Monday, June 9, 2008

Eats, Drawings, and Denominations

I had General Tao's Chicken(左宗棠鸡) for lunch. And I got my hands on, finally, some Sticky Rice Bun(粽子)- which is said to be related with Qu Yuan - yesterday.

It reminds me how many Chinese dishes are said to be related - innovated by or made famous - with famous names. We have Dongpo Pork and West Lake Sweet and Sour Fish(西湖醋鱼), of which recipes are said to be invented by the Song poet Su Dongpo according to The Gay Genius. Of more recent genre, you can always point to Chairman Mao's Red-Braised Pork(毛式红烧肉). Infamous persons made their names to the food table too; Chinese cruller,also known as the more original name You Char Kway in Singapore, is originated from Infamy. Even Spinach and Toufu Soup has this legendary story of QianLong Emperor.

Is that because Chinese people like to practice romanticism on dishes, or they are naturally good in marketing? Whatever the reason, you better make your name onto the food table if you want to ensure yourself a place in the Chinese history!

Now I'm sitting here trying hard to figure out a similarly storied "western" dish from my daily manu - New York Steak, Alfredo Meatball, Fried Mahi-Mahi, etc. - I can't think of any, yet. They are blend, but straight forward. If you have any idea, please let me know.

[update: Chicken Without Sexual Life is now off the menu. Beijing suggests English translation of Chinese dishes for Olympics]

On the left is an interesting video produced by DanWei about graffiti art in China. I have to say, while I appreciate the diversity, I'm not impressed. Most of those works I see in the video, the style, the lettering, aren''t that different from the African American graffiti art. Why would I want to see emulations from hip-hopping Chinese kids when they are as if straight from New York City, just not as "street" and authentic? Now that if they have distinct Chinese flavor to put up as street mural, it would earn more respect, at least from me.

In other news, some Chinese "scholars", mostly media people really, are calling for putting ancient heroes on the money. Times, in its usual clueless-ness, is reporting it as if the change is imminent, and totally misses the political flavor in the proposal. Truthfully speaking, I have no definite stance on the issue. And I doubt anybody has real idea how some of those ancient figures really look like aside from imaginative depictions. My issue with those put forth the proposal is that they call themselves "scholars". Since when are media personalities qualified as scholars? I know the term intellectual is now cheap, but is it that cheap? Well, here are some fascinating photos of bank notes in Chinese history.

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