Seattle’s Bike Share Cage Match is on
like Donkey Kong

There’s a new colorful set of creatures out in the lush urban jungle of Seattle. As native Seattlites hurry sweatily through the last summer “heat wave” of 76-80 degree weather, you might glimpse a flash of green and yellow behind a tree, a cheery orange appendage sidling up to the pavement, or a blur of both, speeding haphazardly to the next traffic light as they flirt with each other to see who handles best. What’s the skinny? Continue Reading

Friendly Friday:
Instant Pot – Virtually Instant, Really!

Spaghetti and meat made via Instant Pot by Tanya

Recently, I had a chance to visit my fellow Minnesotan friend Tanya, her spouse Justin, and their daughter Mabel in Portland. They graciously had me over for dinner, and I got to see a demo of the Instant Pot. Apparently she was so excited about it she bought a second one when it was on sale on Amazon. My friend Candace in San Francisco had previously bothered messaging me about this device as a sped up way to make radish cakes, so it seemed only right that I listen to the universe’s repeated prodding to investigate this gadget.

Tanya said I could post the video despite her self-consciousness if I did an Instant Pot post, so here we go. Check out super-mobile Mabel! I wish I could take a picture of the smell

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How long do you boil corn? A guest blog post by Susannah Lewis

How long should you boil corn? It sounds like a straightforward question, but your answer says a lot about where you grew up and your relationship to corn.  Although I grew up in Iowa, where corn is indeed king, I’ve lived in several very different regions of the country as an adult (Rocky Mountains, Pacific NW, Kentucky) that, well, don’t grow much corn. But first, a disclaimer: I don’t actually know that much about corn.  So consider this a non-expert Corn Fangirl blog, where hopefully I can share my love of corn and a bit of why it means so much to my home state.

Susannah Lewis

A perfect Midwestern summer meal – potato salad with green beans,  fresh homegrown tomatoes and plenty of sweet corn!

 

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Braised Chickpea Chard Coconut Meal
Translated for Backpacking!

Components:
1 c dehydrated braised chickpea chard coconut & couscous
1.5 c hot boiled water
About 35 minutes sit time, stir after 20*

Bored with your dehydrated backpacking meal rotation?
This just in: braised coconut chickpea & spinach recipe from The Kitchn works out as a dehydrated camp meal! Completed my trial of it yesterday with a taste test with some old friends.** Clockwise from top left: in my friend Alessandra‘s dehydrator, vacuum sealed +couscous (stored in freezer for optimum dryness while I was out galavanting), mid-hydration, ready to eat! Special thanks to Alessandra for loaning the dehydrator, and Torey for pointing me to the original recipe years ago while we were waiting for our S.O.s to finish the Vermont Beast.

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Friendly Friday: Sari Kamin’s Food Without Borders

There’s a new food podcast out, add it to your list, friends!

Sari Kamin started putting out Food Without Borders last month, brought to you by the only online food station Heritage Radio Network. Sari previously hosted ‘The Morning After,” a fun show about the restaurant industry, and felt inspired to create Food Without Borders to do something more meaningful.

I think food can be a very powerful tool for affecting people’s opinions and understanding of cultures beyond their own. I’m lucky to live in New York: a melting pot of a city where we have every type of food available to us and for the most part, folks are pretty tolerant of one another. This is no coincidence. When you eat each other’s food, the fear of the unknown or “the other” is often mitigated. It’s my hope that with Food Without Borders, there’s an opportunity to hear from some of the people cooking food (often behind the scenes) and that can potentially assuage some misunderstandings of who immigrants are.

Sari Kamin: culinary ethnographer, storyteller, eater, and Master’s graduate of NYU’s Food Studies Program

 

You may find Episode 2 with Manal Kahi especially interesting. It features Eat Offbeat, which delivers authentic and home-style ethnic meals conceived, prepared and delivered by refugees resettled in NYC. You might also enjoy Episode 4 with Fany Gerson, author of “My Sweet Mexico,” featuring frozen treats and sweets of Mexico. She shares her experience of how Mexican ice cream is traditionally made, touches on the impact of free trade (or lack thereof) on ingredients for a small business, interesting contrasts in people’s price expectations of different kinds of cuisine, and doing good for your community as a small for-profit business.

Check out the full list of food podcasts now posted under the Adventure section of Food the Wong Way’s navigation bar.

Got a food podcast you love and want to share with the world?

Write me in the comments, or send me a tweet @FoodtheWongWay.

Taiwan Adventures – Going “Home” Part 2

 Recap of What I Expected to Find in Taiwan:
(see Taiwan Adventures – Going Home 1 for the full intro)

-Familiar but unfamiliar: being too-rusty in language skills, feeling a stranger in a friendly city
-Pollution galore

What did I find?


Arrival


Aah, that southern Chinese accent! Familiar, just …familiar.
I walked off the plane to find the Taiwan scents and accents floating around only familiar. It’s this kind of lush, humid smell with a subtle industrious undercurrent. Not as plastic as Hong Kong, with a strong hint of tropics. Delightfully homey.

Sometimes when I hear another language, it sounds like something on the edge of my hearing, where I can’t quite understand but if I listen a little more in a different way, it’ll make sense. It’s like a whisper of misty rain, sifting by and gone before you know it. It also didn’t feel like I was drowning in a foreign language.
In Taiwan, like a tranquil pool, I was happy to sit in it and let the words float by in a sea of general comprehension. Some waters were in other unknown dialects, like Hakka and Taiwanese, but those friendly waters floated by harmlessly. Continue Reading

I learned to bike when I was 18

I learned to bike when I was eighteen. I had gone on the University of Minnesota’s excellent study abroad program to Tianjin, China. It’s two hours south of Beijing by train.

The first week Charles Sanft, our Program Director took us to buy bikes for $20 apiece and told us that’d be our main transportation for three months.

My roommate Diana and I got up early every day to try and ride our bikes in circles in the pavement in front of the luxe dorm*, and circle after circle, we got it. For three months, this $20 piece of clever machinery carried me through the foreign streets of sweltering Tianjin, to shop in the markets for red, white, and pink shirts (I never seemed able to find other colors in women’s sizes), to the clubs with hydraulic dance floors and Qingdao beer cheaper than water. I’d pay a coin to the kid watching the bike parking lot, hop off and stroll into the internet cafes to write home and also to squint at the AOL news ticker bar at the top of the instant messenger to read the non-censored world news. I’d learn that it would be wiser to walk my bike home from the bar rather than bother riding recklessly late at night. ,It would take me back to the dorms and class* to gain(briefly)full literacy. Thus began my love of biking, and now I use it for commuting, watch for bike options when traveling, and gleefully burn the calories of delicious food I so savor via two wheels.

This story commemorates the close of May
Bike Month
in the U.S.

What’s your bike story?

Share in the comments below or via social media.

*In one Chinese language class, my professor had us read a story of a man riding a horse, who gets off his horse to ask for directions. This was meant to illustrate how to be polite if you stop your bike and need to talk to some one, and I still think of it to this day.

What to Know About Your Phone for International Travel
Taiwan Pro-Tip Edition

SIM Card Rental & Local Pay Options $ < Global Data Plan $$$

Did you know: you can rent a SIM card or cell phone when you arrive at the airport in Taiwan?

I found this out once I was there, after already having purchased my $10-a-day global data plan with AT&T. AT&T would charge for each day the plan was used and meant if you stayed 8 days, you’d be charged $80 to use the same options as your regular plan back home. Turns out instead, you can rent a SIM card for your cell phone from the airport at a much cheaper rate, and then use your phone as usual.  E.g. as of the writing of this post, if you get a 7-day pass with 240hrs of data at NT500 that’s about $16.61 USD. You could also rent a cell phone if you wanted, which is still pretty useful for bike rental downtown, which requires a local Taiwan phone number for registration. There’s even an option to reserve ahead of time to pick up if you do not arrive at a time when the store is in full operation. Check out the details below.

Guide to Taipei: Cell Phones & SIM Cards

The general lesson for international travel here is: research a few options on phones, and it can save you a bundle -a bundle you could put toward more food on the trip, or a fun side excursion. When I was in Manila last Fall, my spouse’s super-helpful cousins helped set us up with SIM cards from the local company Globe, and that was a fraction of a price of our (slightly different, more complicated) AT&T global data plan at the time. When it comes to cell phone company competition, the U.S. is not the leader and you can leverage this circumstance when you travel. I often end up using more data while traveling, to figure out transit logistics, hunt for food via Foursquare, or load a zillion pictures that clog up the blog pipeline, so these options are really worth it if you are on the go but need to stay connected. No judgment of those who don’t, that is a fun route too.

Singapore: Hawker Centre Crash Course

Singapore is famous for its food culture, and although there are certainly high-end top-dollar restaurants with 10-course menus that would charm the foodiest ex-pat executive, the heart of that food culture lives in the local hawker centres.
Street food is a common cultural institution throughout the world, but has a special place in Southeast Asia in particular as the dominant working-class cuisine and in Singapore’s case primary meal option. The hawker centres themselves are the result of a typically Singaporean government effort in the 1970’s to improve food safety and keep an ever-increasing army of food hawkers from blocking traffic. The government built and maintains the cavernous markets themselves, and administers licensing and health codes. Despite this standardization, the hawker centre is still a vibrant part of the local culture and a wonderfully chaotic den of unexpected delights to western palates and challenges to preconceptions about “eating out”.

Tekka Centre, Singapore. Photo by Mike Borchert.

The centres are organized as long lines of narrow, no-frills stalls, each operated by a different vendor, each with their own specialties and styles. Although the cuisines tend to be dominated by the ethnicity of the surrounding neighborhood, it’s still a grab-bag of curries, dumplings, soups, hot pots, noodles, satay, fruit juices, and everything else that’s taken root in this culinary crossroads. Continue Reading

The Tapas of Al Andalus in Spain

A guest post by Karl:

Besides the amazing architecture of Al Andalus (the name of southern Spain during the times of the Islamic rule from ~700 – 1492, the area now known as Andalusia), the area is also known for tapas.

Tapas
Tapas are generally served in most bars and restaurants.  Some only serve tapas, and are known as a tapas bar.  With each drink that you order, you get small bites of food that come with the drink.  This is tapas.  I described it to others as a Spanish dim sum while drinking.  It’s a whole culture in Spain.  And it’s fantastic.

The type of tapas that come with your drinks can vary widely.  From the very basic potato chips with your beer to a small plate of calamari with your sangria.

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