Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yummy Yum Cha

It's almost criminal that it has taken me this long to experience the delights of Yum Cha but there it is. Perhaps it has something to do with the pre-frozen packs in supermarkets tainting my vision of what yum-cha actually is (i.e. deep-fried, frozen mini spring rolls), but it wasn't until I stumbled in to T-Chow in Chinatown that I experienced a fantastic yum cha.

Almost as soon as we sat down the teapot was delivered to our table and mere seconds later we were presented with a selection of dishes from the waiters. My only regret is that we slowed down a bit as we didn't turn down any of the first 6 or so mini-dishes we were offered, which meant that when some really interesting dishes came along later we were both WAY too full to accept them.

The stand outs for me was a lovely braised Tripe dish, almost nauseating to look at but don't judge a book by it's cover. It had a lovely anise flavour to the braising gravy and suprisingly tender (I've been put off by some tough tripe in the past). Also, the chicken feet, whilst they sound pretty awful were fantastic. I had attempted to make these myself in the past, but took them way beyond cooked to the 'falling apart' stage (not good when there are so many tiny bones involved). The soft, padded, collagen-y bottom of the foot where the toes meet providing the tastiest meat.

Of course it wasn't all offal, (I just can't turn these down) many of the dishes fell into the more conservative area that would appeal to wider tastes. The only dish I wasn't a fan of was the scallop 'dumpling', though my husband quite liked these. Each to their own.

Anyway, next time I go I will be bringing a much larger group so we can have many more dishes without having to undo the pants. We left with a very reasonable bill of $45 for roughly 7-8 dishes and tea and literally were unable to fit another bite in, though I really did give it a college try!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


'Cerberus, a ruthless and fantastic beast,

with all three throats howls out his doglike sounds

above the drowning sinners of this place'

- Canto VI line 13-15, The Divine Comedy Volume 1: Inferno, Dante Alighieri

The above passage describes, in Dante's great work of fiction 'Inferno', the Glutton's punishment in hell where Cerberus, kind of a big guard dog with 3 heads who routinely terrorises the hapless sinners. The beast represents the unrelenting gorging and hunger of those who committed which, when you think about it, isn't the worst thing to do: Gluttony. Supposedly, stuffing one's body like a Goose in a Foie Gras factory is disrespecting the body, and therefore somehow disrespecting God? (I know, I know; like I said; it's a work of fiction). I wonder then, why smokers or drug addicts aren't punished in a similar way.... seems a bit unfair to me.

But scary fiction aside, let's look at gluttony. I have touched on the topic of food abuse previously but now I find myself pondering this topic again. This might have had something to do with a throwaway comment made by Personal Trainer Michelle Bridges on her recent time in the home of the 4 men she will be training on 10's 'The Biggest Loser Families'. She claimed she initially was looking forward to having a week where she might get to enjoy some fabulous, gourmet foods but instead had to tolerate plate after plate of greasy, sugary, fatty rubbish. What is funnier is that she was surprised!

When you think about it, when someone gets to such a large size it can simply not be about the food any more. I think this is where the show falls down a bit and you tend to see a situation where many contestants put the weight back on. Food as an addiction is really no different to drug or alcohol addiction, it's outcome is just a lot more visible and therefore more easy for people to discriminate. Clearly, the food is medicating a much bigger problem and a more practical way to deal with the issue is to treat the cause rather than the symptom. Diet and exercise are obviously important but if you are not dealing with the underlying psychological issues.... well that's when the weight piles back on.

I think it's strange that Bridges would lump those with a serious weight problem together with people who truly adore food. True, I've never been seriously overweight so it hard for me to comment with authority (I did carry a couple of extra kilos in my first year of marriage but I shed those with some serious hard work!) but I imagine when you are obese the food is as much an enemy as a love. There's nothing loving about sitting down and eating 2 Litres of ice cream after a dinner of a whole pizza. It almost seems like a punishment.

On the other hand, as a person of healthy weight who loves food in a serious way (and who has a very handy gym membership to work off the calories that result), I don't have that love/hate relationship with food. I can think of nothing better than a glass of wine and a gorgeous cheese that I most likely spent too much on (it's always worth it) or a square of 85% dark chocolate. I'd rather enjoy small amounts of that type of luxury than the 'cheap and nasty' equivalent which may consist of a few cheap beers or cask wine (gah!!), a whole chunk of cheap club cheddar and the whole family block of chocolate.

Anyway, I haven't really drawn any conclusions (as usual), but I guess I have established (thanks to Dante) that people have always been cruel to the obsese (I don't feel that the punishment described in his poem fits the crime) when really what they need is not to be told to 'put down the fork', (which is like telling an anorexic 'Just eat something') but a bit of understanding and access to the right help that treats what is causing them to medicate with food.

Pondering over... I'm going to go enjoy an espresso and a square of 'Steven ter Horst' chocolate, yum!!