Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tongued-Thaid: My First Foray Into Food Blogging For BYT

My very first food column for Brightest Young Things:

So, if you are vegetarian, chances are Thai eggplant or some permutation of tofu and vegetable stir fry is your usual meal of choice when going out for Thai. Surprisingly enough, Thai eggplant is a dish of relatively minimal effort to make at home, yet it is so thoroughly impressive that it is sure to leave your guests tongue-thaid as they marvel at your culinary prowess [my puns get better, I promise].
As you set out on the seemingly very daunting task of making Thai food at home, you are probably imagining it will be something very akin to this experience and, even worse, *gasp* require a trip to that mythical yet thoroughly dreaded place known as the suburbs to procure exotic ingredients you will only use once. Fret not--I would be far too remiss in my role as "pragmatic food blogger" if I recommended you purchase anything that cannot be used in a variety of dishes. For example, did you know that you could use fish sauce essentially as salt in mac and cheese? No, seriously. The cool part about any Asian cooking, especially Indian or Thai, is that there is a roster of staple spices/flavorings that will show up in some combination in most dishes. So any time you purchase ingredients, you can reuse them and, hopefully, that will encourage you to keep trying different things beyond that one time when you were trying to impress that one girl but stumbled 'cause your idea of cooking Indian was sprinkling curry powder on everything. The other part about making that "dreaded trip to the burbs" is that you are not just going to a store to buy "weird stuff." You are getting an edumacation. Sure, you could get Japanese eggplants in Giant or Whole Bucks, but how predictable and DC centric is that!? Why not check out an H Mart, where you can at the very least procure things you had no idea could be shrimp-flavored!

China Heavyweight Movie Review

My review of China Heavyweight
China Heavyweight, a documentary by Yung Chang [Up The Yangtze], is a glimpse into the burgeoning popularity of boxing, a sport that had been banned by Mao. While the extensive footage of boxing training harkens a bit to other underdog stories like The Boxer and other recognizable sports tropes, China Heavyweight is very firmly grounded in its setting and provides an interesting look into an unfamiliar social landscape.
Set at a boxing school in the Sichuan province, the film follows two teenagers, Miao Yunfei and He Zongli. Their trainer is Qi Moxiang, a former professional boxer who still harbors dreams of returning to the ring despite being in his thirties. Without offering any extra commentary, it takes us deeply into the world of Confucianism-informed Asian culture through the eyes of the two teenagers and their interaction with their parents. While boxing is portrayed as a way out of their parents’ very hard life of being a tobacco farmer, we get the sense that boxing is also something that is not done for personal glory but for the greater community. The coaches frequently reference that boxing is what elevates you from your “Mother’s son” to a “son of the people.” Lofty ideals like bringing pride to your family and community, brushing shoulders with the very Confucian values of humility and honoring your elders.