Baking Bread In Lyon …… from the NEW YORKER
Things Are Different In Japan
#1 Bus Drivers In Japan Were On Strike But Continued Driving Their Routes While Refusing To Take Fares From Passengers
#2 Drink Cans Have Names Written In Braille On The Top
#3 Japanese Fans Stayed Behind After The FIFA World Cup 2014 Match To Help Clean Up
#4 There Are Baby Seats Attached To The Wall In Most Bathrooms
#5 I Recently Gave Birth In Japan. Here Is Some Of The Hospital Food I Ate
#6 You Can Often Find This Kind Of Toilet In Japan. Wash Your Hands And Reuse The Water For Your Next Flush
#7 Japan’s Manhole Covers Are Beautiful
#8 Most Japanese Schools Don’t Have Custodians. Instead, The Students Do The Cleaning Themselves As A Part Of Showing Gratitude To The School And Learning How To Become More Productive Members Of Society
#9 The Note In Japanese Says, “I Accidentally Knocked Over Your Bike And Broke The Bell. I Am Very Sorry”
#10 This Is How Smooth The Bullet Train Is In Japan
#11 I Dropped My Shopping Bag On The Streets Of Osaka And When I Went Back To Look For It Later That Day, Someone Had Placed It Next To A Tree Untouched
#12 Commuters In Tokyo Pushed A Train Car To Save A Woman Who Fell And Got Stuck Between The Car And The Platform
#13 Koi Fishes Even Live In Drainage Channels In Japan
#14 Japanese Toilets Often Have A Button That Plays White Noise/Water Sounds So You Can Poop Without Other People Hearing Your Business
#15 Another Reason Why I Love Japan
#16 In Trains You Can Rotate The Seats In Any Direction
#17 Another Great Japanese Invention: Umbrella Lockers. So You Don’t Have To Carry Them Around Inside A Building And Nobody Takes Yours ‘Accidentally’
#18 This Toilet In Japan Has A System Of Occupied/Vacant Toilets Information
#19 Expectations Meet Reality In Japan
#20 This Japanese Gum I Have Came With Little Pieces Of Paper Inside For You To Spit Your Gum In To When You’re Finished With It
#21 This Shopping Center In Japan Has Free Refrigerated Lockers For Your Perishables So You Can Keep Shopping After You Get Your Groceries
#22 Photo I Took Of Tokyo Commuters Waiting For Their Train
#23 At Narita International Airport (Tokyo) They Give You Free Origami Instead Of Candy
#24 Japanese Being Japanese
#25 This Smartphone Wiper Dispenser In Japan
#26 In Japan, Even The Deer Are Polite
#27 In Japan, The Ground Crew Bows And Waves Goodbye To The Departing Aircraft
#28 Ordered This From Japan And It Came With A Little Note And Origami Crane
#29 This Bedside Lamp At My Hotel In Japan Can Be Half Lit
#30 Japanese Airport Staff Sorted Luggages On The Belt By Their Colour
#31 Toreiyu Tsubasa Train In Japan Is Equipped With Footbaths So You Can Enjoy A Relaxing Trip
#32 Children’s Seat On The Fujikyu Railway Line In Japan
#33 Almost Everyone In Japan Reverse Parks
#34 Japanese Often Line Up For Buses, Trains, Restaurants Or Shops And Can Wait In Lines For Long Periods Of Time. Kids Learn How To Line Up As Early As Kindergarten As It Teaches Self-Discipline, Cooperation And Respect
#35 Tokyo Train Company Tsukuba Express Apologized For 20-Second-Early Departure
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#36 This Lift In Japan Has A Seat That Can Be Used As A Toilet In An Emergency
#37 Restaurants In Japan Display Fake Food That Looks Just Like The Real One From The Menu
#38 Japanese ATM’s Have Cane Holders Due To The Aging Population
#39 There Are Over 300 Scramble Intersections In Japan Where You Can Cross A Street Diagonally
#40 At Some Tourist Spots In Japan There Are Stands To Hold Your Smartphone So You Can Take Good Selfies
#49 In Japan They Sell Square Watermelons To Fit Better In The Refrigerator
#50 Toothpick At A Mall In Japan Had A Mint Coated Tip
#51 This Urinal In Japan Is A Video Game You Play With Your Pee
#52 Only In Japan Would Someone Leave These Out While They Sleep
#53 Designated Smoking Rooms On Trains In Japan
#54 This Japanese Handrail Bends With The Steps
American Bald Eagle
My wonderful sister, Gretel, who, with Bo, her talking cat, lives in a magic forest in the far north, took this photo of the great American Bald Eagle in a tree next to her house. She is the quintessential animal lover, and the deer, birds, raccoons, cats, dogs, etc. love her in return, as they visit her often. She takes good care of them and enjoys bowling apples to them.
You think that you have a tiring job?
The Vanishing Street Food of Shanghai
In the words of fellow food writer Justin Fischer, “when it comes to street food, Shanghai has a serious pride deficit.” Other cities treat their food streets as institutions to be preserved; Shanghai views them as blemishes to be removed before they can metasticize — the most recent casualty being Sipailou Road. Even gentrified New York is catching up. In Shanghai, children of street food hawkers aspire to land white collar gigs, in NY, uppercrust kids attend Harvard so they can open a microaggression-free marzipan truck in Brooklyn. You get the idea. Fortunately, there are still some street foods that haven’t been purged in the name of urban renewal. Here are our ten favorite.
P.S. We’re defining street food as cuisine eaten via stick, hand or other utensil while standing or sitting at an outdoor table. Venues with indoor seating do not count.
You’ve passed by these without even realizing it. You find them at cruller stalls in cloth-lined barrels that resemble used towel buckets. Filled with various sweet and savory fillings, the sticky rice ball is essentially all your favorite breakfast foods rolled into a portable parcel. Our favorite is Zifantuan, the “riceroy” of these rotund treats. The Ayi, who’s been rolling these for 20 years, scoops a ration from a dune of “blood rice” — a naturally purple variety — and molds it into a softball-sized orb. It’s the glue that binds the ingredients together.
From here, treat it like a glutinous breakfast Sundae, adding everything from crumpled crullers to soy-glazed pork floss to pickled veg (RMB6-10 depending on fillings). We like tossing a soy-braised egg in the center and dusting the rice with sugar granules. The sticky squish against your teeth coupled with the sweet-savory interplay of the pork filaments and egg will make you want to motor through 10 of them. Don’t. One is a snack; two is Carbageddon.
Find it: 100 Nanyang Lu (near Xikang Lu) 南阳路 100 号 (近西康路)
This Taiwanese transplant is like a breakfast crepe that hit rock bottom. Ingredients entail maroon mystery meat, a cheese single that was frozen in ice longer than Captain America, a flubbery egg, and a pancake so greasy they could solve the global fuel crisis by wringing it out. When paired together, this rag-tag troupe of characters is not only delicious, but offers the perfect line of defense against a raging hangover — think the Suicide Squad of the Shanghai food scene. No need to hit up a particular stand; you’ll find one of these on just about every food street. They’re often sold alongside rou jia mo and those chicken burgers of equally dubious origin. We like ours doused in ketchup and copious spice.
Sticky Rice In Bamboo Tubes
Shanghai’s take on Thai Khao Lam with glutinous banana-flavored rice and red beans inside a bamboo tube. To serve, the vendor will chop the stalk lengthwise, and peel back the husk like a banana, unveiling a vellum of plant skin. This dissipates in your mouth like rice paper. Nine times out of ten “a bright yellow hue” denotes cloying sweetness and additives galore, but here the rice is only mildly sweet and it does taste like real banana.
Find it: 3 Qi Bao Lao Jie Nan Da Jie (七宝老街南大街3号)
It’s not worth making a pilgrimage all the way out to Qibao just for a few grams of sticky rice. Supplement it with some golden tiles of fried stinky tofu — bean curd that’s been inoculated with fungus spores and preserved in brine — which you’ll smell well before you see. Newbies often find the stench so unbearable they want to wear coroner strips under their nose, but veterans are used to it — heck, we appreciate it. Everybody has their own hyberbolic analogies for how this stuff smells — roadkill skunk, a jockstrap after the Tour De France etc — but we’d say the closet things is if you poured garbage juice into a brownie mold and then fried it. But the flavor evokes milder, fluffier gorgonzola. We surmise it’s how lactose-intolerant Chinese to get their umami on sans cheese. Qibao offers both the white and black Hunan variety. Dunk them in chili sauce and enjoy.
In about a week, Biblical numbers of these crimson crustaceans will be flooding the city. We’re cheating here since most xiaolongxia joints do feature indoor seating, but sitting in a plastic chair outdoors on a muggy night with a mass-grave of crayfish shells on your table and a belly full of Tsing Tao is one of the quintessential Shanghai dining adventures — the Eastern version of the Louisiana crawfish boil. Except here they swap out the corn and newspapers with chilies and metal tubs. Our preferred purveyor is the xiangbadao (香吧岛) outlet on 20 Shouning Lu, identifiable by the logo of a smirking crayfish, and constant crowds. Simply pick out your crawdads (40RMB per jin), choose a preparation (medium-spiced xiaolongxia, 中辣小龙虾, is preferable for noobs), bring your gang and indulge yourself. And forgo those cartoonish plastic gloves; you’re eating crayfish, not giving a colonoscopy. It should be a tactile, primal experience.
20 Shouning Lu, Xizang Nan Lu (寿宁路20号, 西藏南路). Tel: (0)21-6326-4431.
Read More: The Five Tastiest Sandwiches In Shanghai
‘Chicken of the street’
Everybody refers to Sichuan la zi ji as Chinese KFC. If so, this is Chinese Popeye’s. A pile of nebulous chicken fingers cocooned in batter, crisped in street diesel, and jostled about with dried chilies, scallions, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, and five-spice powder. But it massages the spot, like Cantonese salt and pepper squid with chicken instead of calamari. And is it really all that more nefarious than KFC, where the chicken packs more hormones than a high school prom?
Find it: 328 Wulumuqi Zhong Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu (乌鲁木齐中路328号, 近复兴中路). Hours: 5-8pm.
This robust fried dough shell filled with spicy meat, it’s a lot like a regular baozi, minus a couple years off your life. But unlike most meat-dough marriages, the carapace manages to be deliciously crackly and oily without overwhelming the fragrant halal beef within. We recommend arriving at the bazaar by late morning, these guys sell out before the one o-clock prayer.
Find it: Aomen Lu (near Changde Lu) 澳门路 (常德路）
You see these carts congregating outside clubs at 3am, waiting for hordes of intoxicated expats to stagger out like crocodiles ambushing fish at a river mouth. Skip these. If anyone’s hawking swill oil and cat meat, it’s these guys. You’ll want to head up the Xinjiang carts, denoted by a Turkish-looking gentleman, and a mile-long line. These folks are excruciatingly picky about their lamb; they’re not going to try and sell you a rat in sheep’s clothing. It’s not halal. You can find great versions at the aforementioned Muslim market or at the intersection of the Yunnan snack street and Ninghai road.
Yunnan Nan Lu, Ninghai Dong Lu (云南南路 近宁海东路).
As good as it is, Shanghai street food can get a bit monotonous. Switch things up with rou jia mo, the cream of Shaanxi’s hand-held cuisine scene. It’s called the Xi’an burger, but the flavor profile is closer to a pulled pork sandwich. It’s light years better. Preparing pulled pork boils down to culinary liposuction; with the Xi’an Burger, the fat is the main attraction. Our two favorite purveyors — on Dagu Lu and outside Fudan Uni — have migrated to green pastures, but for whatever reason, Caoxi Bei Lu is “rou jia mo” row. The street is bookended by identical stalls identifiable by the large shawarma pillars that spin like whirling dervishes of meat and juice. The hawkers browns the mo — basically baby naan — in the cooker, crams it with pork and lettuce, and dusts it with spice — if you want it (8RMB).
Find it: 718 Caoxi Bei Lu, near Yude Lu (漕溪北路749号, 近裕德路)
Strange putting an imperial court dish on a list of street eats, right? Here’s the poor man’s version. Our favorite spot is the duck lady on the corner of Ningbo Road and Shandong road. Every street has one of those, right? This one sustains a thriving business despite only being open from 3-6pm, and it has a mile-long line of octogenarians — old-timers won’t suffer a stale bird. After you order, they bronze your duck in a medieval-looking steel drum until the skin hermetically-seals in the juices. One bird runs you around 40RMB.
Treasure Chest! Artist Carves Bra Out Of 223 Gemstones
Here is one of those “Only in China things” to get for your Sweetheart on Valentine’s Day. See more pics by copying & pasting the link.
The lavish lingerie reportedly took him three years to make. They’re for that special lady, who thought regular bras were too comfortable.
Fly Fishing The Truckee River
The Quest for French Cheese
The first couple of times I was in Paris, I was blown-away by how wonderful French cheese is. I discovered that the reason French cheese is so flavorful is that it is unpasteurized and, therefore, the cheese culture remains alive, continuing to develop more flavor as it ages.
Being a cheese lover was all the motivation that I needed to do some research about French cheeses so that on my next trip to Paris, I would have some informed choices (www.fromages.com). What I learned made me crave cheese even more.
Briefly, there are 3 types of cheese: cow’s milk; sheep or ewe’s milk; and goat’s milk cheese. There are also 3 textures of cheese: soft; semi-hard; and hard cheeses. My research had produced a list of 21 cheeses (over 1000 different cheeses are produced in France), but when I finally got to Paris, my short list for the trip was 9, 7 of which I enjoyed with great pleasure, as 2 provencal cheeses were not in season. My 2 favorites were an aged Salers and an aged Ossau Iraty. Both of these cheeses were full flavored, sweet and savory, with a satisfying aftertaste that entices one to eat more.
My cheese board for the trip was especially satisfying because it was the culmination of much study, planning and a rather long period of contemplation and anticipation until I was able to be in Paris again. Imagine how excited you will be when you finally approach the first of many of the fromageries that you read about. Through the window you see an array of cheeses that gets your heart rate up, and when you enter the shop, the melding of the aromas of cheeses from all over France will bombard your senses like a symphony of tastes just waiting to be discovered.
When you discuss the type of cheese you are seeking with the fromagier, be sure to tell him if you want it to be fresh (mild – doux), or aged (strong – piquant, or in Italy, picante), as there is a big difference between the two. Once the fromagier understands what you are looking for, he or she will also suggest interesting alternatives that will lead you to other taste revelations. My fromagier was very concerned as to just when I would be eating a couple of the soft cheeses that I was buying because he wanted to give me cheeses that would be perfectly ripe at the time that I planned to eat them. Ah yes, merci monsieur!
Of course, when we plan our cheese quest, we must include the accoutrements of a good bread and wine, if you are so inclined. There are several very entertaining and appetite provoking books on the great foods of Paris and where to find them. My favorite is The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris, by Patricia Wells. The 2014 fifth edition has just been published. Wells’ book is a delicious read and in Paris it led my inner wanderer to many unique discoveries of artisanal breads, cheeses, pastries, and so forth. On my last visit I enjoyed Lionel Poilane’s earthy sourdough round (8 rue du Cherche-Midi, Paris 6) and Raymond Seguy’s crunchy sourdough baguette (25 Avenue de Clichy, Paris 17) with my cheese.
If your French is lacking, do not worry. Show the fromagier your cheese list, and I assure you that you will not walk out of the fromagerie empty-handed. When you are well provisioned, be careful getting back to your hotel, as the aromas of that bread and cheese over-coming your senses will make you giddy. Be advised that the quest for French cheese can result in feelings of euphoria, accompanied by a big smile.