Friday, June 20, 2008

A Guide Culinary For To 2008 and The Beijing

Ah, the Olympics. While I do appreciate the folks under Communist rule over there in Beijing trying to provide plenty of information about their culture to those who will be visiting their oppressed land this summer, I'm finding it humorous. I'm also questioning as to whether or not it's actually invoking anxiety in prospective travellers. It's invoking anxiety in me and I'm not going. But I'll tell you, if I were going, I'd be packing a snack.

Beijing has set up a website so those who are planning a trip or thinking about planning a trip to attend the Olympic games (Translation: Watch a bunch of foot races in China) can become accustomed to their culture. Mind you, Chinese and English do not translate exactly. They translate almost literally and it's not always good. That is why you will see signs in Chinese that are translated to English such as "Mend The Glass" (window repair) and "No Climbing! Yes Life!" (If you climb this and you fall you, yes you, will die.). And those are just examples of broken window and dangerous climbing things. Imagine the food.

The Chinese have put a lot of effort into these websites to inform people (mainly those who do not live in an Asian country run by Communists) about their culture. They spend a lot of time and provide a lot of detail about various food items. I find it interestingly odd that they also include directions (sort of) for how to prepare some of the food that they're showcasing. (I have no idea why I would need to know that. I mean, if I'm traveling half way, three quarters of the way around the world on vacation, I'm not going to be doing any cooking. When I'm on vacation, I'll make the effort to be at the pool bar by noon, but that will be the extent of my labor.) But if I did, for some reason, need to know how to prepare these dishes, I certainly wouldn't use the BTW as a guide. I think it's a translation thing. That and a partial necessary information thing.

First, we'll examine the Ha Ma Tu Mi. (You may pronounce that any way that you'd like, as I have no clue how to say it. You can't go wrong with phonetically, though.) According to the website, This is "a baked bean cake is a well-known local snack in Beijing. It is named after its bean filling. In the processing of preparation, the cake is split on the round for the expansion of bean filling inside. It looks like honey on the lip of a frog." How do they know that? Why do I need to know that? Why would I want to eat that? And if I did want to eat that, how would I make that?
  • How to cook it?

  • Drip water in wheat flour and beat
    Cut the flour mixture in parts.
    Roll one part into a long bar.
    Cut the flour bar small balls.
    Press and roll balls to a shape of dumpling wrapper.
    Place bean filling on the wrapper.
    Wrap the wrapper.
    Drip seeds of hemp on the round of wrapper.
    Put them in oven.
Well, that makes no sense whatsoever. "Cut the flour bar small balls"? And seeds of hemp? What am I? Living in a tree at UC Berkeley? And "Put them in oven"? How hot? How long? Feel like sharing those ancient Chinese secrets with us, Beijing? Anyone? Anyone?

Next, we have Chao Gan, which translates into Stir-fried Pork Liver. Yum. (Or not so yum.) What do we know about it? Well, "Chao Gan is a featured local snack in Beijing. Historically, Chao Gan is evolved from Ao Gan (stewed pork liver) and Ao Fei (stir-fried pork lung), folk foods in the Song Dynasty. It is also believed that it was originally a gourmet invented by the owner of Huixian Restaurant in the reign of Tongzi in Qing Dynasty, who innovatively prepared it by taking away pork heart and lung. The reason was that it was taboo to stew and serve animal heart and lung together, figuratively cursing its customers simple-minded. Also, Chao Gan in Huixian Restaurant is featured not mixing any kind of seasoning in wok while stir-frying to keep pure taste of pork liver. " Well. This does not sound like a snack for everyone. It definitely does not sound like a snack for me.

The preparation is odd and seems rather violent. Lots of hitting going on with the Chao Gan prep.

  • How to cook it?

  • Ingredient: pork liver, pork sausage, soybean source, soy sauce, ready pork oil, vinegar, pork bone soup and fined salt.
  • Wash and bound up pork sausage.
    Cut it into half and place it in cool water.
    Hit it till sausage ready with a chopstick.
    Place the sausage in cool water and wash the grease on the skin.
    Chop the sausage several parts.
    Wash and chop pork liver diamond.
    (Do what with what?)
    Place ready pork oil in wok and hit.
    Place anise, soybean sauce, ginger, soy sauce and garlic and stir-fry.
    Place pork bone soup in a wok and hit.
    Place pork sausage and take grease on the water.
    Place liver, soy sauce and ready garlic mixture, garlic, fined salt and stir.
    While the soup is boiling, place starch for another boiling and then sift gourmet powder.

They lost me after "Wash".

I am most confused by the Jiang Si Pai Cha. According to the Beijing 2008 website, it, "is named for its ingredient of fresh ginger slice. It used to being packed with a straw paper which was stamped red brand. It could be presented as a gift to relatives in the festival for coming new year and also a favorable toy for children." Wait. What? I never got food as a toy when I was a child! How does that work? What's in this favorable toy for children that is also a Chinese snack? The website's handy (and amusing) culinary section says this:

  • How to cook it? Ingredient:
  • Fresh ginger, rice flour, starch flour (This is important, as later on, they start throwing stuff in here that is not ginger, flour or flour.)

  • Preparation:
  • Peel and chop ginger.
    Place alum in a proportion in rice flour in a bowl and beat. (
    Where's the alum? What's the alum?)
    Cut the mixture in 2cm wide and 5cm long pieces. (Again, no mention of a ruler and/or yardstick, er, meter stick?)
    Overlap two pieces and chops three times on them.
    Cross each other together and fry them in warm oil.
    Soak the ginger slice and mix with sugar in a pan.
    Place sweet-scented osmanthus and malt sugar in the pan over light fire.
    (Osmanthus? Isn't that where things just meld into each other on their own? Oh, wait, that's osmosis. Never mind. I still don't know what osmanthus is. And malt sugar? Are we brewing beer as well?)
    Place the ginger mixture on the fried overlapped pieces.
See what I mean? All of these extra things just thrown into the mix with no mention of them beforehand. And, frankly, I'm not thinking it's a favorable toy for anyone, children, adults, I don't care. I mean, look at that picture. Exactly what would a child do with that if it were presented to them as a favorable toy? I don't think you should be playing with hot, deep fried, osmanthus ever.
I hope that the Olympics themselves are more successful than the Chinese to English translations are. And I think they will be. If they put half as much effort into the actual Games as they did into providing me with details on how to cook the insides of pigs for human consumption, well, they'll be fine. (Those pigs? Not so much.)

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1 comment:

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