Eats, Shoots and Leaves
A panda walks into a library and eats a sandwich, then draws his bow and shoots two arrows. "Why'd you do that?" asks the librarian as he heads toward the door.
The panda shows her a badly punctuated book. "I'm a panda," he says. "That's what it says we do."
The librarian looks at the page:
PANDA - large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.
So begins the book, entitled: "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" by Lynne Truss, subtitled: "Why, commas really DO make a difference!"It's a great book and a fun writers' reference.
The phrase also describes a Panda's diet of which I believe consists entirely of bamboo shoots and leaves.
Bamboo is a hot topic in the sustainability dialog. If harvested properly, bamboo can be considered a miracle baby of the sustainability world. Everything from cashmere-soft baby clothes to indestructable flooring, cutting boards, non-plastic "disposable" silverware...so many things can be made from this crop.
Bamboo might have been one of the first Chinese vegetables you ever saw. The canned varieties taste more like the preservatives they're packed in than the actual vegetable. Ah, but the real thing...it is a delicious treat.
At another meal taken at Gourmet Dumpling, we had our own little bamboo discovery.
Doeng sun or winter bamboo shoots are slender and much smaller and more tender than the typical spring bamboo shoots I was familiar with. But here's a good rule of thumb for Chinatown (any Chinatown): if you see staff at the back table with a big pile of something they're all snipping, cleaning or peeling - order it. My assumption is that it is something that is either seasonal, or rare, or just extremely fresh.
My third time at the new fave, Gourmet Dumpling, proves the rule. We'd ordered our XLB, our pan fried beef and celery dumplings as well as ma po tofu for me and wonton mein for Doc. Then, I went to the back table to ask what it was the staff were working on. When I found out it was something I'd never seen, I quickly grabbed our server on his way into the kitchen. We added an order of the doeng sun to our already large list of items. No worries, tofu travels well and it was my breakfast today over ramen.
The XLB, the ngao-yook dumplings: both great. The ma po tofu, spicy hot, delicious.
The bamboo shoots were to die for. A Hunan style brown gravy, bit of garlic, bit of black bean, little pork...mmm...it, alone, is worth the trip.
Now back to fish....