View from the Barcelona office. on Flickr.
The T-Rex has spoken. on Flickr.
Jofish and I on Flickr.
Still and Jumping.
In Nara Japan, there are “tame” deer all about and they come with a warning which we were quite fawn of:
Here is an endeering human reenactment of each warning:
Content Analysis or Pop Art? (Taken with Instagram at Yahoo! San Francisco)
When it comes to traveling, I wouldn’t say I’m an expert, but I’m no spring chicken. Every now and then, I get surprised by something…this time, it so happened in Hong Kong.
If you shoot with an SLR, you might have noticed, that little eye piece cup around the viewfinder comes off. Mine tends to break often (a function of my refusal to use camera cases)…and yes, I still look into a viewfinder. So, when in Asia, I usually go into some crazy camera place and try to pick one up.
So I stepped into a place today, guy says 250 HKD ($32). Ya, I stepped out. I stepped into the store next door, guy says 100 HKD ($12), which is the suggested retail cost. I stepped out and into the store 2 doors down, guy says 75 HKD ($9.67). I said, “OK!”. The guy steps behind the counter, takes off the eyecup from a floor model DSLR and hands it to me. I give him the cash, he puts it in his pocket. I leave.
Now, this didn’t surprise me, it actually made me laugh…but ya, I didn’t see that coming. I can only assume he actually worked there.
Howdy Austin CHIyakers. If you are new to this site, it’s no stranger to food. In what was a long conversation with @cynk remembering SXSW and texting back to her contact in Austin, I assembled (well she assembled) this stellar insider’s perspective on where to get your grub on in between session at CHI2012.
- franklin (http://www.yelp.com/biz/franklin-barbecue-austin) supposedly best bbq in country. only for brisket. opens at 11, get there by 10, even earlier on weekends
- mueller bbq (http://www.yelp.com/biz/jmueller-bbq-austin) also good, less line
- rudy’s (http://www.yelp.com/biz/rudys-country-store-and-bar-b-q-austin) gas station bbq, i recommend the briskey and cole slaw, not the ribs. :-/. this place is my fave! wait ‘til you wash your hands. :-)
- salt lick (http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-salt-lick-bbq-driftwood) out of town, supposedly amazing
- stubb’s (http://www.yelp.com/biz/stubbs-bar-b-q-austin)classic. make reservations. ribs are great here
- county line (http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-county-line-austin) “big daddy beef rib platter” and great bread.
- iron works (http://www.yelp.com/biz/iron-works-barbecue-austin) right next to convention center
- lamberts (http://www.yelp.com/biz/lamberts-downtown-barbecue-austin) if you’re feeling fancy
- and texmex: garridos! (http://www.yelp.com/biz/garridos-austin) i especially recommend the pomegranate margarita (recently taken off the menu, but hopefully they still have it) and the fried oyster tacos!
- and cocktails: pesce! http://www.yelp.com/biz/p%C3%A9ch%C3%A9-austin-3
- and brunch: hot dogs cold beer! http://www.yelp.com/biz/frank-austin
Go ahead and print this page out and use it as a checklist. First person to do it all gets an exploding fist bump from me. Bon appetit!
Eating pho in China is the equivalent to getting back with an ex just because the pain of longing for them hurts more than just forgetting them. The point is, just like ex’s, eating pho in China is a disappoint. But pho-natics in China will go to desperate measures to experience the illusive bowl of pho. Even though we know pho in China is wannabe pho, pho-natics will still eat it sometimes when our craving overwhelms our rational senses. We do it not for the food itself, but for the ideals of pho, such as:
- bonding with old friends and new friends
- defining one’s own individual and creative way for eating pho
- experiencing the collective love of pho
- engaging all of one’s bodily senses in a all consuming eating experience
- embracing the mythical food of the goddesses and gods
- putting fresh food into our human bodies
- celebrating the people who invented Pho (Northern Vietnamese)
- remembering the evils and wonders that come out of colonialism. (Before the French colonized Vietnam, Vietnamese peoople didn’t eat beef.)
- honoring the etymological roots of “PHỞ” as feu (fire) in French
I found myself craving desperately for a bowl of pho a few weeks ago, but where I live in China, there’s nothing that even comes close to Vietnamese cuisine, much less decent Chinese food. That is why you can only imagine my excitement when I was in Shanghai last week and two pho-angels Richard and Gregory, appeared into my life and suggested that we go to to Pho King. As expected, the pho did not even deserve to be called pho. But that didn’t matter because the conversation more than made up for what the pho was lacking. Even bad pho reminds you of the magicalness of the human connection.
Check out Gregory’s explanation for his pho strategy, a picture of Gregory’s pho bowl, and Richard squeezing his lime. Thank you Richard and Gregory for saving me with the miracle of pho! You both brought back so many memories that I almost pho-reaked out with pho-antasies!
So if you find yourself craving for a bowl of pho in China, don’t be embarrassed if you step into a Vietnamese restaurant. We at Fuck Yeah Pho will not judge you. We welcome your pictures of des-pho-ration as long as you tell us your story.
While I am on this topic, if you live and China and want to eat something that is equally orgasmic, unforgettable, and addictive bowl as a bowl of pho in Vietnam or at a restaurant in a Vietnamese immigrant community in USA, then eat Hui lamb soup (Yáng Ròu Pào Mó 羊肉泡馍) made by Hui Muslims. Go to Xian or go to the one standing Hui restaurant called 西城区白云观街1号 on the Line 1 Mù Xī Dì 木樨地站 stop. I took a few friends there over the summer and they were more than pleased. Ayman Shamma took some great photos and I re-blooged his recounting of the miracle of Hui lamb soup.
When done right, the bowl should look like the soup in this picture. I love Hui lamb soup because it’s a very time-consuming, social, intellectual, and embodied eating process. There’s a lot of sharing involved, lots of soup eating strategy, and of course lots of hand reaching and picking. With pho you use your hands to rip up the vegetable into smaller pieces while with with Hui lamb soup you use your hands to rip up the bread into the smallest piece possible. Both types of soups are best eaten with people you care about and don’t mind slurping around with. And eating Hui lamb soup doesn’t replace pho, but it is like finding a new best friend who you know will be equally loyal to you as long as you keep calling them.
As a child, I never knew why plain yogurt in Cairo, Egypt was delicious and why American yogurt (with the addition of vanilla, nuts, honey, and/or fruit) was nasty. Seems the NYTimes and my friend Knowitallliza are on to that very reason…and a little how it’s all lies stateside:
Apropos of the article above, national(istic) pride notwithstanding, I must point out that Chobani (what the hell does that mean in Greek? I don’t know!)*, Athenos (more atrociously declined Greek word roots with fun “ancient greek” font) Oikos (at least that’s a real greek word, though, since it means “house”, or, in modern Greek, more like “big name fashion designer” I wonder what it has to do with dairy) and other competitors [newsflash! Eros, always a popular Greek word, has jumped on the bandwagon of “greek” yogurt!] almost always have added thickeners. Not that there’s anything wrong with gelatin or pectin per se, but you SHOULD NOT NEED THEM in real, strained-of-its-whey yogurt. Which is all “Greek” yogurt really is. (See my previous post).
UPDATE: Ironic that Chobani, most-popular-in-the-US “greek” yogurt brand, was founded by a Turkish immigrant! http://nyti.ms/wYUO3x Could this explain the naming issues?
Recently, I was asked if I had any New Year’s resolutions. Without giving it too much thought, I responded, “Not really, I prefer to make rash and whimsical life decisions year round.” A few days later, after some consideration, I thought about “what would I like to do more or less of in the new year?” There was one singular outlier example that I knew should happen more often; epic meals with friends. I’m not talking about those great meals one can have often…I’m talking epic.
The 2011 meal involves a one Tricia Wang (who you might remember from the Great Passover of 2010) and Beijing (where she assembled a small six person crew of people to eat some Hui Chinese Muslim food). I only knew one other person, so I knew 1/2 the group counting myself. The stage was set. James, Tricia and I met up in Beijing’s Embassy Row and headed out via subway to the western part of the city. At the restaurant, we met up with Roger and Lydia (Lisa was going to be late) and sat down. Tricia began ordering in Chinese at the speed of summer lightning and I, armed with a 10-22 mm lens, began snapping photos. Now, right about here, Tricia said something to the waiter which caused me to freeze up:
In Chinese she was talking about 羊肉泡馍 vs 牛肉泡馍 (basically lamb vs beef). I stopped taking photos and said, “羊肉!” and my mind was transported back to 2001. Stumbling around Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter, I found this man selling something from a little street shop. I was hungry, whatever he was selling under 1 USD, and I knew fell into my dietary restrictions. What I got was a big steaming delicious bowl of 羊肉泡馍 (or Yáng Ròu Pào Mó), served with some fat looking, kinda hard pita bread. Instinctually, I tore the bread into my soup and began to eat. In the 4 short days in the dead of winter I was in Xi’an, I ate from this guy 7 times. So many times that if he saw me at end of the street, he’d have a bowl ready for me by the time I made it to him.
For 10 years, I searched for this dish States side. Never did anyone have it. I was told by Chinese people that it doesn’t taste good or that it’s smelly. Once, in a Milpitas CA restaurant, they told me they had it but what they handed me was so not Yáng Ròu Pào Mó. I had resolved to believe this meal, this incredible mutton in a clear garlic broth, was nothing more than a figment of my imagination, a distant memory of a dream I once had many years ago…up until Tricia said 羊肉泡馍 to the waiter.
China being what is is, nobody orders just one dish and remember this is a Hui minority Muslim joint…there ain’t a slab of pork in sight. What you get is an incredible variant of Chinese food clearly inspired by the arabian silk road. Many things came out as our appetizers: Two types of soup dumplings (one beef, one lamb), some pickles cucumbers, some greens, some rice & grain soup.
Then a platter of lamb kabobs landed:
And the wolves in all of us began to eat.
Once we started to slow down, we were brought individually numbered bowls and little pieces of hardend pita looking bread. We were to break up our own bread into our own bowls for the soup to be poured over.
Now, you might ask, “why don’t they just do this in the kitchen?” Simple, to do it right, it’s a pain in the ass and takes forever. You need to crumble it up into little even pieces—a process that takes some considerable time. If they do it for you in the back, they have this little machine break and grind it down into a non-uniform glob of bread. No cook respects that. As Tricia put it, we can’t let the machines win this one…it has got to be non-cyborg 羊肉泡馍…humans still matter…people matter! Plus when you offer to do it yourself, the cooks will send you your soup with the best cuts of meat in the stew; it shows the kitchen that you know what you’re doing when you order this soup. Respect yo! Things being as they are, and we being who we are, James and I got super competitive to see who could do the better job (I won, Tricia disagrees).
And then we wait. Thinking I was taking a closeup of Tricia’s nose, Lisa took my camera for a moment to check out the lens for herself:
“I’m moderately impressed” she responded in a very British quip. Then our soup landed and silence engulfed the table as the tide rolls in after a storm.
Sported our serious shades and giggled even more:
The best part, yes even better than the food, was the incredible, smart and amazing diverse company. Each of us totally unique, friendly, and funny. I noticed our shoes and pants described the party well:
Oh ya, and we stopped for a Uyghur snack on the way back to Chaoyang, were all smiles on the subway:
And were still giddy and jumping for joy for the rest of the day:
So, for a 2012 New Years resolution…more days like this!