More food fun

We’re here for a good time
Not a long time
So have a good time
The sun can’t shine every day

The late Julia Child was once asked about what foods she considers to be guilty pleasures. To which she responded something along the lines of “I have never felt guilt over any pleasure that I have had.”

My food icon, Julia Child.

Today’s blog is about food, more or less, since I need to think about something right now that comforts me.

In the past two weeks I’ve blown my nose so many times that I feel like I’ve blown out my brains. On top of that, I’ve developed a large infected lump on the back of my neck. Nothing fatal, I’m afraid. It now has a bandage on it. Ugh. Fortunately, I’ve taught my students some “feeling” words to describe such situations:

STRUNG OUT = behaving like someone on drugs; physically exhausted; almost unconscious

JACKED UP = energy has increased sharply; on a sugar high; hyper-active, nervous

CRASH = to lose energy suddenly; or, what I do nearly every afternoon

Fun with McCorporate English

In this week’s classes, I showed Part 2 of Super Size Me, one man’s adventures living in the world of McFast-Food. I also developed a lesson in spoken English from an unlikely source:

Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.”
– trademarked slogan first used by McDonald’s in 1975

Yes, I know it’s a disgusting example of corporate ad-speak, embedded in the minds of millions of children and adults. I also know that the Golden Arches are now the most recognized symbol in the world (can you spell conformity?).

Still, the slogan has its virtues. Whoever composed it back in 1975 knew all about the lyrical properties of English, its rhythm, stress, and intonation. They also managed to incorporate a wide variety of vowel and consonant sounds into one sentence.

After doing choral repetition of each part of the sentence, I had the class clap their hands in rhythm while we chanted the verse, adding stress. We then speeded it up, until the class was thoroughly tongue-tied.

I pointed out the sentence’s usefulness in practicing vowel sounds, and their combinations. Then we did consonants. You’ve got your T, your B, and your P, similar sounds that are sometimes confusing for English-learners: “Two beef patties.” Try saying it fast. Another tongue-twister combination: “special sauce sesame seed,” “special sauce sesame seed.”

You get the idea. Use the sentence wisely; just don’t eat the food.

From the web: Rainbow Jello!! Now that’s comfort food!
Further notes

UESTC is renewing my teaching contract for 2007-2008, so I’ll be staying for my 2nd year. The roller-coaster ride continues!

I LOVE!!! Their extensive collection of short videos can not only help you improve your life skills (how to fold a T shirt; how to get unwanted guests to leave), but there are all kinds of cooking demonstrations. Watch them here. Bon appétit!

Kitchen Exhibitionist offers some good, hedonist food fun. You can also read Twelve Signs That You Are an Epicurean Voluptuary. That sounds positively HOT! The dictionary defines a voluptuary as one devoted to sensory pleasures. The thesaurus goes even further, comparing a voluptuary to a hedonist, a sybarite, and even a glutton!

Food fun this weekend

My friend and I cooked several fun dishes this weekend. Here’s a synopsis:

Sweet and sour prawns. I loosely followed the recipe from Videojug (link above). On the website, type in “Sweet and sour prawns” in the search bar, choose “Food” in the drop-down menu, and voila!

Prawns, prawns, prawns

We went to Carrefour to buy some frozen pre-cooked prawns (about 20 yuan for 500 grams). We found all the other necessary ingredients, including tomato paste; however, we substituted sweet potato starch in the absence of corn starch. It works the same. In the absence of chicken stock I simply used chicken bullion mixed with water. I also purchased some oyster sauce, which, along with a little red vinegar, I used to substitute for the dry sherry in the recipe. The meal was scrumptious, served with an egg-and-tomato side dish and long-grain rice.

Today’s (Sunday’s) lunch was chicken stir-fried with red and green peppers, green onions, garlic, and my own sauce of curry powder, tomato paste, soy sauce, vinegar, and chicken bullion. Last night’s leftover rice became fried rice with egg and tomato.

My next culinary venture will be this “pure chocolate” mousse, made with only chocolate and water (yes, you read that correctly; check it out). Now I just have to find some really high-quality chocolate bars (Valrhona, anyone?).

Chocolate erotica

The recipe comes from Kitchen Exhibitionist:

This is pure chocolate mousse. Like mousse, its texture is smooth and airy but
it has the flavor denseness of a chocolate truffle. A spoonful just melts on the
tongue. As there is no cream to coat the palate and block the taste buds, the
pure flavor of the chocolate shines through.

As you can imagine, this
will taste exactly like the chocolate you use so be sure to use a chocolate you
love. Also, it is critical to use a quality dark chocolate that contains a high
percentage of cocoa, at least 70%. I used Callebaut bittersweet with great

Herve This’ Chocolate Chantilly

200 ml water
225 gr quality bittersweet chocolate (a scant 8 oz),
chopped coarsely

Place the water and chocolate into a small heavy
saucepan over medium heat to melt. Stir the chocolate in the pan until
completely melted.

Have ready two bowls, one that will sit inside the
other. Into the bigger bowl, put some ice and a little water, and place in it
the smaller bowl. Pour the melted chocolate into the smaller bowl and whisk over
ice – the mixture will gradually thicken and take on the appearance of whipped
cream, at which point it is ready to serve.

I used a hand-held electric
mixer with a whisk attachment and it took 3 minutes. Be careful not to over whip
it, but if you do simply put it back into the pan and start again.


My favorite comfort food changes periodically, according to where I’m living. When I lived on the near north side of Chicago, I ate gyros sandwiches almost every night from one of the local Greek restaurants. At several points in my life, I virtually lived on frozen pizzas.

In France, my Sunday morning ritual was to consume an entire baguette (long French bread) with Normandy butter and a whole jar of Confiture Bonne Maman aux Oranges Amers. (“Good Mother” brand bitter orange marmalade) Later I graduated to pain de seigle (French whole wheat bread), and then to a marvelous Provencal sandwich called a pan bagnat (a huge round of bread cut in half and filled with tuna, egg, tomato, onion, garlic, parsley, black olives, and olive oil).

I’m still discovering my favorite comfort foods in China, but the different Chinese fried breads or steamed dumplings must be among them. By definition, “comfort food” should be high in carbohydrates (they have a calming effect on the brain), oily, and consumed in great quantities. The psychological effect should be one of well-being, approaching euphoria.

Jiaozi – Chinese dumplings –


Comfort Spaghetti

Cook enough good Italian spaghetti to serve about 4 people (although you will eat all of it yourself). Toss the spaghetti with melted butter, olive oil, sautéed chopped garlic, coarsely ground black pepper, and chopped fresh parsley. There should be enough butter and oil to drip off the spaghetti as you eat it and to make everything really messy. That’s the comfort part. Eat all 4 servings while watching an old movie on TV.

Comfort Potatoes and Cheese

This is basically a pan full of boiled potatoes, which have been tossed with lots of melted butter, chopped garlic, and black pepper. Next, dump about ½ pound (or more) of grated mozzarella cheese on top of the potatoes, and put the lid back on the pan. The hot potatoes will melt the cheese. Remove cover and consume straight from the pan. Calories: about a million.

Funny true story of the day
From: Diary of the Food Whore

Hot Potato
Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Customer asked to order 1/2 a baked potato. The server informed her we did not sell 1/2 baked potatoes, but would do her best to acquire the smallest we had available. At the end of the meal The Customer asked to speak with management – and as I approached the table – smile planted firmly on face – I saw The Customer shove the last bite of baked potato in her mouth.

Bottom line – she didn’t like the fact that she was forced to pay for an entire potato when she could only eat half. I smiled, said I was sorry she was unhappy – but that we are not in the habit of selling half potatoes. I also pointed out that she had, in fact, eaten the entire potato.

Her response to that?


“Well of course I ate it. What would you have me do? Waste it? There was no way I was going to get a doggy bag for 1/2 of a potato, what on Earth would I do with it? But now, because of your ridiculous policy, I am going to be so miserably full I will never be able to enjoy my nightly pastry and coffee.”

Fave photos of the week – from brieuc75 in Paris

View from the roof of the Paris Opera (Palais Garnier), toward the Tour Maine-Montparnasse in the distance.

Restaurant Angelina, Paris

Display window, boutique Hugo Boss, on the Champs Elysées, Paris.


2 responses to “More food fun

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s