Bali

We start for a walk to the village of Celuk Village for Fine silver making and studio. Obviously a touristy moment but interesting nonetheless.

We then proceed to the Batuan Village temple, a beautiful temple with amazing curving detail.

This is followed by a visit to one of many wood carving villages, where I spot a beautiful mask that is now guarding against evil spirits by the door of my bedroom.

Finally, a short walk around the monkey forest of Ubud completes the tour. Actually, the best part is yet to come, as in the late afternoon and evening I have booked a cooking class. As I always do when the opportunity presents itself when I travel, here too I take another cooking class of Balinese cuisine. I decide, among many options, for the half-day Lobong cooking course.

There are four ladies (from Australia, India and Lebanon) joining me for this class. We start with some explanations of the traditional Bali house structure and an introduction of real Balinese Daily Life. The Lobong are a well to do family and their house compound is impressive.

We then go for a walk in the surrounding forest to study and pick several herbs and spices that will be used in the cooking class. It's a pleasant descent into the valley and then a climb up to the house again. Along the way we stop at an ample courtyard where several ladies are busy preparing food: chopping, slicing, mixing. Very friendly and photogenic!

We then plunge in the lush forest and meet several farmers who are also there to gather precious ingredients for their kitchens. In about one hour we are back to the Lobong house and it's time to get to work!

We spend the next couple of hours cooking Balinese food under the careful supervision of the chef.

Then it's time to eat the product of our hard labor! Before that, however, we had to make the traditional offering to the ancestors. So the mother of the chef comes along, takes a sample of the food we had prepared and walks to the family altar to make an offering. Only then we are allowed to the table. It was all quite good.

20 July 2012

Film review: Julie and Julia (2009), by Nora Ephron ****

Julia Child in Time magazine
Synopsis

A culinary legend provides a frustrated office worker with a new recipe for life in Julie and Julia, the true stories of how Julia Child's (Meryl Streep) life and cookbook inspired fledgling writer Julie Powell (Amy Adams) to whip up 524 recipes in 365 days and introduce a new generation to the magic of French cooking. Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada) co-stars in director Nora Ephron's delicious comedy about joy, obsession and butter. It was to be the last of her movies, as she died in 2012. Bon appetit!


04 July 2012

Film review: Chocolat (2000), by Lasse Hallström, ****

Synopsis
Driven by fate, Vianne (Binoche) drifts into a tranquil French village with her daughter Anouk (Victoire Thivisol, from Ponette) in the winter of 1959. Her newly opened chocolatier is a source of attraction and fear, since Vianne's ability to revive the villagers' passions threatens to disrupt their repressive traditions. The pious mayor (Alfred Molina) sees Vianne as the enemy, and his war against her peaks with the arrival of "river rats" led by Roux (Depp), whose attraction to Vianne is immediate and reciprocal. Splendid subplots involve a battered wife (Lena Olin), a village elder (Judi Dench), and her estranged daughter (Carrie-Anne Moss), and while the film's broader strokes may be regrettable (if not for Molina's rich performance, the mayor would be a caricature), its subtleties are often sublime. Chocolat reminds you of life's simple pleasures and invites you to enjoy them. --Jeff Shannon for Amazon

Review
A drifting single mother comes to inject a healthy does of laicism and joie de vivre in a sleepy French village soaked up in bigotry. The two are at first ostracized but then, slowly, people in the village, and eventually even the strict, hypocritical and controlling mayor, are moved to see the brighter, sweeter side of life that chocolate represents. You don't have to be a chocoholic to get the point!

Binoche is simply superb throughout.

This well paced film is an invitation to free ourselves from stereotypes, and enjoy what life has to offer. I don't know if Steve Jobs ever saw this movie, but he might have said it is an exhortation to "be hungry, be foolish". Don't sit back and watch life flow past you, but look at what is new, unusual, apparently useless or even frivolous, and go for it: much good could come out for you!





02 June 2012

Film Review: Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), by Ang Lee, ****

Synopsis

This is not a movie to see on an empty stomach. Writer-director Ang Lee's 1994 Oscar nominee tells a family story about a chef and his three daughters through the meals the chef prepares and serves his family. This touching, dryly funny story of a family coping with personal lives and the way those lives intersect with the family relationships captures a shift in generations in Taipei. The father, a famous chef who has lost his taste buds, still cooks, though he draws no pleasure from eating. His daughters, meanwhile, deal with both the disappointments and surprises of daily living and the way their adult lives compare to the expectations the widowed father had for them. A subtle, amusing--and mouth-watering--comedy of impeccable manners. --Marshall Fine

Review

I found this Taiwanese movie exhilarating. As a lover of food, I was enchanted with the preparations of elaborate Chinese dishes. This is a movie about food, about life in Taiwan and about human nature.

I also found the movie to be an interesting picture into the daily life of a family in Taiwan, a fascinating island with a profound Chinese culture but also a society that has developed in a much different way compared to the mainland.

04 June 2011

Arrival in Singapore, Chinatown dinner, the Quay

Long flight with Turkish airlines via Istanbul, I am very happy with this company. Good food, wines, service and comfortable cabins. After a long flight and a stopover in Istanbul, the Singapore airports welcomes me into the XXI century.

It is no coincidence that it is routinely ranked among the top airports of the world, year after year... Btw, its closest competitors are Hong Kong and Seoul. The airport is indeed stunning, superefficient, spotless clean (including the toilets, it actually smells good in there, you are sort of sorry to leave when you are done!) and a great place to spend some time shopping or even sleeping while waiting for a plane. In my case I get my bags (they are already spinning around the carousel by the time I am done with passport control) and I am on my way out.

A twenty-minute taxi ride takes me across two thirds of the length of the whole country. The road is perfect, quiet, of course very clean. I am struck by the fact that in this land of shopping (Singapore has been called a shopping mall with a UN vote) there are no ads on the road, no nean signs, no billboards. The taxi itself is nice and comfortable, the driver impeccable, and it's actually less expensive than comparable rides in European cities I am familiar with (Rome, London, Paris, Brussels).

I am staying at the Pan Pacific Hotel, a supermodern building not far from the famed Raffles. A filipino lady welcomes me at the immense concierge and takes me to the glass walled elevators that climb up the exterior of the hotel, providing a good view of the city state.

In the evening I am out to Chinatown with a local friend. I can't wait to sink my incisors into some hearty Chinese food! After some pondering I opt for her suggestion of  some pork or other in a dark soup. I won't even try to describe what was in it, but it was certainly tasty. We are at the Chinatown food court, where, like in other similar places in Singapore, you sit down and pick up food and drinks from the many available stands in the court.

Meanwhile, groups of old men hang around drinking beer or playing Chinese checkers. No women to be seen except my friend and the waitresses and cleaning ladies.

After dinner a nice walk in the soggy evening. Climate is certainly not Singapore's strong point and it takes a few days to become accustomed to the humidity. A few tricycle rickshaws scoot by. These were a common means of local transportation in the past but are now reserved for tourists. In fac the rickshaw was THE means of transportation for many decades until the 1930s. I have reviewed a great book that tells their story, an important people's history of Singapore. I strongly recommend it even if you are not interested in rickshaws!

The evening ends by the Quays, the vastly overrated social mingling hub of Singapore. I find it too crowded, impersonal and a bit tacky, but so be it, most people seems to have a different view. Anyway some of the bars look (for my taste) pleasant, but tonight it's saturday and everything is way too crowded. Many Western expats, clearly affected by what a local friend called the "yellow fever" seem to enjoy the company of local Chinese girls. Nice touch: by the river some band is playing some kind of ethnic music, can't really say what it is but it puts me in the right mood to give in to my jet lag and go back to the hotel.


05 May 2011

12. - 5 MAY: Three Gorges Dam: Disembarkation and brief visit of Yichang

Today we get to actually walk on the largest dam in the world by capacity (the second after Itaipu by production of electricity), it is more impressive than my words can ever convey. To acces the site, one is led through a checkpoint, with metal detectors and all, and must take a local shuttle bus. It rides for about fifteen minutes in a closed town where dam workers and families live, a perfectly manicured model project to showcase the new China to domestic and foreign visitors. And there the show begins...

31 March 2011

Recensione: Mangia!, di Andrea Pugliese, *****

Sinossi

"Questo non è un libro di ricette. Serve a chiarire come il buon cibo dia risposte più sincere e convincenti di molti psicologi, filosofi, e guru. Al tavolo consueto di una domenica in famiglia come nella bettola più unta e polverosa di Bombay, le radici del gusto si piantano solide nella nostra memoria e fanno germogliare quello che siamo.

Si cucina e si mangia per sedurre, per compiacere (e compiacersi), per stimolare l'invidia di chi è negato ai fornelli ma vorrebbe essere diverso. Il cibo diventa propedeutico al sesso e surrogato del sesso stesso, finché è il sesso a essere relegato a completamento del cibo."


Recensione

Seconda edizione dopo 5 anni di una divertente collezione di brevi storie che raccontano le esperienze dell'autore a tavola, dalla tavola italiana tradizionale della mamma a quella dei più disparati angoli del mondo, con amici, amanti e sconosciuti. Con particolare enfasi sulla relazione tra cibo e passione, sesso, innamoramento. Cibo come cumulo di esperienza sensoriale direi quasi... multimediale! Ironico ed autoironico, diverte ma informa allo stesso tempo sul profondo significato che ha per gli italiani lo stare a tavola. Un filosofo diceva che siamo quello che mangiamo, ma qui traspare anche che "mangiamo quello che siamo"! Dimmi cosa mangi (e come lo mangi, e con chi, e come lo cucini) e ti dirò chi sei!

20 February 2010

Taipei, Taiwan: Shilin night market

After eight years, I am back in Taiwan. Taipei fascinates me, a small capital city of a fiercely proud nation that wants to be a country. It is in fact a country, except the politics of the world don't allow it to call itself so.

I fly in from Hong Kong and check in my hotel in Da 'an. It's sort of late for a proper tour of the city so I opt to go to Shilin night market and have dinner on the go, and watch people.

It's a lively scene, the food available is beyond description, you can sit down at any of the countless stalls and have anything prepared for your as you wait. Actually, as you watch, it is done right there in front of your eyes.





Lots of games of skill around, people have fun, quietly, between a bite and a drink. I wish I had a month to come back every night and taste all of this tempting food!

There is people of all ages. Families with children playing around, adolescents on a date, older people savoring the atmosphere. A bustling yet serene night market.

18 February 2010

A few days eating around in Hong Kong



I have spent a few days in Hong Kong, and I am so impressed. This is a fantastic city, so full of life, energy, fun and culture. And amazing food, cheap and tasty! I have eaten all kinds of stuff, some that not even J. could quite explain what it was... I tried hard but could not find anything, I mean ANYTHING, I did not like. The one plate that stuck most in my memory was pig's lungs in almonds' soup. OK a bit unusual, not even J. ate the lungs, she was happy with just the soup, but I found it all quite well matched. Which was followed by pork liver. WOW!

Often J. and I would eat at street stalls, delicious and cheap food served in paper bags, so cheap and so tasty I had to really make an effort to stop.

For food shopping, there are countless markets of all kinds. I found the "wet markets" especially interesting. They are called so because fish is so fresh... it is fact sold alive! Instead of dead fish on ice or shrinkwraps you buy fish here that is still swimming in styrofoam boxes. One day J. bought an octopus, which was still alive when we took it home for cooking. I was slightly shocked to see her cutting it up as it was moving around the kitchen table, but it was definitely fresh!

We even found a specialty shop with Italian produce, you can get real mozzarella di bufala flown in from Italy daily. I could buy some pancetta and Roman pecorino cheese, and was proud to make some authentic amatriciana at J.'s home for all the family! OK OK for purists: I did not find the mandatory guanciale, but maybe I did not look well enough!

Touring Hong Kong is fun in the traditional two-storied trams, that apparently were now bought by Veolia, a French company which however has pledged to keep the traditional trams running. However, for longer distances, and to cross over to Kowloon, the metro system is fast and superefficient. Taxis are convenient and cheap too.

24 August 2007

20° g - 24 AGO: trasferimento a Tongatapu e visite archeo

In mattinata Jürgen ci porta in aeroporto e dopo un po’ di ritardo si parte. Non aveva chiamato l’aeroporto per assicurarsi che il volo fosse in orario come gli avevo chiesto (tanto, diceva, siete metà dei passeggeri e se fa ritardo il direttore della torre che è mio amico mi chiama perché sa che state qui) ma una volta arrivati lì ci dicono che l’aereo è rotto e fermo a Tongatapu. Non si sa quando potrà venire a prenderci. Ora rischiamo di perdere la giornata in aeroporto senza poter fare nulla. Stavolta la precisione tedesca fa cilecca...

19 August 2007

15° g - 19 AGO: messa domenicale, maiali selvatici e grande cena di famiglia

La mattina di domenica non c’è scelta: si va alla messa cantata. O meglio, la scelta c’è, dato che anche in un piccolo villaggio come questo ci sono una mezza dozzina di confessioni protestanti diverse, ciascuna con la propria chiesa, che competono da un paio di secoli per le anime degli isolani (e per le loro offerte). Le campane suonano prepotentemente, unu po’ sbilenche le melodie ma nello spirito dell’isola... Ne scegliamo una ed andiamo ad assistere alla Messa.