Tag Archives: Pork

From Beijing to Hangzhou (via Changsha)

Tea picking

I suspect many westerners have a handful of preconceptions about China, primarily driven by what we see on the news and read in the papers, and all coloured by the protests that took place in Tiananmen Square in 1989, and the terrible government backlash that ensued.

But if you visit, I think you’ll see a very different place to the one you are expecting. People are more enthusiastic, more intelligent, more energetic, more interesting, more opinionated and enjoying life more than most people I meet in London. Everywhere you look, people are going about their daily business in the same way people do here in the UK. Of course the press is controlled by the government, and Twitter and Facebook are blocked and replaced by Chinese versions that are automatically monitored and censored (mainly through keyword searches), and of course there are serious human rights issues that are a real concern. But despite all that I think it’s fair to say that for the vast majority of people, life over there is just as it is over here. Business is booming, people have good jobs, eat good food (far better than we do), drink lots of beer, go to bars, drink more beer, play dice, drink more beer and fall down. Oh and they smoke a lot. Really, all the time. Remember when you used to have an intercourse fag at the dinner table? (about 20 years ago…) They still do that in China. I hesitate in saying this for fear of my own little backlash, but that’s pretty cool…

And so to the food. Wonderful. Fantastic. Unbelievably good. And not at all like the british Chinese food we get to eat over here (mainly I think, because we generally eat Cantonese food here in the UK, rather than Mandarin). Every meal feels like a banquet, and rice is rarely served. Normally about 20-30 dishes, all shared and all perfectly balanced with each other: pork (Chairman Mao style is the best), steamed fish, fried fish, soup, noodles, pak choi, beef, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, beans, prawns, snails, duck (although the tongues are not my faves) and tofu. Always tofu. What is so perfect is that everyone helps themselves from the centre of the table and takes only what they enjoy and only what they need.

So rather than trying to describe how it was all prepared (I have no clue), I’ll just leave you with a little peek at some of the dishes (with a few of the more challenging ones thrown in for fun – there were very few of them, but they have to be included for balance) – oh and the odd funny sign. No photo album is complete without a photo of a funny sign…

Thanks Fan, Jacqueline and Watson…

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Down I say, Pork Pie

In fact it’s a pork and venison pie, but my copy fitting urges overcame me.

As I look back at the goings-on of the last two weeks, it’s hard to remember a period in recent times where there was more happening in the world (or at least the world that I consciously inhabit). New York was turned upside down by Sandy, turning the lights out on businesses right across Manhattan and effectively shutting down the city for over a week, and yet this, which in a quiet week would have been a major news event here in the UK, was largely relegated to a few shots of floating cars and reporters being blown over by the wind. The world held its breath as Obama managed to cling on to power, leaving 48% of Americans unhappy but 99% of the rest of the planet extremely relieved. But the story that seems to have gripped our nation, and that threatens to turn one of our greatest institutions upside down, is that of a grubby little man who died just over a year ago, and who during his life, horribly exploited countless children supposedly in his care. But what stands out for me in all of this, is not so much the ever growing list of accounts that are being surfaced, but more, the way in which (as often seems to have been the case in recent news stories – hacking, expenses for example) the story so quickly transcended the individual that it centred around and exploded with such force that it impacted so many peoples’ lives who were in no way implicated in or impacted by the events at the time. And today, we have reached the point where Lord McAlpine has been wrongly accused of being a paedophile, Newsnight has twice in two weeks been threatened with immediate extinction, The director general of the BBC, (only in his post for 54 days) is forced to resign and now Andrew Marr is debating with the home secretary whether the institution of the BBC itself is now under threat.

What I find sad is the fact that our capacity as a culture to accept honest mistakes seems to have diminished to the point where we simply can’t do anything any more (and to be clear, I’m talking about Entwistle here, not the grubby little man). The cynicism of british journalism is for me, one of the most depressing things about living in this country. What makes it worse is that it seems to have rubbed off on the rest of us to the extent that it’s now become a stubborn stain on the fingers of our national psyche. And you can see it everywhere – we complain about everything. Everything. “But that’s nothing new!” I hear you exclaim. I have to disagree – it may have always been there, but the noise-level of discontent has risen steadily in the past decade to the point where everyone expects everything and everyone expects perfection. At all times. It’s unrealistic folks – get real and start being more accepting of an imperfect world. It will probably make you happier. And of course we should question things, and we should investigate when things go wrong and work out how to make them right, but please – just a little perpective.

I only write these things so that when in a few years time I’m looking for a pork pie recipe, I’ll have a little context to put it in (or I’ll simply scan past the first two paragraphs like you probably just did).

So here goes – Pork and Venison Pie

Just found the gallery feature on here, so click on an image below to see a step by step guide on how I got there…

Recipe coming soon when I have the energy to write it down…