Tag: china

Thursday linkage: diversity in fiction, plus misc.


Couple of links:
-Joyce Chng at the World SF blog on the Russ Pledge seen from outside the Western Anglophone world.
-Jonathan Dotse on why the future isn’t Western
-And two from Cheryl Morgan: one crunching data on SF anthologies, and the other on “Diversity is Hard”.

In other news, Irene Kuo is a genius. I’m down to 6 recipes picked out of her Key to Chinese Cooking (tea eggs, cha siu, white-cut chicken, two broccoli recipes, and the sweet-sour sauce), and they all worked out great. Also, the explanations are really clear on why you should do stuff, and it makes for way easier cooking.

While googling stuff on how to use cornstarch, I found this book: On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. Science and cooking? I’m sold… (but broke)

Recipe of the day: creative carrot cake (didn’t have raisins, so chopped up prunes after removing the stones; didn’t have orange zest, so added Orange Blossom instead; didn’t have walnuts, so put in pecans. And not entirely sure I had the right quantity of carrots. This could be fun)

Right. Back to the %%% story.

Tea eggs, and the sekrit project


So, I made tea eggs, a classical Chinese snack, mainly ‘cos I had two eggs, and a lot of time on my hands:

Tea Eggs

(Wikipedia picture, because my egg shells went into the trash, and the H just threw the trash out, before I thought of taking any pictures for posterity)

Basically, hard-boil eggs, crack them, and then steep them in a simmering mixture of soy sauce, spices, and tea leaves. The mixture seeps through the cracks, and into the eggs, giving them this marbled appearance. I used the fast version; normally you’re supposed to crack the shells, let the eggs simmer over low heat for a bit, and then let them brine in the sauce for a couple of days. The H came home as I was cracking the shells, revealing the beautiful network of tea marbling on the surface of the eggs. His first reaction was “what the heck is that?”

I am now trying to convince him to eat the other egg 🙂

(the sekrit baking project went fine–the criteria being that my husband, after tasting a bit, looked at the plate full of pastry, and said, “Surely you’re not bringing all of those to work?” If he wants leftovers to eat himself, we can take it the thing doesn’t taste horrendous…)

“Authentic” Chinese Food by Malinda Lo


If you’re interested in Asian cooking at all, there is a fascinating link over at Malinda Lo’s website. (the article’s focused on China, but a lot of it applies to other Asian cookbooks, and probably other cultures as well)

It’s a bit of a mouthful (it’s an academic article, and it’s quite long), but it takes a look at the notion of authenticity over time, and how it’s mainly built to exclude certain people from the norm (whether the norm is the lost motherland, or later on, the “typical” Chinese American experience). It’s also a very highly detailed analysis of the social and cultural norms behind cookbooks, and it’s fascinating to see the amount of tropes and messages that lurk at the heart of the books. I’ll certainly never view a cookbook in the same way ever again….

Rereading “Dream of Red Mansions”


Rereading A Dream of Red Mansions (紅樓夢) in a slightly different translation than my first read (first read was the Penguin edition, the new one is Foreign Press). It’s rather interesting to discover, erm, explicit passages: the fight in the clan’s school, for instance, appears to be because it’s a hotbed of hormones and boys are seeking to nab boys and/or girls, often both–which I totally missed in the first read. So either I wasn’t paying enough attention on the first read (which is possible, especially since we were in Spain at the time and I was rather under the weather); or the new translation is rather more explicit than the other one…
I’m not complaining, mind you. It’s entertaining, and I’m saving all my complaints-credits for sentences such as “By now, Jia Dairu had arrived with Jia Daixi, Jia Chi, Jia Xiao, Jia Dun, Jia She, Jia Zheng, Jia Cong, Jia Bin, Jia Heng, Jia Guang, Jia Chen, Jia Qiong, Jia Lin, Jia Qiang, Jia Chang, Jia Ling, Jia Yun, Jia Qin, Jia Zhen, Jia Pin, Jia Zao, Jia Heng, Jia Fen, Jia Fang, Jia Lan, Jia Jun, and Jia Zhi.” (it’s probably way easier in Mandarin because of the various characters, but in English or French all those syllables really look alike. Plus, I’ve got a rough idea of who some of those people are, and admit to utter cluelessness about 75% of them).

Also, it looks like they made a TV series–now if I could get my hands on a subtitled version…

Linky linky


So, not up to much that I can safely admit (sekrit projects, plus speaking about the novel in progress on this blog seems to curse me to a halt in the writing of the manuscript). To tide you over until the weekend, a few links:

-I’m guessing by now most people will have seen the Amy Chua piece on the Washington Post, about why Chinese mothers are superior. I don’t have much to say about it other than “batshit crazy Asian mother”–and yes, I have an Asian mother, so I can speak from my (admittedly limited) experience. I can see some of the points, and some things Amy Chua mentions are certainly familiar from my own childhood, though not pushed quite this far. My TV time was limited; so was my video game time; neither of my parents were particularly happy when I brought home bad grades, and yes, both of them always pushed me to go further because they believed I could do better. And I’m glad they did it; I’m glad they placed a higher value on education than on sparing my feelings, and nurtured my ambition and drive–to the point where I thought of doing something as crazy as writing in a second language and getting away with it.
But, seriously, not allowing your children to be in school plays, forcing them to play a musical instrument and tormenting your daughter until she gets the piano piece right? Wow. That’s some serious going south here.
Allow me to dig up quintessential Chinese wisdom here, in the person of Confucius: “To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short.” Ie, balance and perspective. Something that seems to be missing from all the horror stories about Asian moms (there were quite a few flying around on the internet in the wake of that article).

-And, in a lighter vein: Mature people truths (via Cat Rambo). Some of these are oh-so-painfully true.

-Finally, I’ve posted (with permission) on the SFWA forums “Alternate Girl’s Expatriate Life”, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz’s awesome story about expatriation, identity and what it means to be an immigrant in a strange land. Recommended by Richard Horton in his year-end summary of Interzone, and generally quite made of awesome. (and I’m not only saying that because Rochita is my friend). Well worth a read if you have forum access.

EDIT: apparently, the Amy Chua thing is only an excerpt from a larger book, which is intended to deal with the problems of her education system as well. Mea culpa.
EDIT #2: and, apparently, the WJS just quoted the most controversial part of Chua’s book without bothering to add a corrective, because controversy makes for more readers. Great. As I said on LJ, I feel like hitting something, preferably a WJS editor.