Charlie

The Chinese eat some interesting things. Chicken feet, for example. I’ll say this about chicken feet–having seen the amount of shit a bird can excrete onto my windshield in the time it takes me to exit my car, enter a gas station, purchase a pack of Mentos (The Freshmaker), and return to the car that I “smartly” parked under the tree for shade, I do not personally want to eat the feet of anything that has spent its entire life tromping about in an area where multiple birds are confined for very long periods of time. But maybe that’s just me?

I do have a few favorite Chinese dishes, all of which I assume are primarily American, and that any self-respecting Chinese person would eschew with a firm and delicate-looking hand. Hot and sour soup, white-meat-chicken egg rolls, fried rice that has the pork that is, for God only knows what reason, pink on the edges, violently day-glo orange dippin’ sauce, and beef with garlic sauce, to name a few. One that I’ve heard mentioned multiple times, often being called “authentic Chinese street food,” is something called a “bao.” It’s basically a bun that is filled with meat and then steamed. I think.

I was intrigued. But then I thought to myself, “Self? Do you really want to be supporting a communist government and the widespread baby-exterminator that is melamine formula?” The answer was no. So I made anti-communism bao. You could call them McCarthy rolls, I guess, if you needed a memorable moniker. So I made them with a Greek twist. You know the Greek. Solid, hearty, warm-hearted peoples who live alongside a beautiful ocean far, far away? Spanakopita, Moussaka, other dishes I’m unwilling to eat because they’re all jammed-full of feta cheese. Well, these buns are full of a thick and flavorful Greek braised beef.

What’s that you say? That those are my leftovers from yesterday, stuffed into a culinary idea that I openly ripped off from another continent entirely?!? Shame on you! You’re absolutely right. I have nothing against the Chinese, and am eager to make some authentic bao (provided they only contain parts of the chicken that are condoned by your major American supermarkets, excluding the livers and the gizzard, which I still think is a totally made up word). But I had a lot of leftover Greek braised-ness, and was feeling creative. So we have Greek-style bao. It’s a soft, white roll that is filled with shredded beef and kalamatas, then pinched together at the top and flipped seam-down. They’re baked with a pan of water to create some steam, then deep fried for good measure. I served them with a quick, chunky tzatziki and some carrot sticks that Chris cut ever-so-lovingly.

Another Asian treat that has been molestered past recognition by American merchants is the “Bubble Tea.” It’s any number of cool liquids (smoothie, milky tea, etc.) that has a cache of big tapioca pearls at the bottom like Asian ambassadors to the Caucasian gummi bear. So niiiiice. These were made in a vanilla sugar syrup, then put into a drink of cherry vodka, vanilla rum, and club soda. I made Chris drink it, but it was really, really good. If you have a heavy drinking problem and can tune out overly assertive grain alcohol flavors.
Perfect! There’s something both satisfying and disturbing at how frustrated I was getting at not being able to find a natural and delicious way to incorporate spirits into a childrens’ drink. I won.

We followed it up with a melange of homemade ice creams that have been lolling around our fridge refusing to get jobs and becoming ever more embittered about the sagging economy. Almond, cinnamon schmear, and vanilla bean. Tasty little bastards. And a drizzle of chocolate, for my homies.

We’re still playing with the macro lense, lighting, and depth of field. We currently suck rocks, so bear with me while the photos are erratic in quality (and focus). The lense we got was Canon 50 mm/F2.5 macro something or other. It’s terribly tricky. We’re buying some ego lights this week, and setting up a better stage with a tripod, so I’m guessing within two weeks you’ll have well-lit, steady-handed crappy shots to look at. So that’ll be nice.

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