The best thing about loving food is that it also opens up your horizons to other cultures. Loving other cultures’ food entails discovering and understanding the culture that it comes from. I also love foreign languages and am currently pursuing Mandarin as my main foreign language. It used to be French, and then I went to Paris and most French weren’t nice to me, then Italian (still love the Italians) but I didn’t know anyone else here who could speak Italian, so now I’m learning Chinese.
Extremely helpful, since there’s like millions of them, and their food is AMAZING.
So the school that I study at is called the Confucius Institute, which is the main headquarters of the Chinese government all over the world tasked to spread the Chinese language to non-native speakers. Not only do they teach Mandarin, but they also throw in cultural activities, like this dumpling demonstration to celebrate the Spring Festival.
I came with my classmates and my giant camera (Nikon D7000) and shot away. I took a bunch but these are the only ones that came out. Ah, the perils of amateur photographers.
I took this as it flashed on screen. We had the demonstration at the Ateneo Professional Schools cafeteria. Man, they spiffed it up. We ate first to a spread of noodles, century egg, pork kidneys (yes, more on that later), spring rolls made from nian gao, and jiaozis. I was eating off my lap and didn’t realize that the chairs we sat on could be used as tables. They converted into tables. I totally forgot to take a picture but I was highly amused.
Anyway, so the spread was: See Contents of Plate below
I used to loathe these things. They looked so gross. Who would eat black eggs? In my 9-yr old mind, they were rotten, even if they were served in a fine dining restaurant in Hong Kong. I learned to eat these in my stint in Beijing, when they served me pidan doufu, which is like cold tofu with sesame and century egg. Really simple dish and really good. My roommate would order this for me after service (11pm) at the street restaurants next to our apartment. It’s not fattening (just don’t eat all the century egg) which is why I would still eat it, despite my no food after 8pm rule.
Then we come to the noodles. Thick flour noodles, stir fried in wok with some dried mushroom, black bean, chilis, carrots, and black vinegar. I prefer mine spicier and less black vinegar (because I hate vinegar in general) but hey, I miss authentic mainland food so I still ate it.
And we come to the pork kidneys. Yes, pork kidneys.
I looked at it and knew it wasn’t chicken, it wasn’t beef, it wasn’t lamb. It looked like pork so I got it. I popped it into my mouth, pretty tasty! Again some spice c/o chilies (spicier than the noodles which was great), some sweet (sesame oil), some salty and great texture on the item, which I definitely knew wasn’t just pork, but was too afraid to ask its exact part. I enjoyed it for the time being and then went over to ask what it was. Then they told me. Pork kidneys. I cringed. I HATE ANIMAL INNARDS, kidneys, livers, gizzards, they gross me out. It was too late to puke it out but it was a good decision on my part to hold off on asking till the end. I would order it next time.
After all the students had their lunch, the owners started with the demonstration. Since they didn’t speak much English, it was mostly a quiet and fast demonstration and they made us try. I tried once, I OFFICIALLY BLEW. Needless to say, I will leave Asian cooking, particularly Chinese cooking to the other chefs. It’s not my forte.
And lastly, my tongxue (classmates) hanging out:
Demonstration held by LSQ Kitchen at Guerrero St. at Makati Ave. Will have to hunt that place down as it will be my saving grace from staff meal during weekdays.