Eggplant: An Unlikely TinyKitchen Star

Just here for the recipe? No worries, comrade! Click here.

Eggplant is…. not my favorite. It’s mushy and the skin feels weird and the seeds are icky and it just tastes generally gross. I have eaten it exactly one time where I’ve genuinely enjoyed it, and when I asked how my friend’s wife had prepared it, she said “oh, I don’t know actually. I’ve never made it before today.” NOT HELPFUL, HUDA.

I tried facing my aversion last summer when I got an eggplant with my farm share. I needed to make a dish out of the original Moosewood cookbook to bring to a potluck (what up Cookbook Cluuuuuuuuuuub) and there was a baba ganouj (ganoush? ghanouj? ganoosh? goulash? ghouloosh??) recipe I decided to take a crack at.

And, uhhhh….. it was gross. Continue reading “Eggplant: An Unlikely TinyKitchen Star”

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TinyKitchen Stir-Fry

People (read: Taiwanese people) love to ask me if I cook at home. It’s uncommon here to do so, and I imagine the people who are asking me are wondering if it would be uncommon for a wài guó rén 外國人(foreigner) to do so as well.

I do cook sometimes at home, and it occurred to me today as I was making the same meal I’ve made here a thousand times that I’ve gotten quite good at this particular dish.

If you’re just here for the recipe and don’t care about the rest of this post, click here!

I have no concept of time while I’m cooking, but luckily I decided to take pictures this time and have some timestamps to work with. I started cooking around 1:15 and took the last photo (of me eating) at 1:55, so this recipe takes me about 40 minutes to make. Your mileage may vary. Continue reading “TinyKitchen Stir-Fry”

Life Lately

I realize that I’ve been a terrible blogger for the past month.

Since there’s so much to catch y’all up on, here’s a short-and-sweet (like me!) list for you to digest:

  1. We had our first typhoon last night! It wasn’t that bad. Just a LOT of rain (almost 40 centimeters in Taipei City, I read, which is about 15 inches) and some wind damage, but nothing too severe in our neighborhood.

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    Look at all the pretty colors!
  2. After spending a couple of weeks post-Chinese school unsuccessfully applying for jobs and thinking about my life, I decided I want to apply to graduate school. It’s something that was in the cards for this chapter of my life, and it feels like the right time to do it.
  3. This meant that I had to take the GRE. Which I did. It was the worst.
  4. Okay, just kidding. The test itself wasn’t terrible. Studying was rough though.

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    But look! I got myself some basil ice cream to celebrate!
  5. Last weekend (July 2) Adam and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary! We’re not big on gifts, so to celebrate, we took a weekend trip to Hualien to see Taroko National Park (post to follow).

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    In Hualien. Not in Taroko, but almost as pretty.
  6. In blog news, I’m playing around with redesigning Le Riz Qui Rit. I want to make it look attractive and cohesive – and I want people to find it! So, if you like what you see (so far it’s just the little fun logo on the home page) drop me a note.
  7. And…… I think that’s it. Thanks for following this very boring update. Here are a couple of other fun photos to entertain you in the meantime:
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    Seen at Carrefour yesterday when stocking up on typhoon supplies
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    Pizza made in our new (toaster) oven!

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    The Mayor of Maobury, getting ready for a snooze.

My Bilingual Victory

Today was my last Chinese class for the forseeable future, and I had a significant victory on my way home.

Okay, we were on our way home from a bar. At 2am. And my last class was technically Friday. Details. Whatever.

There’s a near park near our flat where, I’m not joking, at least 10 cats live. Ten. Ten cats. And the majority of them are quite friendly – some even friendly enough to sit in our laps and fall asleep.

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I’ve named this one Marty

We call it ‘Maobury’ (‘mao’ from the Mandarin word for cat), which is different from the ‘Maotown’ right outside our apartment. It also happens to be on the way home from the bikeshare rental station we use, so it’s a huge motivator for me to bike home most days.

What I’m saying is that Maobury is great.

Adam and I had biked home and stopped by Maobury to sit for a few minutes. One cat, a slender and friendly brown tabby we’ve been calling Mayor (as in the Mayor of Maobury) instantly came over to us and nuzzled our knees as we sat on the stone steps of the park.

Around the corner, we heard a scooter start up. A single bright light washed over the park as the driver pulled into the center of Maobury. I expected Mayor and the other cat who had poked his head out, a lanky black cat we call Xiao Maya (literally ‘Little Maya’), to bolt from the sudden visitor.

I was wrong.

ALL the cats came out.

“Tā jiào ‘xiǎo hēi’,” the driver said, climbing off her scooter. His name is ‘xiǎo hēi,’ or Little Black.

She told us she takes the cats to the vet hospital to get spayed/neutered. That whichever ear is clipped (often done on feral cats to show they’ve been spayed/neutered) indicates if it’s a male or female cat. That there are eleven (eleven!) cats in this area that she takes care of. She told us their names as they came over to say hello.

She asked us if we’re here to study Chinese. I told her I had been studying for three months and Adam for four weeks. She asked us if we lived around there. It turns out we’re neighbors (I guess not that surprising). She told us that the botanical garden nearby was really nice. I told her we had been there.

This was all in Chinese. All of it.

This was one of my goals in learning Chinese. To not only be able to order food at a restaurant and ask how much something costs, but to be able to have real (albeit elementary and superficial) conversations with my neighbors. To feel like I actually live in Taiwan.

My Chinese is still pretty awful, but I finally feel like I’ve learned enough to keep improving. I know how to ask things like “what is this called?” or “what does this character mean?” I know enough vocabulary to be able to explain things I don’t know the words for.

It’s getting better. And I’m actually really, really proud of myself.

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The Mayor in all of his splendor

Searching for My Personal Space

If you don’t like strangers constantly touching you, maybe don’t come to Asia.

Before I moved to Taiwan, I thought New York City was really, really crowded.

I’ve been to New York countless times, but for some reason, every time I picture being there, I remember it like this:

7xuozhu

Boston is a comparatively small city, but it’s still a city. So I thought moving to Taipei would be a piece of 蛋糕(dàn gào).

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(sorrynotsorry)

As it turns out, a lot of fucking people live in Asia. And since I didn’t want to just start spewing my feelings on this without having facts to back me up, I did some research. Continue reading “Searching for My Personal Space”

Japan Animal Adventure #2: RABBITS

Also known as buns, bunnies, and bunbuns. Also 兔子(tuzi) in Mandarin, I learned later.

Off the coast of Hiroshima there is an island home to a colony of LITERALLY BILLIONS (not literally) of feral rabbits. The island itself was key in the early-to-mid-20th century, as it was the site of a poison gas factory that developed chemical weapons for Japanese use in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. To this day, there are still parts of the island inaccessible to tourists due to contamination.

I won’t go into the significance of rabbits to this island. I will say, however, that rabbits were intentionally brought to the island to be freed after the war ended.

There is a ferry that takes tourists from the tiny town of Tadanoumi Nakamachi which, from what I can tell, only exists to serve the bunny-bound. There are a couple of cafes (I think), a convenience store or two, and a railway station. When I googled the name of the town to check my stats, the entire first page of results were Airbnb listings.

But before you get to Tadanoumi Station, you must go on An Adventure. Continue reading “Japan Animal Adventure #2: RABBITS”

Japan Animal Adventure #1: DEER

Initial review of Japan: if you want to interact with any animals, come here and find a colony where they live.

Adam and I spent 5 days in Japan tagging along with our friends Romana and Brett as they hopped from city to city, checking out everything from rabbit islands to owl cafés (links to @theromanashow on Instagram). It was great to spend time with one of our best friends while seeing a whole new side of Asia.

Our second full day in Japan we went to Nara, a medium-sized city just over an hour via public transit from Osaka. Nara is known for a few things: gorgeous historic monuments and temples (including a UNESCO World Heritage Site), museums, a giant statue of Buddha, and an adorable little downtown area.

But we weren’t there for history or shopping. We were there for the FUCKING SACRED DEER. Continue reading “Japan Animal Adventure #1: DEER”