Posts Tagged With: tourists

We’re French and You’re Not – Chapter One – Chardonnay Man – Last Part

6 p.m.: We fly over the battlefields of Verdun, where 350,000 of our countrymen died fighting the brutal German invaders. What is this? Jean points out a crowd of German pig-dog tourists. Enraged, we throw bottles, cabbages, and the contents of our chamber pots at them. Ha! Ha! Suddenly, and without warning, our balloon descends. Horrors! I recognize Président Pommefrite and Chancellor Erwtenzup of Germany. They are very filthy and very angry. They shout and shake their fists at us. We also notice French soldiers firing at us. Jean opines that perhaps we should ascend quickly. Stirred to action, I increase the flame. Our balloon fills with hot air and we leave them far below. Jean and I are so upset by the whole incident that we delay dinner by a full hour.

14 November, 10 a.m.: We find ourselves over the town of Amiens. Jean informs me that Jules Verne used to be its mayor. He astounds me with the information that he had been reading Verne lately. So, that’s what he has been doing with his afternoons. I thought he was cheating on his mistress.

Noon: We reach the town of Calais on the English Channel. We commemorate our successful journey across France with a simple meal of French bread, onion soup, salade Niçoise, and shrimp scampi. We examine the looming channel, but are not frightened.

3 p.m.: A great jolt rouses Jean and me from our naps. What has annoyed us? Oh, our basket has smashed to bits the radar of a French destroyer. “Vive la France!” we amiably cheer. But incredibly, the sailors shout angrily back. Jean suggests that we quickly leave those clods. I once again increase the size of the flame and we climb back into the clouds.

The sailors fire their rifles and the ship’s big guns at us. Boom! But they cannot see us as we are hiding in the clouds and have broken their radar dish. We shout our apologies to our countrymen and fellow adventurers. We toss down cases of caviar and our best champagne to make up for our faux pas. However, this noble gesture does not appease them. Strange to say, they are becoming even angrier. The lack of manners in our navy appalls Jean and me.

6 p.m.: We are over Dover, England. Hurrah! The great race is coming to an end. We see a great crowd below us. It cheers us wildly, so ours must be the first balloon. The throng includes the Queen and most of the Royal family. We also notice an enormous number of police and soldiers. No doubt, they are there to protect us from our enthusiastic admirers.

Jean and I drink several toasts to England, to the Queen, and to a successful race. I stand up and stagger towards the lever to lower the flame. However, I trip on Jean and fall with all my weight on the lever. Instead of lowering the flame, I shut it off completely. We fall precipitously and hit the ground with a squish.

We dust ourselves off and march proudly towards the Queen. For some reason she appears to be upset. However, we attribute her emotion to the passion of the moment. We present her with the first Chardonnay bottle of the season.

But, the Queen, she is not thankful. No, she accuses us of murdering her Corgi. What dog, we ask? “The one under your balloon,” she cries.

Before we think to apologize, ill-mannered British policemen clasp handcuffs on us and lead us away. We hear behind us German and French voices arguing vociferously for the right to arrest us. Their argument appears to be escalating into a brawl. We shrug our shoulders.

* * *

“Bah! Monsieur le reporter, the food here in this jail is horrible! But yes, I have been without Dom Perignon for three days! Why are these stupid English treating me this way? Can it be that they do not care that I won the Chardonnay race?

Monsieur, tell my friends to hurry and get me out of here. The Tour d’Artichoke starts next week! Sacre bleu!”

****

I hope you enjoyed this chapter from my book. Please let me know what you thought of it. Thank you.

Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

We’re French and You’re Not, my cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Cantonese Ginger Beef

Chinese Entree

CANTONESE GINGER BEEF

INGREDIENTS – MARINADE

¾ pound sirloin steak or flank steak
2 teaspoons sesame oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon mirin or rice wine
1 tablespoon light soy sauce or soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch

INGREDIENTS – SAUCE

¼ cup chicken stock
4 teaspoons oyster sauce or hoisin sauce
¾ teaspoon light soy sauce or soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch

INGREDIENTS – FINAL

1½” ginger root
3 scallions or green onions
1 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil

SPECIAL UTENSILS

wok (optional, not to be confused with an EwokTM. Although having an Ewok would be cool.)

Serves 4. Takes 45 minutes.

PREPARATION – MARINADE

Cut steak against the grain into as thin as possible slices. Cut these slices into 1″ squares. Add all marinade ingredients to large mixing bowl. Stir with hands until cornstarch is no longer visible and steak squares are well coated. Let sit for 20 minutes.

PREPARATION – SAUCE

While steak marinates, Add all sauce ingredients to small mixing bowl. Stir with fork until cornstarch is no longer visible.

PREPARATION – FINAL

Peel ginger root. Cut ginger root into thin strips or rounds. Cut scallions into ½” long pieces. Add peanut oil and marinated steak squares to wok. Sauté at medium-high for 3 minutes or until steak squares brown. Stir enough to ensure even browning. Remove steak squares and drain on paper towels. Remove all but 1 tablespoon oil from work.

Add ginger strips and scallion pieces to work. Sauté for 30 seconds. Stir frequently. Return steak squares and add sauce to wok. Stir fry using medium-high heat until liquid starts to boil and steak squares are cooked through. Stir frequently.

TIDBITS

1) America has the Easter Bunny. It is both a symbol of the Resurrection and of fertility.

2) Britain also has the Easter Bunny.

3) The Easter originally came to America from Germany.

4) But Germany hasn’t really celebrated the Easter Bunny for a long time.

5) Germany also started two world wars.

6) Coincidence? Perhaps.

7) Australia doesn’t have an Easter Bunny either. In 1859 or so, someone released rabbits into the wilds. The rabbits bred like rabbits. Soon, rabbits were displacing all sorts of native critters and munching acres upon acres of crops. Farmers hated that. So, Australia periodically wages a campaign against the rabbit hordes. But the rabbits keep coming back. Farmers still hate them.

8) Thus, the land Down Under doesn’t have an Easter Bunny. It has the Easter tilby. A tilby looks a bit like a rabbit. The tilby has great sex, producing eight babies a year. This number is apparently, less than what the rabbit can do. But even so, the Easter tilby isn’t as celebrated as the Easter Bunny is in other lands.

9) America, Britain, Germany, and even Australia aren’t the only nations with a rabbitish animal celebrating fertility.

10) Oh no, the Cantonese region of China honors fecundity through cattle.

11) What is the singular form of cattle? Technically, there isn’t one. However, extensive research –Watching hours of the TV show Rawhide–gives us “beeves” as an alternative word for “cattle.” “Beef” is the singular form of “Beeves.” There you go.

12) It might seem strange for a beef to symbolize fertility. Would a bee have been a much better representative for reproduction?

13) Yes, it would have. Except that in 1884, a British newspaper, The Lion, wrote an article about Canton’s annual Bee Festival. Only The Lion didn’t say that. A misprint turned the celebration into the Beef Festival.

14) Hundreds of thousands of tourists thronged Canton to honor beef., spending millions of pounds while there. The Cantonese government knowing a good thing when they saw it, officially renamed the event, The Beef Festival. Local restaurateurs developed this dish to serve their British guests. Now you know.

 

Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: cuisine, history, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fun Festivals – Steamed Buns On a Bamboo Tower

 

Would you climb a giant bamboo tower for these?

Lovers of bamboo and buns will not want to miss Hong Kong’s Cheung Chau Ben Festival . The festival takes place on or around Buddhas Birthday, near the end of April or May. in Hong Kong. Contestants climb a giant bamboo tower covered in Chinese steamed buns. Um, okay, it’s not entirely clear from that whether the tower is covered in Chinese steamed buns or the climbers are covered in them. Either way, it’s pretty darn exciting. Anyway, buns picked from the top of the bamboo tower or taken on the backs of the contestants to the top are consider luckier than ones at the bottom. People there go vegetarian during this festival. It’s not clear why. Maybe I would too if I had to climb a tall tower with steamed buns all over me.

The festival’s star attraction are the huge bamboo towers covered with handmade buns. Legends says the island was plagued by an epidemic that killed thousands. Resourceful Cheung Chau locals brought in the god Pak Tai and built it a temple. Pak Tai then shooed the plague and evil spirits away.

In this festival, the inhabitants honor Pak Tai with the Bun Grabbing contest. (Naughty, mind your thoughts.) Contests clamber up a 60-foot tower that’s covered with steam buns. Climbers try to grab as many lucky buns as they can in three minutes. Hard to reach buns give extra points. Or you could simply go for the prestigious Full Pockets of Lucky Buns award. This is won by the climber who grabs the most buns in three minutes. There is also a rather exciting team-relay event.

It’s not at all clear to me how grabbing buns of a bamboo tower shows gratitude to a god who stopped a plague or why these buns are lucky. But there you go. The locals love the event. Tourists from all over the globe come to see it. And you should too. So make your flight plans. Book your hotel and by all means see the Bun Grabbing contest. It’s on the last day of the festival.

But there’s more to this festival than grabbing buns. The week-long festivities includes incense, prayers for prosperity and health, and offerings to festival’s god. Pay a respectful visit to Pak Tai’s altars.

Then wander around the grounds and sample the incredible variety of steamed buns sold by the many food vendors. Heavens, those steamed buns are tasty. And be sure to bring home souvenirs of the event.

Don’t get so distracted by the yummy buns that you miss the festival’s spectacular parade. See elaborate lion dances (No, no ravenous, wild lions are used), and marching bands. Be entranced by the martial arts demonstrations. Biff, biff. Don’t miss the “Floating Children” parade where children dress as Chinese deities. They sit on stands so high that they appear to be floating.

But wait, there’s more. See unicorn dances. Does your town have anything like that? No, I didn’t think so.

It’s well worth arriving in Hong Kong the weekend before the festival for the preliminary Bun Carnival. Watch instructions teach you how to climb the Bun Tower. Climb it for fun. Practice on it. If you find you’re good enough, why not enter the event itself? Go for it. Do it for yourself. Do it for me. Do it for all us who aren’t able to attend.

Oh my gosh, this sounds like such a fun festival.

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: fun festivals | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sweet and Sour Shrimp

Thai Entree

SWEET AND SOUR SHRIMP

INGREDIENTS – SAUCE

3 garlic cloves
1 small onion
2 tomatoes
1 tablespoon corn starch
2½ tablespoons water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (1 cup more later)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce or ¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 cup vegetable oil or enough to cover shrimp

INGREDIENTS – SHRIMP

1 egg
⅔ cup fine bread crumbs
1 pound shrimp (24-to-32 count), peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Serves 4. Takes 40 minutes.

PREPARATION – SAUCE

Mince garlic cloves, onions, and tomatoes. Add corn starch and water to cup. Mix with fork until well blended. Add garlic, onion, and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to pain. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Stir frequently. Add tomato, sugar, fish sauce, and white wine vinegar. Bring to boil. Stir frequently. Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for 10 minutes or until sauce reduces by one-fourth. Add corn starch/water and Sriracha sauce. Mix with whisk or fork until well blended. Remove sauce and set aside.

PREPARATION – SHRIMP

Add egg to small bowl. Beat egg with whisk or fork. Add bread crumbs to medium bowl. Dip shrimp in egg. Dredge shrimp through breadcrumbs. Repeat for all shrimp. Add 1 cup oil to pan. Heat oil using medium heat. Oil is ready, when a bread crumb will dance in the oil. Add shrimp. Deep fry at medium heat for 4 minutes or until shrimps are golden brown.

Add sesame seeds to pan. Toast sesame seeds on medium heat for 4 minutes or until they start to brown. Ladle sauce over shrimp. Garnish with sesame seeds. Goes well with rice.

TIDBITS

1) Sweet and sour shrimp is one of the world’s tastiest dishes.

2) If you are served this in America, you are a valued guest indeed. If your boss invites over and cooks sweet and sour shrimp for you.

3) However, If you’re served this in Thailand, you might or might not be asked to formally unite your family and their family in a marriage alliance. That’s how tasty this entree is.

4) Of course, people and nations change their outlooks all the time. Nowadays, a repast featuring this shrimp might just mean, “Wow, you are the best folks we’ve ever met. We’ll buy the neighboring house for you so we can all play bridge on Fridays and race elephants on Sunday.”

5) Then again, it might mean that marriage pact. In this case, your family and theirs will naturally try forming a new ruling dynasty.

6) Are you ready to rule Thailand?

7) Think it over carefully. Thailand already has a king and a military that is tied in closely with the monarchy. You will have to defeat them.

8) This means overcoming the King’s hundreds of thousands of supporters.

9) You and your Thai family allies will number ten to hundreds, depending whether on not you count all those in-laws that you don’t really like.

10) You will have to count heavily on the element of surprise.

11) All in all, it seems a rather risky endeavor just for the sake of one meal, no matter how tasty.

12) This is why I’ve written this recipe for you.

13) For serving sweet and sour shrimp in America simply means, “You seem nice. Enjoy my hospitality.”

14) In Britain, it means, “What ho, you’re a splendid sort.”

15) This is why a million Thai tourists travel the US and the UK. It’s just so relaxing to eat your food without the worry of fomenting revolution or making your host thinking you’re gauche in some other way.

16) As Sigmund Freud once said, “Sometimes sweet and sour shrimp is just sweet and sour shrimp.”

17) I know, I know, many people thought he said a “banana” instead of “sweet and sour shrimp,” but that is just a typo. An extraordinary typo, yes, but still a typo.

18) It’s a lot to take in. May I suggest reading What to Serve If You Don’t Want to Start Wars by Raymond Burr Ito.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: cuisine, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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