November 14, 2005
the doomy lemon and bakery hunting
She sure is taking a long look at those lemons.
I'm not overly paranoid.
...actually, I am, but in this case, the cashier at Whole Foods was definitely looking at my bag of two lemons for longer than the average "looking at produce to figure out how much it costs" time, especially considering that there were only two lemons in the bag. Were my lemons particularly interesting? Did they somehow tantalize the senses from behind a thin plastic bag? [Sidenote: I don't like the word "tantalize". Maybe all those "t"s and "z"s (er, one "z") feel threatening and stabby.]
NO! Of course not--they're just plain, bobbly yellow lemons. I looked at them afterwards and saw that one had a little rotting splotch on it. Of course, it's be rather stupid to return one lemon, because 1) it's a freakin' LEMON and 2) I obviously didn't look closely enough at it when I put it in my bag and carried it around for 15 minutes. It's doubtful that bacteria attacked the lemons while I was perusing the Asian food section, in a heated rice debate while trying to decide between brown Jasmine rice or white Jasmine rice (I ended up with white, nutritional benefits of brown rice be damned). Of course lemons decompose, but as someone who almost never buys lemons, I don't think I ever saw one mid-decomposition.
So that was my morning, or a short bit of my morning. First, I went to the farmer's market to buy onions and an acorn squash. While writing an improvisational stuffed vegetable recipe last night, I craved baked squash stuffed with rice, nuts, and dried fruit. Before working on the recipe, I had to read a few chapters in "You Eat What You Are", all about Southeast Asia. Never in my life had I ever wanted to have Southeast Asian food so badly. What's weird is that it wasn't so much that I wanted to eat it, but to make it. I'd like a jar of curry paste right now and knowing that Bankok Center Grocery is so close to my dorm doesn't help. (Not close enough to casually wander to, but probably less than 15 minutes by walking.) I could put that in my rice and make stuffed squash with an ethnic identity disorder.
OH, THIS FOOD MADNESS. Insane. As you can see, my life must be highly stress-free or else there would be other things on my mind besides the bag of food I have to lug to class and the arborio rice and chicken stock in my backpack that I plan to make into risotto sometime this week. Have I ever made risotto? Eh...kind of. I've only eaten it in my cooking class so I don't know what "authentic" risotto is supposed to taste like. Whatever I ate tasted really good though and it wasn't hard to make.
Yesterday I unintentionally fasted for almost 20 hours. No, it's not much of a fast, but I'm always under the impression that normal people eat 3 meals a day and whatnot, figuring they're not busy doing things unrelated to food (the idea is shocking, I know). I've probably said this before, but even though I have the ability to eat a lot, I don't usually feel hungry. There's a huge difference between me being able to eat something at the drop of a hat and my friend who can't wait another hour to eat dinner so she'll eat a snack beforehand. Don't get me wrong--I've had those feelings before, but sometimes my lack of hungry perplexes me (I am easily perplexed). Because...as you know, I like to eat.
My stomach has been making gurgling noises this morning, but I don't really feel hungry. In my experience with gurgling stomachs, it stops if you wait long enough. (Just so you'll feel like you've learned something, stomach gurgling is called borborygmus. BEHOLD MY BORBORYGMUS!) If I go insane, there's a bag with a banana nut muffin sitting right next to me.
Yesterday, due to the beautiful weather and lack of food in my dorm, I went on a bakery hunt with a friend. I don't go to Chinatown as often as I used to, but seeing a new bakery/cafe sprout seemingly out of nowhere was disorienting.
"WHAT, THERE'S A NEW PLACE? WELL, WE HAVE TO GO INSIDE NOW."
I speak in caps.
This place was "my face is smushed into someone else's back" crowded, similar to Fay Da Bakery where we had been a few minutes prior (I can see why they wouldn't make the place self-service, but I think I've gasped the concept of tong handing, which comes in handy when the employee-to-customer ratio by the bread case feels like 1:20) There were lots of egg tarts in a couple of flavors, but I've also seen various types of egg tarts at the Golden Dragon Boat Cafe and Bakery, one of my favorite bakeries in Chinatown. Maybe I'll try it some day but it didn't strike me as especially good.
I never saw this heart-shaped chocolate chip and walnut bread from Fay Da before, so naturally, I had to eat it. While the bread part tasted good, I'd rate it as "okay" because there was hardly any chocolate chip or walnut filling. A teaspoon in each half, perhaps. Meager fillings get filed under the "LAME" column.
...but it's so cute! And perfect looking! Aw. Well. I wouldn't buy it again, but it was worth trying.
Because chocolate is photogenic, I took way too many photos of the Payard chocolates I bought at the Chocolate Show before eating them. And I took photos of them even while eating them! If I didn't take photos, I'd devour everything without giving any thought to whatever I had eaten; when it comes to chocolate, my digestive system is a black hole of doomy chocolate-killing acids.
Obviously, all the pieces were good. I only really enjoyed two of them since the other two were either coffee or alcohol flavored. The one that says "Payard" on it was one of those delicately crunchy, hazelnut-flavored ones, definitely something I've had before in another form but can't recall how to describe exactly. Oh well. YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO EAT ONE YOURSELF.
For dinner I had a major zongzi craving. Zongzi is by far one of my most favorite Chinese food, besides baozi and dumplings (is it weird that even though I grew up saying "baozi" and "zongzi", I didn't grow up with "jiaozi"?). Why is it so good?
Because it's probably really bad for you. Take a mass of sticky rice, mix it with peanuts, and stuff it with fatty pork and egg yolk. Voila: DEATH! Tasty, chewy, nutty, meaty death. As far as I know, there's no such thing as a vegetable zongzi, as that would probably go against the zongzi philosophy of allowing you to easily eat rice, meat, egg, and legume in one bite (there are dessert versions, but I have yet to find one I like). The one I bought yesterday lacked egg yolk, but it had mushroom, which tasted pretty good. I was thrown off by the few random chunks of pork fat that inconveniently clung to the sticky rice. You can love fatty foods, but if you enjoy eating plain, solid fat, you're on a whole different level of gustatory caliber that I'd rather not investigate.
Overall, I thought May May's zongzi was just okay. It was overly greasy for my tastes; my memory of zongzi growing up was that it wasn't that moist and fatty. The rice granules were closely packed to each other and could be considered dry compared to the wet, almost falling apart zongzi I had yesterday.
While I've heard the term "Chinese tamale" before, I rarely see it spelled out like that without the accompanying term "zongzi". I've never had a tamale, so this name modification doesn't mean much to me. Would I like tamales? Where should I get one in NYC? TELL MEEE!
Posted by roboppy at 9:32 AM
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