• Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    Eats, Shoots and Leaves

    Here's a little word-geek joke...

    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....

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    Blogger The Burry Man Writers Center said...

    We have two good-sized bamboo stands, one in the front of the house and one back. The shoots are amazing to watch grow (and you can watch them grow) but we've never been ambitious enough to farm them. They do smell yummy when you break the young ones off at ground level in a useless attempt to train them back.

    The "cleaning them fresh, right now" moment we had was with pea shoots and leaves (wow, what animal does that?), one of the tastiest dishes I've ever had and I wish I could grow them or find which one of the many Asian markets in town carried them.

    9:24 AM  
    Blogger JacquelineC said...

    When I see the produce guy in the Chinese market with a box and he's calling out "Ho lang" (beautiful or delicious) I follow the stampede of little, old Chinese women and grab whatever it is.

    Then, I snap a picture on my cell phone; send it to my Mother-in-law and ask "what is this and how do I cook it?" It's always something good.

    We get dao miu ("dow mew")? here fairly regularly - delicious. My first intro to it was through a client who was first gen Mexican American...we had some great times together training execs in South America, both of us with a handful of Spanish words and phrases...

    3:23 AM  
    Blogger The Burry Man Writers Center said...

    now i'm going to be walking around all day saying "dao miu" so i remember it.

    7:26 AM  

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